Punishing Teens

Dear Sara,

I have a son who is sixteen years old. He does not want my opinion on anything. He argues with me about everything I say to him and doesn’t want to help with chores. He is better with his Dad but when Dad isn’t home he can be really disrespectful. I try really hard to get along with him but he doesn’t want me around. His Dad is in charge of his allowance and use of the car so I really don’t have many ways to punish him. Is there any way to discipline him for acting this way?

Dear Holly,

I am wondering how you and your son got into this pattern of behavior. Teens often go through a phase where they are trying to proclaim their independence. He is being very disrespectful to you and I am wondering what is going on there since he is not this way with his Dad. You don’t seem to be sharing this with Dad or Dad doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem. Is Dad disrespectful to you as well?

If you have been hovering over your son and telling what to do at every step of the way, you may need to back off and let him do things his way. If his father is OK with your son behaving this way you have a more serious problem. Family therapy might be a good idea but it is doubtful that your husband and son would cooperate. If you don’t have a job try to find some outside interests. Join the gym or try to find some hobby that will keep you busy.

Good luck.


  1. Richard K Turner says:

    Disciplining a child requires a team effort. Both mom & dad must present a unified approach. When parents disagree the child will divide the couple and will win every time.

  2. elton shoemaker says:

    Terrible advice. Demand from your husband that he demand from his son, that he show his mother respect!! You should also demand that your son show you respect. It is never to late for discipline.

  3. Dear Holly:
    I raised three sons by myself. All three are respectful hard working husbands and fathers. Their father ducked out when they were very young, and I worked one full time and two part time jobs to raise them. They came to work with me sometimes if there was no babysitter (babysitters can be horabley undependable). My boys all saw how hard I worked and I missed a lot of time with them, it was hard on all of us and sometimes they resented me for not being there when they needed me. But now that they are grown and raising children of their own they ask me how I did it all alone. Now they understand, and now they are loving and supportive to me in my old age. Maybe you should get a job, and not always be there to pick up behind, and be a slave to your son. maybe he needs to learn how to depend on himself, so that he can learn to appreciate his mom. And maybe your husband needs to learn to appreciate you too. I have a friend who went on strike with her bunch, she decided to just stop being mommy and let everything except herself go. Within one week they were all begging her to be mommy again. To your health my dear Good Luck

  4. Shyrell says:

    Unfortunately, it isn’t a gender rebellion and it is usually the child’s way of manipulating you. You need to bring it to your husband and be united. Dad may control the purse strings but if the boy is just playing nice for the privileges, then dad needs to know he is being played. Being united will turn son’s behavior toward you and be better for him. God bless!

  5. Tom Blair says:

    Your kid has come to believe he is the center of your life and can dictate to you as your equal. Take away all playthings, including his allowance, and make him become responsible enough to at least partially support himself with a job that requires discipline. Sadly, it might well be too late for him to actually become an adult without substantial “tough love” where you don’t feed him unless he works. Also, you might consider cutting him away from his associates and otherwise getting him into ROTC now or the military service ASAP.
    There is no honor in dishonoring ones’ parents.

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