Tag Archives: Teenagers

“Jaw With John” – Kids Want To Live In Filth, Let ‘Em!

My husband and I disagree and I am hoping you can be the tie breaker.

We have two teenagers, ages 15 and 17. I have always felt that they should tidy their rooms and make their beds. My husband disagrees and thinks they should do what they want in their own rooms, so I only ask that they pick things up off the floor once every two weeks so I can vacuum.

After 10 years of this, their rooms are filled with trash and food wrappers, old school papers, clothes that no longer fit, old books and various gadgets, toys, art supplies, the occasional dirty dish, etc.

I ask them to clean out closets. They make a half-hearted attempt and then ignore me. My husband says just let it be, and so I do.

The new school year is upon us and they want more things. More clothes, more school supplies, etc. They have difficulty locating the things they already own!

Would it be unfair of me to give them a deadline to clean out their rooms, and if they do not clean out by then, I will go in and do it for them?

I know they are busy kids, so I don’t mind doing it. But my husband says that they should live in the trash if they want to and if I clean out their rooms, I am invading their privacy.

Do you agree? — Frustrated and Tidy

Dear Tidy:

No no no no no no no! Do not let them get off that easy. If they fail to clean their rooms you are not responsible for them not getting new things for school. By cleaning their rooms you are setting a precedent that says “Hey, if we wait long enough Mom will end up doing this for us!” You can’t have that.

Here’s the thing: both you and your husband are right. You’re right in wanting them to live in a clean environment and he’s right for wanting them to live in their filth and deal with it themselves. You need to find a balance of your two ideals. The only thing that I think needs to be taken care of immediately is the food wrappers. That’s disgusting.

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“Jaw With John” – Son Is A Regular Don Jon

Both my husband and I are professionals. We live in a beautiful and affluent part of the country.

We have two sons, ages 14 and 10. Some time ago we discovered that our older son had accessed pornography by creating a false account on our computer. After confessing, he seemed contrite, promised us that he wouldn’t do it again, and we decided to give him another chance.

A few months later we gave him a smartphone for his 14th birthday, but we chose one that didn’t have many bells and whistles. We made him sign the contract, and (just for good measure) I asked my younger son to hold on to the locked phone once the boys came home from school.

I found out yesterday that on the days that my younger son was at school for after-school activities, my older son was home watching porn. My husband and I are stunned, shocked, repulsed, and have no idea where to go.

We are worried that if I enroll him in a group for porn addiction, he will learn other things that we would rather he not be exposed to. I am trying to find research about this, but am not getting the information I am seeking. Other than this, my son gets all As, plays a sport, reads voraciously, and in general appears to be a responsible kid. — Very Worried Mom

Dear Mom:

What does your location and income have to do with any of this? Are you trying to imply that what is going on with your son isn’t normally a problem associated with the affluent and those living in a “beautiful part of the country”? You’re trying to make a correlation that just isn’t there.

Why would you give him a smartphone? That seems like a way to exacerbate the situation. Why not give him a flip phone? It’s the safer alternative given your fears. I didn’t receive a phone until I was 15 and a freshman in high school. Young kids don’t need phones. I see 6 and 8-year-olds walking around staring at their phones (causing future neck and back problems) and they are disconnected with the world and it’s just … another story for another time.

Now that I’ve got the phone part out of the way, I want to address the other – more important – part. The porn.

Maybe he’s just super horny.

My initial response is “boys will be boys.” Because as a 14-year-old he’s starting to fully experience hormones and that includes finding and watching porn. But that would be too dismissive.

Listen, you said so yourself he does well in school and stays out of trouble. So what’s the problem? He’s not dabbling in drugs or getting drunk or stealing things from the Piggly Wiggly. He’s watching porn. Yes, I know porn can have negative effects on the developing brain of a young adult. It can also represent an unhealthy version of what sex actually is. Because it isn’t what porn depicts – at least not today’s version of it. If anything that is what you need to address with him and not this “addiction” because when it comes to it your son needs to know what he is seeing is not real and that is not how someone should treat a woman or women in the real world.

Then again, I’m the guy who wrote his senior capstone mockumentary about professionals in the adult film industry called Adult Content. I also worked on the Joseph Gordon-Levitt film Don Jon¬† – a film about this very topic! So maybe I’m not the best person to be getting advice from on this topic. And since I like to keep things 100 here at Jaw With John, I will admit that in high school and into college I watched a considerable amount of porn but still managed to do well in school and graduate. SO there’s hope.

I realize I’m not helping in the slightest so I will close with this: If after telling him to stop he continues to watch porn and you catch him then you need to sit down and talk with him.

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“Jaw With John” – Typical Teens, Can’t Control Their Volume

My husband and I have a 15-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old son. We both work full time. We are generally happy for the kids to have their friends at our house. We have a finished basement with a 70-inch TV — the largest in the house. The basement is carpeted and has a couch, chairs and a foosball table.

One problem: When our daughter has her friends over, they are SO LOUD.

It is fine when they are in the basement. When they are in the kitchen and we are in the den (next to each other), we have a volume battle. She gets peeved with us because we ask her to ask them to lower their volume.

She shushes her friends and they in turn get peeved with her, saying they can’t make any noise in our house. True passive-aggressive teenage behavior.

This, of course, means her friends don’t want to come to our home because they can’t “be themselves.” We do not think it is too much to ask that they hold down the volume. She suggests we watch TV in our bedroom. Are we alone in thinking this is crazy? Why should we be expected to stay in our room while our daughter entertains her friends? — *A House Divided By Noise

Dear House:

These girls just want attention. They congregate in the kitchen because they want to be heard. It’s a classic teenager move. They are also just that – teenagers – so naturally, they are going to be loud. If I had a nickel for every time a girl in my middle school got loud when talking to another girl, I’d have a shit load of nickels. (I don’t have a good frame of reference on High School behavior since I went to an all guys school.)

You shouldn’t be expected to stay in your room in your house while they are there. You are opening up your house to her friends and they should behave themselves accordingly. The next time they get loud in the kitchen, ask that the girls take their gathering into the basement where they can be as loud as they want. From what it sounds like, they couldn’t care less about the foosball table.

You sound disappointed that her friends might not want to hang out at your house.¬†Given all the drama and baggage teenage girls carry, I don’t understand why. If they can’t behave themselves and follow your rules then they won’t hang out there and you’ll have a quiet house.

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“Jaw With John” – Adventures In Teen Babysitting

My twin 13-year-old daughters earn a few extra dollars baby-sitting neighborhood children.

After my daughters completed the daylong Red Cross baby-sitting class last summer, I sent an email to a few moms who live close by, advertising my daughters’ services. I set their hourly rates at $8 an hour for one baby-sitter, or $12 an hour for both girls to baby-sit.

My husband and I both feel these are appropriate wages for their age(s) and services. The girls only baby-sit a few times per month because homework, sports and social activities are greater priorities.

After baby-sitting fewer than 15 times (for no more than two children at a time, ages 4 and older) they are complaining because their peers are making $12 an hour (which is true).

Since the age of 6 my daughters have received an age-appropriate weekly allowance for doing a short list of chores. The amount grows each year with age and responsibility. I urge them to save a few dollars each week.

Every so often, we make a trip to the bank, and they deposit their savings. I don’t badger them to do their chores, and some weeks they earn little or nothing.

I’m not sure what to do about the discrepancy between what my daughters and their friends are earning for baby-sitting. In our affluent area, I know that $12 is the going rate, but I wish it weren’t.

Should my daughters negotiate with their clients for higher wages? Should I set some parameters if they earn more money? What is the right thing to do in this situation? — Perplexed in Suburbia

Dear Perplexed:

When I was their age I was only making $5 a week by taking out, and bringing back in, the trash once a week. $8 an hour sounds pretty damn good to me.

If these kids want more money then they can negotiate their desired new price with their clients. You could present the argument that by charging less they could earn more than their counterparts. But that only goes so far as they could wind up working more hours, but still earning less than their friends.

You have already started them on the right path by having them deposit their money at the bank. If they do end up earning more, advise them to only withdraw what they need and keep some money stored away for a “rainy day” or emergencies (I don’t know what kind of emergencies 13-year-old girls would have but it’d be there in case).

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“Jaw With John” – Teenagers Scare The Living Shit Out Of Me

My middle daughter (I have three children) is 18 years old and a senior in high school. She has been a challenge to me, as she has always been very private about her emotions and what is going on in her daily life.

Over the last several months, I have noticed her withdrawing from friends and activities, and spending large amounts of time in her room watching movies on her computer. She will not talk to me and in fact gave me a 10-day silent treatment when she was caught trying to skip classes. (I turned her in when I learned she had falsified an email from me to get out of going to class.)

She occasionally talks to her dad, but when he has expressed concern about her apparent depression, she just says she is sad and doesn’t see the point in reliving the problems with a therapist, as they will just make her feel bad all over again. She is refusing this option.

She still goes to school, makes good grades, goes to a part-time job, and is now shopping for a prom dress — so she is not entirely hopeless in her outlook. However, she wants to attend college out of state, and I am concerned about the effect of such a transition on her mental status. I tried to talk to her pediatrician, but there can be no discussion without my daughter’s consent, because she is 18. My daughter won’t give the OK.

Any ideas? — Mom who Cares

Dear Mom:

You’ve given her enough space to let her try and work things out on her own but that clearly hasn’t worked. It’s now time to get positively involved and see what is at the root of this funk. Part of this might be the dreaded “Middle Child Syndrome” where your daughter feels as if she has been mistreated since she is smack dab in the middle of the first child and the “baby” in the family.

Maybe that transition into college is exactly what she needs. She could find the support and guidance she needs in a new place because there isn’t that fear that Mom & Dad are lingering and she can finally be her own woman. But if that doesn’t seem worth the risk, then you need to sit her down and talk with her. Not to her. Listen and respond. Don’t try and force her do anything she doesn’t want to because that could drive her further away. If talking with her doesn’t work then you should seek a professional with whom you can talk to and get some actual insight into your daughter’s life and how to proceed.

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