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What can I do to keep my 13-year-old son off the streets

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Dear Life Coach,

I need help with my 13-year-old son: he is disobedient; comes home late from school; and is constantly on the road. He also shows no interest in spending quality time with his family (his father, two younger siblings and myself), and seems disconnected from the rest of us. During the week my husband works the night shift and leaves just before my son is dismissed from school, so they do not see each other much.{{more}} Most weekends my husband also works from 8:00 a. m. to 10:00 p.m., so I supervise the children. I also work and get off by 5:00 p.m., pick up the younger children (ages 8 and 6), and prepare dinner while supervising homework. I am usually so tired and stressed that I cannot be bothered with a child who refuses to listen. Furthermore, I cannot leave the younger children at home alone to search for him on the streets. When my husband is at home, he spends most of his time catching up on sleep. What can I do to ensure that my son is off the streets before anything bad happens to him. Thanks so much.

Worried Mother (WM)

Dear WM,

I am so sorry to learn about your son.

Your Situation

Several factors are at work here: search for identity and peer group acceptance, lack of parental control and supervision, stress, and breakdown of family structure among others. I will address these briefly:

1. Search for Identity and Peer Acceptance

Your son is at the adolescence stage of development and is seeking to develop an identity of his own. At this time, independence from parents and acceptance in the peer group are two critical developmental tasks that teenagers must accomplish positively in order to remain healthy.

2. Lack of Parental Control and Supervision

There is a lack of parental control/supervision of your son; he is left up to his own agenda. Both children and adolescents need supervision constantly, as their decision making skills are not fully developed.

3. Stress

You are stressed from work, home-making, and parenting. Your husband is also stressed from long work hours and a demanding job. You both seem to be on the brink of burn-out.

4. Break Down of the Family Structure

As a couple and as a family, you have not been spending quality time together. There is no recreation, little structure, and no discipline nor supervision for your oldest child.

What to Do

1. Get organized. In order to care for your children, you must first take care of yourself: 1.Get 8 hours of sleep each night 2. Eat a balanced diet daily 3. Exercise for at least half an hour, twice per week.

2. Enlist your Husband’s Support. Your husband can: 1. Verbally support your discipline, despite his absence 2. Spend quality time with his son, the whole family, and with you on his day off.

3. Reduce stress. 1. On weekends pre-prepare, package, and store dinner for the week, so that dinner is quickly prepared once you get home.

4. Add Structure at Home. Have a set time at home for meals, homework, family activities, and chores. This way children know exactly what to expect and as a result feel a sense of security.

5. Talk with your Son. Let your son know that: 1. You care about him. 2. You and his father are concerned about his behaviour. 3. You will be making changes in relation to his supervision.

6. Spend Time with your son. Spend time each day talking to your son about his day, and each week do something fun with him. Show interest in the things in which your son is involved.

6. After School Program. Enroll your son in an after school program, based on his interests (eg. basketball etc). This will provide a creative outlet, and keep him occupied while he is under adult supervision.

7. A System of Discipline. Develop a system of rewards and consequences for your son (and the other children). This will help him to understand your expectations and the consequences for his behaviour. See more on this at: http://www.dynacii.blogspot.com

8. Invite Positive Peers. Consider inviting a few of your son’s positive peers to your home while you supervise. This is better than having him on the road.

9. Seek Professional Help. If you continue to feel overwhelmed, seek help from a counselor who specializes in behavior management to work with you and your son.

WM, all the best with your son.

Life Coach

DYNACII

Need help with relationship and other problems? Ask DYNACII’s Life Coach. Email your questions to dynacii@gmail.com. To Chat with the Life Coach, visit: http://www.dynacinternational.com. Dynamic Action Center International Inc. (DYNACII) a non-governmental organization committed to social and spiritual empowerment.X

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