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Teenage Son is Skipping School, Smoking


My 15-year-old son is in ninth grade and really struggling. He skips school, doesn’t do his homework, brings his friends over to smoke cigarettes and drink while we’re gone and has become very lazy. I’ve taken away everything I can think of, but it's not helping. His friends have stolen from us, and our son doesn’t seem to care.



It sounds like your son’s behaviors are tied to his skipping school. If you haven't done so already, get the school involved. There needs to be intervention both at home and in school before the problem becomes worse. A school can be a parent’s best ally in this type of situation. Perhaps you and your husband can schedule a meeting with the school counselor and the administrator to come up ​with a plan for your son so this behavior can be nipped.

At 15, it's illegal for him to be smoking or drinking so try to find out where he’s getting these substances. As parents, it's our job to provide a safe environment for our children. If you or your husband keep these things in your home for your enjoyment, make them inaccessible to your children. This might include locking them up either in a certain cabinet or a specific room.

Regarding his being "lazy" and taking privileges away, it doesn't seem to be motivating him to change. When parents administer a consequence, it has to be important to the youth, or it won't be effective. It sounds like what you’ve already taken away isn't working. Look at discipline as an opportunity to teach your son good behavior. Administer a consequence directly following the bad behavior. Then, teach him by explaining how what he did or said was inappropriate and give him an example of what would be an appropriate thing to say instead.