Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Category: Teen Discipline

Why does your teen sneak out of the house?

As a teen growing up in the 80’s, I had a curfew like most teens did. I never thought of breaking that curfew or disobeying my parents. It just wasn’t done. It’s called respect.

I recall the many times Olivia as a teen would sneak out of the house through her bedroom window unbeknownst to her father and I.  At first I didn’t know because as a parent you assumed your childsneaking out is sound asleep. It wasn’t until I saw her screen popped out of her window that I questioned her about it.  She said  “the wind probably did it.”   Hmm.. the wind isn’t that strong but we want to believe and trust our kids. In addition, I have an alarm in the house so there is no way she could get out of her window without the alarm going off. Even if she disarmed the alarm, I would hear her doing it. Well, one day as I was cleaning her room, I noticed the sensor for the window alarm was off. I knew right then and there Olivia was sneaking out. So the question was how do I confront her?

I showed Olivia the window and the sensor that was removed.  Crazy enough, she said “Oh, it broke and fell off.”  Okay, I’ll bite, and I went along with her response knowing she was lying. I said I would glue the sensor and if it was off again, I would know it was because she removed it. Every day I would check it until, you guessed it, one day it was off again. I confronted Olivia and told her to stop lying. I told her I know  she is sneaking out and just be honest about it.

Well, she decided to be honest. All her friends had later curfews and were still out while she had to be home because her curfew was earlier.  Olivia was a freshman and her fiends were juniors and seniors, so of course their curfew was later!!  I I told Olivia lying to me and her dad was no way to gain trust or get a curfew changed. Just the opposite,  we would take away time.  Mind you, Olivia had a decent curfew time for a 15 year old. I think midnight for a 9th grader is  more than generous but to a teen, it’s never late enough.

There were times Olivia got creative. She would put pillows in her bed to make it look like she was sleeping, or she would take the screen and hide it under her bed.  We changed her door handles to ones without locks so she couldn’t lock herself in her room. We eventually locked her window so she couldn’t sneak out, but even then she found a way to unlock it. Our last resort was putting the hurricane shutters up on her window. Now, she couldn’t sneak out. It was sad we had to do this, but unfortunately her actions caused these extreme consequences. Olivia was grounded and had to earn the trust back and it was a tough,  long road gaining that back. We spoke to her about the rules of the house and having respect enough to obey them. But rules to a teen are just something they want to break, not adhere to.

Olivia is now 18 and when I remind her of when she use to sneak out,  she acts as if it was 10 years ago when she was a kid so it doesn’t matter. I quickly correct her and tell her it was only three years ago.  The point I make is that while mentally to her it feels like long ago because she has grown up physically, it wasn’t that long ago. To me, it seems like yesterday. I don’t miss that at all.

I asked some ofsneakingout my friends if they ever snuck out ,and by gosh, some did! I guess I was the only one with a guilty conscience and enough respect for my parents wishes not to do it.

I have to ask this to all the parents and teens out there… Has your teen ever snuck out and if so, why?  Rebellion? Friends? Parties? Boyfriend? Girlfriend?  Or, just because they could? It baffles me how teens could have little to no respect for their parents wishes.  Is it just a teen stage that many of them go through?

Does taking away your teens cellphone really work as punishment?

My daughter’simages.jpg1 friend Tina recently got her phone taken away for lying to her mom and dad. When I asked her why, she said that she was driving a golf cart and accidentally hit her brother’s  foot. Well, her brother, Ryan, started crying and their mom freaked and wanted to know what happened. Tina,  for fear of getting in trouble, lied and said he ran into the cart.  Her brother said that was not not true, Tina ran into him.  Her mom asked a neighbor who happened to have seen the incident and she supported what Ryan stated. Well, Tina’s mom was not only disappointed in Tina for lying, but extremely upset because  she could have seriously hurt her brother.

Tina’s phone was taken from her as punishment and she does not know when she will be getting it back. Now, I understand what Tina did was wrong, but I don’t think the punishment fits the crime. I know every parent disciplines differently, but I would have at least told Tina her exact punishment — a day or two  without the phone —  or I would of had her do the laundry for  a week.

I told Tina she needs to apologize to her brother for hurting him and apologize to her parents for lying and hurting her brother, even if it was an accident. Accidents happen, but lying  will only hurt you in the end.


I have to wonder what punishment would Tina have gotten if she snuck out of her room and went drinking with friends at midnight. Would she  have the phone taken away for a month? It’s unrealistic and I don’t think would work.  If you keep taking the phone away as a punishment for everything your teen does, do you think it’s really going to continue working? For some teens, the first or second time their cellphone is  taken away  becomes their last. They realize it is too painful to be without it.  Yet, some other teens become immune to losing their cell phones. Or, parents give in and give the phone back.

So, I pose this question: Does taking away a teen’s cell phone really work as punishment?



Mom the Enabler?

I recently have been told that I seem to enable my daughter and her behavior in order to avoid conflict. Now, that may be true to an extent but trust me all mom’s know every action they have with their child has a reaction as well. I pick and choose my battles as do most parents but since their isn’t a book on “How to Raise a Teenager”, I have to make the best choices knowing what the outcome will be.

For example, if my daughter texts me and tells me she needs a ride late at night after she told me she has one, should I make her walk? Some parents would say, that will teach her a lesson. I say, she is not safe at night walking by herself and I would prefer her safety over teaching her a lesson!

Am I enabling my daughter if I fold the laundry for her because she has to study or I want it done right then and there?  Probably, but I don’t care, there are so many other lessons she needs to be taught and I just can’t be on her for every single thing or all she will learn or remember from being a teen is that mom was a nag and just cared about chores and not her. I need to focus on how to better communicate with her so she and I can have a strong trusting relationship where she can come to me for bigger issues not laundry. As she tells me, I need to be a better listener.

My hubby on the other hand would say I need to be better at NOT ENABLING our daughter. Look I am trying to listen, communicate, love, care, nurture, protect my daughter all at once so if enabling is in the mix, so be it. Like I said, there is no book on how to raise teens, so all we can do is try our best and make the best choices for our kids with what we know and pray it was the best choice. Will I continue to enable, probably but I truly believe or at least pray that as she gets older things will get better.

So, are you an enabling mom? or an enabling dad?

Taking away the cell phone

                                                              Should parents take away cell phones as punishment?



My youngest son has a foul mouth. It’s coming from the music he listens to and the You Tube videos he watches. Sometimes, he’ll walk around the house singing obscene from rap songs or  video.

The more vulgar the song, the more he remembers the lines. I’m constantly on him on about this.

I’ve banned him from You Tube but frankly, it’s too hard to monitor. He pulls it up on a friend’s phone when I’m not around.

Last night, I blew up. He was walking around the house singing a song and doing some gestures that had something to do with a girl humping a guy in the back of a car and trying to pin him down months later as the baby daddy. “Now I’m pregnant and you the pappy…say what?”

The best punishment I could think of was taking away his cell phone. It’s the one thing he really cares about these days. Yet, taking away the phone punishes me as well.  Today after school is the school dance and I want to be in touch with him for pick up.

In some ways, taking away the electronics worries me. The goal, of course, is to help my son learn from his mistakes, make better choices and demonstrate more maturity. We all know that for wired kids, the most impactful consequence is loss of digital privileges. But am I giving electronics more power by using them for discipline? Will taking his cell away make it something he wants to use even more?

I dont’ know about you, but I know how hard it is to enforce digital punishment.  A recent Pew Report found many parents don’t follow through on cellphone bans.

Some parenting experts believe we should use digital punishment sparingly. They say the most effective consequences grow logically out of misbehavior. A kid who sends an inappropriate text loses cellphone access or a kid whose grades suffer because she’s on Facebook instead of doing homework gets social media access taken away. The recommend saying the device is being grounded instead of the child.

So what do you think about digital grounding? Have you ever taken away your teen’s or tween’s cell phone as punishment and if so, did it change the behavior?


Is it EVER going to get easier?

I am sitting here during my lunch hour at work contemplating how my husband and I are going to deal/handle yet another “drama” with our daughter, Olivia. Just when I think there’s hope, the mask comes off and here comes reality staring me in the face.

I just grounded Olivia.

I decided to type up a contract that basically lists what she is grounded from, why she’s grounded and how she can get all her privileges back. One of the items on the list was that I decided to turn off Olivia’s cell phone until her father and I see changes in her. We want to see that she is focused on what’s important, like school!
I understand Olivia is a “typical teenager.”  But, after a while, that phrase just doesn’t cut it anymore. That excuse has been overused. I know I will get a call from her friend’s phone telling me her phone is not working. When I tell her I shut it off, she will of course say “why”?
I am hoping this “contract’ will help Olivia get back on track. She has too many distractions and it’s my job as her parent to eliminate them and get her focused.
I wish there was a book that could give parents the answers whenever we have issues with our teenagers because raising them is not getting any easier as they get older!

So parents of older teens, I ask you.. “Is it EVER going to get easier?” How long do I have to wait?

Teenage Meltdowns

Remember when your child was a mere tot and the word “no” could reduce your little sunshine into a wailing demon? While that memory makes me cringe, I’d go back in time and experience it again.

Yep. You read that right.

Any crazed parent of  a toddler knows tantrums come with the territory. I did. But then, the years  went by and I starting to feel superior, like I had parenting thing under control. Like I was a combination of Carol Brady and Angelina Jolie.

And then, bam! Reality check. I  have a teenager. And NOTHING could prepare me for a teenage meltdown.

My first encounter came out of nowhere and I quickly discovered that whatever a Mom does or says likely will only add to the meltdown. (Of course, I know that now, after I suffered the brutal result of trying to be rational.)

This is what you are likely to hear during a teen meltdown:

“You’re ruining my life.”

“Because of you I’m going to get left out.”

“Everyone will be there and I won’t and it’s all your fault.”

The meltdown will include: Crying. Screaming. Anger toward you. Possible door slamming.

Sound familiar?

Here’s what the experts at Families With Teens say NOT to do:

1.  React.   When you become angry, you add to the energy of your teen’s meltdown.

2.  Back down.  It may be tempting to make the meltdown go away by giving in a bit, but it will not help you or your child in the long run.  In fact, it will make the next meltdown even bigger because he has learned that sometimes you back down.

3.  Problem-solve.   Your teen is reacting out of an emotional side of him, and is not ready to engage his intellect (which is needed for problem-solving).

4.  Threaten. Most parents do this out of anger and it only exasperates the teen and adds energy to the meltdown.

5.  Insult.  Avoid the temptation to say, “You’re acting like a child.  Grow up and act your age.”

6.  Watch.  For some teens, just having their parent in the room watching them will increase the meltdown. Your non-verbal reactions may be enough to fuel the fire.

7. Argue.  It may be easy to show your teen the error in his logic, but remember, he is not thinking logically, he is thinking emotionally.

Here’s what they suggest you do:

1.  Remain calm. Easier said than done.  This takes practice.

2.  Acknowledge the anger.  Sometimes it is calming for a teen just to be understood.

3.  Find something else to do.  Do anything that will help you to not engage in your teen’s meltdown.

4. Make every effort to starve the fire.  It’s not the time to enforce punishment.  It’s not the time to discuss the consequences.  Only do these things when your teen is showing you they can be calm.

My first encounter with a teen meltdown has left me numb. But next time, I plan to take the walk-away and wait-for-calmness-to-return approach.

Parents, or should I say survivors, how do you handle teen meltdowns?


(Wondering how Angelina would handle a teen meltdown???)

Project X inspires teen copycats


Does your teen know the difference between a movie and reality?

You’re looking at me like I’m crazy for asking that question. But I’m not.

Remember when the movie Jackass came out and kids all over  the country were getting hurt trying to copy the stunts? Give a teen a “brilliant” idea to gain some popularity and most often, he will go with it.

My son went to see Project X over the weekend. (I posted the movie trailer above) His friends were saying how great it is and he came home saying it was hilarious. It’s been called The Hangover for teens. The movie is about teenagers in California who through a property-destroying, drink and drug fueled birthday party to gain popularity. It already has made more than $50 million in ticket sales.

Teens think the movie is so funny that they want to copy it. Across the country, teens are throwing their own wild bashes. Now, police are worried that a potent cocktail of copycats, Spring Break and empty properties is going to lead to big trouble. “There are a lot of abandoned houses and everyone knows which ones they are,” police are saying.

One home in South Florida recently vandalized had Project X spray painted on its walls in preparation for a party canceled by police earlier this week. Though the police learned of the party in time to prevent it, the teens managed to create $20,000 in estimated damages to the house before the police the organizers.

Today, police have something our parents didn’t have to track whether we were getting into trouble….social network sites where anticipation for these wild bashes builds in public view.

So parents, if you see your teen organizing something on Facebook, keep a close eye on what’s going on. Chances are high your teen knows someone who is planning a Project X party.

Now, I want to ask you, do you think that movie makers should realize that teens might follow their lead and that doing so is easier with the heightened presence of social networks? Is it not really their problem since they are just putting this kind of movie out there as entertainment?

Or parents, is it our responsibility to make sure our teens don’t go too far with mimicking Hollywood?


New disciplinary strategy for your teen?

You have taken the phone away, taken Facebook away, taken computer time away, taken TV away, taken going out with friends away, what else is left? Been there, done that right? Problem is, what do you do when you run out of punishments that just don’t have the impact you want it to?

I recently came up with a new disciplinary strategy for my 14-year-old daughter Olivia. Now, I don’t mean  make your bed, vacuum, fold clothes punishments, No! Those are daily chores not punishments.  I mean hard, elbow-grease work.  Painting!!

It all started one day, after Olivia and I got into our usual “differences of opinions”  spat, and I was tired of the same old punishments. So, I needed to think of something different that will have more of an effect on her.

After talking with my husband about some of the things that needed to get done outside and having our jungle gym in the backyard painted was one of them,  it dawned on me,  “Why don’t we have Olivia do it?” This way, she is not on the phone, texting, watching TV,  or on the computer and we get the jungle gym painted! YES! I like this a lot!

Well, last Friday, Olivia started painting our jungle gym and to say she is not happy is an understatement.

New disciplinary strategy for your teen

There are spider webs in the jungle gym so she was freaking out. Her dad told her to get a broom to get rid of the spider webs. Real simple. She then calls me to tell me that ” I can’t paint the jungle gym because there are too many spiders.” I told her again, to take the broom and clean it. She said that “they are coming from everywhere and I already got bit.” My luck, she is deadly afraid of spiders and they are all around her. I just can’t win. I told her to improvise and paint the outside of the jungle gym not inside where the spiders are.

Well, the jungle gym is almost done, but I have to say I was proud to see how much she accomplished, not without a lot of complaining of course.

I still prefer this strategy to some of the others. Now, we just have to wait and see if it works! Stay tuned!!

So tell me, what is your disciplinary strategy for your teen? Does it work? Can’t wait to read about them.

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