16y boy sneaks out at night
I found out that our Son (16y) sneaked out of the house again, while I was with our eldest doing college orientation in another city. He is currently at a State U in a pre-college program. His father was home and feels betrayed, which is understandable.
This is not the first time this summer. A couple of weeks earlier, I did a bedroom tour when I awoke 4am-ish (common occurrence), as I like to see my children sleeping--especially now with our first going off to college. Unfortunately, I was shocked to see my Son's bed empty. After calling--no answer, and texting--answered promptly, I went online and activated the tracking feature available on our cell phone plan. He was in the area of our temporary neighborhood (about 10 minutes away). He was home in 20 minutes. I was shocked to see him drive up in our car, for which he does not have the proper license to drive independently. I did not believe his rendition of the facts and he smelled a little smoky and his pupils a were dilated and racy.
CONSEQUENCES = #1 a week of not going out after dinner; #2 permanent earlier morning rise time 10am; #3 permanent an hour earlier curfew (10pm)until a volunteer position (10h/wk) is secured, as paid part-time work is often filled by college students (even though he has applied to several and keeps following up)AND his former lawn cutting neighborhood jobs he did not maintain while we were out of home for nearly a year. #4 Although I had already declined to further his driver license process on account of a poor grade (the forewarned principle was that driving is a privilege granted to people mature enough. Mature enough people manage their own stuff, in which education is a part), it is now in indefinite limbo.
RESULTS = we flexed on #1, because his out of town girlfriend was returning to her home state in 4dys (she is smart, school-focused & gets our Son to study successfully (i.e. shows in test scores) with her, ambitious, kind-but not a pushover --we like her. he readily complied with the negotiated terms with grace. #2, as long as I got him up he was up. He was grumpy. #3 An excellent idea of my DH (dear husband), but will not "force" DS (dear son)to do it, so I took up enforcement, as I usually do (which gives my DH reason to support DS in accusations that I am the reason DS and I have such a terrible relationship--ironically, DS calls for me to listen to his new accomplishment on guitar and other requests and needs for things that are deeply important to him, so I think the accusation is hollow and I mostly ignore it a face-value, but use it to remind me to soften my approach to DS.) To-date, I have "forced" DS to contact 5 agencies for volunteer positions. Nothing yet has been confirmed. DS was used voice volume and accusations of varying topics to support claims that volunteering was of no value to him. #4 Still have no plans to register DS for second part of Drivers-Ed nor upgrade his permit. He has easily agreed to this.
ULTIMATELY = DS sneaked out again to be with the friend he prefers to hang (a nice boy with issues that caused him to w/draw from regular school and do online school). This time I was away--which does not often occur. Another parent of a friend of my youngest child called me yesterday, a few days after the incident. I feel that this information is reliable.
After the first incidence I spoke with his sisters, neither wants to be tattler. I support this. We agreed that it would not be tattling if they felt they anyone was endangering their life. Otherwise, DS's sisters get to remain a safe-haven. Yet, I gathered that sneaking out at night had happened in minor ways (without auto) around the temporary neighborhood for a time. I would guess less than ten but more than five, to date.
A little BACKGROUND: For nearly a year we were at temporary home on the other side of town. Here we were closer to a boy DS had met the previous summer through casual connections, but rarely saw prior to our temporary move. This boy is nice but had a troubled past causing him to w/draw from formal school in enroll into online school. My conversation with DS was, that nice boy who was straightening up deserved fresh starts, so there was no need for me to know his story. I was more watchful and sought to meet the parents earlier, than otherwise would have allowed to evolve more naturally. I aslo made sure that transportation back to our old neighborhood and friends was easy (via bike, via bus, via me driving).
It was with this nice boy with whom DS sneaked the night of the empty bed. Part of DS's and mine conversation that night, was I needed to know nice boy's story. Alcohol seems to be his demon and he was dry until recently.
We have been back in our neighborhood for a few months, but DS has flipped allegiances and hangs with nice boy more. I have heard that his neighborhood friends think that DS is not as much fun anymore. He does longboard and recreational bike less, but I sense that he is nearly as verbally biting to them as he is to me.
QUESTION = How reasonable is it for me to manage DS's friendship with troubled nice boy--say only at our home? How reasonable is it for me to encourage friendships in the neighborhood that were once close, while maintaining an even earlier curfew and possibly a smaller geographic range. DH had an excellent idea of restricting money (our children have had family chores and family allowance since age 3y). What will happen if I transfer all his own money into his college account and suspend allowance? BTW he keeps his room orderly and clean, but is slovenly about the house and is not prompt or self-directed with chores.
We reopened our drug-drinking talk. DS reiterated that he is philosophically against pharma and street drugs, but likes hooka occassionally--which he says is herbal. (I had my elder daughter (ED) educate me about hooka. Although not a drug anymore than a cigarette, legally one has to be 18y to purchase. Hence, I can prohibit hooka like I do cigarettes.) I cautioned again that marijuana, an herb, is often laced with other things, hence his "curiosity" about it should not be indulged--which is in addition to my legality argument that it is not worth the risk AND the health argument of putting only good things into his maturing body and mind AND the parental argument that he is a minor and are responsible for his well-being and we say "No." But I am not feeling assured, as I once did. DH cautions me against acting on a feeling when we have no proof.
THE BIG PICTURE = DS needs to value himself more. School is challenging (made more difficult by study poor habits, of which I am shot down by various attempts to bolster--yet his girl friend can take the same measures and get acceptance). DS needs to get better sleep, which has frequently been less than optimal since toddlerhood (wakeful), but his current habits (late night - late wake) exacerbate it. DS needs to give-up the junk food (most of it is candy and nutella), which he buys with his own money, as our home is mostly an organic, whole-food, slow-food home--but not exclusively. Each child now has at least something in pantry that is their request, such as: chips, boxed cereal, ready-to-eat meals. I have not attempted to rein this behavior; I was hoping it would burn itself out, but it has been 2yrs and I think the late night sugar hit interfers with sleep. Which is about the same time he developed acne, which I have openly turned over to DS w DH to manage, because pharma (topical or oral) without better health-habits first is a realm, within I cannot confidently operate.
Another BACKGROUND bit = Paternal grandmother was an alcoholic for nearly 20y (all of DH life growing up). I naively thought that if raised my children attentively, any hereditary factor could be countered. When I saw sugar-addiction rise in my youngest (YD) at age 6y all children went for Sensory Integration Therapy (SI) for ~4y. I learned things too and gained a few more skills. Although we all can count on a couple of tangible benefits, my children do not reflect kindly on the process. They even said it made me not as nice--when really I am just tired. The process continues even after formal SI sessions, and so YD looks like she can steer clear.
YD's case was so extreme I did not see that DS too had a lesser addiction to sugar, which now needs feeding regularly. DS processes things more as an introvert (so am I, but is much more social than I in frequency and size of social pool), he is a deep thinker, and has the ability to really set his will to desire on things that engage him. Yet, he also tends towards being blue and angry when something happens. He cannot always put it into words for me--thank goodness he plays guitar and can text up a storm to friends.
TODAY = DH wants (or fantasizes) to phone DS to tell him find his own way home from pre-college program (in Detroit)and change the locks. If he comes home, then it is an agreement he is willing to abide by family guides and expectations. I say that it is not time for tough-love.
It is time to make DS's box smaller; his behavior says he needs more supervision. DH does not want to share bed-check nor sleeping outside his door nor having DS bring sleeping bag into our room. DH had the idea of having DS join him on morning runs, but does not want make him wake-up. When DS gets back from State U, should I send him to his maternal grandparents, with the understanding he is to help his grandfather with the heavy lifting required by his part-time distributorship job? Do I inquire with my siblings (who live out-of-state), who have younger children to take DS until our family's summer vacation, when we will take him out of town?
I know how this is going to unfold: I will be the enforcer, but I need to have DH continue to think that the consequences were his idea and good ideas, otherwise he will cave and re-engineer the evolution of why I am alienating our DS.
I need the feedback of other parents to move forward confidently.