16yo boy crashed car, has other problems

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-25-2002
16yo boy crashed car, has other problems
Mon, 09-17-2012 - 6:31pm

My fiance's 16yo son took his car in the middle of the night the other night and ran into a parked truck. He almost hit a pedestrian. No injuries. We know he smokes pot and cigarettes and that he drinks. We don't know the frequency of the pot or alcohol, but cigarettes are pretty frequent. He also skips school at will and his grades are very low.

By my fiance's report, he used to do very well in school and didn't have problems with smoking or drinking before 2011. We don't know what changed except maybe his group of friends. We know they have a lot of problems (stints in juvie, smoking, etc.).

I don't want to go into too many details because I don't know what will happen now in the legal system. I just wanted to see if anyone has suggestions on how to deal with this.

I'm having a hard time focusing on work and I have a tight schedule to finish my PhD. I almost invariably leave the room shortly after the 16yo enters because he does or says something aggravating and I'm already close to blowing up at him just because of accumulated frustration with his behavior.

Please give suggestions if you have any for how my fiance and I can deal with the crash in particular or the 16yo in general. I don't know how to get through another 15 or so months of this.




iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2000
Tue, 09-18-2012 - 3:49pm
Hi and welcome to the board. Sorry you're going through this. Does your fiance have primary custody of his son? What have the consequences been in the past when he's been caught drinking or smoking or skipping school? At 16 even smoking cigarettes is illegal. Does he work? If not where does he get the money for booze, cigs, and drugs? Was he under the influence when he wrecked the car? If so I imagine he'll get pretty stiff consequences for that. In the mean time I'd have him either ride the bus or take him to school. Obviously make him pay you back for any cost to you (ie if he's covered under your insurance the rates will go up, if you paid for any or part of the car and it's totaled, etc.) While you can't forbid him from seeing his friends at school you can certainly make sure that outside school he only sees them at your house with direct supervision. Of course if your fiance doesn't have primary custody that makes it tougher, especially if his mom isn't on the same page. I don't really have any advice until I know a bit more.
Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 09-19-2012 - 12:04pm

I think you're mistaken if you think you will only have to deal with this until he's 18.  He is your fiance's son FOREVER, which will make him your stepson forever.  Unless your fiance is expecting to cut him out of his life on his 18th birthday, which wouldn't say much good about your fiance, then you need to learn how to be a stepparent. 

I have no input on that, as I have no stepkids, but others on this board might.  You might also check out the stepparenting board(s).

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 09-19-2012 - 3:23pm

With any luck, his license will be suspended so hopefully you won't have to worry about him driving.  I've always told my kids that if they get any tickets they are responsible for payment so even if his license isn't suspended, I'd have him work to pay off any fines or damage.  I'm sure the skipping school/low grades are related to the drinking & smoking pot.  I'd really like to know what his father has said to him about all of this--have they sat down to discuss what is going on when both are in a clam mood?  Frankly I'd probably enlist professional help on this because I really wouldn't know how to solve all these problems on my own.  I'd certainly restrict the kid's activities until he has shown some responsibility--and that probably means not much going out since I assume he's not drinking or smoking pot at home.  I'd also wonder where he's getting the money for cigaretts--they seem pretty expensive to me.  I don't allow anyone to smoke in my home anyway so that would be the first step.  I assume he must have an older friend who is buying them for him.

As far as the group of friends, you didn't exactlly say this but it seems like many parents blame the group of friends for being the "bad influence."  I read a book once (called Yes, your teen is crazy) and I remember it said that teens are attracted to other kids who are like them.  A straight A, responsible student who doesn't want to drink & smoke isn't going to suddenly want to hang out w/ the "bad kids" and then get influenced by them to be bad--the good kids hang together and the kids who want to smoke & drink hang together.  But I would want to find out why he went through this transformation last year.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-25-2002
Mon, 09-24-2012 - 6:33pm

I mean that I will only have to deal with him at home until he's 18. My fiance said that if his son doesn't shape up by then he's kicking him out. The 16yo disrupts the peace and security of our house for everyone involved. My fiance does not anger easily, but he has been angry and stressed since the crash.

I am not the boys' stepmom unless I adopt them. They are both too old to accept a new parent, especially one who is only 7-11 years older than them.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-25-2002
Mon, 09-24-2012 - 6:48pm

My fiance shares custody with his ex, 50/50. There have been few consequences for his actions thus far because if my fiance tries to enforce any, the 16yo runs off to his mom's or to hang out who-knows-where with friends. We have no legal way to enforce discipline.

He does not work. He claims to do odd jobs for cash. Other than that we do not know where he gets money.

We have no definitive evidence that he was drunk when the accident happened because he left the scene. The cops tracked him down later and he claimed that he started drinking after the accident. The cop was extremely lenient and left several incriminating details out of the report.

My fiance so far does not plan to have his son pay him back because he doesn't think the 16yo ever could pay back the amount it will cost (several thousand dollars). I am not personally out any money, but it affects me by proxy because I am marrying his father.

We cannot prevent him from seeing his friends outside of school, either. He just won't come to his dad's house. In fact, he is now not allowed at his dad's house unsupervised. We installed a security system that he already tripped once because he didn't believe we had actually activated it. He ran like hell and beat the cops, so he wasn't caught. My fiance says that if he is caught, he'll be charged. He has a history of breaking into the house.

His mom seems pretty wishy washy and doesn't enforce much. I do not deal with her directly (not because I refuse, but that's just the arrangement).

While we were gone this past weekend he also tried to steal liquor from a grocery store, purportedly because he wanted to get drunk. Because his mom called the store back right away they decided not to press charges, but he is banned from the whole chain of stores. If our house didn't have an alarm system over the weekend, he probably would have just taken it from us as he likely has in the past.

My fiance keeps saying that God smiles on fools and small children, and that his son is some of both.

My fiance is still trying to keep his son engaged with him. The latest idea is to have him over to check on his math homework (since he's failing all his classes except math and recently stopped going to math too). The 16yo says that his brother and I are jugdemental of him, so my fiance told the 16yo neither of us would be at home when he comes by (I planned to work late anyhow).

I know my fiance wants to help his son and hates to see him fail at life, but how much of a toll will he allow it to take on him and on the rest of the household? I worry that he will not seek professional help or external consequences before his son causes him too much stress and heartache.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-25-2002
Mon, 09-24-2012 - 6:53pm

His license will be suspended for 3 months after he gets it, which he will now have to do on his own.

They have short chats regularly, mostly via text. My fiance thinks some comments make the 16yo think, but most times when he's thought that in the past it didn't seem to make a difference for more than a week or two.

We have a hard time enforcing anything because we are not home during the day. We installed a security system now so at least he cannot break into the house and take or damage anything without the police being called.

My fiance thinks his friends do have a lot to do with his behavior, but I tend to agree that he had to be heading toward problems on his own to join that group in the first place. I don't know why his behavior changed or how to find out.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Tue, 09-25-2012 - 10:33pm
Everything you wrote was exactly what my SSS19 did at age 17...DUI, totaled his car, wracked up hefty DOT fines, got into heavy drug use, didn't finish high school...so I feel your pain.

Do you live with your DF? If not, my suggestion to you is to NOT until he IS out of the house. My SS was 16 when dh and I met. Dh kicked him out 3 times last year. He finally came home in January and at age 19 finally graduated. The bad news is is he's still here. Since he has no car and nowhere else to live he now is just existing in our basement which drives me nuts. He often isn 't home at night so who knows what he's doing. I ask him to pick up repeatedly. It's like having a large child in the house. Had I known then what I'm living with now, I would have waited to marry dh until he was out of the house permanently. At this point I see no end in sight.

Good luck.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Tue, 09-25-2012 - 10:48pm
I do hope your DF does seek counseling for his son. I tried to get dh to do that for his son but he doesn't believe in counseling. He did put him in rehab twice to no avail. His son left the first one and got kicked out of the second one. After that dh didn't allow him to come back home so he was homeless for a week. I know we're lucky that he finally straightened out on his own but if I had it to do over again I would have waited. At any rate it does sound like your DF's son needs major help.
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Tue, 09-25-2012 - 10:53pm

What kind of relationship does your DF have w/ his ex?  I know that you said she is wishy-washy, but if they aren't hostile, I think that your DF should meet w/ her (w/o the son) and really have a talk because the first thing to do would be to get them on the same page so he can't pit one against the other or run off to mommy's when dad wants to enforce some consequences.  I think it's really a necessity w/ divorced parents.  Secondly I think they need to meet w/ a professional to figure out how to handle this--maybe start w/ the school guidance counselor.  The kid is heading down a really bad road here--more than typical teen behavior.  By covering up for him, they aren't really doing him any favors.  I don't know if he's going to have to hit rock bottom or what.  Kind of reminds me of my ex's nephew--he really wasn't a bad kid.  He was always good at our house when he came to visit, but his mom was kind of wrapped up in her work and his SF was kind of an idiot--well the kid ended up in the court system and was removed from the house.  I don't know exactly what kind of detention center he was in but in those kind of places the kids have to earn their privileges--there's no computer, no IPods, no cell phones--all that kids today take for granted.  No visits from family either if they didn't obey the rules.  Eventually he did straighten out.  Maybe your DF should have one of those talks w/ his DS about is this where he's headed--because if he doesn't start obeying the rules at home, what kind of fun is he going to have in juvie?  Not so much, I think.  But at some point if the kid won't obey, what do you do w/ a teenager?  If you tell him to come home after school & he doesn't--it's not like the father can go & physically drag him home all the time or search around for him.  I think a lot of it is based on respecting the parents--I do think most teens, if their parents tell them they are grounded, for example--they might be mad and complain, but they will actually stay in the house & take the punishment.  If the kid is at the point where the parent has no control over them or the kid no longer respects the parent's authority, then the parent can say "you're grounded" and the kid just goes out of the house anyway.  I wouldn't even know what to do in that kind of situation.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-25-2002
Wed, 09-26-2012 - 12:14am

I do live with DF, so removing myself from the home situation is not possible.

DF and his ex have a mediocre relationship. He is critical of her occasionally since she hasn't held a regular job in years and manages her life and money poorly, but he tries not to say anything in front of his son (who I will refer to as K16 hereafter).

If K16 doesn't find what he wants at his mom's, he may leave there too and hang out who-knows-where with his friends. In any case, he doesn't listen to either parent if it doesn't suit him. It would be useless to ground him. He says that he's moving out of his dad's and staying at his mom's because we got a security system and are restricting his access to the house. He may or may not stick to that.

"The kid is heading down a really bad road here--more than typical teen behavior.  By covering up for him, they aren't really doing him any favors."

That's what I'm worried about. I can't tell my DF to give up on his son, though. I just don't know where the is line between being a doormat and simply trying to keep K16 engaged with the family.

"it's not like the father can go & physically drag him home all the time or search around for him.  I think a lot of it is based on respecting the parents."

I agree. K16 has very little respect for his parents or authority of any sort. He walks out of school on a regular basis. That's why discipline is so difficult. What is effective that won't harm his future the way a stint in juvie might? He follows the crowd to easily and juvie is obviously not the right crowd.