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Anonymous
Anonymous asks:
Q:

Should I be concerned that my 12 year old boy has a 15 year old "girlfriend"?

He also has an almost obsessive interest in skateboarding and snowboarding.  He never has had the greatest friends - and he doesn't make friends easily.  Now, however, he has all new "friends" - that I'm not comfortable with.  Many of his "friends" are high schoolers and even kids that have graduated that hang out at the skate park.  His new closest friends have behavior and family issues.  His grades are not good. We've been struggling with that for a couple of years and this year is terrible.  He is easily distracted and doesn't seem to care about school.  

But, this new "girlfriend" is concerning to me.  What does a 15 year old girl see in a 12 year old boy?  He's "cute" but certainly not physically or emotionally mature for his age. Her older brother is not getting married b/c his girlfriend is pregnant - and she (the girlfriend) is very happy and excited about this.  Another red flag for me.
In Topics: Teen issues
> 60 days ago

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Expert

lkauffman
May 26, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Dear Anonymous,

It must be very difficult to see your son struggle socially, finally make some friends, but choose peers who do not appear to be a good influence. It sounds like you have good instincts about your son, and I think that you are right to be concerned.

Your son is still young enough that you can continue to exert quite a bit of influence and guidance. Although it would be ideal if your son were intrinsically motivated right now, I suggest that you set up a behavior plan to help keep him on the right track.

Write down a list of expectations for your son along with a parallel list of rewards and consequences. One of your expectations might be for him to earn a certain grade point percentage (make it something reasonable and achievable). Alongside each expectation, list the date by which he must meet the expectations and the consequences if he misses the goal. You can also include rewards or incentives to inspire him and keep him positive. Consequences might revolve around reduced access to his skate board or limited time at the skate park. You can use his interest in skateboarding and snowboarding as motivation and identify certain events that would excite him. Visit your local skate or snow sports shop and check to see if they have any upcoming visits or events (shops often have pro skaters come to the shop to talk with patrons and sign skate boards).

It is VERY, VERY important that you follow through on the rewards and consequences. It is absolutely imperative that your son understands that you are serious about the expectations, consequences, and rewards. If you have difficulty enforcing the consequences, the behavior plan will lose it power.

Regarding the girlfriend, decide for yourself what age is appropriate for him to date. And, consider what age is acceptable for his girlfriend. Talk to your son about your ideas about dating and let him know why you feel the way you do. Explain to him what some of your own experiences with dating were as a teen or young adult (in my experience, kids love hearing about their parents as kids and teens).

You know your son best, so trust your instinct.


Kind regards,

Laura Kauffman, Ph.D.
Licensed Child Psychologist
Education.com JustAsk Expert
www.drlaurakauffman.com

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Additional Answers (4)

claricestepney
claricestep... writes:
Yes, as a parent I would be very concerned. He's just 12, too young to be so serious. Concentrate on helping him to improve his grades and as square as this may sound to him, try to find something that you as a family can do together to learn more about your child. A parent should be their child's friend first in my opinion. Get to know your child, if anyone should know them it should be you. As much as they push you away(if at all) try and keep trying.
> 60 days ago

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Juanita112
Juanita112 writes:
Hi - This sound very familiar, same age, similar issues, but it's never too late, by my own experience I can tell you those older "friends" needless to mention the "girlfriend" are not and will not be a positive influence to your son.  However, by telling your son this it won't work I ask God for wisdom every day...show him your love and do something together you both enjoy, keep him busy even if you feel overwhelmed, talk to him about the consecuences of making poor choices. Taking away priviledges and negotiating with my teen has helped us. I hope this helps.
> 60 days ago

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conniemath
conniemath writes:
you should be ur his mom u have every right to be...you shouldnt try to make them split up unless you feel that its ruining his life but if hes really happy then you shouldnt. you coud try to reason but i doubt itll work if hes headstrong.you could try to find him a new girlfriend that can make him happy and give him priviliges that wil make him feel s if HE'S 15 and shes 12...make him feel confident ...just a suggestion
> 60 days ago

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Daniel_Guillot
Daniel_Guil... , Parent writes:
This is a tough situation for a parent to be in.  We may like to think we control our children but often we find that we actually don't. A few thoughts from people smarter than me:  People buy from people they like.  Again, "People buy from people they like".  This is true more often than not and very crucial.  Teenagers rebel, but often not against the people they like and respect.  If you want to sell an idea to your son about a better life, they don't skip over the rapport step.  It will go a long way in getting him to buy into your idea if he has respect for you.  Example, your son believes he is happy with the new friends.  It is good making new friends.  It is good to be able to befriend those older than you.  Comment positively on the small accomplishments in his life.  Not praising him for his poor choices may have as much or more impact than discouraging poor choices.  Be smart, praise him for things that he has done that may lead him away from this situation, such as small accomplishments with academics and sports.  Let him see you praising the good actions of others as well.  We all want praise.  If he sees you thanking someone who has done something nice to you, this can also encourage positive behavior.  Setting boundaries will no doubt be part of what you need to do to guide him and cannot be overlooked, but these boundaries usually lead to resentment.  Positive reinforcement can help to lead him in the right direction as well as help maintain a loving, respectful relationship that will be needed.  I believe that children need love, discipline, encouragement and punishment.  I believe that they need to be protected as well as they need to make their own mistakes.  It is the excruciating job of the parent to determine at what time and to what extent each of these things are needed to help a child grown.   Good luck.
> 60 days ago

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