17-Year Old Teen Son Using Profanity and Disrespect to Parents

A mom asks for advice: What do you do when your 17-year-old uses profanity like f-you, when he gets upset about something during a conversation on a very sensitive subject? We decided to ground him for the weekend, but he left the house anyway and then was 30 minutes late on his curfew. He is not able to drive after midnight and he came home at 12:30 am. We tried to have a conversation with him but he brings up other issues he is upset with us about like the fact we did not let him do his favorite sport this year because of his grades and our financial situation.

During the conversation, he gets very upset storms out and uses another choice word. Any advice? The grounding doesn't seem to work. And we feel he still should be held accountable.

Advice When a Teen Uses Profanity and Shows Disrespect

From what you have said, it seems like your son knows how to get what he wants. Your son made choices that resulted in the restrictions you have employed. He didn't get to do something (play a sport) because he didn't earn it (poor grades). Now he is showing defiance to the restrictions brought on by his choices.

1. Don't Give Up: You say that the grounding didn't work, but you should not give up on using it as a consequence of his choices. In showing defiance, he is testing the boundaries rather than completely disregarding them.

2. Drop the Guilt: In order to deal with his defiance, you'll need to drop the guilt he is piling on you. He is making this about you rather than accepting the consequences of his own actions.

No matter what other factors led to the decision to drop the sport and enforce a curfew, you should focus on the choices he made (poor grades) that resulted in your decision.

3. Enforce the Curfew: Start by taking his keys. His choice of defiance, disrespectful language and ignoring his curfew has merited a new restriction.

4. Extend the Grounding and Set Limits: Tell you son under what conditions he can have the keys back. For example, he has to treat you respectfully with no cursing or defiance for five full days. He has to come home on time during that period of time. Today can be day one, or he can start tomorrow.

5. Encourage Success: Tell him, and mean it, that you are sure he is capable of handling this restriction like a young adult and that you hope he is able to get back his keys as soon as possible. Then allow him to make his choices.

6. Discuss with Other Parents: Your son's behavior is not uncommon. Even for well-adjusted teens can have episodes such as this one as they test your boundaries and face the consequences of their own choices. You may want to discuss this with trusted friends or relatives to get their advice and reassurance. While we can't control our teens, we can control what we give them.