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How can I help my teenager who has become disrespectful and defiant since recently hanging out with a new friend group?


I have a 17-year-old son. He has no history of being a problem child until this past year when he has fallen into the wrong crowd. He is starting to be disrespectful and not listen to basic instructions. His newfound friends have a big impact on his life in a negative way. He leaves home and returns the next day or when everyone is sleep. I need help.​


Boys Town - Defiant Teen

​​Thank you for reaching out to the Boys Town National Hotline today. Parenting is not easy, especially when our teens start showing some new behaviors that we are not used to. It's great you reached out for help today! That is not easy to do, but we are so glad you found our contact information!

Peers can heavily influence the way our children think, act, and behave. Are these new friends kids that he met at school? If these are kids that attend the same school as your son, it may help to get the school involved. Let them know that you are struggling with behaviors in the house and would like their support. Your son may be able to speak with the school counselor about the decisions he is making and how it will impact his life moving forward. Another suggestion we would highly encourage is calling the police every time your son leaves without permission. You mentioned your son leaves the house and then does not come home until the next day or when people are asleep. Next time this happens, and you see your son has left the house again without permission, call the police and make a formal run-away report with them. This way, your son knows there will be consequences (both at home, and now with the police/court) if he continues to run away. This is also the safest option for both you and your son as there will be a formal run-away report filed.

At home, what are some things your son is motived by? Does he have a job? A cell phone? Access to a computer/internet? These are all privileges that can be taken away if he is not following the home expectations. Maybe try sitting down with your son and letting him know that if he is living in your house, he will need to follow your home expectations. Those expectations might be things like him attending school every day, talking to you in a respectful way, asking permission before going out with friends/leaving the house, doing chores, etc. If he cannot follow these home expectations, he will start losing his privileges like TV time, cell phone, possibly even his employment (if he has a part time job). Typically, it is best to provide these consequences on a behavioral based model, meaning your son will earn back these privileges when he shows positive behavior. It is also important to remember to explain these expectations and provide the consequences in a dispassionate manner. Here is a great article that talks about the benefits of providing these consequences in a factual, not emotional, way: When Disciplining, Be Like a Dispassionate Cop | Boys Town.

We hope some of these suggestions can point you in the right direction on what to do next. As it was mentioned earlier, parenting is not easy! We are so glad you decided to reach out today. Please feel free to email back if you have any further questions or give us a call at any time! Crisis Counselors are available 24/7 to provide whatever support or guidance possible.