My 14yr old son, youngest of 4 (other 3 are triplets), has always been a very strong-willed kid. Over the years we have been able to channel that will thru his love of soccer.

He plays a very competitive level. About 6 months ago, his Dad was diagnosed with Bipolar, its been an extremely difficult 6 months of betrayal, loss of trust and emotional roller coasters with his Dad. I have tried to be his rock, stayed strong and made the best decisions I could during a VERY difficult time.

I have taken my son to 2 different therapists. He responded very well to therapy, he actually was the most intelligent and communicative of all 4 of my kids. Never fought me on going. At the advice of the therapist, we are down to monthly visits now, prior we were going bi-weekly. Within the last 3 months, my son has become very defiant.

Refusing to do chores, refusing to get ready for school in the AM, refusing to be ready to go to soccer practice. He is VERY lazy, refuses to do chores. He speaks back to me non-stop. Tells me to shut up, tells me I'm stupid. I recently allowed my son to have 2 friends sleepover during spring break. At 2am, I was awakened by giggling in the kitchen and caught the 3 boys doing shots of vodka.

I was tipped off by his older brother that he was juuling. (a form of e-cigarette). I searched his room and found e-cigarette paraphernalia and a condom in his wallet. How do I now deal with this? I feel like I need to send him to a boot camp for at-risk kids to nip this in the butt.

Do I approach him on my own, do I approach him at our next therapy appointment.

What if he says it isn't his? Just looking for some advice on the best way to address this.

  • 9
    Is Dad still at home and part of the parenting? The condom is nothing to worry about, imo. Kids this age 'show off' or if he was having sex -- it is protected and that's a good thing. You cannot stop sex when a child decides they are ready. You can make it more difficult -- but truthfully the best scenario for sex is to be well educated and prepared. You cannot stop him from going to school and contrary to parental hopes, it can happen before dark.
    – WRX
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 19:10
  • Hi Dad is living with us, but is not part of the parenting equation due to his illness.
    – MRK13
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 20:55
  • 13
    He has a condom in his wallet? That's really bad. You must tell him to store his condoms in some way that they are not constantly squeezed, or they will become damaged and tear during the act. Unless you want to become a grandmother soon, you might want to buy him a condom case.
    – Philipp
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 15:39
  • 4
    About the condom - Say "Hey, big boy - I found a condom on your wallet. Keeping it safe - that's the spirit! If you need more, ask me, 'kay? I can get better ones at the store for you.". This will get you a lot of cookie points with your kid, a little embarrassment, and probably a lot of extra trust. He will do sex anyway if he wants to, so it's better to be safe than sorry.
    – T. Sar
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 12:21
  • 3
    @physics you would be surprised by the amount of 14-years old actually doing sex. Jail is only an issue if they are doing it with someone much older. Anyways, I'm not advocating for the kid to have sex - I'm saying that, if it happens, it is better that it happens in a safe way.
    – T. Sar
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 12:24

6 Answers 6


I think you have to be 100% honest. Talking it out during therapy is a good idea. Set rules and follow them. There are set consequences for breaking the rules. Perhaps the therapist can help you decide on appropriate rules/goals and consequences.

If Dad is in the loop, please make him a part of it. No one (including parents) can back down or change the rules.

If you are serious about a boot camp, tell that to the therapist and your son. He can avoid it by simply keeping a lid on things. All teens act out. This does sound like it has possibly gone beyond 'normal', but it's hard to know.

ON Edit: I understand why you do not want to be found out for searching your son's room. It feels dishonest. However not telling the truth is also dishonest and as you are teaching honesty, then you have to be honest. It's fine to say that as a parent, you felt you had to see what was happening. He had been caught drinking and had broken your trust. This was the consequence for that. You can explain that parenting is a huge responsibility and that even when you try your best, you make mistakes. It is how we handle mistakes that makes us better people. He can show that he got the message in how he takes the consequences for his own actions and how he deals with them. With maturity comes responsibility and privilege -- it is a package deal.


It sounds like he's acting out the way teenage boys do when they don't have a strong father figure in their lives. That means you need to fill both roles until he does.

  1. Make sure he knows exactly what you expect of him when it comes to underage sex and drinking. You have a lot more influence with your children than you think.
  2. He needs good friends and a good role model. Studies have shown that teenagers tend to engage in the risky behaviors their friends participate in.
  3. Find an organization where he can make friends that have values that are important to you. Religious organizations do a very good job of providing this.

Do not ignore the condom you found. He needs to know where you stand when it comes to sex at this age. Make sure he understands both the risks and the house rules. If you don't approve of sex at this age, make sure he knows that.





If possible do not tell him that you discovered his stuff by searching his room. You are a good mother who only wants the best for your son, but he might see this act as a breach of his privacy. Could you say you stumbled upon these when cleaning his room ? As you say you seem to be the one doing the chores as he doesn't. Him cleaning up his own room and doing his chores might prevent something like this to happen.

For the chores, you have to make him understand that he has his fair share of work to do as clean clothes don't magically appear in his wardrobe. You can try to let him handle washing / ironing his own clothes, he will have to do it eventually at some point.

For the e-cigarette, most of the time anger, fear and punishment are not viable solutions in the long term that will make him change his mind in my opinion. He is at this rebellious age where he won't listen to an authoritative figure. Instead, make him understand and realise by himself that NOT smoking will be better for him. Make a list of all the pros and cons of smoking, and tell him that the pros of NOT smoking outweighs the pros of smoking.

Pros of smoking

It gives feel-good feeling, it destresses, it's might help him being included socially with his friends and other people at school

Pros of NOT smoking:

  • It allows him to save money to buy maybe other things that he wants
  • No health problems related to the lungs. Some people get lung cancer and have their life expectancy reduced, but not all (yeah we all know that great uncle who smokes and seems to keep on living forever), it's a matter of probability. Up to him if he want to take the risk or not.
  • Not feeling mental dependance on a drug
  • You mentioned that he loves to play soccer, and plays in a competitive level. Smoking affects breathing and makes people less endurant when running. You can tell him that smoking might affect his soccer performance during the tournaments and he might not play at his best level. EDIT: This is valid for cigarettes only. For e-cigarette I am not sure.
  • 1
    I do not see any way around admitting the room was searched. It is his room but the parent's house and responsibility. I have a friend who had the police raid their home for drugs -- found and 'owned' by their son, and they came close to losing their house defending themselves. The smoking advice was good -- athletes definitely impair their abilities if they smoke.
    – WRX
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 19:06
  • Yes, I am really wavering around telling him how I found the stuff. Mostly because I don't want him to think he has to start hiding things. I'd rather we try to keep things out in the open and deal with them, rather than him thinking he has to hide and then I might not know what is going on until its too late.
    – MRK13
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 21:51
  • Disregard what I've said for smoking affecting endurance, as it's concerning cigarettes. For vaping I am not sure.
    – J. Doe
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 10:57
  • LINK Web MD While not the same as cigarette smoking, vaping is not good for you.
    – WRX
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 15:32

Some simple advice/questions:

  1. Do you really need to tell him about what you found in his room? The drinking could be a credible excuse to bring sanctions on him.

  2. Might he raise these things in his therapy session naturally, without you needing to raise them first? If so, point 1 doesn't even need to be considered.

  3. It sounds like you're working IMMENSELY hard to keep things as normal as possible for your kids. You're doing an admirable job. Are there any things you haven't considered yet, that you could also change to make things better? Are there people you can turn to who you haven't been to yet?

I hope that things improve for your family soon.


14 is an age where your son stops being a child and starts to become a teenager. This is the age where parents can no longer control the life decisions of their children. You can only try to influence them positively, which you will only be able to do when you have a good relationship with them.

If a teenager decides to smoke, drink alcohol or have sex, there isn't much you can do about it. When you forbid it, they will do it secretly. You can no longer argue just from authority ("Do what I tell you because I am your parent") or from morals ("doing these things is bad because... it's BAD!"). These lines of argumentation no longer work on teenagers. They will dismiss them, because they feel that they are now mature enough to judge on their own what's right and what's wrong (which might be debatable, but that's what they believe). You can not break their will by force. All that will do is destroy your relationship with them and make you even less able to influence them positively.

But not all is lost. While parents might no longer be able to control teenagers, they are still be able to advise them. You can try to influence them to do these things responsibly by talking to them about the dangers. If you decide to talk to them about self-destructive behaviors, make sure you have proper arguments which actually convince them to change their lifestyle. Do your research and explain to them the short-term and long-term consequences these behaviors will have on them. Do not argue from your interests ("You are really hurting me and my father by doing all these things to yourself!"). This is emotional blackmail and they know it. Argue from their interests ("You do know that drinking too much alcohol can cause irreversible brain damage, do you? It's true, just read the Wikipedia article on alcoholism.").

And by the way, you might not want to tell him that you searched his room. Teenagers have an expectancy of privacy, and will likely consider that a breach of trust which will damage your relation and in turn reduce your influence.

Regarding the idea to "send him to a boot camp for at-risk kids": I personally doubt that there is pedagogic value in paying someone else to physically and mentally abuse your children in any way which doesn't strictly violate the law. If you believe in the "iron fist of discipline" approach to parenting, at least have the courage to do it yourself, so they are traumatized from the thought of disobeying you, not the instructors. But that's just my personal opinion.

Source: I used to be a youth group leader and worked a lot with teenagers in that age group.

  • 1
    -1 for encouraging child sex. This boy is not even old enough to consent. "There's not much you can do" there's always plenty a parent can do - to me that sounds lazy.
    – user24631
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 5:55
  • Parents have much more influence over teen behaviors than people think. Studies have shown that teens are less likely to drink and have underage sex when the parents are active about talking to them about these things.
    – Bronco
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 17:13

If I were you I would have a very relaxed conversation about it. If I were you, I would let it slide, tell him that it is okay to drink and do things that normal kids do, because the truth is that he is going to run into it and kids his age are doing that, but if you send him that he shouldn't do anything, it's just going to lead to him binge drinking like he did with his friends. Juuls are pretty popular. By the way, Boot Camps are for kids that like are doing coke or some hard drugs at a young age, not kids that are juuling and drinking.

--Hope this helped

  • 2
    Respectfully, I must disagree. It sounds like he only has one functional parent, and a parent's role is not to affirm negative habits and destructive behaviours, but to point, cajole, and even demand that they take the right path. He might still choose the foolish path, but he will do it over her exhausted, dead body, not with her blessing.
    – omannay
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 9:53
  • I disagree too. It is our job as parents to help inform teach our children. This doesn't mean we don't recognise kids are kids and that they will do things that we prefer that they did not do. Home remains their safe place -- a parent doesn't want to be so mad and so strict that their kid can't come home. I wasn't allowed to drink and that curtailed me to a certain degree -- I tried to stay sober as opposed to getting drunk. When I toked, it was more moderate than it might have been had there been no caring parent at home. I wanted to look sober and so I learned moderation. Thanks Mum 'n Dad!
    – WRX
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 12:09
  • 2
    him that it is okay to drink. At 14 is it not OK to drink. Yes it happens. I was probably younger smuggling my mums vodka into a flask but it's not OK by any stretch of the imagination.
    – Bugs
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 13:13
  • Drinking at this age inhibits brain development and should absolutely be discouraged.
    – Bronco
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 17:07

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