Questions From You

Parenting questions submitted by our community members and answered by a YOU Program facilitator.
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My teenage son is getting into trouble and won’t listen to us. What can we do?

November 5, 2015

By YOU Program Facilitator

My teenage son is going through some changes and seems to be straying off of the right path. I have been told we need to talk to him as parents but he won’t listen to me, and my husband refuses to talk to him. What can I do? | A boy puts his hand up, blocking his mother from speaking to him.

Question: My teenage son is going through some changes and seems to be straying off of the right path. I have been told we need to talk to him as parents but he won’t listen to me, and my husband refuses to talk to him. What can I do?

Answer: This is a difficult situation, because you want to help your son but don’t know how. And deep down, your husband wants to help his son, too, but is likely having trouble knowing how to talk to him.

You and your husband might be surprised by how much your son still needs you and benefits from your time and attention, even as a teenager. Despite becoming more independent and making decisions you don’t agree with, he still needs love and support from both of you.

Think about your relationships with your son before he became a teenager. Then think about what your relationships were like when you and your husband noticed your son straying from that path. How have those relationships changed?

Often as children become teens and more independent, parents give them space. There are many reasons for it: embracing them becoming an adult, respecting their increased need for privacy, and sometimes even because it’s easier now that you don’t have to worry about them in the same ways you did when they were toddlers.

But that change in attention could be affecting your son. While it’s important to respect his new boundaries and step back a bit, it’s also important to spend quality time together and get to know him as he becomes an adult.

  • Give your son affection, even if he doesn’t like it. A few hugs a day never hurt anyone.
  • Make time for him, and ensure it’s face-to-face and not via phone or texting.
  • Resume family traditions, like game night or family dinner. Even if these traditions happen less frequently, it’s important to keep them scheduled.
  • Talk to him, even if he won’t reciprocate. Tell him about your day, ask for advice, even talk about the weather. Eventually, he’ll respond in some way, which can lead to more conversation and help him get back on the right path.

Even if he dismisses your advice or affection, it’s still important to try. At least that way, he’ll know he is loved and still a priority in your lives.


You can learn more about supporting and engaging your teenager throughout high school in the third book of the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher series.

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How can we help our daughter understand that college grades take priority over her boyfriend?

January 9, 2015

By YOU Program Facilitator

How can we help our daughter understand that college grades take priority over her boyfriend? | A college-aged female tries to study at the library while her boyfriend sleeps on a stack of books and she looks at him with frustration.

Question: Our only child went to a nearby college this year on a scholarship, but her grades were very bad her first semester. She’s had a long-time boyfriend, who is the same age but is not in school. We think her grades are suffering because her boyfriend is always at her dorm, so when she’s out of class, she’s spending time with him instead of doing homework and balancing academic with social time. 

What can we do, if anything, at this point to help her understand that school needs to come first and she needs to find a balance between social/relationship time and study time?

Answer: One of the topics discussed frequently in the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher books is showing your child the value of an education. Your daughter is an adult now, so your role as a parent must shift to accommodate this phase of her life. Here are some suggestions discussed in our books:

Earning Income
Discuss the career options she will have with only a high school degree (see Through High School and Beyond), and what the corresponding salary would be. Be transparent with your daughter about your own household expenses and help her create a budget with the salary you discussed. Being open to the reality of living costs can be very eye opening for a young adult. 

Financing College
With your daughter, review the requirements to keep her scholarship. When grades are poor, it will be difficult—if even possible—to get another scholarship later. Explain to your daughter that the longer she waits to finish college, the more difficult it will be to get financial assistance. She may struggle to pay for college out of her own pocket. 

Encourage a Supportive Relationship
Reach out to the boyfriend and help him understand you want to be on the same team for the success of your daughter. Explain that you are not against their relationship, but rather you just want your daughter to earn a college degree so that she can be successful later in life. If the boyfriend truly cares about her, then he should be equally supportive of her academic success.

Encourage him to enroll in that school so they can help each other be successful. You can even help your daughter budget her time with classes, study time, and social time. Teaching her that there is room to manage academics and a social life will continue to be a useful skill later in life. 

Identify a Positive Environment
Encourage your daughter to make friends at her school. Having friends with the same goals for finishing college will influence her in a positive way. Find out what social activities are at the dorms or encourage her to enroll in a club.

As a parent, your role is to teach your daughter to value obtaining a college degree, and then you must trust that you have provided her the life skills necessary to make the best decision and live a productive and responsible life.

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