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Rebellious Son Disregards Mom’s Authority


I am a single mother and I am having problems with my 16-year-old son. He constantly runs away from home because he does not like to follow the household’s rules. I have five other children to consider when I am out at all hours of the night looking for him. When I ask why he behaves this way, he does not have any answers. 

He knows that I am legally responsible for him until he is 18. He uses this fact to manipulate me. He has had multiple run-ins with the police, but they were all minor enough for him to be released into my custody. I frequently have to take off work to appear in court on his behalf. I don’t want to give up on him, but I don’t know what to do.


It is good that you have established household rules. Is your son required to do certain chores every day? Do your other children have chores, and do your household rules apply to them? 

When your son runs away, call the police. By involving the police, you won’t have to leave your other children and take on the stress of searching for your son.  Also, the police will then have a record of all the times your son has left your home without your permission.

The next time you appear in court for an incident your son causes, request that the judge take some type of action. This can include putting him on probation or requiring mandatory community service.

It sounds like the main issue is your son’s lack of respect for your authority. As heartbreaking as this is, you need to stand firm and take away privileges (music, his cell phone, electronics and time with friends) each time he shows you disrespect. He can earn back some of the privileges that he has lost by showing you the proper respect and abiding by the household rules.

If he is the oldest, remind him that he needs to be a good role model for his younger siblings.

Do you have any supportive people you can rely on for help with your children?  We have counseling referrals and parent support groups available if you e-mail us your city, county and state. You can also call our Hotline anytime. Our counselors are here 24/7 to help with difficult parenting situations. Our number is 1-800-448-3000.

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