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Violent, Unpredictable Behavior in 17-Year-Old


My 17-year-old son is an angry young man who experiences dramatic mood swings. He has become so angry in the past that he has punched and kicked holes in a wall. He calls me names, is disobedient and flips me off on a daily basis. He refuses to participate in family holiday gatherings — including his own birthday — and he is earning either failing or very low grades in school.  

We recently moved in with my sister. She lives 10 miles away from his close group of friends, whom he still sees about three times a week. His father has drug and anger problems and is not present in our son’s life. There is much sorrow and instability in my ex-husband’s life, including the murder of his daughter from a different marriage. When I was attending school full-time, his father and older siblings cared for him.  

I have called the police twice. They have taken my son to mental health facilities, where he acts calmly and says he will accept counseling. Both times he reverted back to his angry ways once he was home. I have also taken him to counseling, but he refuses to go back and will not have the necessary blood work done for the doctor to prescribe medication.


You will need to establish guidelines for behavior and enforce consequences when these guidelines are not met. It is not OK for him to show you disrespect and disobey rules. When your teenager does these things, take away a privilege and make him earn back the privilege by proving that he can be respectful and follow the rules. Since his friends are important to him, you can take away his time spent with them.  

It sounds like your son has been through ​quite a bit and has unresolved feelings about the upheaval in his life. His initial willingness to open up with counselors indicates that he wants help even though he reverts back to his unhealthy behavior once he is home.  

Given the situation, consider in-home family services. An in-home specialist actually comes to your house and works with your family as a whole, while paying individual attention to family members as well. He might be more willing to talk to and open up if someone comes to him. He would not be able to opt out.  

Boys Town can help you find services of this nature in your area. Just give us a call. You can also always talk to one of our counselors at 800-448-3000.