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    bluepersonality's Avatar
    bluepersonality Posts: 39, Reputation: 3
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    #1

    Jan 21, 2016, 01:43 PM
    What can a teenager do on his days off?
    Hello! Thanks for checking out my question, I hope to have many great ideas from this!
    Here's the basics- teenage boy 14 years old, w/us every other week. Very active, very into games, sometimes imaginative, sometimes surprisingly super unimaginative!
    Spring break is a couple months away, then a few months after that BAM! Summer break!
    There have been a few weeks where W has had 3 and 4 day weekends from school (not to mention xmas break!)
    And you know what he did 90% of the day, every day? Video games! How can anyone sit on their butt in one spot and stare at a screen all day? Even when I was little I got bored and went to find something else to do! But I think this one is going to need a little push.
    I remember when he was little, he would much rather spend his time talking to me while we cooked, or trying to help his dad with household projects, now, nope, video games have taken over!
    During his breaks he has the option of coming to work with us, (we own our own auto repair shop) or staying home. He's not interested in coming to the shop, not even when we offer to pay him for working.
    He may be allowed to play his games all day at his moms house, but I think it's time for a change at our house. He has a 3 hour limit on non-school days, but he doesn't mind it, and I'll admit I'm not very good at monitoring it, but I also feel, he's old enough now to do it himself.
    So here's my questions:
    What can he do, instead of video games?
    I am open to all ideas of course. I am going to be fairly picky though, no ladders or oven use while he's home alone. So I'll categorize what he can do alone and what he can do while he's supervised.
    How can we handle the time limits for screen time? How do you know if they are playing late into the night, when your sleeping? How do you know if they've spent all their time while your working, just playing?

    *Sigh* Problems like these make me hate this town a little more all the time (please don't nit-pick that statement). I'm sure a lot of ideas would be, get him a membership to the rec center, drop him off at the roller rink, let him go to the movies with a friend, etc. etc. all things I got to do growing up, but this town does not offer any of it. One puny 2 screen theater and an ancient pool only open for a few hours during the summer months. That is IT. There is no other sources of entertainment for the youngsters here. There is only 2 clubs, one for little kids, and one for religious kids, which only meets twice a week.

    It'd be really cool if he could find someway of earning money. A job is a good thing for someone his age to experience, but there is little here for that as well. Plus being with us only every other week crosses out some options, and the fact that he'll be into track and football when they come around, will make it so he can't have anything where he totally commits his time for a long time.

    That's enough for now. Pour your ideas at me please! Thank you.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,870, Reputation: 5429
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    #2

    Jan 21, 2016, 02:12 PM
    Where does he get the money to buy video games?
    bluepersonality's Avatar
    bluepersonality Posts: 39, Reputation: 3
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    #3

    Jan 21, 2016, 03:58 PM
    Xmas & Birthday gifts.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,870, Reputation: 5429
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    #4

    Jan 21, 2016, 04:07 PM
    That's two video games a year.

    How does his mother handle this?

    Is the boy interested in being made to do something constructive?
    talaniman's Avatar
    talaniman Posts: 54,137, Reputation: 10852
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    #5

    Jan 21, 2016, 04:28 PM
    During his breaks he has the option of coming to work with us, (we own our own auto repair shop) or staying home. He's not interested in coming to the shop, not even when we offer to pay him for working.
    There is your problem, going to work and earning money should not be an option and he can do whatever he wants on "off" days and after chores. (Like family stuff??)

    Boy... 14... Mandatory work, and chores... 8 to5, 5(?) days a week. LOL, he can learn the family business from the bottom up.
    bluepersonality's Avatar
    bluepersonality Posts: 39, Reputation: 3
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    #6

    Jan 21, 2016, 04:29 PM
    His mom feels that he should make his own decisions about pretty much everything. She doesn't have internet, so the temptation is definitely greater at our house, but he does have more handheld gaming devices with her.
    He's gotten 3 or 4 new games just in the last month or two... one or two were full blown spendy ones, and then he gets a $20 game here or there...
    As far as being constructive, we have lightly tested that. We recently built a desk for him and a couple boards for the top of his lockers (closet) and he took part in it, but didn't seem to enjoy it, as soon as he was done doing what he was told to, back to the gaming... I keep hoping that we can find something that he can build (w/in his ability) that he can take pride in, and thus spark a desire for it.
    talaniman's Avatar
    talaniman Posts: 54,137, Reputation: 10852
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    #7

    Jan 21, 2016, 04:35 PM
    His mom feels that he should make his own decisions about pretty much everything.
    Well that's just fine when he is at his mom's house, but assuming you are stepmom, what does dad say about this?
    bluepersonality's Avatar
    bluepersonality Posts: 39, Reputation: 3
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    #8

    Jan 21, 2016, 05:02 PM
    talaniman
    He agrees that there should be no more than 3 hours of screen time on off days. He definitely wants W to get some physical activity in every day. He would also like to have him help out at the shop, but doesn't want to push him. He's very 'gunshy' on making W do anything because, twice now, his ex wife has taken W away from him, just cause she feels that she can. The first time, when he was about 8 or 9, she moved about 6 hours away and justified it by saying W didn't like being with us anyway. The difference at the time was chores at our place, none at hers. That and we were picky about movies and games, nothing rated R or M, and she never has been.
    He feels that W should start to develop work ethic, and learn some basics on taking care of himself, like car maintenance, house maintenance etc...
    He likes all the ideas I'm coming up with, but hasn't really come up with any of his own. He's struggling though with everything now, he's got some medical issues, including very low serotonin...
    Alty's Avatar
    Alty Posts: 28,318, Reputation: 5972
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    #9

    Jan 21, 2016, 05:14 PM
    I have a 17 year old son that sounds a lot like your 14 year old. It's an issue. I'm cutting off access as of the 26th of this month. Yup, I'm making him go cold turkey. He's also getting a job, even though he has no desire to do so. But he's under my roof, so it's my rules.

    Why does he have the option to help in the family business? You're the parent, don't give him the option, make him do it! He'll thank you later, especially since he's getting paid to do it.

    With my son, I have limits on how long he can spend on games. But I found that he was staying up all night to play them while I was asleep and unaware, hence the reason we're cutting him off.

    We told him about this the other day, and asked him what he will do with his time. A part time job is a must and at 17 he should have one. I then asked what, if anything, he'd like to pursue other than video games. He wants to learn to play the piano. So I've looked into getting him a keyboard that is a replica of a piano (can't afford to, or have space to get an actual piano), and a teacher. He also wants to take archery lessons. So we're making that happen.

    I wish I could give you ideas for your son, but I don't know your son. You do! So sit down with him, find out what interests he has besides gaming, and make them happen. As for work, the family business and him going to help, is no longer an option. You're the parent, so parent him!

    Good luck.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,870, Reputation: 5429
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    #10

    Jan 21, 2016, 05:27 PM
    She's the stepmom, Alty. And she said the boy's dad doesn't want to push him for fear of custody/visitation changes by the mom.
    Alty's Avatar
    Alty Posts: 28,318, Reputation: 5972
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    #11

    Jan 21, 2016, 05:38 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Wondergirl View Post
    She's the stepmom, Alty. And she said the boy's dad doesn't want to push him for fear of custody/visitation changes by the mom.
    Well, if they don't want to push in order to make big changes, then you leave it be, and live with it. Any major changes will require a push, and that's part of being a parent. I don't see how custody or visitation would change because they're bettering the life of this child. That makes no sense at all!
    talaniman's Avatar
    talaniman Posts: 54,137, Reputation: 10852
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    #12

    Jan 21, 2016, 05:39 PM
    I figured that was the situation. Dad's real issue is he isn't going to piss his ex off, and certainly doesn't want to piss you off. That only leaves you to talk to this kid to unlock the keys to his motivation. Is there a visitation order? As long as mom has control, expect this kid to manipulate.

    Sweeten the pot, a day at work, for more gaming time, or more games. Creative manipulation. You are smarter than a 14 year old... RIGHT? Don't YOU have friends with kids?

    Does your husband have relatives nearby?
    Alty's Avatar
    Alty Posts: 28,318, Reputation: 5972
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    #13

    Jan 21, 2016, 06:09 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by talaniman View Post
    I figured that was the situation. Dad's real issue is he isn't going to piss his ex off, and certainly doesn't want to piss you off. That only leaves you to talk to this kid to unlock the keys to his motivation. Is there a visitation order? As long as mom has control, expect this kid to manipulate.

    Sweeten the pot, a day at work, for more gaming time, or more games. Creative manipulation. You are smarter than a 14 year old... RIGHT? Don't YOU have friends with kids?

    Does your husband have relatives nearby?
    Repped, but want to give more rep. Best answer on this thread!

    Teens know how to manipulate their parents, so be smarter than a 14 year old! Figure out what he wants most, and work around it, making him earn the privilege instead of letting him get away with whatever he wants, because you're afraid to change it.

    I will say, my 17 year old fights us tooth and nail. Come out with us for dinner. No, I want to stay home and play on my games. So I force him, and he has the best time! We're campers, and every camping trip we take, I have to force my 17 year old to go, and he whines the entire way there, and then has a great time, and can't stop talking about how wonderful it was.

    They're teens, they don't know what's best for them, they don't know what there is outside of the little world they create for themselves. You have to be tough, and force them, literally force them, to explore other things, and I bet you that it will be the same as with our 17 year old son. He'll love it, and thank you for it.
    talaniman's Avatar
    talaniman Posts: 54,137, Reputation: 10852
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    #14

    Jan 21, 2016, 07:06 PM
    Thanks Alty. But you know I cheated and read other posts which paint a better picture.

    It has to be hard to be assertive though, being a 24 year old with an older guy, and a very controlling (older) ex in the picture, understandable after what seems to be a contentious divorce. To be fair though in time this young lady WILL be more assertive as she engages more with this kid and wins more of his trust and respect to go with the honest caring she obviously has for him.

    That was very obvious in her other posts and I have to say the willingness to learn more ways to get closer to him is a great asset in her favor. I definitely think she is up for the challenge which is the mark of a good parent in my book.

    Kids are a CHALLENGE for natural parents let alone the step parents who come in later.
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,303, Reputation: 7691
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    #15

    Jan 21, 2016, 07:17 PM
    I will agree and then disagree with a lot of the others.

    A 14 year old often will like to play video games, I would say over 1/2 of my university students still go back and play video games late into the night, (until university cuts off internet to dorms at 12:30 anyway)

    I will assume he is visiting, at a place where he has less or no other friends his age to do outdoor activities, basketball, skateboarding and so on with.

    And if he is really happy, getting to play video games, something he can not do at home, I will be honest, I don't see a problem, this is his treat.

    But as noted by the other expert, the poor child seems to be a pawn, used in a control and divorce battle.

    My last divorce was not that bad, and my ex and I don't fight about our son, but it is still hard on them, This winter break, my son did not want to go see his mom (he lives with me) I had to order him or "make him" go.

    So, I would as a step mother, in this bad situation, really not do much personally

    I will say this, as a general rule, what his mother wants, when he is at the dad's house means nothing, (my personal opinion) when at the dad's, the dad sets the house rules.
    But that is for the two parents to understand
    Dchdman's Avatar
    Dchdman Posts: 226, Reputation: 17
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    #16

    Jan 21, 2016, 10:45 PM
    Well I myself do play a number of video games on my off time , though I also do read and collect a number of comics . I've also started trying to draw a number of characters.

    Maybe you could try that though comics do cost money.

    He could also see about getting a side job , I mean there is bound to be people wanting their pets looked after or babysitting or gardening done etc.
    Oliver2011's Avatar
    Oliver2011 Posts: 2,606, Reputation: 746
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    #17

    Jan 22, 2016, 05:17 AM
    Structure, structure, structure. Kids (and dogs) beg for it, even if they don't know it.

    I have two 12 year olds, a sometime 14 year old, and a sometime extra 12 year old. Don't ask, it's a weird family dynamic. Anyway they are limited to one hour of video games on school days and two hours when it's an off school day. Generally speaking because we do take the time to have a lot of structure in their lives, they rarely are playing video games anymore. One of the 12 year olds loves to cook so he helps my partner in the kitchen at night or they go to the grocery shop together.

    During the summer we have them involved in a tennis program that is Monday through Friday so they get exercise. They are also involved in this after school as well. There are all kinds of camps during the summer that are not sports related as well.

    I will also add that they receive an allowance each week if their responsibilities are completed. Those include cleaning their room, bathroom, taking the trash out to the curb, taking the puppies out, and clearing the table.

    One more thing - I am reminded that they also do their own laundry, linens, and towels too. I won't be having lazy boys in the house.
    bluepersonality's Avatar
    bluepersonality Posts: 39, Reputation: 3
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    #18

    Jan 22, 2016, 02:09 PM
    I'll try to hit all points here...
    Whenever it comes to anything family orientated, W gets all that through his mom. We don't ask for much on holidays because we have no family, and she has a ton of relatives.
    Friendships- W seems to have very little interest in friends outside of school. He will happily tell us about his friends at school, but the minute we suggest he has someone hang out, or goes to hang out with them, he instantly is "not really that close" to his friends. We live in a super tiny town, and we're in one of the more popular housing communities, and I know he has friends close by, and he has no interest. I've told him he could have so & so over for pizza, or that he could go to the nearby park and play football if he wanted too, and he doesn't. I know he's one of the more popular kids at school too. There used to be a friend of his near his mom's house, and he'd hang with them fairly regularly, but didn't have very many good things to say about them. And since they've moved, he hasn't any friends over there. Now mind you, on a good day we'd have no problem with him walking to his mom's house, so we're not that far away.
    Parental Rights- The ex does have more control, 1%. It was split 51%her, 49% him. The last time that she took him away from us (for 2 years) we had to try 2 different lawyers, paid them both more than they deserved and got nowhere with them. Eventually she just let W come home again. That was an ugly stupid stressful ridiculous situation.
    Before he was taken away this last time, I was in charge of him when he was with us. His dad was battling health issues, migraines and such, and I would tell him what chores to do, and make sure he did them. I would stay on top of his homework and his behavior at school. And I'd reward him and make sure he was happy whenever I could. And then, it felt OK, it felt right. Now it feels different. That was from him being about 9 to 11. Now he's 14, he's a completely different person. And I am starting to get him back into having responsibilities, but I too am scared of her taking him away whenever she pleases.
    Fr_Chuck- you can see what I've said about friends now. I don't think we should consider him to be visiting.. He lives with us, he's part of our household, every other week. We won't be spoiling him by any means just because he's not w/us full time. He needs structure. Plus his mom, in our opinion, spoils him enough. Sure he doesn't have internet for his games, but there are no rules at her house. Never has been. He's always set his own bed time, he's always been allowed to watch/play whatever he wanted too with her. It actually makes it harder for us to make rules at our place, when he's used to getting his way over there. He's better at it now that he's older, but that played a huge role in her having taken him away the first time. I do agree with your rule, and we do try to keep it that way. But we also tend to do what she wants us to do. It's wrong, I know.
    W is interested in drawing, off and on. He's very good. He sometimes says he should have a career at Pixar or Disney, and I bet he could. But since all the gaming stuff has been set up and the internet turned on, I haven't seen him pull out a sketch pad.
    W used to do his own laundry, before she took him, and towels and bedding. I would check on him of course, and he got the hang of it very well. Now I haven't even gotten the nerve to tell him to clean his shower, and I do all his laundry..
    Jake2008's Avatar
    Jake2008 Posts: 6,721, Reputation: 3460
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    #19

    Jan 23, 2016, 10:06 AM
    It seems the adults involved have to learn how to make a constructive, fair, and firm schedule for this kid.

    If one is afraid of the ex changing visitation etc, that is a lousy excuse to let this boy call the shots and do nothing constructive, nor is he learning anything about life, sacrifice, commitment, etc. etc.

    Perhaps mediation could get the parents to get together to figure out an agreeable set of goals and changes for this kid. Grow up parents!!

    Take charge!

    Take away the internet, except for maybe 2 hours a day.

    Present a united front (all the adults) with a list of required chores. He's old enough to cut the grass, take out the garbage, do his own laundry, and wash a few dishes.

    Perhaps add to that a 'pick one' list- i.e. volunteer work at the food bank for instance, or shoveling snow to help out an elderly neighbor.

    He needs structured, parented time. Not a free for all, when any 14 year old would choose video games.

    NO excuse cuts it when it comes to justifying letting this kid do what he wants. You are doing him a disservice and all will pay for his lack of parenting, and poor social skills, let alone judgment, work ethic, respect, and immaturity when the real world eventually kicks him in the .
    talaniman's Avatar
    talaniman Posts: 54,137, Reputation: 10852
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    #20

    Jan 23, 2016, 11:08 AM
    Heck of a challenge you face for sure. Rise to it and don't let the fear of losing him to his mom deter you from doing what's right. It's your house, and rules and boundaries are for you to make.

    His lax mom may be an obstacle, but only if you let it be. The same goes for your husband, and his own issues which you must consider, but don't have to give into, seeing as how he lets you supervise his son through all of this anyway.

    Bottom line is do what YOU think is the right thing to do. You have no control over W, your husband, or the ex, or the outcomes of their behaviors, so just follow your own good orderly directions. Have some faith in your own good judgement.

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