Brenda Breaks Down Consequences for Bad Teen Behavior

Hi Brenda!

I’m from India. I’m a single parent (widow) and I have a son who is 12 years old and he is developing a habit of telling lies and stealing money from the home. A couple of times I’ve confronted him but he always blames his younger sister.

Also he doesn’t like to study at all and academically he’s doing extremely poor. He’s becoming very rude and doesn’t care and respect any one; he doesn’t like correction at all. Another thing he keeps his thing untidy and doesn’t like to bathe. He only enjoys playing on the PC or PlayStation. I really don’t understand how I should help him to improve.

I need your help.


Dear Single Parent,

My grandmother would say that your son is acting “mannish.” Meaning that he is testing his boundaries with you, in terms of respect, integrity, academics and hygiene. How far can he go? What are the consequences to his actions? Those are questions that not only you need to answer; they also need to be discussed with him. He can’t continue to steal, bring home poor grades and keep bad hygiene and play on his PC or PlayStation. Here’s the deal:

  • Have a family meeting in which expectations regarding integrity, grades, housework, and respect.
  • There should be an opportunity for the children to self-correct.
  • If they do not self-correct then there should be consequences.
  • If rules are broken, things are taken away. And yes, definitely include the PC and the PlayStation, favorite shoes, posters from the wall, if it means something to him, it can be part of a consequence.

I also wonder if there a man in your life, a brother, an uncle, or cousin that could spend some time with him, one on one. I think he might need that attention right now and that a man that could talk to him about the importance of good hygiene and respect.

That’s all I got for you my love. I hope it helps.

Readers what do you think?

– Brenda

Sleepaway Camp and the Single Mom Pt. 2

“I had so much fun Mom, I wish I could come every week!”

Even though it’s been a week the Tweenlet seems taller. She is talking a mile a minute to me, to her Nana, breaking mid sentence only to joke with a passing camp counselor, or with a new friend.

“Can I have a hug?”

She leaned into me, and laid her head on my chest. She glanced around to see if anyone was looking when I kissed the top of her head. It smelled like sweat and sunshine. This week away from her was hard. I rushed home from work to an empty house. I worried if she was making friends, I wondered if she missed me.

“I missed you for just a minute,” she held her index finger and thumb a smidgen apart while looking at me from the corner of her eye. “On the first night, but after that—nope!

Yeah. Right.

For an entire week the Tweenlet was unplugged. No Nintendo, Wii, computers, cell phones, or television.

For an entire week the Tweenlet was responsible. I wasn’t there to remind her to wash her face, clean her ears, put on her deodorant or pick up her things. I was truly amazed that EVERYTHING that went to camp came back home.

For an entire week the Tweenlet had to deal. I wasn’t there to kill the spiders or to make things okay.

For an entire week the Tweenlet had to make her own choices. About food (which we disagree about quite a bit) her activities and what she decided to wear. Independence from the mom is a good thing. I need to let her make choices, good ones and bad ones and let her enjoy the benefits and the consequences of those choices.
Lessons learned on both parts

“I wish I could go every week!”

I’ve already signed her up for two more weeks. I’ll tell her soon.

– Aunt B

Child labor: Finding Mr. Right or Mr. RightClick

While I frequently find it a matter of some difficulty to make my weekly spin class, I never miss one of the kid’s swim lessons. Sure, I have the little one’s interests at heart. But, is it just me, or have you noticed how swimming pools, judo classes, kiddies parks, children’s parties… these child-friendly amusement zones have become the new places to meet men?

Now, few would argue that the potential for disaster when pairing a date with a small child does not, at the best of times, weigh heavily in favor of the single mother. The nice thing about picking up a delicious divorcee at the school sports meet is that he will also have a kid, which means he won’t see yours as a potential liability – divorced parents in (remortgaged) glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, and all that jazz. The other wonderful thing about these men is that they can easily be drawn into conversation with very little tactical maneuvering and the odd chocolate-chip cookie or two.

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, you spy someone you quite fancy in the park. He has a child with him about the same age as yours. You gently nudge (read: bribe) your little one to go off and befriend his. Before you know it, you’re all sharing Happy Meals like one happy (extended) family. (Incidentally, if you don’t have a kid to hand, this works equally well with a dog.)

And don’t under estimate the value of ball skills. Playing catch with your little one in the vicinity of a dishy single dad is an opportunity only the most hopeless would not take up. Simply toss the ball way over little one’s head and in said hottie’s general direction. Guaranteed, he’ll fall over himself to throw it back to you (I have it on good authority that men are pre-programmed to do this). Repeat several times before apologizing profusely and, voila, ice broken.

– Single-again Samantha

And What If They Are Experimenting With Drugs Pt. 2

The worst drugs are as bad as anybody’s told you.
It’s just a dumb trip, which I can’t condemn people if they get into it,
because one gets into it for one’s own personal, social, emotional reasons.
It’s something to be avoided if one can help it.

~John Lennon

Single parents take it harder when it comes to these situations. You can rack the stress up a notch if you’re new to parenting alone or happen to be going through a divorce or a child custody case.

Not only do you deal with feelings of failure, depending on your situation, you might have to deal with the problem alone too or engage with the other parent or if that latter is true, the court is breathing down your neck and scrutinizing every move you make.

According to The Partnership For A Drug-Free America experimentation is not safe. Even first time use can lead to serious accidents, injury and death. They go on to say that, “No one can predict which teenagers are going to be able to grow out of early experimentation with drugs as opposed to those that are going to go down a more serious path of abuse and dependence. Good parenting means you want to prevent future use, you want to intervene if the youngster is going to need some professional help.”

While I can appreciate the American Academy of Pediatrics message of love and support, it’s too warm and fuzzy, and out of touch.

“There’s got to be a really heavy consequence,” I told Mr. V, “He’s broken trust.”

“What would you do?” Mr. V sounds defeated. Tired. Overwhelmed. And I feel sorry for this single dad.

“The computer, the phone, the allowance, the door to the bedroom, all goes,” I answer. “He has to earn every one of those things back. I’d require passwords to all Facebook, MySpace accounts and the cell phone. He has to feel it.”

“That sounds like too much.”

What do you think?

– Aunt B

And What If They Are Experimenting With Drugs…

The worst drugs are as bad as anybody’s told you.
It’s just a dumb trip, which I can’t condemn people if they get into it,
because one gets into it for one’s own personal, social, emotional reasons.
It’s something to be avoided if one can help it.

~John Lennon

Just last weekend while in the midst of all that warm and fuzzy gratitude…

“Uhm, Mr. V- can you come downstairs,” the young man talking sounds desperate, a teen all arms and legs and acne, his voice wobbles between boy and man, “Tyler and Kevin were doing ecstasy and Kevin isn’t doing so well.”

Mr. V was watching a “Bobby Flay Throwdown,” his daughter all curls and freshly showered cuddled next to him. This is his custodial weekend.

Mr. V races downstairs to his 15-year-old son’s bedroom and sees his son’s friend breathing heavily, his hand to his heart, which was racing when he placed his palm on the boy’s chest, his legs shaking.

It was supposed to be a sleepover, three guys, a movie, burgers and fries; these were good boys, the honor students, the geeks. And there was Kevin, shaking, sweating.

Single parents have it hard when there’s no drama, day-to-day can sometimes break you down, but when something like this happens…

Mr. V and I are friends and he called late that night, wondering how he missed the signs, how his son could break his trust, what should he do now? I didn’t have the answers but I listened.

I also went over to the American Academy of Pediatrics to see what they had to say, here it goes:

  • Tell your son or daughter you LOVE him/her and that you are worried that he/she might be using drugs or alcohol.
  • Say that: You KNOW that drugs may seem like the thing to do, but doing drugs can have serious consequences;
  • It makes you FEEL worried and concerned about them when they do drugs;
  • You are there to LISTEN to them;
  • You WANT them to be a part of the solution;
  • What you will do to HELP them.

While those suggestions are a good start I had some thoughts.

To be continued.

– Aunt B

I can (Not) do it all

I didn’t pack my kid’s lunch for a week. And the mommy guiltiness, you know those annoying little feelings that hang around your ankles and neck wouldn’t stop nagging me.

Never mind I kicked tail during my 50 + hour work week, made it to her parent teacher conference on time, got her to soccer practice, soccer games, cheered wildly and managed to get some holiday shopping done. Homework? Check. Dinner on the table? Check.

I’ve packed her lunch every day since she began school, because I think cafeteria food is mostly processed junk. This week, I let it go and let her eat processed junk.

Single parents expect a lot from themselves, to be both mother and father, while bringing home the bacon and making sure the pan is clean too.

What I struggle with is asking for help. For me, asking for help is like asking for bamboo shoots under my fingernails. Uhm. No thank you. The torture from my ex is enough for me. Really.

So when I needed furniture put together, a neighbor insisted on helping me. I declined.

“No, it’s okay, I’d rather pay someone to do it and just get it done.”

“Awww don’t do that, I can help you with it.” He sounded convincing, I cancelled the person I’d hired to do it. My furniture sat around in boxes for three weeks. The neighbor finally shows, puts together one piece and says, “You could have done this yourself. It’s not that hard.” He leaves.

I called the person I hired. While they put the remainder of my things together, I did three loads of laundry and cooked a meal that included lunch for my daughter for the upcoming week.

‘Nuff said.

– Aunt B