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Teenage Problems/re: help with 16 yr old boy and difficult behaviours


Thank you for your help with my previous question.
However, the burgers in question were actually a McDonald's clone, from a local Indian-American-run [not Native American, but Indian] burger bar, according to my son, but they promote them as being "a healthy Big Mac" - a vegetarian Big Mac clone, if you will. He admitted the burgers were healthy, but addictive and that the place had good service. We thought it was McDonald's but it turns out the friend had put the takeaway in a McDonald's bag as a prank to fool us - we thought it was McDonald's and were worried he was over-eating there. The friend isn't a bad influence, we know him, and he has a sense of humour, a little wry but this prank worries us. It turns out he was too embarrassed to tell us he was eating at a fast food joint/restaurant that's two places in one. We genuinely thought he was eating at McDonald's which worried us as it seemed so out-of-kilter; he's not normally into eating there.
I was relieved when I found that out and that at least it was healthy fast food; cookery is one of his hobbies, he likes making Italian and Mexican recipes - we're vegetarian. He likes healthy food, generally, for the most part.
However, the recent interest in Diet Coke, M&M's and Skittles worries me a little, he never used to be interested.

With regard to the gang issue, should I be concerned? All the gang seem to do is play Katy Perry, Carly Rae Jepsen, Taylor Swift and Barry Manilow loudly from a ghetto-blaster and sit socialising.
My son told me the only reason he had the music loud was because an elderly lady blasted out Britney Spears for hours on end through the night and he couldnt cope with it.
As regards the pictures of women, I asked my husband [his dad] to have "the talk" with him, but my husband said to me "It's harmless. Back in the day I did the same thing at his age, with paper magazines. He's just doing what I did, no harm done. Besides, the pictures aren't raunchy, really."
My son prefers publications with pictures of women in everyday situations - mainly women the age of the individuals mentioned in the next paragraph.
I've seen the pictures, and they're of individuals like Ramona Singer, Kelly Bensimon, Becky Anderson (from CNN) and Carly Simon, and none seem pornographic at all, very tame.
My son shows NO INTEREST in adult sites at all, only really sites like CNN and news sites, he does look at pictures of women but they're very tame (on the TV channels' sites). Is this odd?
His internet usage is very much normal, looking at news, political commentary, and showbiz stuff, he hates porn and spam, and actively seeks out the news sites.
As for the age group he's attracted to, women aged 40 and over, is this odd for a boy his age?
Now that I've explained some of the issues, do I need to worry a bit less or is there anything to be concerned about?

Hi Sandra,

Thank you for writing to me and I am sorry for the delay in being able to reply to your follow-up sooner rather than later. Thank you for the clarification of the points from your first question, I am glad that things regarding your son's eating habits are not as bad as first thought. The issue around him consuming M&Ms, Coke and Skittles should still be something to monitor because of their sugar content but if this is something that he is consuming in vast quantities simply because he likes them, then it might be difficult to persuade him to eat anything else. It might be that he falls out of this phase quicker than he fell into it but it may take up to a  couple of months.

With regards to the gang issue, there does seem to be something common about driving around blasting music (usually from the car stereo) and it appears to be, in some cases, to draw attention to the group and make them appear cool. Although annoying to anyone who gets blasted full force with Katy Perry or Taylor Swift whilst standing on the sidewalk, it is harmless fun. Music is important when going through your teenage years because these days more than before, young people use it to identify with and help them to form identities. Usually, young guys will play rap music in the hope that the 'coolness' reflects on them because they are seen to be listening to something cool and they then emulate the rapper by using his/her language and almost acting like him/her. Although I don't think your son is going to want to emulate Taylor Swift or Katy Perry, it could be that he enjoys their music and there will be something seen as 'cool' about listening to them; probably because they are so huge globally. The only time him being in a gang should become an issue is if the gang begins to cause a problem with the neighbors or the Police have to get involved for anything. Being part of a gang can be a positive thing because it gives him a sense of stability, consistency and safety; because if anything was to happen to him, then you at least, should be able to rest easy that you know his friends would take care of him.

In regards to him looking at the pictures of women older than him; it could just be that he finds the maturity of women attractive because to him, they represent responsibility, respect and a sense of moral pride that he would not find in girls his age. It could be that he finds women attractive who respect themselves, take care of the home and are dutiful to their husbands and this will be reflected in the pictures that he has got (women in everyday situations). Although some attraction to older women has become increasingly common in young guys, most guys will tend to remain attracted to their own peer group. The film 'American Pie' has a lot of responsibility for sexuality older women by suggesting to young guys that they are more sexually experienced and it is a conquest to be proud of if you can have sex with someone older than you. The thing is with your son however, is that this appears to be less about sex with these kind of women, instead it seems to be an idealism that women like that still exist and that he may find one. It is probably part of him coming through puberty and adolescence where his sexuality and sexual identity are beginning to be formed and this is triggered by curiosity into what turns us on, what doesn't, what we want from a partner and whom we find attractive. IF these pictures are not sexuality or degrading women (which they are not) then as odd as you may think it is, it is 'harmless'. It would only become a problem if he actively translated this fantasy off paper and into reality because of his age and potential vulnerability; but this is something you would find out by keeping an eye on his behavior. IT is highly unlikey that this almost like fetish obsession will continue the older he gets and again, it is probably something that he will grow out of as he begins to meet more people.

I hope that helps.


Teenage Problems

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Daryl Taylor, BSc (Hons) Psychology, PGDip (pending certification)


My expertise covers everything and anything to do with growing up, being a teenager or a young adult or being the parent of one of the pre-described. I can cover issues on identity, sexuality, love, relationships, families, drug/alcohol abuse and anything and everything in between.


I have volunteered for for over ten years now, but even before that I was trying to use my experience to help others by working with, and even Lycos and Ask Jeeves. My experience comes from being a teenager primarily but this lead me to work with young people from the age of 13. I have worked front line, face to face and over the telephone, e-mail and webchat for a government department called Connexions UK (aimed at young people aged 13-19); as well as being student counselor in New York, a Peer Mentor, a student teacher and working for my school, college and University to help raise the aspirations of young people. My life has not been easy and I have been through my fair share of issues; so there is little that I haven't been through in reality opposed to just reading it from a book or from my academic studies. I have been featured as a case study as achieving through adversity for a number of magazines and I have featured in a couple of books on both sides of the Atlantic; even though I am UK based.

The Albert Kennedy Trust

Relationships: Cathy Senker, 2012, Raintree The Dean and Chapter Positive Nation GTEN Television Aim Higher

BSc(Hons) Psychology Post Graduate Diploma in Multidisciplinary Design Innovation Basic Counselling Skills Effective Listening Skills Mental Health First Aid

Awards and Honors
Outstanding Student achievement Adult learner's Award

Past/Present Clients Connexions Direct

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