Need input on excessive rudeness from 17/yo

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Steely, Oct 26, 2007.

  1. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    So, I am really unsure how to deal with my kid right now, and I need input.

    It is sorta confusing, and complicated, but in a nutshell my son is RUDE! :frown:
    Not just to me rude, (because that is just a norm by now), but as an actual living person/soul/spirit rude! As of late, it is just the way he operates his life. I mean, when he was younger he would be rude or mean when he was mad - but now - everything in life is approached with negativity and opposition.

    We drive down the street and his incessant babble includes racist comments, sexist comments, general hate comments, like "what does the think he is looking at?", or "what a stupid car", or "what a dumba..."

    When we go in a store, he sulks around like a thug, and if someone talks to him he mumbles. OR. He engages in a explosive conversation with them about their knowledge of a product.

    If we watch TV together he does the same exact things - calling everyone a dumba..., or worse, challenging every race, color, creed. It is horrible. I mean, we can even be outside playing with the dogs, and he finds someone to hate.

    I guess, I really just don't know how to handle this. Ignoring would be good, I guess, or walking away when I can and refusing to be any part of a conversation like that. But I guess, that when I do the ignoring routine, I somehow feel like I am failing him as a mom and mentor. Shouldn't I be reprimanding, scolding, and chastising him for approaching his life with such hate????

    Often, very often, I cannot ignore it, because I get so righteously indignant and over the top angry with him, that I just go off! I mean, I am the peace-nik kinda girl - the anti-war, anti- guns, equality for all, blah, blah, blah person. And of course he knows that, and that just seems to fuel his fire.

    I know part of this is teenage-dom. And the double edged sword, is that for him, this is kinda good. He has been very over attached to me, and the counselor & psychiatrist have been very worried about him becoming more independent. So, in theory he has targeted the very core of who I am, and is rejecting it in every way possible. But he is combining it with his difficult child-ness, and really, it is making me SO angry, and SO worried about his future with this kinda attitude, I am having trouble being somewhat glad he is detaching.

    So.........whatta ya think? What would you do?
  2. mrscatinthehat

    mrscatinthehat Seussical

    Well certain things I allow certain others I don't. Having said that it also depends on when where etc. Do you want to have this battle? Me I would on a bunch of it. I mean if he is talking at home that is one thing. In public a whole other. Is there a way to let him know if he doesn't behave properly in public he just won't go. I realize at 17 that is a challenge in some ways. If it is one of the things he says that is too offensive I would try (and I am not very good at it) to stay calm and say you will not be a part of that which includes being present for it. Then walk away. I know easier said than done.

    The big thing to remember he is embarrassing himself. Natural consequences can happen from that. Let them (as long as he doesn't get hurt).

  3. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Well........yes, I agree. I do enforce the natural consequence of me leaving, or refusing to take him anywhere if he is rude in public. Absolutely.

    But this is usually at home, between him and me - or in the car driving - some environment that pertains to just the 2 of us. When he is not with me, I feel sad that he is like this, and that he is so hateful. But when we are together, I feel really, really mad, because this is not the child I raised, let alone someone I even want to be around.

    Oh yeah, and might I add, lately he gets most of his verbiage, rhetoric, and life approach from his dead beat father, who has become part of the picture in the last 9 months again. Sigh.
  4. mrscatinthehat

    mrscatinthehat Seussical

    I don't know how well it will work but tell him what you said. You didn't teach him these things so you don't want to hear it. I know I am being overly optimistic but maybe in the car tell him if he can't speak properly not to talk.

    Just thoughts. I know my easy child says a great deal that I would not have her say (not racist just rude) in public but I guess I let it go because everyone needs an opportunity to vent. But that is all I see hers as.

    I wish you luck on this.

  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    LOL, Kitty. You ARE bad!

    I agree, I would use natural consequences, WW, but why are you the exception? If you're driving him somewhere and he starts up, just pull over, stop the car, and tell him to get out. Or if he swears at the TV and you don't allow swearing, the TV goes off. Yes, he'll swear at you at the point but you have to wear an invisible emotional bullet proof vest and just walk away. I have actually removed the TV on more than one occasion because of my difficult child's lack of respect.

    Good luck! I feel for you.
  6. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I don't like rudeness but I can tolerate if I have to. Just don't expect me to do things for you if you are rude to me. I have no reason to be nice to someone who is verbally abusive to me, not even my own child.

    However, I cannot tolerate racism. If my child were to be so foolish as to make a racist remark around me, said child would be out of my sight in a heartbeat. At home, she'd be leaving the house for awhile -- at least until she was ready to apologize. If I was in the car with her, the car would be stopped at the first possible opportunity and she could walk home or to wherever we were going. Again, she'd not be allowed back until I heard a sincere apology. If in a store or other public place, I hope she enjoyed the walk home because she would most definitely not be riding in my car. I'm not sure I would give her many chances to understand that this behavior is not acceptable around me. She might get two, I doubt she would get three. I would always love her, but I'm honestly not sure I could live with her under those circumstances. (Heck, I even find the phrase "that's so gay" objectionable and consider it a form of stereotyping and prejudice!)
  7. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I think this might be something that will pass given some time.

    I'd tell him I'm done going into public with him til he can clean up his mouth and attitude. If you don't want it in your home You should tell him that he has every right to how he thinks or feels. But out of respect for how YOU, the woman who brought him into this world and raised him, feel about such things he will not speak that way around you and until he respects you all Motherly duties are on hold. This means no meals, no laundry, ect. He will have to fend completely for himself.

    If it was one of my kids, I'd backhand them so hard their teeth would rattle. Not something I think about.

    BBK you're a bad bad girl. :rofl:
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We've been through stages of this in various forms. I've also had other kids with me that I've corrected - kids I'm transporting in my car to school events, for example.

    If you do nothing, you endorse this attitude and behaviour as acceptable. Or at least tolerable. And clearly, for you it is not. To allow this to continue is to give him tacit permission to do this not only to you now, but to you in the future and every other person he deals with in the future (including prospective future wives - do you WANT him to have the success rate of his father?). So I think you need to speak up.

    What I do - I stop the car, turn around and say (quietly, calmly), "Now where did that remark come from? Why do you say these things? If it is to sound 'cool', please be aware that I do not consider them cool and I do not expect to hear them in my presence. Now please - explain to me WHY you found that person so offensive just now - what was it about tat person that made you feel this comment was appropriate? Now let's analyse it..."

    I analyse them to death, basically. We take apart what they said and why, turn it around to show it really was a stupid thing to say.

    Part of this is to teach them that rude comments like this impress nobody; but another important thing for a difficult child is to teach them to communicate more effectively. it is surprising how few of them can really explain themselves, and this is tragic. So if a kid says to me, "Oh, what a stupid idiot that driver is!" I make him explain WHY he considers it stupid, to justify his remark as if to a debating judge, and we usually end up with the ACTION may have been ill-advised because it contravenes the law which was designed for the following purpose...etc, but the PERSON may actually be quite intelligent.

    A lot of these things you classify as 'rude' are really just blanket statements, derogatory remarks directed to the world as a whole. These are also the ways of someone who is setting himself up for failure against the world. If everyone is an idiot, a dumb-whatever, then he can feel superior without actually having to work at it like normal people, and he can also have the perfect excuse for not working at it - "why bother? I'll only get sabotaged by all the idiots around."

    I agree, if he's hearing it from his father then he's emulating him - the male role model is on a pedestal - but you don't have to tolerate it.

    But don't yell at him about it - simply state firmly but politely, "I do not find that talk acceptable, I do not expect to hear it in my presence. You want things from me, such as transport - kindly show me respect by curbing your inappropriate comments."

    Another way to handle it is to insist that for every mean thing he says, he must say two genuinely nice things about that person/car/object. And they must be honest.

    And you CAN enforce this, if you refuse to drive him any further until he complies. Or you can insist he gets his own meal, does his own washing, earns his own money, until he DOES comply. If he gets shirty about it, explain it is a matter of respect - respect for himself, respect for you, respect for people around him. And to make this work, you must show him respect, even if he is not showing it to you. Your weapon is his needs.

    And if he calls your bluff - then you have the joy of seeing him develop more skills towards his eventual independence.


  9. Weeping Willow,

    Interestingly , this rudeness issue has manifested itself much more with our easy child than with our difficult child. But then I believe that easy child has more than a touch of ADHD and difficult child has absolutely none.

    I think that Marg is absolutely spot on when she mentions that this rudeness is an important issue that can impact relationships with future prosective wives. I have seen it manifested in easy child's relationships with his girlfriends. His last two girlfriends have been so dear to him, and when he broke up with one two years ago it almost did him in. I am convinced that she really loved him but she just could not tolerate his rude treatment of her. I think two issues are working with him. First of all, he just blurts out whatever he is thinking without any censoring. If he thinks something or someone is silly or stupid the words just blurt out of his mouth. For many, many years I spent time with him talking about "inside" thoughts and "outside" thoughts. We all have those negative thoughts, but most of the time we choose to keep them to ourselves. He has a long way to go with this concept. His self control is developing , but slowly.

    The second issue does involve husband. He never blurts out comments, but he doesn't hold back on his opinions, ever. He and I have had to have numerous private conversations about the fact that his sons imitate his every move - for better or for worse. Whenever he starts into a negative comment - particularly about a female or females in general - we go for our private conversation. husband's family was very low on the "niceities". They were mean and short to each other and mean and short with others. husband has a long way to go in this area (he really is trying) and unfortunately easy child has really picked it up as well. The bottom line is, I always have my private conversations - both with husband and easy child. Those comments never just slip by.I think that I would be doing them a disservice if I just let them go by.

    I truly believe that depression can fuel those negative statements. People who are happy with themselves are usually happy with others and can see the good in life. Whenever I see easy child starting to take that overly negative approach to things I assume that he has some depression going on. In the past I have suggested that he set up some therapy appointments with a therapist he has seen over the years. Sometimes he does, and things improve. He refuses to take medication, but personally, I believe he would be helped by a run of an antidepressant.

    I know where you are coming from. It really hurts to have your child manifest behavior that is so alien to you and all of your beliefs. I agree that he knows this and is possibly looking to get a rise out of you. But this behavior is potentially too damaging to him and his future life to be left alone.Good luck! I'm fighting the good fight with you!
  10. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Marg, I think you hit the nail on the head. That is exactly why I think he does it. It is his fear of failure. And I appreciate you offering me insight into my son, rather than judging him.

    Kitty, really not so funny - in fact that felt almost as insensitive as something my kid would have said. :frown:
    I really believe he would do something like that, like pop off a racial remark, in the middle of a gang! He is afraid of nothing. So DaisyLover, "backhanding" him, or Kitty, placing him in a racially fused situation, someone would only wind up injured. And he would probably do it over and over, just to prove something. And that is what keeps me up at night, and my concern that fueled this post.

    As horrible as this sounds......he is still a difficult child...........not just a teenager. He is borderline AS, has bi-polar, and sees the world a bit sku-d. He is not just angry, but looking to use his anger as a way up in the world. And that deeply concerns me. Not so much what he says, but that he is coping so inadequately.

    I will take you guys advice and consistently refuse to participate in it in any way form, or fashion and see where that takes us.

    I guess, I am just having a really hard time. He is still my child, and these actions still grieve me. Even if it sounds like he is the most horrible kid in the world, I still love him very very much. I feel, too often, like people judge me, him, my parenting. It is a horrible burden to bear, that I cannot seem to shake, even when posting here. Perhaps because I feel like I have every his mom.
  11. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    I am sorry, WW. Did not mean to upset you. I removed the post. I apologize if it seemed insensitive.
  12. Weeping Willow,

    Hang in there. People who are parents ( especially of more than one child) know that children often portray behavior that is not condoned by their parents. They are truly their "own people" and they can choose to follow your lead - or to not follow your lead. When I start feeling yucky and get the thoughts that tell me I have been a not-so-great Mom I remind myself that my kids have free choice and that they use it every day. They are works in progress and it's not over yet!
  13. Mrs Smith

    Mrs Smith New Member

    My son does this also. I think of that kind of acting out as a sign of depression. I don't know if your son is in therapy but that's what seems to help the most for my son.
  14. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    What would I do? I'd like to think that I would ignore it. It's easier said than done. I think it helps when you bear in mind that he's doing it to get a negative reaction from you. I'd leave the room and find another television. Not take him anywhere. I wouldn't even take him to school or practice or work or wherever he needs a ride to. He has every right to live his life that way, but you also have every right to not be treated that way. Enlighten him. :wink:
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Witz, I agree he's probably also hoping for a negative reaction (because it makes the sarcastic, nasty comments self-reinforcing) but I don't agree with ignoring it. If you ignore it you're not sending a message that it is unacceptable. That's why I feel you DO need to react, but not in a cranky way. It's even harder than simply ignoring, but if you can react with a friendly challenge it can turn it around.

    One way to think of it - pretend you are giving a lift home to a co-worker or perhaps your boss. And they make a comment like this - how do you react? it's going to be a long drive, you don't want to hear this sort of stuff all the way but you don't want to antagonise the person either. What do you say?
    That's what I try to hold in my head when I challenge the kids or 'call' them on it - I act like they've thrown down the gauntlet in a friendly debate.

    A neighbour/friend of mine is fairly good company but rather disturbed. I estimate there's some sociopathy, a considerable amount of personality disorder and who knows what else. We've driven to places together sometimes fairly late at night and I've noticed that when he's feeling drowsy at the wheel he tries to pick an argument.
    But I don't argue with him; I refuse to. And this begins to make him angry which keeps him awake!
    My best friend no longer talks to him, because he will often deliberately say something nasty and provocative, purely for the fun of getting other people angry with him. He likes to argue, thinks he's brilliant at it. He boasts to me often that he can successfully argue that the world is flat and nobody can prove him wrong with any logic. he knows the earth is not flat; he just likes to argue for the fun of it. But he really ISN'T good at it, he just argues effectively by bulldozing his own point across. He has a number of favourite things to say to upset people, many involving racism in various forms. My best friend's anger with him only amuses him, he has no idea how badly he offends people - permanently.
    But I handle him in a different way by working out what he wants from me, and NOT giving it to him. I suspect that's what his wife does too, although I've heard her get upset with him very loudly, over something I would have ignored.
    I don't always ignore him, but I never let him think he has won the argument. Instead I challenge him to justify himself, and as soon as I can I change the subject to something I CAN tolerate.

    Your son is not like my friend in this - my friend is what we Aussies call a ratbag. But the method of engaging in debate rather than harangue also works.

    The important thing is to NOT give him what he is wanting - an excuse, justification, or even (by trying to ignore it) endorsement.

    And WW, I understand this is especially hurting for you at the moment. I don't think anyone intended to seem insensitive; I think they were perhaps echoing how they think you might feel at times because most of us have, in some form or other, had to deal with this.

    I do think that a lot of this negativity and cynicism can really get you down. I know it gets me down a lot and I've told my kids repeatedly, I do not want to be surrounded by negativity for its own sake. It's too reinforcing and life is gloomy enough. If I'm having a smiley day, the last thing I need is a kid bringing my mood down to match his. Just because my kid is miserable doesn't give him the right to make everyone else just as miserable.

    I hope this helps. Hang in there, and remember you have a right to control your own personal space.
    Another rule to consider which can relate to this - in our family car it is the driver who controls the environment. If the windscreen is misting up, the driver chooses when and how far to put the demister on. The driver chooses what music to play, the driver chooses when to turn the music on or off. And so on.
    And in the same way, I feel the driver has the right to allow certain topics and disallow others.

  16. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    WW...and just how did you get Corys younger twin?

    I swear you could be talking about my son here! Everything out of his mouth is MF this, MF that, F that, UGH! He is so into the gangster rap stuff that he wants to be one of them. He thinks he is mr tough guy. Oh please!

    The biggest problem is that he sounds like he walked right out of a gutter and no one wants to be around that sort of person. No employer would, no normal people would...only others just like him do. Ugh.
  17. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I think you are right Marg - I definitely buy right into his "debate". Part of it is my personality.......I am always up for defending people, or righteously arguing a point.........and so he plays right into that. He throws down his trump card, and just watches me spin. My problem is that I do not ignore it - at all - but rather I wind up getting SO mad. Like somehow I am the one that is the homeless black man's public defender - and my son is victimizing him. It is very intense for me. Somehow this has become all part of his pushing my buttons. When he was little it was more overt things, now, it is these coniving passive aggressive things.

    I have to make it clear like you guys said, that I will in no way be part of this. BUT I need to do it with an air of distance. Almost ignoring, but not quite. I certainly would never, ever allow anyone else to treat me this way, and it sickens me that I have allowed him to do this. I feel like a melted marshmellow sometimes, just wanting the madness to end somehow, someway, but feeling too smooshed to do anything about it. (what an analogy, I know.)

    And you are right Marg, to be around his constant negativity all of the time, is like having a jack hammer in my ear, 24/7. It really, really brings me down. I already struggle with depression, but when I am away from him I am better. But if I have to spend a whole day with him, I usually want to crawl in a hole.

    Last night he wanted me to take him somewhere, and I did lay down the law about how he was to treat me and others when near me. I think he got the message, at least for last night he did - but it has been hard lately reaching him. He seems so far away, in his own little warped world, just intent on fighting. I feel like I am losing him to a dark underworld. Perhaps though, if he has to walk home from his destination, if he is rude, he would wake up and get the real picture. Maybe I just have not shaken his world enough, probably.

    Sad, yes, that is how I feel. Very very sad. What happened to the little boy I used to read eco-conservancy books to - who saved the geckos from the kitten's mouth - whose best friend was Hispanic - who volunteered in homeless shelters..........I know those were my values, that I was simply trying to instill in him, and when he was little he followed. But now, he will have to find his own values, his own causes, his own activism. It just seems with these kids - that they do not really dig deep to find their own selves. Sometimes it seems they are just too busy projecting their sickness onto others. Maybe they dig deep when they no longer have an audience?
  18. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Yeah......Janet. I think we have talked about me having a Cory Jr. How did this happen? :laugh:

    It is maddening! And that is the problem! NO ONE wants to be around them! Not just us parents, but no one else, unless they too, are a big mouthed SOB.

    I am still contemplating your idea that construction could be the only avenue for him job wise - either that or sticking him in a sound proof cubicle building computers.
    But knowing him, he would get angry and

  19. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Sounds like you did well, laying out the ground rules. Something important - you need to thank him for complying and making your time together far more enjoyable. You need to positively reinforce the good stuff, and gently (even humorously?) challenge the negative.
    Instead of being the old man's defender, be the observer calmly saying, "I wonder what he was like to know when he was young? Maybe he was just like you."
    difficult child, of course, is going to scoff at that. No way anything as cool as him is ever going to turn into a lonely old man, shuffling along the street looking for bits of rag or old newspapers to keep warm... wanna bet? He will if he constantly alienates people all the time.

    Another interesting exercise, but only for the REALLY brave - stop the car, go and talk to the old man, buy him a coffee and ask him about himself. For every negative comment, difficult child has to sit with an example of who he's criticised and find out about their GOOD side.

    Another option for the almost-as-brave - take difficult child into an old folks' home and have him learn something about the life of one of the people there. Sit with someone, talk to them about when they were difficult child's age and what life was like back then. Ask all the questions parents don't like to ask - did you get on with your parents? Were you REALLY a well-behaved teen or were you a little bit wild sometimes? What was the scariest thing to ever happen to you? That sort of thing.
    It takes time, but it forces him to see a different point of view and to change his negativity about things he doesn't know. Remember, most of this sort of behaviour is aimed at keeping people at arm's reach, especially the people he's mouthing off about. Afterwards it should be much harder to mouth off about someone he's had a chance to get to know. And some of the stories these people have are amazing.
    A kid in a nursing home sees old wrinklies in various stages of decay. But talk to the people and inside their heads nobody is older than 25. Get difficult child to find those who were rebels as teens, hear what they got up to. Don't panic if you find the worst of the worst - you might find an old man who was a teen delinquent - that's OK. Your son can't match the face of an old man to the concept of a troublemaker without getting personally involved and once he does that, he's no longer able to keep the old man at arm's distance.

    If you have a family member or neighbour who would suffice, use them. The biggest favour you can do for an older person sometimes, is to get a young person to sit and listen to their stories. REALLY listen.
    If you're having difficulty getting difficult child to cooperate, make it a school assignment (set it up with teachers first maybe) or explain to difficult child that YOU want to interview a few people but haven't got the time to work out WHICH ones, could he please find out who HE thinks has the most interesting stories so you can come back later and take some notes.

    Or 'fess up and tell him that for every negative comment he makes, you want him to interview in depth, one person. And you will be keeping score from now on.

    A few years ago I was part of a travelling War Memorial exhibition, purely by chance. I had submitted an item belonging to father in law and was asked to briefly speak of his experiences (since husband hates speaking up in public and I don't mind). As a result of that, I was asked to sit with a couple of other war veterans and 'interview' them with a microphone, to get their story for an audience. One old man in particular was very shy and needed the interview process to be drawn out, he didn't know what to say until directed with a question. He kept saying he had nothing of interest, he wasn't worthy of any attention and fuss.
    But his story! I had no idea, I was totally flying blind. All I knew was that somehow his thread was in common with everybody else in the exhibition - it was related to POW experience.
    Turned out this bloke had been in Changi. What's more, he had been one of the few who worked on the Burma railway, and came back to tell the tale. What he skipped over was even more fascinating - a sort of "It's really not that interesting, how they got us from Changi into the jungle." HE made the value judgment as he had clearly been doing for so many decades, because HE couldn't handle his own story. His wife later told us he had opened up more for the seminar, than she had ever heard from him. And while telling the story he was once more a young pilot, never even got the chance to fly more than once, never fired a shot in war, captured as a raw recruit and thrown into the pit of torment called Changi. He was barely out of his teens, still a kid, and as he talked he was that kid again.

    I do think it would really help a lot of our difficult children to have to do what I did (but without an audience, necessarily) - find the young person in the memories of the old and really see that underneath our skins, we are all young.

    And if he can tape it - so much the better. When I'd finished the 'interview' (I didn't have to do anything much after the first five minutes, just hold the mike steady) people had tears in their eyes, the old man stood tall again (as he hadn't before) and I was in awe. I went up to the organisers and asked for a copy of their tape.
    "What tape?" she said. "We had no idea, we simply weren't prepared for this."

    It was a one-off. I was just a person pulled out of the crowd to help out. They had planned on everything being informal - an exhibition of POW memorabilia (fascinating, ingenious, a monument to never letting anyone break your spirit) and also of the individual's stories, in little pockets here and there. What they hadn't realised was that every story is a gem.

    I'm a pacifist. I don't like conflict in my car, I can't stand the thought of war, I'm terrified of the whole idea of losing someone I love. I hate the injustice of it all, I wish a lot of the time we used more diplomacy and less of the jackboot.
    But war happens. Conflict with our kids happens. And to fight either with pure obstinacy and refusal to deal with, simply doesn't work.
    My pacifism meant nothing to those blokes who spent time in POW camps. Some of them were pacifists too, this was THEIR way of trying to stop war. This wasn't about judgements, this was about simply the experiences.
    One of the men who spoke had been a young boy, not even in his teens, when interred in Malaysia. His contribution for display was a portrait done of him as that child, drawn in charcoal from the fires.

    Conflict breeds conflict, if we let it. But if you can handle the conflict in your son by teaching him to listen first (which means you listening too, and then using what you've heard to frame your next question for him) then you will be forcing him to let people in closer to him.

    I'll shut up now, I'll only keep repeating myself. I really hope you can get through to your son, I have met adults like this and they are sad, miserable people whose sole enjoyment in life is to add to other people's miseries.

    Not for your son.

  20. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I also wonder about depression when they act out like this. It's like they are daring you to take them down another notch.

    Marg, I think that what goes along with the disengaging is the part where eventually they call you on it. "Why won't you do anything for me?" That's when you get to tell them that you're a person too, and you choose not to subject yourself to abuse. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't. It can't hurt to try, though. To be sure, you probably can't ignore them forever.