Dereliction of duty: I'm a lousy parent


Computers are objects. They can be used for good, evil, or morally neutral purposes.

All kids are going to make mistakes and do things we don’t agree with. It’s part of growing up.



It sounds like a flirtation that you can nip in the bud.

I have no idea how to nip a flirtation like this. Probably bringing it out into the open. I’m sure the secretive nature of it is part of the appeal.

More experienced parents can comment, I’m sure.



Hello Ceil;

Ask your son to invite her round for a meal, have a chat and listen. Resist the temptation to lecture, and build up a relationship with her over time. If your son’s relationship fades away and your son meets another girlfriend then maybe he will not be so secretive and he will keep you informed.

Your son possibly expects some kind of a reaction from you if he was to tell you he has a girlfriend, maybe he is worrying how you will take it. I don’t think anything in life can prepare us for bringing up children, they always manage to shock and challenge us in many ways.

My daughter met her husband when she was twelve years old, she is now thirty and has now known him for eighteen years. It was a very scary experience for us; as he is five years older than her, but he is now a wonderful husband to her and father to their three lovely children.

In the spirit of praying for an inner peace,




It’s vague innuendo and references like your post that ruined my reputation in a homeschooling group and made my entire highschool experience a living nightmare. I hope that if you found this out from other concerned mommies or gossiping teens, you at least can get to the bottom of it without mistreating your son and his friend.

I sincerely hope you are talking about him engaging in sexual intercourse or petting, to match the consequences you are thinking of giving him.




My question to you is this–why are jumping to so many assumptions without sitting down with your son and giving him the respect of wanting the story from him first?

Yes, your son could be going behind your back, and, yes, there could be goings on here that are not appropriate. But until you’ve sat down with your son, you should NOT be talking about this to his friends’ parents, priests, and all of us on this forum because you don’t have the truth. What you do have are innuendos and gossip. Yes, we may very well trust our friends’ opinions on many things, but we should not do so especially with regards to our children without investigating on our own and questioning our children. You aren’t even giving your son a chance IMO. If I was your child I’d be very hurt that you’d be more willing to believe other people and then decide on my punishment without even asking me about it first.

You can talk it over with your son before you have consequences settled, you know. And that is what I think you should do. Looking for ways to punish your son for having a girlfriend before you’ve even discussed the issue with him is jumping the gun big time.

There’s plenty of time to come up with rules afterward–right now you need to stop all this ridiculous behind the back stuff and ask him point blank and then tell him point blank that there will be consequences and that you will discuss those later.

Do not make the mistake of putting the word of your friends over the word of your son…



P.S. Right now would be a good time to teach him about the beauty of sexuality and marriage and why he needs to wait to have a girlfriend. Less focus on punishing him and more on why he needs to wait seems a much better approach to this situation. I really hesitate to make him feel “dirty” for liking a girl as more than a friend, because it isn’t a bad thing that deserves being punished. Yes, he needs to be respectful and trustworthy, but he also needs to be taught that these desires are wonderful in the way that God intended.



First, I agree with the other posters that say you should ask for his side of the story. It is possible that she is just his “girlfriend” in her little fantasy world. I’m sure a lot of us considered a member of the opposite gender our “girlfriend” (“boyfriend” for the ladies) without the other person even knowing it! Or it could be the friend’s mom who is improperly calling it a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.

Second, have you asked the friend’s mom exactly why she refers to her as his “girlfriend”? How do they act in public? How far does their physical affection go, if there is any at all?

As far as why he “deceived” you, it is possible that he didn’t, for the reasons above. Besides, does he know that you expect him to tell you about every person he talks to at church? Kids - especially boys - aren’t mind readers, after all.

Bottom line: get all the facts before confronting him or punishing/restricting him. Otherwise, if you do and it turns out that none of it is true, you will be in his eyes a hypocrite who commits the sin of false accusation (and he would be 100% correct), and he will not be able to trust you, and may even lead him away from the church. Do you want that? At the same time, it would be a prudent move to monitor things like his internet and any cell phone/texting usage and setting up any particular blocking mechanisms to objectionable sites/material. Also, continue to get to know your son’s friends and their families and let them get to know you. You have contact with that girl’s mother, so I know you are already started on this road already.

Also, I need to comment on this:

Raising any one person to that level is very dangerous, as it can lead to cult-like behavior.



I like your thinking. Boys, like girls, mature at different rates. He might just be trying this date concept out to see whether he’s ready, or he might just be her buddy. Or he might want to settle down, in which case their parents should talk to both of them about how much they might change and grow apart in their growing time. Or he might be up to no good. A little supervision could slow that a litle at least. But she might benefit from a fammily to hang out with. And she may not be that wild. A girl can be misinterpreted pretty easily. Remember the outfit you thought was smart and made you look modern when you were 15, and how shocked you were when you heard someone else describe it? Or the time you let someone walk you home when you were 17 to be polite because you didn’t know how to say no without being insulting, only to learn he didn’t go home that night and people assumed…and his reputation became part of yours, while you were fluffing your teddy bears?



As a Sunday School, Catechism, and Youth Group leader, I have seen many girls be labelled as “wild” who were nothing more than talkative and demonstrative.

For some reason, there are a great many adults out there who have forgotten what it is like to be a teenager (or possibly got locked up in their rooms when they were in their teens, and never did know) - and they mistakenly label a certain type of teen girls as “wild” who are nothing of the sort - yes, they dress in colourful clothing (often in pink), dye their hair, paint their fingernails, and laugh out loud, but they are also very chaste (I think because they get “the talk” at least twice as often as the other girls), and they’re the ones that the other kids can count on for a listening ear - and they’re also the ones who remember when it’s their turn to bring the snack - they have generous hearts. Can’t do math to save their own lives, but they’re experts on how to do friendships. :slight_smile:

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.

Talk to him - ask him straight out.



LOL can I just add a :rotfl: You just described my little sister exactly. The poor girl would get in trouble for her clothes, her laughter, her friendships, etc. She was the creator of the “frog club” (A youth group focused on promoting chaste relationships). Poor thing would get lectured by well-meaning mothers twice a day. Yet she was everyone’s friend. And yes, she brought the snacks.

Oh, hilarious!



Volunteer with the youth group. Sounds like your son has lots of friends there, as a mom of a teen son - my advice is be interested and meet your son’s friends, and the parents of those friends.



(I remember being told by a well-meaning busybody that the new sparkly turquoise nail polish my mom bought me to go with a cute turquoise party dress I got for a special school dance was an invitation to rape when I was 16! I was so embarrassed and mortified I didn’t even go to the dance!)



That’s insane at best. If I found out that someone had told my daughter such a thing, not only would I call that person out, I would forbid them to have any contact with my child in future.

Original poster: you need to get your child’s side of the story. It sounds as though you are relying on gossip. Gossip is like the game Telephone: it gets more and more distorted the further down the line it goes. Likely your son has a normal crush on this girl. Possibly she has more of a developed figure than other girls her age, and thus has been labeled as “wild”, or maybe she dresses a bit punky. Without asking your son directly, it would be unfair to punish him.



Wow. When I was a teenager we kind of undertood that there’s “looking nice”, then there’s “looking cool”, and then there’s “looking easy”, a third and unrelated category. Depending on the shade and the kind of sparkles (fine v. coarse, basically) the polish would have been “nice” or “cool”, but only certain reds and deep pinks, maybe some purples, would have been an “easy” type of nail polish, and only on long nails. Even then, of course no nail polish is an invitation to rape. Absolutely nothing is. Ever. Period. Especially not a small thing like nail polish. The person who said that has a big problem and shouldn’t be hanging out around 16-year-olds at all.



The kid computers in our house are off the LAN. No Internet access. They can use them all they want, esp. for homework.

In order to get Net access, one has to use my passworded computer- which requires my presence. I was this way with the older two, and I am this way with the younger two.

Nobody has a cell phone who can’t pay for it themselves.

This still does not tell me that he was sneaky. He is 14. As somebody else pointed out, he might not even know this girl is his “girlfriend”. He also might not want his mother to know that he likes girls that way, yet.

Does he know that you expect him to tell you about ALL the kids at youth group? If not, it might be a good time to tell him, when you sit down to clamly discuss this.

I have to mention that my mother always believed what she heard about me, about my sisters, and would jump on us even if it wasn’t true. It does not make for cosy family relations, let me tell you.

I was once accused of losing my virginity because I had a “monthly accident” while wearing an off-white skirt to a party. I went to the washroom to attempt to clean myself up, and was absent for a bit (it was quite nasty). Apparently, a guy I knew who was also at the party was outside doing whatever he did. A “friend” and an adult told my mother they thought that’s what happened, so my opinion meant squat. The accruements of the heavy cycle meant nothing.

She does it to this day. Nobody tells her anything that they don’t have to tell her, because she assumes we are guilty before we even have a chance to talk with her.

As far as the franciscan priest is concerned- You are worried he will think you are a bad parent because your son might have a girlfriend at 14? It is all well and good to take Father’s advice, but it is ultimately up to you to raise your son. Father is a member of an order, and while he has great spiritual wisdom, he can never be a mom.

And you are not a bad parent!!! You are an anxious parent, a concerned parent, but not a bad one.



Have you been clear on what your house rules are about dating?

Maybe he does not KNOW that you do not want him having a crush or using the term girl/boy friend?

We have been clear, no dating one on one until 17. Group outings are okay as long as there is an adult who drives/picks up. He is 17 and a half and still has not wanted to date.

He did have some serious crushes, 3 I think, arond 14/15. It was phone calls, some mixed group/family events, and then it was over. We ALWAYS knew the young lady.



As if a parent can control that!

Our youngest is in a homeschool co-op for high schoolers two days a week. One of the rules this year was ‘no flirting’. A mom at the parent meeting looked at me and said, “Yeah, how are they going to enforce that?!”



I commend you for your careful parenting and interest in your son’s activities, because let’s face it, too many parents are just not as interested in their children’s spirtual welfare today. You seem to be doing a fine job.

But, as a parent who raised two teenagers and has been through the trials of adolescence and early adulthood, I think I can see a few things here that could be addressed.

First of all, it is normal for a 14 year old boy to start to express an interest in girls, and it is just as normal for them to try and hide it from their parents. At that age, they can become quite embarrassed when the subject is brought up. They are more comfortable with their peers. It might not be deliberate deception, just embarrassment to talk about feelings and such, even if you have always had an open relationship. Boys generally are not as verbal and communicative about such things as girls are.

Secondly, how involved is your husband in all of this? Now if you are a single parent, my apologies, but if you are married, perhaps he needs to take the lead here in addressing things, because he was once a 14 year old boy and knows what it is like. What does he have to say about this?

In the third place, it seems to me that just taking someone’s word that the girl is a little wild, and that some friend of your son’s does not trust her, is just plain gossip. You need to find out things for yourself. What is “wild”? Is it just dressing a little funky, or wearing a weird hairdo, or have long brightly painted fingernails, or being a little too outgoing for some people’s taste? Or is she promiscuous, drink or do drugs, or what? The fact that she is interested in going to a church youth group should speak somewhat in her favor. I think it would be worth the effort to bring this up with your son, gently, and become acquainted with the girl before passing judgment.

Mothers often have a hard time when their sons start to mature sexually and enter adolescence and take an interest in girls. (I know I did). Just like fathers do when their little girls grow up and start to date. There is a tendency to overreact. Try to stay calm and non-judgmental, let him know he can trust you, and come to you any time he needs to, continue to supervise his internet useage and activities as you are doing, but give him some freedom to grow up and move toward independence, which is the final goal of adolescence. This is not the last “girlfriend” he is going to have, and at this age, these relationships only last a few weeks or months. And if you are married, have your husband take an active role in this process.

It sounds to me that you have laid an excellent foundation for your son to weather the stormy years ahead, and he is going to turn out just fine.



First off… I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this.
I would have all computer time supervised (computer in central family location) and with time limits… as well as set up monitoring/tracking programs and even keyboard recording programs - with this MAJOR caviet… that he would be fully aware that the tracking software is there, and that you would never look at it behind his back (only when he was fully aware and sitting there with you)…
This is how I plan to allow technology in our home… completely open and honest.

I’m sorry, but this part of your post troubles me…
First off… you take what he says “as from God”??? :eek:
Secondly, his thoughts on salvation are extreme. Even the greatest sinners can ask for forgiveness and be granted it!

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.

:confused: Are you seriously saying that mere “exposure” is going to to prevent them from salvation???

I believe that this priest may be a holy man, but these statements are extremely troubling.
I would not base my parenting on this at all.



IMing someone isn’t going to grant them automatic admission to Hell (and if it did, man, am I in big trouble!). Just keep rules and enforce them. Kids should be taught to discern technology, not shun it.

As for the girlfriend, yes, he should obey your rules and be careful. However, flirting, etc. is only natural at that age. And of course you end up hiding your crushes from your parents! I’m nearly nineteen and I NEVER tell anyone when I have a crush on someone! Especially if it’s a good friend, because I know that feelings are fleeting and not worth ruining a friendship over. Or if we have a lot of mutual friends, and a lot of girls I know are well meaning but nosy, and I don’t like being forced to admit anything, so I say no or just change the subject. I’m not ready for a boyfriend right now and I like having friends.

Also, I wouldn’t take everything a priest says as coming from God. That can be dangerous, especially since his views seem extreme. IMing someone isn’t sending you to Hell! Neither is Facebook! If used the wrong way, there are bad consequences, but normal use, within a parent’s guidance if still a minor, isn’t wrong!



Thank you all for your helpful replies.

My comments on the priest may have been, more or less, hyperbole. But, he is not the only one who feels that way. There are many parents within my sphere of influence who feel the same way he does. And he has worked with youth around the world. What is more, these parents’ children are models of purity and charity.

My children, compared to the average child, are remarkable, in terms of their character. However, I know the “ways of the world” are at their feet. They must go through their time of testing, as did we all.

This girl, apparently, likes my son, and my son, apparently, likes the attention. Her mother tells me, “Well, you can’t keep them from liking each other.” The thing that bothers me about this girl, who attends a local Christian high school, is that she has given my son free ice cream from where she works. This is stealing, I explained to my son. It is a sin. The fact that she either does not recognize this, or doesn’t care is an indication to me that there are gaps in her moral upbringing. The mother was very offended that I insist that his group of friends be chaperoned at Cosmic Bowl ( 12midnight to 2am bowling). Needless to say, he did not go.

My mother told me to allow the relationship to ride itself out, but, supervise it closely. There are other issues, such as his spiritual life, but, I realize sooner or later the faith has to become his own, not an extention of mine. This is scary to me.

Carol’s daughter,

That rabbi sounds like a wise man, like my priest. These things are so enjoyable, though. Dying to the world is indeed painful.


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