My 19 yr Old Son Says Smoking Marijuana and Drinking Beer are what ALL Boys Do At That Age and that I am Being Unreasonable. Am I?
My 19 year old son has been smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol for at least the past year. He does not do this around me or his siblings but I have found evidence that he does this away from home.
When I confronted him he told me that all normal 19-yr old boys drink beer and occasionally smoke weed. I responded to him that I didn't care what others were doing only about his behavior. He attended college away and hardly passed any subjects and I believe this was due to his partying.
He is now at the community college and lives at home. He hangs out with his friends often and has been missing classes. The final straw for me was finding marijuana outside he had dropped by mistake. I have three younger sons who could have found it.
I have taken my son's car and phone away. I also have told him that if he wants to live at home he will have to have routine drug tests and see a counselor. He is very angry and thinks I am being unreasonable.
I am having a hard time because his father died when he was 15 of cancer and I know he has experienced tremendous pain. Is this a normal phase that he will outgrow and am I being over-reactive?
Yes, it is fairly normal for 19 year old boys to drink beer and smoke marijuana. Teenage drug abuse
and alcohol abuse are unfortunately all too common. It usually is only a phase many teenagers and young adults go through. So as a parent of course you'd prefer your son didn't didn't engage in these kinds of behaviors, but there isn't really much you can do to stop him. Because he'll find ways to get around whatever measures you implement.
By being too strict, you risk totally alienating your son and chances are he'll just end up smoking and drinking more, and engaging in even more dysfunctional behaviours. So you need to allow him the opportunity to blow off some steam with his friends, while still holding him accountable for doing certain things, e.g. attending classes and passing his subjects.
I think the best way to handle this would be to have an open and honest conversation with your son - adult to adult, not parent to child. Tell him you love him and that you only want what's best for him, so you want him to have the opportunity to have fun with his friends, as long as he meets certain expectations - i.e. attends college and passes all his subjects.
So leave the ball in his court - if he's prepared to meet you half way, tell him you'll provide him the freedom to enjoy himself, but if he doesn't you're going to play hard ball and go ahead with the measures as planned.
Your son is almost an adult and so needs to learn how to become responsible for the choices he makes. If he makes bad choices, he needs to understand there will be consequences, but at the same time he needs to be given enough freedom to figure things out for himself.
Being a parent and knowing what the right thing to do in a case like this is almost impossible. For most teenagers, this is just a phase they'll outgrow, but for some it becomes the start of a life of dysfunction and destruction due to their addictive tendencies.
You can only hope that with your son all of this will pass, but either way, you have to realise you can't control the path he ends up choosing. That's the letting go part one has to learn how to do as a parent.
So I think the main thing is to try and get your son on-side, by trying to communicate with him openly and treating him like an adult. Be firm, but fair. Let him know your fears so that he can understand why you've felt the need to implement the measures you have. Hopefully that way he's more likely to come to you if things go wrong, than rebel against what he believes is someone being too strict and doesn't understand what he's going through.
I know that this is tough and that there are no guarantees irrespective of what you do. You can only do your best and trust that everything will work out for the best in the end.
God Bless and Good Luck