Disappointed in teenage son's behavior


Let me first say that I am truly blessed. My son is a straight A student, ambitious, faithful, never in trouble, respected by peers and adults. So how could I possibly be disappointed???

I am definitely picking up on a lack of humility in my son and that makes me fearful for him. I think it’s just a matter of time before God thinks it’s time to step in and hand DS some humble pie. It’s his Senior year and he has applied to the US Naval Academy, as well as to the NROTC Scholarship program–he has a lot at stake. In spite of the way DS has been acting lately, I find myself praying that God will have mercy and help him to be more aware of his lack of humility without slamming him with something (like an injury) that will take him off the course he is pursuing. Of course, perhaps it’s God’s will that he not be in the Navy at all, but the way things have been lining up for DS, it certainly seems that His will is exactly that.

I guess what is most distressing about this is that he seems like the model young man to everyone else, but has been very hurtful towards me…the one who does the most to support and encourage him. We argued about this last night and when he said “I guess all I can say is I’m sorry”, I about came unglued. Of course, I can’t judge his heart, but it seemed like a contrived apology at best. It reminds me a lot of the feelings I had growing up with alcoholic parents…that I can never do enough and what I do do is not good enough. So perhaps part of this is me dealing with the fallout from my relationship with my parents, while trying to cultivate something different with my own son.

DH was very upset with DS last night and insisted that he come to me to work things out, so it’s not that DH doesn’t or won’t lead by example. I guess we are both just at a loss at how to handle what comes across as ingratitude. Any ideas?



hmmm… Your son is what, 17? As a previously borderline ungrateful son myself, here’s what I can offer. He’s about 5 light-years away at the moment, give or take, so the message will take a while to get to him and then get back to you. :wink:

I don’t really know what advice to give you, but I’ll tell you that I went through a time when I could do no right by my parents and they could do no right by me. Now objectively everything was fine, more the fine really, but somehow we couldn’t see it. We fought a lot, but time went on and it was left behind. A while back I was watching Going My Way and I almost died at this quote “When I was 18, I thought my father was pretty dumb. After a while when I got to be 21, I was amazed to find out how much he’d learned in three years”.

If you want someone to look to and pray to, try St Monica. St. Ambrose (I think) said that no son of those tears could ever be lost. So I guess I would say: love your son, pray for him, and don’t give up. Wish I could be more helpful. :o


:oYou know it is very hard to read tone in email but I do encourage you to go back and read the verb and subject of every good and bad sentence. It seems to me that almost every good sentence minus the intro starts with I or My husband. Every bad sentence discusses ds. I was once told that for every one finger I pointed - five would be pointing back at me. I was also told that those who speak of humility rarely have it. (I also wonder the wisdom in expecting humility from a 17 year old boy) I also have heard the wonderful, “You spot it, you got it.”

These are all just little sayings about how behaviors are judged and inventories are taken. Remember while we guide children at some point they need to take responsibility as well. Often we do the most by doing not saying. I believe it was this last Sunday’s Gospel as a matter of fact 9/20 where the disciples argued among themselves among who was the leader and Jesus brought the child to the center and said only those who come as child-like as this to me will come to the Kingdom of Heaven or something relatively close to that quote. Jesus did not say be humble like Me - he pointed to the example and went about his business. These are all just food for thought I hope that I have not been offensive in anyway.

Besides - humility is a very hard subject - especially in men. :p:o;):D:eek::thumbsup:


I’ve never seen eye to eye with my parents, never have and never will…What seems ok and normal to me is not to them…and what seems wrong to me seems ok to them…I am trying to be a better parent for my kids, the most possible based on how I grew up and knowing what made me unhappy and happy… The biggest problem, when I was young was the fact that nothing I ever did was good enough, and still to this day…

I try to elaborate to my kids how proud I am…And of course put firmness when and where needed…We try to compromise and to work things out together so that they don’t feel so left out on decisions that are for them…about them…

When my rebellious almost teenage daughter gets a bit, I don’t know forgets about humility I kind of remind her and then let her know that someday she will have a rude awakening about her lack of humility…and it hurts to know that if she doesn’t stop with her lack of humility something really bad can happen to her to remind her of humility but I pray to GOD that he enlightens her before he sends her that big message…

The best thing to do is give him his space, and pray for him…Involve him in family prayer time and see how things change…hopefully for the better…

Good luck and God bless.


He sounds like a typical high school senior to me. At 17 he is in between childhood and adulthood and it’s hard to make the change to the next level. Just be patient, he will be leaving home soon enough.


Here, Here. And just remember the story of the Prodigal Son was not written for the son but to the Faithful Fathers.



*Aw, Kathy…hugs for you! :slight_smile: Parenting can have its challenging days, for lack of a better word.

I have a 16 yd old son, who sounds much like your son…an all around ‘good kid,’ stays out of trouble, gets good grades, is well liked by teachers, etc…BUT…he can lack in the humility dept at times. We go to confession every other month as a family. I go often either alone or with dd…but, every other month, we go to confession, and it has helped my son considerably in this department. Not just for that, but I think searching his conscience, how he isn’t always ‘nice’ to his sister…how he sometimes is flip with me…he brings that out in the open to God. I personally find confession to be most humbling, and so maybe that might help…not that you bring it up as a punishment, as confession should never be seen as such. But, maybe just start going as a family…you might see some subtle changes, then.

I also concur with Catholic1954…they are at an age between manhood and boyhood. I called my son a boy the other day, in describing something to someone on the phone, and when I was off the phone, my son said…‘Mom, I’m not a boy, anymore.’ lol I said, what are you? He said, at least say young man. :o;) So, I think that is where their heads are at right now…somewhere between wanting to cling to boyhood and becoming men. My husband said that he felt the same way growing up…still being treated like a kid, but then wanting to be seen by others as a man. It’s very bittersweet to watch, as a parent.

And soon enough, life will throw a curveball at your son. We needn’t pray for them to become humble, but rather that God gives them the grace to deal with the moments when life becomes challenging. And it will, eventually.

God bless you and your husband…you’re doing a great job! *


I don’t understand what you are disappointed in…He sounds really ambitious to me, what is wrong with that?I must be misreading something…he’s being rude to you while he’s telling you what he wants?


I agree with the above poster!

Straight A’s, well respected, all that…let him brag a bit! If he’s going into the armed forces to serve his country, than God Bless him!


In my first paragraph I admitted, what do I have to be disappionted about???

Yes, he’s an outstanding young man and I’m very proud of him. What is disappointing is that he is “all that” to everyone except the one who has gone to bat for him at every turn, taken time off work to take him to interviews and appointments for the Navy deal (we live in a very small town, so all of these have been at least 4 hours away), and, in general, done everything I could possibly do to support and encourage this endeavor. He wouldn’t dream of being disrespectful to a teacher or even another adult, yet he has become more and more disrespectful towards me in recent weeks. I have let some of this slide, because he IS an otherwise top-notch kid. However, his willingness to toss aside everything I’ve tried to do for him and then criticise me for something he felt I should have done immediately, but did not do, was what was painful…and disappointing.

In reading this, it sounds like I’m throwing a major pity-party for myself. :frowning: Time to put Annie in the VCR and remind myself that “the sun will come out…tomorrow”!!



You are not throwing a pity party; you have a right to respect from your son, no matter how glorious he is. I have a son who is younger than yours, same profile, same issues.

Some of the problem is me: I love my son not wisely but too well.

That said, you give your husband a pass on whether he is part of the problem. Is that really true? From where I sit, a father is the one who teaches a son to respect his mother. Can your DH do more than he currently is?


I apologize if he is being disrespectful to you, and I apologize for misreading.

I had a huge ego back then, but I’ve been humbled since. Very much so. Maybe he’ll get the same.

As for the disrespect, I apologize for him again. Nothing bothers me more than a guy disrespecting a woman, in particular his own mother


You are not being very descriptive about the kinds of things that you son does that are hurtful.

You mentioned you had an argument with him where he felt that you should have done something for him because the parents of other children would have done it. This kind of thing seems pretty normal to me, teenagers behave that way.

Keep in mind that he is 17, it’s hardly fair to expect a 17 year old to be mature and understanding. His brain is not fully developed yet, it will take him time to understand your point of view and to appreciate everything you did for him.


Agreed…you’re being vague, KathyA. Please give us a few concrete examples. And please remember that men aren’t mind readers.


Have you thought about doing less for him so that he understands how much you actually do for him?

When I was 17 and a senior in high-school I thought that I was the only one who put forth any effort for my well-being, and it wasn’t until later that I was able to look back and really see all that my parents had done for me. If you take a step back and stop helping him so much (which will probably be difficult for you since you have done so much for him) maybe then he’ll realize that he’s not “all that and a bag of chips” and needs to respect everyone around him and not just those that aren’t his parents.


I find myself very puzzled by the above original post on this thread . . . I’ve raised three wonderful sons . . . and it never even occurred to me even once to ever question their “humility” . . . the true . . . holy virtue of humility . . . is a gift of God . . . a blessing which our Wonderful Lord imparts into the soul’s temperament/character of each individual . . . as a parent it is our job to encourage and help our children to thrive and raise our children up in the Lord . . . within the bounds of healthy Godly parenting love, reason and discipline . . .

I’ve read the original post over several times today . . . and I keep getting the same message . . . I don’t mean to be unkind . . . but . . . in all charity . . . the poster seem to be one who is excessively needy in this mother/son relationship . . . The son has evidently become very successful in his environment . . . that is a triumph . . . rather than complaining I would think the parent would be praising the Lord for this blessing . . . and encouraging him toward his goals . . . instead the poster seems bent on trying to find some kind of “fault” to use to destroy his peace of mind and his self worth and disturb his successful growth and development flow and goals with . . . and the tool the poster is attempting to use is on the strange nebulous conceptual level of a supposed . . . “character flaw” . . . which the poster has judged the son to be lacking in . . . **"the holy virtue of humility’ **. . . of all things . . . which is an abstract quality very hard to pin down even for the most discerning adults . . . let alone discern in another person’s life . . . and this mother is is expecting a 17 year old teenager to grasp and understand . . . *and discuss with her *. . . the concept of this holy virtue in his life . . . ? . . . I’m sorry . . .but this is unreal!

Youth of today have a terribly difficult world to live in . . . and day to day sufferings and temptations that we of other generations often cannot even imagine . . . that this son has triumphed as much as he has and is heading toward a positive adult goal in the military where respect, disciplined behaviour and humility are part of the every day life of good military personnel . . . what better goal could a young person have . . . ? . . .

This mother needs to just turn her nearly adult son over to the God . . . and leave him in our Lord’s wonderful caring capable hands . . . and conscientiously pray for him with love . . . and leave the . . . **gracious gift of God **. . . “the holy virtue of humility” . . . between the son’s soul and his God . . . where it belongs . . . and get out of the middle of that relationship . . .

Quite frankly . . . I’m not sure but what this mother is actually invading the son’s privacy in his relationship with his God as a young man . . . whatever level it may be on . . . to continue to pursue this subject at any length with him . . . unless the parent is warning him against a specific act of arrogance personally witnessed . . . which the parent gave no indication of having occured in the original post on this thread . . . Why on earth are would any parent continue pursuing this very odd subject with their teenager . . . trying to pin down the . . . **“holy virtue of humility” **. . . in a conversation with another is a bit like trying to capture a cloud in the sky . . . and humility in a soul ebbs and flows through the days like the ocean tides ebb and flow . . . high and low . . . in waves on a sandy beach . . .

I’ve prayed about this post considerably today . . . and my concern has increasingly become not so much for the son spoken of in this situation . . . as it is for a possibly very unhealthy mindset of the mother . . . and that this mindset seems to be destroying the peace of her entire household . . . and to what end ? except the tearing down of the son in his own eyes and in the eyes of his father . . .

And the attributing to God who loves the son and wants only the best for him . . . which always includes discipline in each of the lives of His children . . . that God is going to come vengefully crashing down on the son and without concern or love for this young man to destroy his well being seems like a very warped idea of our merciful God who always metes out discipline with love and awareness of the degree necessary for sucess in the lives of all His children . . .

*****"Trust in the
**Lord *******
with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding."
Proverbs 3:5

[RIGHT]. . . all for Jesus+
. . . Sacred Heart :heart: of Jesus
have mercy+[/RIGHT]


Volunteering, begin doing it as a family. Soup kitchen, homeless shelter, the St Vincent de Paul society at your Parish - seeing first hand those who do NOT have the world in their laps will do wonders for attitude.

Also, does he have to earn what he gets? Does he work to pay for his car, cell phone, extras?


Gee…I thought I felt bad LAST night…


It is the responsibility of ALL parents to teach children, to help them grow in virtue. Humility IS a vitue, this mom is doing the RIGHT THING to try to teach her son to be humble.

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