The holiday gift I regret giving my teenager

For the holidays, my 17-year-old son asked for over -the-ear headphones. Knowing they were expensive, he asked us to splurge and make it his only gift. We obliged, getting a good deal on the headphones on Black Friday. He unwrapped the gift with a huge smile and immediately put them on. Now just two weeks later, I am regretting giving him this holiday gift.

Last night, I called my son to come to the kitchen and set the dinner table. He looked at me and had no reaction. With the noise cancelling headphones on, he can only hear his music loudly, not the sounds around him. But while he couldn’t hear me calling to him, clearly he could SEE me and recognize that I was talking to him. Instead of acknowledging me, he stared off in the other direction as if he had no idea I was talking to him. I was livid!

It was the final straw.

A few days earlier, our family went on a car trip to the Florida Keys about an hour away. As the rest of us talked to each other, my son sat in the backseat with his headphones on, listening to music. When I asked him to be a part of the conversation, he didn’t respond because he couldn’t hear me. I made my other son tap him to get his attention. His response: “Leave me alone. I just want to listen to music.” I didn’t like his response, but figured forcing him to join in the conversation would be worse because he would probably be grumpy and ruin the mood. Still, I  felt resentful that he wasn’t engaging with the family.

The first sign of trouble came only about an hour after he opened the gift. He wanted to go on a bike ride with the headphones on. I said it was dangerous because he wouldn’t be able to hear a car honk at him or anyone approaching him if he had the headphones on. We had a big fight about it and he was mad at me all afternoon.

So now, after three arguments over the headphones, they are in my possession — at least temporarily.

I told my son he isn’t mature enough to own these headphones. Initially, my hesitation was the cost. I was afraid he would lose them and waste our money. But now I realize that was only part of what I should have been concerned about.

I am wondering if any other parent out there has given their teenager a holiday gift they now regret giving. If so, let me hear from you. Also, if you have had any struggles over headphones, I would love to know I’m not alone.

At some point I will give them back, but probably with rules attached!

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1 Comment

  1. Jen January 28, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    We got our kids similar headphones for Christmas. While our older son seemed to understand immediately when to use them and when not to, our daughter has hers on all the time and it drives us nuts. We can’t call her for dinner from the next room, she’ll check out if she’s sitting right next to us. We haven’t yet taken them away, but we’ve established some rules. Hopefully that will help. GREAT post! Glad to know I’m not alone!


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