Consequences for tweens and teens are pivotal to raising responsible adults. And in order to have a HAPPY home, it is vital that your teens know you have consequences AND are willing to use them. Often parents feel overwhelmed, as teenagers push back on the boundaries during the teens years, believing that nothing works so there is no hope in trying. Well there is HOPE for raising disciplined teens, and there are an effective list of consequences for teenagers that truly work.
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Before I share with you 10 effective consequences for teenagers, we do need to clear the air. I can hear the wheels turning in your head already…yes, you the mom over in the corner rolling her eyes. OK, so let’s be realistic. We are talking about teenagers. Things are not going to turn on a dime. And while we are on the subject of age, ahem, you have been parenting a while too. And you have a few patterns set yourself;)
How to Discipline a Teen Who Doesn’t Seem to Care about Consequences
So before you read this amazing list of consequences for teenagers let’s lay down a few ground rules… or understandings.
- Teens are Not Moldable Clay – Unfortunately, your teen is no longer as moldable as a toddler. So instead of throwing your hands up and saying that a consequence isn’t working because your teen doesn’t change after using the consequence twice, think more long-term. It took years of training to bring your teen to behaving this way. It may take months to untrain and retrain the behavior you want.
- Be Consistent – Moms, one of our biggest tools is consistency. Mean what you say. So if you need to lower your consequence down to 4 hours without their phone in order to stick with it, do it! It doesn’t matter if Diana Discipline across the street can hold to her consequence for 40 days. It is more important you start to SET A PATTERN of meaning what you say. We want our kids to trust our word!
- Study Your Teen’s Personality – A key to setting healthy and effective consequences is knowing your teen. What affects them? How are they motivated? What do they love? Some teens are easily swayed by a smile and encouraging word. Others want facts. Still others are extremely strong-willed and may not display much outward change for months (read years).
Raising a strong-willed teen? Here is THE book you MUST buy for yourself. You Can’t make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded) By Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. If I could have had just ONE book handed to me when my kids were younger this is it!
I was at my wits end when I finally read this book. I was astonished how just rephrasing things when I talked to my strong-willed teenager could make such a HUGE difference. Don’t waste another day trying to figure this all out on your own when you don’t need to because this book will give you the tips and tools you have been desperate to find!
A Mom’s Best List of Consequences for Teenagers
OK, now let’s get down to our list of effective discipline tactics. Choose a few to work with in your household.
Use Natural Consequences in Disciplining Teens
Often the consequence is staring us right in the face. We don’t need to create a consequence because there already is a consequence. We just have to step back and let it play out.
Say that your teen forgot their sport equipment, and they call asking you to bring it to them. If this was the first time or they have had an absolutely crazy week, we may decide to jump in to help. But if this is a weekly occurrence, then don’t fix it for them.
The reason they keep forgetting their equipment is because they know we will fix it. It suddenly becomes more urgent to remember when they know that it really is up to them. While it is hard as a mom to not step in to help, knowing that they will get in trouble during practice, do you think they are more likely to remember next time if you rescue them or if the coach yells at them?
If they break their phone, and they have a habit of not caring for their things, then don’t rush to buy a new phone. And certainly don’t buy one as nice.
Natural consequences are your friend! Put them to good use.
Physical Labor is a Great Consequence for Teen Boys
Physical labor works awesome with boys. Our boys are both grown so I know that is works well for a variety of personalities.
Work has a couple of benefits. It wears a teenager out so they have less energy to start a fuss.
Physical tasks also gives the satisfaction of a job well done. And when teens feel better about themselves they are bound to be happier and more pleasant to be around!
Assigning physical work is a good way to have your teens help on a day-to-day basis. But if needed as a consequence, a parent can give extra work or have them complete a job that was going to be split among 2 or more, on their own!
We have always had property so it is fairly easy to find jobs to do such as taking care of the yard, caring firewood or watering or hoeing the garden.
If you live in town you can still be creative by finding jobs outside or inside that take a fair amount of strength and energy. One mom in my class said that she would give her kids a plastic shopping bag and send them outside to pick weeds until it was full:)
Money Can be a Reward or Consequence for Teenagers
When my son was young I discovered the power of money! I was working with him on not getting so mad. I got a roll of pennies from the bank and dumped it into a jar. I told him he could have the whole jar at the end of the week. But every time he began acting out his anger, I would deduct a few pennies. And it worked!
Many kids hold money as near and dear. So you can attach money to consequences in a variety of ways. You can pay for chores on commission. If the chores aren’t done, then they receive less allowance.
Here is a great post showing how one mom uses chores (free printable pay stub:)!
Loss of Electronic Devices is Effective Punishment for Teenagers
If you want to employ this consequence be prepared. While taking away electronic devices is very effective, a couple of issues may arise.
One, you may realize that your teenager was spending too much time on the devices to begin with and you need to reevaluate. And two, it will probably make your job a bit more challenging.
If your kids are on their devices a lot, chances are that they are staying out of your way. And if your end goal is just to keep your teens busy then taking away electronic devices may be a shock to your teen AND you!
However, if you are IN this parenting thing to win and raise great kids, then you are tough enough to take away devices and deal with a little whining.
And in the process take a look to see if too much screen time is making for a more cranky teenager!
Also realize technology is on your side! When is comes to WiFi you can limit the WiFi, when it comes on, and when it goes off! Best decision I ever made was buying a Netgear WiFi router with smart parental controls. I can tell the WiFi when to come on and when to go off. It also puts limits on all electronic devices that enter your house. So if you have certain sites or types of sites restricted, the Netgear router will also restrict that material on your teen’s friend’s devices too when they are in YOUR HOUSE! Love it!
They also have a new version of Netgear Wifi router that comes with Circle from Disney. For only $5 a month, you have even more power to control what is coming into your house! All from your phone! Won and Done!!
Walk Away from Disrespectful Talk
Some kids love to go round and round with you verbally. From all appearance they just want to prove that they are right.
But you know what else it is? A key to a VERY EFFECTIVE consequence. Teens that love to argue absolutely hate when there is no one with which to argue.
So if your teen is being super disrespectful, simply walk away. State that you no longer are going to tolerate them talking to you that way. You will be happy to resume the conversation when they are able to control their speech.
Don’t fall into the trap of being pulled into a conversation where you have to PROVE that you are right. You need to be clear on your expectation. But once you have done that ONCE (maybe twice), then realize that you are just giving your teen a reward for misbehaving by continuing to be pulled into the conversation.
Stop rewarding your teen arguing with you. End the conversation! You may be shocked at how effective this can be.
Get Creative with Your List of Consequences
Ever think that maybe your teen doesn’t care about anything? I hear this often and have absolutely been there myself where it feels like no consequence is working.
So we need to get creative! Start looking around at all the things you do for your teenager.
You may be driving them around, giving them money for weekend activities or for fast food. Perhaps you are scheduling appointments, tidying up after them, doing laundry or filling out paperwork for them. We have been doing little things for our kids for years that often we forget all we do.
If your teenager continues to disregard the rules in the house and be disrespectful then you need to cut off those concierge services.
Why buy your teen that specific cereal they love or hand over money for snacks at the football game if they are not following the house rules? Perhaps you rearrange your schedule so you can drive your kid to school or pick them up so they don’t have to ride the bus. This is a special service or privilege you provide, that you don’t necessarily have to do.
If you follow the house rules then you reap the benefits of living in that household. Don’t want to follow the basic rules then you don’t receive ALL the AMAZING BENEFITS!
So be kind but clear to your teenager that if they would like special privileges that comes from living in your household, then they have to follow the basic rules!
Don’t Rescue / Hold Your Teen to Other’s Consequences
One major opportunity that I see parents totally miss out on is taking advantage of other’s consequences for their kids. Specifically, I witness this in the classes I teach to families struggling with truancy.
The majority of the teens charged with truancy are doing things that are causing them to constantly be late or miss school. Sometimes they are staying up til 2 am watching movies, or they won’t get up in the morning. Other times, they act like they are getting up, only to go back to sleep as soon as their parents leave for work.
Unfortunately, some parents will try to get their kids out of having to come to truancy classes, or will come to only one class. Other times, parents will come to a class and keep the focus on what the school is doing wrong instead of the choices their teen’s made.
Now, I get it. Life is not fair. It can really stick in your crawl when it feels like your student is being singled out for something other students are doing too.
But honestly, if our student is “caught” doing something wrong, we should use the opportunity to show our teens that there are consequences to their decisions. The message you want your teen to hear is being reinforced…so USE THE MESSAGE!
Focus on Positive Expectations and Less on Punishment for Teens
Teenagers have a lot of energy. They have dreams, and they desperately want to appear to have life all figured out.
So make sure that your teen has plenty of opportunities to be significant and to try new things.
Bored, unengaged teenagers will find something to do that is “interesting” or makes them feel important. This can be dangerous if they are simply left to their own devices.
As parents, we can set the stage and engage our teenagers in ways that are productive and will test their skills in positive ways.
If we are proactive then we will spend less time looking for ways to punish our teen and more time enjoying our teenager!
We may wish to guide them to trying out for a sport, volunteering in the community, pushing themselves in their academics or applying for a part-time job. We should teach them all the skills we know, have interesting people over for dinner and have lively discussion about what we all are learning at school and work.
Read here for 6 Simple Ways to Help Your Teen Discover Their Interests.
Problem Solve with Your Teenager over Household Rules
I loved when my kids were old enough to discuss things. Others of you may just be wishing you can trade your teens in for little kids that just need a snack! Hehee!
But really it can actually be so interesting when you can talk about a situation with your teenager. So if you all are continuing to bump heads in one area, try sitting down and calmly discussing the area of disagreement.
- Talk about the situation when it hasn’t just happened (we need a little distance)
- Ask your teenager to describe what they are “feeling” (hurt, scared, disrespected, anxious, stressed, etc…)
- Share how you are feeling
- Request that your teen to come up with 3 solutions or alternatives that might be a compromise
- Ask your teen on a scale of 1-10 how important is this to them (and not everything can be a 10)
- Decide together what the plan is and request that your teen stick with your agreement.
Reward Positive Behaviors in Your Teens
In order to run a household that is fair and effective we also need to make sure that we are rewarding good behavior!
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If you notice that your teenager is attempting to do better at a chore or even (gasp!) helped without you asking be sure to point it out.
Catch your teenager doing something right!
Depending on your teenager, you may wish to tell everyone at dinner what a good job they did. Or perhaps you can grant them a freedom they have been requesting. However, you wish to reward just make sure that you are making positive behaviors in your household pay off BIG!
A Moms’ Best List of Consequences for Teenagers
What is working well in your household? Have you found an amazing consequence? Share below!
Still struggling with one of your teenagers over a certain matter? Get the detailed action plan you need when you grab your copy of Responsible and Resilient Teens: 10 Secret Parenting Solutions That Work!
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Heather Bee says
Hey friend! This is a wonderful list i wish I had years ago when my oldest was starting the teen years. I love that you included so many because every kid is different. We both certainly know that, don’t we? I totally agree with you that consistency is the key and we have to be careful to only give consequences we’re able and willing to follow through with.
Every kid is so different aren’t they? That makes parenting interesting, but it does lend itself to needing a variety of consequences!:)
Loveeee ! What a great list!
Thanks Carla! So glad you found the consequence list helpful:)
I am a bit stuck with consequences. I have just entered a new relationship and am living with my partner n my two boys 13 and 16 in the same house . We have a WhatsApp group where my younger son reacted to my partner not letting him watch ma15 + movies on Netflix. He said U r not my parent. This has hurt my partner a lot and he is now not talking to my younger son at all. This affects the whole household. I need help to come up with a consequence n also to make them both communicate. Pls help
Hi! Sorry to hear you all are having a lot of stress in your household. Here are a couple things to keep in mind. I feel pretty strongly that if you are going to have another adult in the household that they should have some authority. Which means if you are comfortable enough to move your partner into your household then you need to feel comfortable enough to allow them to set some rules and boundaries in the house.
You mention that this is a “new” relationship with your partner. Part of the problem may be that this person moved in BEFORE everyone had a chance to truly be ready for this. Are YOU ready to allow this person to set rules down for your kids? Trying to blend a family is extremely hard. It can be done, but it takes a united front and deep commitment from both you and your partner.
Another thing to keep in mind is that when it comes to parenting and mentoring kids there has to be a balance of love/ compassion and truth/ justice. If your partner tries to parent and put down rules before really establishing that caring connection first there is bound to be conflict. Kids need to know you truly care about them BEFORE they will trust you enough to hear “No”. I would encourage you to have a real discussion about how committed you and your partner are and if you all are both it is for the long haul. Otherwise I wouldn’t involve the kids yet and it would be best to live apart until you decide.
And if you all decide you all are committed then, I would all sit down as a family and talk about the family rules. A trick my husband and I used when we first married was that we allowed our boys to go to “their” parent to have the final rule say. We tried to allow some time and connection to build before we enforced rules with each other’s kids. After that it was all about OUR family and not my kid or his kid!
As far as this exact instance. I would expect my teen to apologize for his outburst. And I would back up my partner by telling my son that he is not allowed to watch that show. Thanks for reaching out! Take Care.
Thanks for your reply. Yes we both are committed and are in this for the long haul. We.did sit together and listened to what kids had to say about the whole situation . My younger son apologized and expressed his feelings. I am backing my partner 100 percent and the kids did say to him that he is a great father figure . All went really well. The process that it is ,it has started. Thanks for letting me share and thanks for your input.
Thanks for letting me know how it went! That is wonderful you all were able to sit down together and hear each other out. And you are so right…it is a process:) Take Care, Miranda
We are realllly struggling with our 18yo senior. He recently moved back in with us after leaving to live with his girlfriend for the last 6 months. He has a lot of internalized hurt and anger and acts out with friends who are terrible influences. He struggles to stay sober minded and takes no responsibility for any of his actions. Him and my husband love each other a lot but have a strained relationship. We live in Texas county on a ranch and have taught him how to work and good character but he has become so far from what we have taught him. We have a sit down planned this evening, my son and I, where I will try and set some boundaries, rules and consequences but the problem is I’m not sure he will respect them and will just leave again. I desperately want him to be home because if he is elsewhere I’m afraid of the road he will continue to walk down leading to jail or worse. I feel I have three months till graduation to help him start over but just not sure how to do that. Our house had become peaceful after he left but now it’s back to walking on egg shells and conflict in my marriage. It’s such a hard place to be for a mama.
Hi Ashley, My heart goes out to you. It is such a struggle to see our kids make some poor choices and want to fix it. A couple things to consider. One, when boys are 18 they aren’t ready to leave home…but they think they are. Trying to hold too tightly will probably only cause more conflict in your home. you didn’t specify exactly, but I bet the tension in the house is that your husband recognizes it may be time to let go. But our mother’s heart wants to hold onto our boys, as we worry what will happen if we let go.
When you all sit down with him you can go over the boundaries (keep them pretty clear – like 5 rules) and also explain the benefits to living in your home (food, shelter, etc.) But be prepared to let him go if he doesn’t want to follow the rules. If he wants to be his own authority and not follow you and your husband, wish him the best! Tell him you will help him figure out how to start buying his own car insurance and the like. It is better that you keep the communication open.
Both our boys went through this to varying degrees. It was so hard. But the wonderful news it that they are both in their twenties now and touch base with us regularly and are doing well!
Thinking of you! Miranda
So, I’m an assisted caregiver for my neighbor and her foster raised now adopted 13 year old daughter. She’s a single mom and my mom’s best friend and this is how this all got started because she needed help. I agree, this is a great list mainly in part because we already do all of these things and they aren’t having much if any impact. Where do you go from here? Our most recent situation, this past weekend, the cell phone had already been taken away as a consequence for another situation. Long story short, 13 year old gets up in middle of the night, breaks into locked closet where cell phone was being kept, and has secret access to it for the remainder of the weekend. Today, she verbally boasted about being proud of what she did and didn’t care about the consequences to come. There is a long history here I’m not going to go into but, where do you go from after that? Thanks for any suggestions or help.
Hi David, I have been thinking about your question. Two things that you said really stand out. One your neighbor is dealing with a child that has dealt with circumstances so alarming that she had to be removed from her birth home. And the fact that the girl is lying. Personally, I do not have any first hand experience with foster care. But I have witnessed that kids that have suffered trauma don’t function like a typical person. Life is seen as a fight for survival and lying seems to be a a big tool used to keep the “power” they think they need to survive. If I was friends with this girl’s mom, I would make sure that I was there to be a sounding board for this mom as she will need that balance and healthy feedback living with a daughter who may be stuck in survival mode. If opportunity arises, I would encourage mom to get counseling for her and for her daughter. And I would want to find a counselor that deals with children who have been through trauma and know about conditions like RAD. For some foster kids, it may be years before a parent sees positive results as they seek to rework the messages about life that a child learned. One last thought, if your neighbor is not already in contact with fellow foster/adoptive parents, she would benefit greatly from being friends with other moms. Only moms who have walked that road are going to truly understand.
Love physical labor as a consequence! It’s such a win-win. Plus, if we’re really upset with each other, it gives us some mental and physical space.
Thanks for this great list and the book recommendation.
You are so welcome Brook! And yes, I agree! Physical tasks can often give us both a little mental and physical space. Great point!
Jamie Aikens says
I have a 12yr old who has no fear of consequences. When she doesn’t get her way she get extremely disrespectful and says very hurtful things. Her favorite thing to say is she doesn’t care. She is very stubborn and no matter how much I tell her no if she wants to do it she will. She says she doesn’t have to listen to me and this is her life. I have tried taking away her phone, tv, even making her stay in her room. I started doing the bare minimum with her by giving her the things that she needs, but not buying her wants or taking her out, but I’m not sure if that is working. I recently bought her some shoes that were not what she is use to and she got into it at school bc students were teasing her. She now blames me for this happening and it puts me in a hard place bc kids can be really cruel in middle school and I want to discipline her but not make her get teased. I am in need of help. Should I get her into anger management. How can I get her to listen and understand she can’t act like this. .
Hi Jamie, Sorry that you are in a really hard place with your daughter. It sounds like you have been really trying to think outside the box. I thought your idea of buying the basics instead of special shoes was a smart idea. One thing that stands out in what you said is her statement about it being “her life.” This is a very strong belief for a 12 year old to be verbalizing. Where do you think that is coming from? What or who has influenced her to think of herself as more important and separate from the family. Also your daughter probably does not have an anger management problem. She sounds very resourceful in getting what she wants and is willing to use verbal barrage, manipulation and blame to get what she wants. Anger is just another tool she uses. A couple ideas to help you move forward. 1. Make sure you have support for yourself that is wise. Do you have a good friend that seems to be gifted when it comes to parenting that you can bounce discipline ideas off of. It will be hard to stay strong against your daughter’s tactics if you don’t have support. 2. I would try to get some counseling for yourself and your daughter. If you can’t afford counseling I would highly recommend asking a few friends for their favorite parenting tween and teens books. Even if you don’t read them all the way through you will gain encouragement and some fresh ideas. 3. Finally, make sure you are on my email list. I am currently working on a book on consequences for teens that goes into depth on this very topic!! Thanks for reaching out Jamie. You sound like a very caring mom. Stick to your consequences knowing that you ARE being effective. It takes time and consistency for us to reteach our kids to trust what we say. It may takes weeks and months before you see some changes if she is used to getting her way.
I cant figure out how to punish my 13 year old daughter.She is not bothered by anything ive tried taking away her phone but she didnt care and she likes to clean.help! She wants to earn her trip back but i have tried and failed figuring out what to do
Hi Mack, I am sorry that you are struggling with your teen daughter. I have noticed that as kids enter the teenage years, that discipline problems can become more apparent. Teens are more likely to push boundaries and disagree. So let me ask a few questions? Do you feel like before age 13, your daughter was more willing to listen to you and this current problem (where she needs to earn back a privilege) is a isolated incident? Or do you believe that the current situation with your daughter is a result of allowing your daughter to have her way too often when she was younger? How you answer the question is greatly going to change how you approach the current problem. Here are a couple other tips. Sometimes a privilege, like a trip, is simply lost as a result of a teen’s behavior and they can’t earn it back…that is the consequence. And when parents say that no consequence works with their teen, it may be lack of follow through and parents may need to be more consistent. Or it may be that as parents we have to be more creative. What does your teen ask for? What kind of interactions do they want from you? What privileges do they request? Those are all great clues as to what matters to your teenager. Hope that gives you some ideas to think about. Make sure to check out my book over on Amazon, Responsible and Resilient Teens: 10 Secret Parenting Solutions That Work, where I go into great detail on how to use consequences and boundaries in the home for a great relationship with your teenager!
Hi, we are struggling with our 14 year old, he is.diagnosed with ADHD but is taking medication for that which has made things easier school wise but we struggle with other things. Most days when we make him lunches for school he does not eat them and they come back uneaten because he has chosen to rather play on the computers for lunch rather than eat his lunch, wouldn’t teenage boys be hungry by noon? He also sleeps in until the very last minute and will sometimes wake up about 30 minutes or 15 minutes before he has to get the bus, this happens even though we tell him when he needs to be in bed. Lastly, he does not seem to have much motivation for things outside of video games or hanging out in his room even though we have compromised and said he needs to do 2 things per week that are outside of school and home but he argues with us over this. We are so frustrated and feel like we have failed terribly. What are some ideas of how we can start to address these things as we feel like we have tried everything?
Hi Candy, It sounds like you have a lot of positive things going on in your home. You have figured out a medication that works with your son. Your son gets up and out the door for school, even though the process is a bit painful to watch at times:). And you all discuss things in the home! Some of what you are describing sounds like normal teenage boy stuff. Teenagers change a lot as they transition from the tween years to the teenage years. And it often feel like we are losing our sweet kid. But teenagers are learning how to become more independent, challenging some of the beliefs they were raised with and often prefer to handle some things on their own. And most of this is good. Our kids have to push back from us a little to learn to stand on their own. Here are some areas we should be concerned with: if they are very disrespectful when they disagree with us, they are lying to us or if they begin withdrawing from everything they use to enjoy. Based on what you wrote, the only area that you may wish to address is attaching him to another activity other than video games. I once read that we want to pull our kids away from activities that are not helping by finding other areas to attach them to. So instead of saying, “no more video games,” we can instead say “let’s find a part time job for you” or “we are going camping together this weekend.” Is there a local computer shop in your town where he could work part-time? As a project, could you help him build his own computer (taking an area he likes and branching out from it)? Finding a job for a 14 year is challenging but several of our kids have had good fortune working for a small business or a family owned business. And it was very beneficial on cutting down on the disrespect and moving our kids forward!
Thanks for reaching out. And please check out my new book on Amazon, Responsible and Resilient Teens, for many more ideas on raising responsible teens. The book will give you a framework for your parenting and tons of ideas on ways to use positive and negative solutions to raising a resilient teen!
Hi. I am going to try these with my 15yo son. He came back to move back in with me (his mother), and his half brother. He stayed with his toxic father thinking the grass is greener on the other side. But he has realisesd how different life was there and had I said it ealier (you can come back anytime), he would not have taken 5 months to come back.
I feel I have been given a 2nd chance to make things better, but the things he has learnt from his father and that side of the family, are really winding me up. He is much worse compared to before he left, as I was telling him he cant miss school, made him have his medication on time, disciplined him when needed, took his phone from him when he misbehaved or disrespected me or his brother. He has realised he was wrong, and that I am much more caring and loving no matter what, compared to his father.
I can not send him back, even though I was hurt that he left us, and my whole family, who have kept him safe and comfortable for so long.
Looking forward to trying some or all of the things in your list.
Thank you for sharing.
Rose, Glad you found my post. It sounds like you are really trying to give your son love but also boundaries which is great! You can do it. Make sure to check out my book, Responsible and Resilient Teens for some additional ideas and encouragement for you on your parenting journey! https://mirandalamb.lpages.co/responsible-and-resilient-teens/
Hi. An update. He has left again to live with his dad because I applied for child maintenance, and his dad said pack ur bags and come to me, we will apply child maintenance. And our last call was just his dad cursing at me and as soon as I spoke up and said my bit too, my son shouted at me saying dont speak to my dad like that, how dare u, etc. So I have given up. He didnt defend or speak up for me once. He did for him, and its clear I am nothing to him. So. I am done.
Sorry that your son chose to go back to live with his dad. It is so hard in a shared parenting situation to feel like the other parent is the “favorite”. But remember even if your child is drawn to the other parent, that he needs you both. Look for ways to stay connected to him and keep the communication lines open. He won’t be a teenager forever and its vital to keep talking. And keep your eyes open to the needs that dad may be providing for your son. That can help you try to be more positive about dad so that your son doesn’t feel the need to spend energy defending dad to you when you all could just be talking and enjoying one another. And if you believe in God and prayer, I would encourage you to ask God to protect your son and provide wise friends and mentors even when you can’t be around. I saw God answer this prayer in our family. So sorry that your mother’s heart is hurting. Thinking of you.