question about grounding son

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-07-2003
question about grounding son
Fri, 10-24-2003 - 11:19am
Ok. Need an opinion. My 14 yo old son is quiet a challenge right now. Failing just about every class, disrespectful, mean to brothers. Lies, borrows w/ out asking. Ran twice to hang w/ buds during grounding times.

Anyways, I take away privileges; tv, computer, friends, telephone etc…

Then stripped down room after the second run away to be w/ friends. And he did hard labor, probable should have done more.

Took all his cool clothes; he can earn them back if he can get his teachers to sign a paper that says either yes/no to preparedness in school for the day.

Working w/ ex husband so he backs me up. Seems to be helping. This is the question though:

When he is grounded for major stuff; total disrespect and verbal abuse or running away to hang w/ buds. His grounding is from everything listed above including family activities. So if we as a family go out for ice cream – he doesn’t go. My ex says this is terrible, he should never be not allowed to do family stuff.

Compares it to me not being allowed to go to thanksgiving at my mom’s house cause she didn’t like my behavior as an adult. I say if I yelled at my mom now like my son yells at me, she probable would ask me not to come.

What do you think; should he be allowed to do family stuff during groundings???

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-14-2003
Fri, 10-24-2003 - 12:42pm

Hmm, ok. . .the grounding from family activities may be overkill unless he specifically acts up during the activity.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 10-24-2003 - 2:03pm
I guess I don't understand your reasons for including barring him from family activities. Consequences should teach, not just punish. If what you're trying to do is create a positive change and re-instill acceptable attitudes how is staying alone going to do that? Better he know that *HE* is loved and a member of his family and that his *actions* are what are being punished.

I read an article once quite awhila ago. A team of specialists went out to Nigeria (or Nairobi, I don't remember which) to study why the country didn't have mental hospitals. They spent a year there for this study. THeir conclusions were that the culture believed that when a person started behaving 'out of character' or in undesirable ways, that they were being influenced by outside forces, outside of the person's control and so therefore the person needed MORE interaction by those around him, more involvement and more help than normal. So the community surrounded that individual - giving more help, more love, more everything positive than normal. Whereas our society tends to respond by things like, 'what's WRONG with you lately anyway??" - and pushing the person AWAY, ever escalating until the person can become completely alienated. Now, I don't think whether one believes 'outside forces' are at the root of a person's behaviour or not; what matters here is the idea that 'those who are hardest to love need love the most'.

So, I totally believe your ex is right, and that your son not just *should* - but NEEDS - to spend time with his family. The more connections you build with him within his family, the more 'rootedness' you encourage, the more BONDS you build with him within his family unit, the more that will act as a foundation for him.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-16-1999
Sun, 10-26-2003 - 8:18pm
I agree that DS should be included in family activities even though he's grounded. Family is what gives kids their foundation, and most busy families spend so little time together as it is, it can give them what it takes to avoid the negative influences in their lives. We try to plan a family event that is required of all members on a monthly basis - kind of tough with 2 19 y/o, a busy 16 y/o and a 12 y/o, but I try to check everyone's schedules and plan around work, sports, clubs, etc. We've been doing this since the kids were little, and it's amazing how good of friends they become when they don't have all their buddies for company! Everyone comes, even those that are grounded...I think secretly they look forward to the events, even when they moan about "mom's monthly family bonding."
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-27-2003
Mon, 10-27-2003 - 5:05pm
We sometimes run into situations like this. When we do include SS in family activities when he is grounded he's miserable and brings everyone else down. In fact, he bugs everyone. So then, what do you do?
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-16-1999
Mon, 10-27-2003 - 10:07pm
That's a good question ciarayvr. We don't ground our kids much, so it doesn't happen too often...and most of the time they're happy enough to get out of the house that, while they sulk for a little while, after a bit they perk up some...and the other kids don't let the grounded one get away with making everyone's life miserable. As I said, we don't ground our kids much, we save it for a last resort...for some reason they hate the old "I'm so disappointed that you chose to ________. How can we make sure this doesn't happen again?" a whole lot more than anything else, so we rarely get to the point of grounding, and when we do it's pretty shortlived, usually no more than a week. For some offenses, we come up with "hard labor" - coming in too late earns you an early morning doing yard work with DH (like starting with breakfast at 6:30), when the two oldest boys decided they could get a carton of smokes when they were 17 without paying for them, not only did they have to deal with the police and court system, but they were hauling cement blocks with DH for 2 days to work off the offense in the family. No grounding came with either offense, and when the punishment is done, it's done. This doesn't work for all families, but it seems to work for us.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 10-28-2003 - 7:33pm
Yeah, that can be a problem.

I agree with bunnierose. I don't think grounding is effective for most kids because consequences should teach. I think if they've blown something by going to a party, that parties should be off limits till they show maturity in other areas, so there's no cut and dried time frame either. Otherwise, most teens just seem to treat grounding like they're 'putting in time' or they've 'done their time'. By saying it's till you see a maturity in other ways and that yes, you WILL know when that's happening - through consistent good attitudes, accepting 'no' without sulking or having a fit, willingness to help or whatever ways you choose - puts the ball into their court. ANd they aren't going until it's *consistent* and something can't be consistent until a sufficient amount of time goes by. If they've blown a curfew, they lose privileges for going out the next time they ask. And as a bigger consequence, yes, make them do something that ultimately means they are 'giving back', so cleaning the yard, the basement, the garage; raking leaves, bagging & hauling them out; shoveling the walk, driveway and a couple people's on the street who could use help, cleaning washrooms, washing walls, etc are all ways that make them work off the angst and do something FOR someone else while it's happening.

As for not including him in the family activities, give him a choice. Tell him he's welcome to join you but if he's going to come he has to have a good attitude. HIs alternative would be to clean the garage or some activity that is going to keep him busy for the whole time you are gone, thus ensuring he IS at home and doing what he's supposed to. I also don't think a whole family should have to be subjected to someone's bad moods just because they feel like making everyone else miserable around them. And tell him if he chooses to come and thinks he can get away with being miserable, to think again; your or your dh will leave everyone else where they are and drive him back home and he will do the chore instead. And CARRY IT THROUGH. You won't have to ruin many outings this way when he realizes you mean it. For the other poster, it was a slightly different situation, I think, or at least I took it differently. There's a difference between a kid knowing he's wanted and welcomed and being punished repeatedly in a way that makes him feel like he isn't.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2003
Thu, 10-30-2003 - 3:15pm
Hi mckel925,

I think as long as you take away the things he loves as punishment, that should be enough. As far as excluding him from family activities, I wouldn't do that. That could be a very special time for you all and it can strengthen your relationship. Besides when your gone and he's home alone, he could be doing something he's not supposed to do anyway since you're not there to enforce any privileges you've taken.

Good luck!

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-16-2003
Fri, 11-21-2003 - 6:56pm
As far as taking his clothes and not letting him have them I suggest you give them back. He IS entitled to clothing and keeping him from them could be viewed as abuse on your part. He is a minor living under your roof and as such his rights are food, clothing and that roof. The rest of the stuff is "fluff" what I call privlidges. Since he runs everytime you ground him I think it's pretty safe to say that grounding doesn't work. (I don't beleive in grounding myself, time outs never worked when she was small grounding wouldn't be much help)

There is no such thing as borrowing without asking because that is simply stealing. Who is he stealing from? You? Your husband? Call the police. Yeah I know it's harsh but obviously he needs something harsh. Again I will recommend The Tough Love International Foundation (I know some people on this board don't like when I recommend them but sometimes it is what is needed)They have some great ideas and help and can steer you in the direction of help in your community.