Dereliction of duty: I'm a lousy parent


I have tried to do a good job as a parent, and, up until today, thought I was doing an okay job.

Then I find out that my 14-yr old son and some mysterious girl are a “hot item” around town.

Mind you, I have home-schooled him the last few years. I have raised him in the faith as best I could.

Yet, between instant messaging, text-messaging and these facebook/my space things, funny business has been happening under my nose.

I want my kids to be able to handle the world and so let them run around with kids from church and such. I am fairly sure nothing immoral has occurred. But, I am told this girl is not Catholic, and, from some reports, kind of “wild”.

I am beside myself. What should I do? I was going to send him to the local Catholic High School next year. I am rethinking it, knowing how eager he is to be BMOC. Should I take his computer priveleges away? Not let him go out? I could use some advice, here.


I have a 16 yr old son in public high school, and 2 daughters (ages 14 and 9) who have always been homeschooled, except for Hebrew school on Sundays (which of course is private school).

My son has ben acting crazy too, not with girls but with politics (LONG story!) I think all teens just go through these rebellious stages. MAYBE he needs to be in formal schooling (some kids do), but my son is there and he’s not much better than what yours is doing.

I think you should take away the computer privileges, but know he might find another way (the library, a friend’s computer, etc)

I don’t know how our own parents survived us!


Ceil, honey, WHAT has he done???

Who says he’s an item? What has he done that has made him an item? Right now, all I see are rumor and innuendo.

If you have not asked him, I would.


I agree. Talk to him and find out his side of the story.


Ceil1 :hug3: you are NOT a bad parent. Parents are only ever part of the equation with any child, at least if the child is a normally socialised human being. Friends and the media will have an influence, like it or not.

And there is a limit as to what parents can and should do about it. After all, you want your son to be independent, no? You wouldn’t want him still living at home with you when he’s 50, would you? :eek:

Kids have to learn, sometimes through a bit of trial and error unfortunately, to not make stupid mistakes. It’s the reason God gives us free will even when we mess up, and we have to do the same with our children.


You are not a lousy parent! I have a teenage daughter that also has found a “special” friend. I have made it clear that she is not allowed to date before turning 16 and that this is a time to “make friends” with the males and to not take things so serious. Even so, I caught her and her friend chatting in not so “just friends” terms. I called his mom and explained what my girl was loosing because of this interaction (computer, etc.) and she agreed to do the same. After a period of time they won back our trust and are now developing more of a friendship. No dates and outtings are accompanied by parent and other friends. I talk with my girl about expectations I have for her and what expectations she should have for herself. I feel I can trust her.

So, don’t feel like a lousy parent. Communication is the best tool you have. Set some expectations for him and if he does not meet those expectations then loss can follow. But don’t try to hold on too tight and smother him… I’m afraid that is a hurtful loosing battle.

Just my 2 cents worth,


His friend’s mom, who does a lot of chaperoning for the youth group, in mentioning her, referred to her as his “girlfriend”. This girl, apparently, attends the youth group of our church, but is not Catholic. His friend works with her and does not trust her. I value his friend’s judgement.

What bothers me is that he has been in this relationship with a girl and covering it up. He has been deceptive, as far as I’m concerned. Why the secrecy if there is nothing to hide?

It seems to me that school would only worsen things and provide more temptations. The Franciscan priest who serves informally as a homeschooling chaplain would consider this a serious breach of parenting.

He basically told me no computers and little, if any television or movies. This very with-it and experienced man is very firm about the need to guard our children from worldly influences, if we expect them to get to heaven. I take what he says as from God, as his order, (Militia Immaculata), is very holy. He believes it will be very difficult, if possible at all, for a child to reach the holiness necessary for salvation, if they are exposed to all this nonsense. He has worked with young people around the world and he knows what he is talking about.

I am shocked and concerned at how strong the pull of these worldly things are, and how little effect my efforts have had. Then again, this may just be a phase. I know I do not want to take everything away from my kids. I know people who do that, and it is not healthy.


I wouldn’t allow IM, texting, facebook/myspace, or unsupervised computer time at his age.


How do your kids cope with such restrictions? Even our most conservative families allow some IP.

BTW, I supervise much of the computer use, but, apparently not enough phone conversations or activities out of the home.


I agree, but no computer seems a bit much, IMO.

Technology is here to stay. Why not teach kids to discern well how to use it, rather than shun it?


Our computer is in a central location in the house–where I can stroll by and see what’s up at any time–so they can’t log into any website they choose, either. I never allowed myspace–my son is 15, and has never had an interest , but kids as young as my dd (11) use myspace already, and to me, frankly, that’s too young. But, that’s just me. I don’t see a need to cultivate ‘fantasy’ relationships online, etc…when kids are just that–kids. And so many weirdos can somehow make it onto our kids ‘buddy’ lists–I just rather they don’t get involved. Sheesh–remember when we communicated by phone or face to face at school?:o :wink:

But that is just me, and let’s say this situation was happening in my home–I would simply just ask my son what’s going on. Say what you’ve heard–not where, necessarily. Keep the dialogue open and friendly–I pray that it all works out. But, if he hasn’t ‘done’ anything – I don’t know if punishment is in order just yet.


agree with this totally.


Oh, man. If you knew some of the things that me and my buddies were up to when we were 14 year-old boys, you’d probably have a heart attack.

For what it’s worth, I hope your son is better than we were! In all likelihood, he is. It sounds like he is exploring his surroundings a bit. While this could head south, it can also be quite healthy.


a lousy parent because your child is growing up? Sorry to say that sexual maturing is not a phase and there is no going back to the good ole days now. What you decide to do about the secrecy is your privilege but obviously this was not something your son could share with you considering your reaction to it. 14 may be a little young, but not unusually young. And not even a monk can battle with hormones. So the only way to get past this is to go thru it. Deal with this new reality. Explain your stand on the ‘girlfriend’ business–I am assuming you are not going to allow it, but give him the healthy option of associating with his new found friend under your supervision. Have the girl over for dinner and family game night. Perhaps her wildness is her rebellion against neglect or a dysfunctional family. Set the ground rules and do not waiver from them, but be reasonable. There is no going back to 10 years old, the next step in this process is courtship, then marriage. He has a few years to get to that bit, but then so do you. Good luck. Pray. Hard.


I did not say “no computer”, I said “no unsupervised computer time” which is very different.


Just a thought: Marshall McLuhan, the late English professor and media scholar, was truly a devout Catholic (he converted in his early twenties). He attended Mass every single day at St. Basil’s Parish (at St. Michael’s College, which, coincidentally, is my college at the University of Toronto), was totally orthodox, and was a greater defender of the Church and the faith until the end of his days. He had a couple of sons, and he did his best to raise them in the faith.

By the time his sons were in their early twenties, neither were Catholic (they were, in fact, agnostic). McLuhan prayed for them every day, felt sorrow over their state and lived in hope that they would one day rediscover the faith of their youth, but in the end he was of the opinion that they must be free to choose for themselves. He still loved them as ever; they were still his family, always with him. But his conviction was that their spiritual future was between them and God.

Genuine faith is, after all, a personal gift freely given to the individual by God, which that individual must freely accept. Parents can and should do all they can to raise their children properly in the Church – this makes it all the more likely that they will both receive the gift and respond to it well – but once they reach the age of reason they must be free to make their choice. “Freedom” entails that they not be punished over this, for instance, being denied parental love if the decision is not what the parent wants.


A priest the OP knows suggested no computer. That’s what my comment was in reference to.

Sorry for any confusion.


I realize I’m writing this using the internet (!), but more and more, I am coming to the conclusion that computers are satanic.

There is an Orthodox rabbi who writes for the Jewish Press (a Jewish newspaper everyone in our community here gets, incl. me), and he has an advice column for Orthodox Jewish parents having trouble with their kids.

He also advises to get rid of the internet. In fact a leading Chasidic rebbe in NY has issued an issur (ban) on non-research internet usage for all Jewish yeshivos (day schools, sort of like parochial schools) under his control.

So you see the problem is not just for Catholics, all traditional religious groups struggle with this problem.

When I first asked God to give me a son, I promised Him I would raise him to follow Torah and to live a life of good deeds. So far he has stayed away from drugs, girls/sex, crime, etc…BUT he is very active in a controversial political movement that really annoys me (he is 16), and I guess that is HIS form of rebellion because he knows we don’t like him being in it.

As you might say as a Catholic, we all have our crosses to bear, and maybe God is sending this to you as a test, or as a cross, to see how you handle it. A rabbi I know often says that God tests those who follow Him, “to see with whom He can do business”. God tested Avraham, asking him to offer up his son, Isaac. At the last moment God sent an angel to stop him, because He only wanted to test him.

Sometimes God does this. All we can do is try our best and leave the rest to Der Aybishter (God most high.)


I am confused as to why you don’t just ask your son what is going on. I wouldn’t yell or accuse, just give him a chance to talk. That followed by an explanation of your rules and ideas about what makes up a good friend.
My children go to same sex high schools. I think that helps because teen agers by nature are easily distracted. The idea of putting off some of those distractions for a few years sounds good to me.


Ah… gotcha.

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