My Teenage Son is Acting Out

Question: Dear Luise: My 15 yr-old son has been acting out with drugs, drinking, and wanting to stay out all night…or he runs away. He is causing a lot of problems in the family with his temper and not wanting to be part of the family. He wants to skateboard all the time. He came home drunk last night at 2 AM and has a very short temper today. Now he wants to move in with his grandma 100 miles away and live with her. What should I do? D.

Dear D. What are the chances that your son will change his behavior if he moves? Have you asked him that? Does his grandma know what he is like to live with and where his dangerous and destructive patterns are leading him? Does he respect her and want to change or does he just think it will be easier to pull the wool over her eyes and/or that she will indulge him?

None of us have a crystal ball. We never know in advance if change is the answer when it is brought into the life of someone headed for the worst possible scenario as a result of the worst possible choices.

My grandson was just like your son at fifteen. It looked like no one could help him to help himself and that he would die an early death or end up in prison. Yet he chose to help himself, joined the army Rangers, got out with college benefits and worked his way through law school. Today he is a successful attorney and married to a lovely woman. They own their own home and are planning to have a family.

My point here is we can seldom help someone who doesn’t want to help himself. I have talked with my grandson about this, asking him where it all came from and what any of us could have done to turn it around. He feels it was part of his personality to be self-destructive and that it was nobody’s fault. He’s amazed he survived it. What saved him was finding so many others just like himself in the Rangers and seeing how those who didn’t change turned out, as grown men.

If you don’t see any hope as things now stand, how could a change make things worse? Your son has chosen this path, for whatever reason, and now he wants to try a different environment. The hard part to face is that the only way you will know if it was a wise choice or not is after the fact…in hindsight. There is no way to know in advance. Blessings, Luise

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