Frustration Stifles Change


I am feeling a great sense of failure because I've been trying to apply John’s principles for most of my child's life and this is where we are:

    • 16-year-old son is addicted to his phone and has not responded to any of my attempts to discipline.
    • He is not engaged at home unless it's to grudgingly do his chores. When he does engage, it's disrespectful.
    • His chores are often not done, incomplete, or done only to the minimal standard. Nothing more.
    • He takes hard classes and is an average student - although he did just get his first D - probably because he's on his phone so

    • He doesn't drive, has no friends in the neighborhood, so he is not social after school, cares little about anything in his room, and has nothing I can take away except the phone.

The problem is this: he bought the phone and got his own phone plan with his own money from his own job.

I don't know how to apply ParentGuru principles to this situation.


What you are describing is a son who does not respect the authority of his parent ( I am assuming you are a one parent home). The foundational work of parent authority starts at birth. While you can establish your authority if you missed some years, it sounds like this was not achieved. Establishing the principles takes perseverance and is not meant to solve behavior. It requires a parent to understand they will conduct themselves in a new way and will not compromise. If your son is addicted to his phone, this tells me he has been allowed to become addicted. We cannot expect children to not become addicted if we allow the device to be used without restrictions. The fact that your son was able to purchase a phone and enter into a contract himself is concerning and may call for some investigation into the legalities according to your state. I encourage to gain a different worldview about your role as parent, otherwise your interactions with him will remain emotional and open for manipulation. Attempting to discipline is not effective because you are looking for something to work which does not produce foundational change. It may be helpful for you to work with a parent coach in order to understand these concepts and carry you through the next two years.

Gretchen Slover

Join ParentGuru and get all your parenting questions answered! Members can ask a question directly to John for $25/question (Non-members $45/question). Questions to the team of coaches are included with a paid membership.

Become A Member To Get More From ParentGuru®

Members enjoy access to all questions and answers.


Return to Previous Page

View All Questions