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Problem teen playing you against your spouse? how to stay solid in times of distress

Author: Debbie Nguyen
Published: Sep 4 2013

Problem teen

Dealing with a teenager can be difficult enough on a daily basis, but this issue will be exacerbated if you and your spouse are not able to agree on how you should handle each situation. If your teenager gets into serious legal trouble, it is imperative for both parents to show a united front. This approach makes it easier to help your teenager from a legal standpoint, and it will also enable the entire family to take steps to correct the problem.

Tips for Remaining Unified While Facing Difficult Issues with Your Teenager

Even the most well-behaved child, who has never caused you any major issues before, will possibly get into legal trouble and cause you major stress after he becomes a teenager. You need to discuss these potential issues with your spouse so that the two of you can decide how you will handle these challenging parental issues from a legal, financial and disciplinary standpoint. Kids are smart. If your teen senses that you are not a united front with your spouse, he will play each of you to his advantage.

1. Wrecking the Car - If your teen is involved in an accident in the family car, make sure he takes the necessary first steps of calling 911, not volunteering any statements, and collecting all drivers’ names and insurance information. Stress to him that he needs to remain at the scene of the accident and be calm. He also needs to make sure no one is injured and get help accordingly if there is someone hurt.

When you get him home, one of you can play the good cop. Give him a well-needed hug. He was probably traumatized by his accident. Get him something to eat or drink. Tell him that you are glad he was not hurt. Now the other parent can play the bad cop. Ask him for details about the accident, what led up to it, was he being distracted? Tell him that he will be responsible for his actions and for repairing the car. If he does not have a job yet, pile on the household chores. Limit his schedule to only school-related activities like band or athletics.

2. Speeding Ticket – We all know teens love speed. If your teenager gets a speeding ticket, the cost of your insurance will go up. He should know that it is vitally important to keep his driving record as clean as possible. If he is under 21, usually a parent must accompany him on his court date. The outcome of his ticket could vary greatly depending on which state you reside, which court, which judge, and which prosecutor is handling his case. The sentence for a traffic ticket in Florida can be totally different from one in Nebraska. The court might fine him, put him on probation, order him to do a driving refresher course, and do community service.

At home, take away his driving privilege. Literally, have him hand over his license to you. Set a curfew. Unplug all entertaining electronics. If he still needs the use of a cellphone, go buy him the ugliest, most basic, no-plan temporary phone. Be his chauffeur. This will be inconvenient for you but you’ll soon appreciate the looks he’ll get from other kids as they see him being dropped off by Mommy or Daddy.

3. Alcohol and Drug Use – Teens are curious creatures. Many experiment with alcohol and drugs, not thinking twice of the dangers involved. But alcohol or drug use can lead to lack of motivation, loss of interest in normal activities and long-standing friends, heavier use, or addiction. If your teen was caught carrying a large amount of illegal drugs, selling or distributing, his future could be at stake. You need to contact a lawyer immediately.

You may have to enter your teen into therapy or rehab. Find out whom he has been associating with and limit his time with people who you think are questionable or partly responsible for his destructive behavior. Try to engage him in family activities, such as family dinners, even if he is belligerent and resisting you. Be ready and willing to drug test him without notice. Pick privileges that he can earn back one at a time if he stays drug-free for a certain designated amount of time.

There are other actions your teen can make which can mount tension and stress in a family. Among these are stealing, having irresponsible sexual relations, being aggressive toward you or his siblings, and skipping school. Parent wisely by showing a strong unified front with your spouse, be willing to make harsh consequences, and most importantly, follow through with the consequences instead of making just idle threats.

Debbie Nguyen is a blogger and nervous mother of two teenage male drivers in Georgia. She hopes to avoid a traffic ticket in Florida since her family often visits the Sunshine State.

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