A Free-Range Young Man Who Lost His Dad’s Trust and Wants it Back

Obviously, sbrairdyrf
this young man would appreciate your help:
I’m a 14-year-old American male, and, until early November, had a father who led a Free-Range parenting style. He enjoyed this site a lot and talked about the things he had learned here. However, on November 11, I got into trouble with the police regarding an inappropriate statement I had made about my school online. Rather than allowing this to be another experience in my ascent to maturity, and acknowledging the fact that I had learned my lesson about Internet responsibility, my father took this as an opportunity to reject everything about kid’s rights from this site and go all “Big Brother” on me.
From then on, he has put “parental settings” on my computer that allow him to manage and view every click of my mouse, and completely restricting my access to video games (I don’t play the mindless shooter ones — I prefer intellectual role players) as well as making me have meetings with him every day in which we discuss my schoolwork and grades. (I have never had any problem academically, so the necessity of this remains unknown.)
Whenever I step out of line, repercussions such as blocking websites I enjoy occur. He hides this obvious power grab under the guise of that “it bothers him that I don’t read as much as I used to.” The same can be said for my other two siblings, neither of which are suffering from the same restrictions.
I had assumed for the last three months that when life was back to normal, he would return to his old ways of Free-Range parenting. I was driven to write this comment by him explicitly stating this morning that, after the ordeal with the police is over, he would not be removing the restrictions or ending the useless meetings, as well as the fact that last night he announced a “New Deal”-style plan to up the amount of chores and work for the whole family.
Please, please, PLEASE respond with advice, links, stories, ANYTHING that could help stop this authoritarian change! — James.

62 Responses to A Free-Range Young Man Who Lost His Dad’s Trust and Wants it Back

  1. Marie February 18, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

    Well first James, I think the way that you speak and write says a lot about your character. You seem like a very well spoken & bright young man. You’re father must be doing something very right 😉 Unfortunately in life, as a child or an adult, there are always consequences to our actions, unfair or not. As children and young adults we may not understand or agree with it all, but in the end most of our parents try to do what’s best for us with the tools and knowledge they have available to them at that time. Your father clearly loves you very much, and is trying to make sure you are on a guided path to a good life.

    That being said, my advice to you is continue to stay out of trouble, learn from this small mistake, and with time you’ll see that you’ll hopefully earn back trust, and hopefully more computer time. Patience is a pain, but I’m sure he’ll come around 😉

    Good luck!

  2. Dienne February 18, 2016 at 12:13 pm #

    My guess is that Dad is having troubles letting you go. You’re not a little kid – your scrape with the law probably brought that home rather violently for him. Keeping engaged in conflict with you is at least a way to keep engaged with you. He may fear that he’s “losing you” to other influences that he doesn’t understand – video games and social media which probably weren’t part of his growing up experience, at least not nearly to the same extent.

    My advice would be to give him at least a bit of what he wants: read. In fact, ask him for some suggestions for something to read and even offer to read it together and talk about it – a sort of mini book club or something. Also, seek his advice even if you don’t need it. And just talk to him – not necessarily about the issues between you, just stuff – whatever you’re interested in, try to find out what he’s interested in. Give him a chance to get to know you as the young man you’re becoming.

  3. James Pollock February 18, 2016 at 12:13 pm #

    Same advice as before. Turn 18.

  4. Shelly Stow February 18, 2016 at 12:20 pm #

    I have only one thing to say: I taught high school 9th graders for many years, and they were the age that James is. I know what the average 9th grade writing and sentence construction is. James, if all the writing given here as yours is indeed yours–and I certainly have no reason to think it is not–then you are probably in the upper 2% of your age group in analytical thinking, problem solving, and self-awareness–not to mention writing skills. You already are a remarkable young man; you will be a remarkable adult and will, without doubt, make your father very proud. I hope he is already very proud of you, for you well deserve it.

  5. malka February 18, 2016 at 12:34 pm #

    Dear 14 year old,

    Please give your Dad a break. It sounds, from what you told us, that he really wants what’s best for you. Being patient and showing that You Trust Him and are willing to abide by the rules he set for this game – is the best way for you towards regaining his trust in you. Try to imagine what it feels like to be your Dad and remember that one day you probably will be someone’s Dad. It’s not as easy as it looks. Good luck!

  6. Linda February 18, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

    I agree with Marie 100%.

    I wonder to myself whether the public nature of your transgression has anything to do with the continued scrutiny.
    As a free-range parent, I often worry about being judged by the community… people will think I’m a bad or uncaring parent because I let my kid [insert freedom/responsibility here]. I know I *shouldn’t* care what others think, but I do. I know others in the community shouldn’t harshly judge parents for their kids’ behavior, but they do. Maybe all that plays into why he’s reacted so strongly in this instance.

  7. Linda February 18, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

    Also, four months seems to you like an extended consequence for your mistake. But trust does take a long time to rebuild. Patience and perseverance. I feel for both you and for your Dad, and wish you both well. I expect I will have similar dilemmas as my children enter the teen years.

  8. Travis February 18, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

    I… honestly, what you call an “obvious power grab” sounds like a fair punishment to me. You had freedom, and you lost it when you got in trouble with the police. It would be irresponsible of your father not to do something about it. Further, it is clear your actions have made him lose his trust in you, which I understand completely; you joked about a threatening thing to which many people have lost their lives, and even managed to get the police involved. I would have punished you as well. Actions have consequences, and you father doesn’t need an excuse such as you not reading as much as you used to.

    Until you prove to him that you have learnt your lesson (and honestly I am not sure this is the way to do it), you need to get used to the fact that you did something wrong, and focus on your “rigorous” academic environment.

  9. Eagen February 18, 2016 at 12:49 pm #

    I have my doubts this letter was penned by a ninth-grader; the maturity of the style and diction suggests an adult edited it or wrote it on his behalf, unless James’s IQ is 160+. (Yet, he admits he hasn’t been reading as much lately, which is the only way to develop a mature writing style regardless of one’s IQ. So I’m suspicious.)

    It could well be that James has a high IQ. If so, the parents of intellectually gifted kids often do give their kids freer rein, in part because they have to. Gifted kids present a lot of challenges in terms of rearing and education that are not true for the rest of us.

    I would tell James that freedom is earned, not deserved. In today’s school environment, the kind of post James says he made to Instagram is grounds for expulsion in most school districts. Perhaps behind the scenes James’s father has had to respond to pressure from the school or school district by reining in his online activities. If the police were involved, then perhaps the father has had to respond to pressure from the police to keep his child out of jail or juvie.

    In fact, if the police were involved, James’s letter has conveniently left out whole tracts of contextual information that I think probably justify the father’s actions simply to protect the future of his child, free ranger or not. His Instagram activity is the sort of thing that can endanger college admissions, employment, etc. The father also may be subject to certain kinds of legal liability from the actions of his child unless he takes certain actions. We just don’t know because he hasn’t provided the father’s point of view. I won’t let the writing talent of a ninth-grader beguile me into assuming his father has no idea how to parent him. I rather suspect the father’s actions are warranted. Give the man some credit.

    James has made his bed. If he truly is as mature as his writing suggests, then he must accept lying in that bed for the time being. Being a free range kid doesn’t mean freedom from responsibility. You have to take responsibility for your actions, and when you screw up, you have to take your punishment – which, he admits, is probably fair. That is part of becoming an adult, that is part of being a man. You owe up to your mistakes and make amends for them.

    I’m certain James can earn back his father’s trust over time by simply continuing to be a good kid the way he always has been. Good grades, no further trouble, no drugs, no alcohol, more reading, more writing, more creative enterprises. In three to six months with good behavior, I would think he could start to ask for privileges back.

    By the way, video games are not the only kind of gaming there is involving deep thought, philosophy, strategy, etc. We are living in a Golden Age of board games, and if computer-based gaming is off limits, then start trying out the many, many awesome board games available these days. Game night with buddies, pizza, and soda is an opportunity to interact with other human beings in person, something that it sounds like has been a bit lacking in James’s lifestyle. Believe it or not, before 1980 teenaged human beings got along just fine without computers at all.

    That’s my advice: take responsibility, make amends, accept your punishment, have impeccable behavior, ask for privileges back in six months, read good books, and explore non-computer-based gaming with friends. All will be well. It’s not the end of the world.

  10. E February 18, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

    Hang in there James.

    However, there is really no way for people who don’t know you and your father to come up with a solution that would be appropriate. He’s your father and has a perspective that we cannot glean from this post.

    I think you should also consider that his viewpoint on video games and social media might be valid (at least for now), even if you are doing thing (from your perspective) are intellectually challenging or valid. We don’t know how much time you spend on those activities versus others, but we do know that the big issue stemmed from your use of social media. It’s completely understandable that he’d like less focus on those.

    (it’s like when my son was at fault in a car accident — he lost privileges for quite awhile that involved his use of our cars and when/where/with whom he could drive)

    Good luck to you and your Dad. Sometimes big mistakes have big consequences and recovering from those takes time and patience.

  11. Dave February 18, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

    James, your mistake clearly scared the bejesus out of your dad. Given the number of school shooters in recent years, law enforcement is out to make an example of every possible offender as a deterrent, and the courts and prosecutors aren’t always fair (no matter what your civics class teacher says – especially if you have elected judges and prosecutors where you live). The court system does not always recognize that kids are impulsive and make correctable mistakes. Some take a “lock ’em up” approach to anything remotely serious.

    Your dad knows this from watching the news, and he knows the possibility of losing you into the court system and perhaps jail is very, very real. He’s scared for good reasons. In addition, he knows it will help your case if he has taken every possible action to make sure you stay on the right path. Judges like that. At best, charges will be dropped and you can go on with life. But, you could end up on probation or in detention until you’re 18, and neither possibility is unlikely. I can guarantee you any probation rules will make your dad’s rules seem minor – we won’t even discuss what detention is like.

    From your point of view, he might be going overboard, but remember he knows the risks you’re facing, and can’t see what’s going on in your mind – he can only see your actions and hear your words. It’s going to take time to earn his trust back.

    Also, your sense of time’s passage is making it difficult for you to keep this in context. Because of the way the adolescent brain is wired, you live very much “in the moment.” Your father, on the other hand, has a very long view of life and time. For you, several months is an eternity. For your dad, a few months is nothing. Be patient. This is a big deal.

    Please trust that your dad is doing the right thing for you at the moment. You might not like the changes, but find a way to accept and live with them. That, more than anything, will convince your father that you are safe and can be trusted. Someday, perhaps a year from now when (hopefully) the legal problems are far behind you, he’ll listen to your pleas for more freedom again. He loves you, James – don’t forget that.

  12. Workshop February 18, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

    Here’s how most parents interact with teens:

    Teen wants more freedom.
    Parent requires that teen earns that freedom.
    Teen wants more freedom.
    See the second sentence.
    Teen rebels.
    Parent yanks freedom.

    This is completely appropriate, as the teen, who is still learning how the world works, isn’t aware of how his actions will affect him. The parent (usually) is, and wants to protect the teen.

    So, my advice is to sit down with your father and talk like an adult.
    Admit you screwed up. Tell him that you would like to earn back his trust. Politely ask about what you need to do. Accept that he may not be willing to enter into negotiations. Stick with the rules he has laid out for you to follow. Do not complain to him about them. At all. Period.

    A month later, go back and do the same thing.
    “I know I screwed up. I would like to earn back your trust, and for the past month I’ve been following the restrictions you’ve put in place. I would like to talk about easing one of them.”

    Rinse and repeat. That’s twelve conversations a year. Not too bad.

    Furthermore, invite him into your life where applicable. Talk to him about what you’re doing at school. If he has an interest in something you’re studying, engage him. I like history, so I’ll happily talk about history with my kids.

    And don’t complain about your chores around the house. You live there, and assuming you’re basically mobile, you need to contribute to the cleanliness and orderliness of the household. If that means doing your own laundry, do it without complaint. Guess what: when you grow up and get your own place, you’ll want to know how to do laundry. And cook. And do all those things that are “chores” now.

    There is similar advice here from others. I offer this as what I would lay out for my own sons.

    Basically, don’t act like a teenager, act like an adult, and accept that you are not an adult. We do not give the freedoms and responsibilities of an adult to a teenager, but if you act like an adult, you will earn those freedoms faster than if you act like a child.

  13. SanityAnyone? February 18, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

    Dear James. You screwed up and your Dad is pissed and frightened. Part of being free-range is dealing with real consequences. Your Dad is not only angry, but is also now wary of both the technology and culture that enabled this to happen. He wants to protect you and needs to dial life back about a decade and a half to try to do that. He needs to do some rebuilding with you to make sure your values and behaviors are solid. All the electronics you enjoy are a distraction from this, and completely in the privilege category. Removing computer access means, necessarily, you will have to fill that time with something and he probably hopes that it’s reading, exercise, work or positive friendships. Realize, these are ALL good things for your health and intellect. Try to pitch in and play it his way for a while.

    As you are seeing, trust, once lost, is difficult to regain. I have confidence that you will regain trust, and that your Dad’s DEFCON level will slowly but surely decrease. I strongly recommend reading all you can about the power of speech, and learn to use it for positive purposes. You obviously have the power to wield the language, but your messages are questionable. You also have to understand the pressures on your Dad. We parents are hearing stories like the one on NPR the other day. The mother of one of the boys who perpetrated the Columbine massacre thought her son was a good kid. She missed the warning signs, if there were any. Probably passed off dark humor as a joke, as I do when I hear my own sons make all kinds of immature jokes. Neither parents nor police can afford to miss a sign, even if it is misinterpreted at first. Give Dad some support for having to endure the stress of an investigation in this climate of fear. http://www.npr.org/2016/02/16/466618817/sue-klebold-mother-of-columbine-shooter-carries-him-everywhere-i-go-always

    – Mom of a thirteen year old without a phone

  14. Catherine Caldwell-Harris February 18, 2016 at 1:27 pm #

    I am impressed with everyone’s comments. James, read them carefully and reflect.

  15. Jeremy February 18, 2016 at 1:37 pm #

    I have graduate students who don’t write as well as this “14 year old”. I call BS.

  16. Jason February 18, 2016 at 1:45 pm #

    This sounds exactly like something written by a smart kid. When James’ emotional maturity catches up to his intellectual maturity, his writing style will change for the better. Everyone will still know that he’s smart, but it will be more for what he says than how he says it, and he’ll probably look back and shake his head at his past works.

    Beyond that, I’d say he should listen to Dave above and talk that post over with his dad.

  17. dmg February 18, 2016 at 1:51 pm #

    Be grateful you are only 14. Had you been a few years older, the consequences of your actions could have been a lot more severe then having You mention your siblings not having the same restrictions as you. I am sorry but your siblings didn’t post threatening statements on Instagram and should not necessarily have the same restrictions placed on them unless warranted. Truly accepting responsibility for your behavior will go along way. Don’t ask him about when you can get your privileges back, it probably annoys him and makes want to dig his heals in more deeply. Being sorry or remorseful is not enough. Show your father that you genuinely accept responsibility for your actions. Learn how to play a new game and teach your father how to play. Talk to your father about non-explosive topics, ask him how his day was, offer to help out more around the house, He will let you know when you can have them back. In the meantime, go for a walk, go outside and enjoy nature, take time out to explore new computer things, volunteer somewhere.

  18. LauraL February 18, 2016 at 1:53 pm #

    As a parent, if one of my teenage children were questioned by the police about something he’d said online regarding his own school being in a shooting, I’d lock things down, too. I think, as a teen, you don’t quite grasp how much it hurts us as parents to see other parents lose their children to school shootings and know that one of those kids COULD HAVE BEEN MINE. My heart would never, ever, ever recover.

    I’d lock mine down mainly because if something REALLY did happen, that child would be one of the FIRST people authorities would look at. If I can demonstrate to a fine degree that my son were under my strict authority, they may well decide my son was not the source of the threat or knew nothing of it and would release us from scrutiny.

    It’s PANIC. And four months isn’t that long when it comes to long-term fears. You made a mistake. You’ve owned up to it. This is still your punishment. If it had been any other mistake – one less of a current social fear – he may well have let you return to a FRK lifestyle. But your joke was about something so deadly serious. He’s not ready for you to be free yet. He’s scared!

    You might ask him if you can seriously talk about the situation and ask him what you need to do to demonstrate you won’t make such a terrible mistake again. Find out what he’s looking for and work to reach it. I hope you get some freedom back.

  19. Princesspeach February 18, 2016 at 2:03 pm #

    You mention your parents are divorced. How is that relationship with your parents? Is it chill? Or is it high conflict? Coming from a stepparent who wants to be free-range but cannot because of the high conflict relationship with the ex, this might something to do with the severity of your consequences. We learned our lesson when the stepson took a walk to mom’s house and got picked up by the cops. Cops = a lot of stress for parents. End of story man.

    Why don’t you look at these talks as a way to build a bridge back to your dad. Tell him how you feel, say you are sorry for the lapse in judgment on appropriate internet behavior and that you want to earn his trust back but you don’t know how to begin. Admit you made a mistake and you will be more careful in the future.Focus on one thing that you want back and work towards it. Ask if he has recommendations for what he thinks you might enjoy reading. Your dad isn’t on a power grab, he is trying to keep you in his life. Did you do this on his time? He might be freaking out that he is now the “bad parent” and is trying to over compensate.

    You can’t compare Mom’s house and Dad’s house. Their house, their rules. I’m sure your mom has done something in the past you didn’t feel was fair, justified, or was pain. And if not, then you are lucky. Parents aren’t there to be your friends. At the end of the day, however strict these rules might seem, your dad is ultimately trying to do what he thinks is best for you. Is it always best? Maybe not, but its what he believes is best to turn you into an awesome person.

  20. Jana February 18, 2016 at 2:07 pm #

    When my children did anything wrong, the best thing which could “make things right” between us again was obeying all my rules and restrictions, and even go beyond them (doing extra chores, be extremely polite and cooperative etc.). They expressed this way that they are really sorry and that they are doing their best. It always worked. After a certain time, i melted like a snow in spring… It is said that mother’s love is unconditional, father’s must be earned. I wish you good luck, and I am very sure that everything will be all right! Just do not spoil it…

  21. E February 18, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

    Such great advice here.

    Since you say “after the ordeal with the police is over,” which means things are still ongoing. It would be foolish to expect life to go back to ‘normal’ if you parents are still dealing with *any* fallout from this act. I suspect your parents have had to get legal advice (perhaps at a cost) and have had to spend time talking with authorities, showing up at court, etc. They have to do this because you are a minor and they literally are responsible for your actions.

    Some of your language expresses impatience with all of this: “power grab” “under the guise” “authoritarian change”. All of those descriptors would apply if this had come out of the blue. It has not. There is no “guise” — you know that all of these changes came as a result of the threat you made.

  22. Rick February 18, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

    Somehow I’m reminded of the movie American Beauty (highly recommended) in which in it a pot smoking boy named Ricky lives under his tyrannical homophobic father who makes him take drug tests periodically. However, he stays in control by stashing urine samples from his drug-free friends and handing those to his father instead. Meanwhile he makes home movies of everyone.

    You will not be able to win your father over intellectually. Write him a letter and express your feelings as you did here. Or perhaps make a movie. It seems to me you actually need to do fun things with your father to make him lighten up. And stay in control by using proxy dns servers – just kidding – maybe.

  23. Papilio February 18, 2016 at 3:09 pm #

    “I have graduate students who don’t write as well as this “14 year old”. I call BS.”

    You remind me of my 11th grade history teacher who basically accused me of plagiarism because “11th graders don’t write like this”. I had used a somewhat archaic grammatical construction correctly – yeah, how very unlikely for a smart 16-y.o. former bookwurm who’s interested in linguistics. Grrr!

    And speaking of being a former bookwurm, up until 9/10th grade I was ALWAYS reading, then suddenly almost stopped because I had to read literature for school, didn’t like that, so rather did something else entirely than reading whatever I wanted while feeling guilty for not reading the ‘right’ books.

  24. Beth2 February 18, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

    two observations:

    1) some of the things that this young man is complaining about don’t seem like punishment at all, and in fact seem like great parenting ideas to me: Daily meetings with your teen to discuss his day and his life. How many neglected kids would long for that? An increase in the amount of household chores. That is going to do this young man a world of good in the long run! When he leaves home and lives on his own, he will be able to take care of himself. He will understand how much time and effort go into maintaining an orderly, clean, healthy household. Perhaps, years from now, this young man’s future spouse will be thanking his dad profusely for the level of household responsibility he was given in his youth!

    2) Divorced parents sometimes have to endure an added burden of big-brother scrutiny of their parenting choices by the courts. I’ve seen some parents use any misdeed by a teenager as an excuse to bring their ex-spouse back to court, to fight some more over who should have residential custody and decision-making authority. His dad’s “over-correction” in parental oversight after his kid’s run-in with the police might be an effort to spare this kid future courtroom battles.

  25. Julie February 18, 2016 at 4:08 pm #

    James, an erudite friend of mine once said, “Things will always need cleaning. Lawns will always need to be cut and gardens weeded. Clothing will always need laundering and children will always need to be raised.”

    I was in College when she said this and for perhaps the first time in my admittedly young life something clicked. I had struggled with chores my entire childhood.They were boring, meaningless and sad. However my friend’s words opened my eyes. I decided to see cleaning as a challenge. Did you know that if you clean a room, say a bathroom or bed room so well and then lightly clean it everyday it never really gets dirty? Did you know that if you use the tomatoes and peppers in that garden that you detest weeding to make salsa the work doesn’t seem so onerous? Did you know that cutting and trimming the lawn so well that your neighbor’s begin to copy you is a rush? Try it!

    Reframe the crappiness. It makes things a lot better. Hang in there. This too shall pass.

  26. David (Dhewco) February 18, 2016 at 4:34 pm #

    To the people who don’t think a 14yo can write like this.

    I’m reminded of the librarian who would make me read the biographies and history books I wanted to read…at the age of 9! I had to prove I could handle the big words, and understand them.

    I have no idea if this kid is for real; I’m just saying it’s possible.


  27. Donald February 18, 2016 at 5:22 pm #

    Maturity and responsibility go hand in hand. This is obvious. However, this concept still eludes many Many MANY people. “It’s not my fault” Or “I did this because..” or “What I did was only a little thing because…”, is a knee jerk comment. People of all ages do this. (30s, 40s, 50,….)

    I’m not at all saying that you do this. How would I know? I know nothing about you. I’m only bringing this up because I want to show you how you can stand out. As I said, 30, 40, and 50 year olds struggle with taking responsibility for their actions. Therefore if a 14 year old becomes very good at it, people will definitely take notice. People will think, “Wow that’s a very mature 14 year old!”

  28. Donald February 18, 2016 at 5:57 pm #

    This is an example of taking responsibility by refraining from using an excuse. (even a good one)

    We learn by observing others. Dark humor is all around us. It was a joke. You have a good excuse to fall back on. You are learning to be funny by watching others.

    Now for the thing that will set you apart. DON’T USE THIS EXCUSE. Many people will already understand the excuse without you even saying it. Therefore if you point this out, it does nothing. However if you don’t use it, more people will respect you for it. They may think, “Why didn’t he try to fall back on the excuse? It was a good one! I probably would have if I was in his shoes. Wow he must be very mature!”

    Of course they won’t use those words. Only people from The Brady Bunch talk that way. However you get the idea.

    BTW your dad remembers what it was like to be 14. He remembers the need to fit in. He may even believe that it was a good excuse. That still wouldn’t stop him (or me) from jumping on you. I probably would have reacted differently. However I wouldn’t just let it go.

  29. Francis Ayley February 18, 2016 at 6:03 pm #

    I am the father of a 17-year-old free-range girl.

    I’m going to presume two things. Firstly, you want your old freedoms back. Secondly, your father needs to feel secure in the knowledge that you will not do something like this again. Based on these two assumptions I would approach your father and ask him the following question.

    “What do you need from me in order for me to get my old freedoms back? What guarantees and assurances do you need from me?”

    Then I would negotiate with him. The idea is to create a win-win deal. You get what you want and he gets what he needs in order to feel he can trust you with computer access. Give it a try, and see what response you get. Life is a series of negotiations, the more skillful you become at negotiating win-win deals the happier you will be.

    I recommend you learn some NVC (Nonviolent Communication). It will help you tremendously to negotiate getting your needs met whilst respecting the needs of others. Get hold of a copy of the NVC book by Marshall Rosenberg and read it.

    Also, if I were you, I would simply ignore all the ‘judgmental’ comments here, there are quite a few. They are of no value or positive use to you. Judgmental statements are persecution disguised as help, don’t give them your attention.

  30. George Pascual February 18, 2016 at 6:27 pm #

    I’m no psychiatrist, but it seems to me that the father in this case is using his son’s “transgression” as a pretext for his increased control over his sons. I believe that there are other issues at work here. James doesn’t read as much as he used to, ergo, the family must do more chores? What does one thing have to do with another?

    I suspect the father is acting out for some other reason. Anxiety, insecurity, or fear of something are often at the heart of these things. Divorces are always stressful, but they’re might be something going on that the sons don’t know about.

    I’m no therapist, but I think James and his brothers should sit down and have an “intervention.” They need to ask him what’s REALLY going on. They need to ask him what he’s so afraid of that he needs to crack the whip like this. He probably won’t be very cooperative, at first, but they need to keep at him.

    If the father keeps this up, he risks ruining his relationship with his sons. My dad was a control freak, and this led me to cut him out of my life completely. For the last 24 years of his life, I never spoke to him again.

    Does James’ father really want to risk the same thing happening to him?

  31. Donald February 18, 2016 at 7:27 pm #

    ‘Too much time on my hands’ was a song from a late 70’s band Styx. That comes to mind after reading today’s blog. It highlights how judgmental some people can be. Helicopter parents may spout off, “You must be too lazy to watch over children!” However we can be just as judgmental.

    After reading the letter from the boy, some know enough to condemn the boy or condemn the father.

  32. BL February 18, 2016 at 7:44 pm #

    @George Pascual
    ” My dad was a control freak, and this led me to cut him out of my life completely. For the last 24 years of his life, I never spoke to him again.”

    I can easily think of a half dozen or so situations like this among people I know personally, even though both parent and offspring continue to live in the same small town, or neighboring towns separated by only a few miles.

  33. Sandi February 18, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

    Dear James,

    I think that even if the new rules are not fair you need to just tough it out and go along. Show your father respect and just do what you have to do. I know this is much easier for me to say than for you to do, but I do think it’s the best thing for you to do. Your dad will likely come around eventually, tiring of the meetings. OR… you may be surprised to find that you can enjoy those meetings. You never know – sometimes things that start out being pointless and irritating can grow into something good.

    Mom of 2 who remembers very well being 14.

  34. pentamom February 18, 2016 at 9:33 pm #

    It’s quite possible that Dad feels like the household could be running better and that a new division of chores is in order — having NOTHING to do with James’ particular situation. Maybe the house is chaotic, or one or more of the parents is carrying an unfair share, or who knows. Assuming that the chore thing is connected to James’ restrictions may be incorrect on James’ part, and is out of order for the rest of us, given the extremely limited picture we have.

  35. Me February 19, 2016 at 12:45 am #

    Basically, the only thing to do now is to be responsible (reasonably cheerfully!) until your dad comes to believe that you are responsible and can be trusted to stay out of serious trouble without monitoring. This will take time – four months seems like forever when you’re fourteen, but it’s not really that long. And as you get older, it’s quite normal to acquire more chores and responsibilities, so I wouldn’t necessarily connect that right off.

    One thing that will probably help is understanding and acknowledging that you did screw up, and you showed your Dad that you can’t be trusted to behave in an appropriate way on line without supervision. Making jokes about mass shootings at your school is like making jokes about bombs in an airport security lineup. It doesn’t seem like that big a thing, but it can get you in a lot of very serious trouble – the kind of trouble that really scares a parent. You’d likely get a similar reaction if your dad caught you sexting, for example.

    Short version – your dad gave you freedom, you screwed up and showed that you weren’t ready for it yet, and now you have to earn that freedom back.

  36. Catherine Ruckert February 19, 2016 at 2:41 am #

    James, your run in with the law caused your father to blame himself. Probably subconsciously. Free range parenting goes with a mindset, that doesn’t stop at trusting the world, it also trusts the individuals to behave in a way that allows freedom of movement. He bought into this, and you messed up. He is trying to pull in the reins because it’s ‘his fault”. You were allowed too much freedom, you did too little around the house, your grades could have been better because he took his eye off the ball. He’ll forgive you when he forgives himself.
    Run ins with authority figures help us learn to deal with conflict, teach us how to behave when things go wrong, and teach us respect. Respect is what makes freedom work. I suspect he’ll calm down, but currently he’s very very confused and hurt.
    He let his puppy of the lead, and his puppy got into the farmer’s sheep pen.

  37. andy February 19, 2016 at 6:45 am #

    “Rather than allowing this to be another experience in my ascent to maturity, and acknowledging the fact that I had learned my lesson about Internet responsibility, my father took this as an opportunity to reject everything about kid’s rights from this site and go all “Big Brother” on me.”

    Did you learned the lesson, honestly? Part of the lesson is that people, including adult men, don’t act rationally when they are afraid, feel threatened, betrayed or otherwise emotional. When the police gets involved, parents get emotional. You are analyzing your fathers reaction as if he would be evil schemer on the path to power, but that is unlikely. If he would be like that, he would rule family with iron fist long time ago. Through, he probably concluded that previous hands-off approach did not worked and decided to change the approach.

    I think that police and school overreacts to stupid internet jokes, treating them too seriously. However, that is just another fact about the word we live in, systems and cops act irrational on perceived possible threats. And then again, I do not know what exactly you said.

    It is clear that your father blames games and social media for what happened. You using the same logic when you are trying to argue by shooter vs unstated thought provoking game dichotomy or by mindless interaction vs political discussion. People act stupid and mindless when discussing politics on the internet all too often and threaten each other over it all the time. For another example, I like

    Another part of the lesson is that above certain age, take punishment and all gets forgotten pattern does not hold true anymore. You do things, people change their behavior and trust to you based on what you do and it takes a lot of time to get back. A boss wont punish you after you have been lazy and then forget forever, that is not how it works. Even police and criminal system don’t behave the punishment and all is forgotten way – being charged with crime affects your job opportunities long after punishment supposedly ended.

    I don’t mean to say that you should accept everything without trying to negotiate your way out. However, if you start with assumption that your father is evil schemer instead of scared/angry/disappointed/otherwise emotional man, your negotiation is bound to fail. If you expect him to regain trust instantly, you are bound to be disappointed. Have open discussion, tell him about those thoughts the games started in you – probably without telling him it is from game. Wait till he is open to it and then show him the smart games. Try to figure out what change he wants to see in you before he changes, talk with about whether they are even reasonable etc. It is going to be long term negotiation.

  38. Abigail February 19, 2016 at 10:04 am #

    FR doesn’t mean free from consequences. I also love the comments and am glad to have this community of parents to glean philosophy, strategy and direction from. Thanks everyone!

  39. Coasterfreak February 19, 2016 at 10:52 am #

    I have a 17 year old who has always been mature for his age. Not quite the level that James seems to be, but more mature than most of his classmates and way more mature than I was at 17. As a result, we have given him a great deal of freedom because he has earned our trust. He has lost our trust a couple of times over minor issues and it was easy for him to earn it back. I have also always been of the mindset that if you screw up once, and it’s not a serious issue, you’re warned, but consequences are not too severe. If it happens again, your life becomes hell.

    That said, if he ever got in trouble with the police over something that could be seen as a terroristic threat, the consequences would be very similar to what James describes. He would basically lose all privileges and have to earn them back one by one over a long period of time (although at this point it might be moot since he’ll be 18 in a few months anyway). There would be no “second chance” on something like this before severe consequences were handed down.

    James, as a former teenager who received his fair share of “unfair” punishments over the years, I understand your frustration here, but your father is absolutely right to come down on you hard for something like this. All you can do is what others here have recommended and work hard at regaining his trust. Talk to him like the mature person you seem to be, and come up with a plan to earn his trust back. If he doesn’t seem to want to discuss a plan of action right now, just go on with your business and come up with your own plan and stick to it. Revisit with him on a monthly basis, and when he’s ready to talk, detail what you’ve been doing to earn his trust back (he’ll probably have already noticed) and ask about loosening restrictions. Keep your nose clean and out of trouble and you’ll get back to the way things were eventually. But it’s going to be a long road.

  40. pentamom February 19, 2016 at 10:57 am #

    “You remind me of my 11th grade history teacher who basically accused me of plagiarism because “11th graders don’t write like this”.

    In 9th grade I read all of Anna Karenina and wrote a book report on it. My teacher downgraded my report on the grounds that it had recently aired on Masterpiece theater and I “could have” just watched it on TV, so it was a “poor choice of topic” even though she claimed to believe that I actually had read it.

    A widely read 9th grader certainly could write like James. It’s unusual, but going straight to “this is fake” is a sad commentary both on people’s expectations, and the reasons they have those expectations.

  41. John February 19, 2016 at 12:33 pm #

    Assuming James wrote all that by himself, I’d say he’s a pretty darn good writer for only being 14! I’d say to James, hang in there buddy, you’re only one Presidential term away from being 18.

  42. Havva February 19, 2016 at 1:12 pm #


    Back when I was in high school there were things that my friends and I (who didn’t usually curse) used to call “dumb shit manuveres”. These were things so bad that you were definitely going to have hell to pay. The only solution we ever found for dealing with our parents after a “dumb shit maneuver” was to accept all of the fall out, as our own fault. We knew that questioning the punishment only made it obvious to the adults that we were not sufficiently repentant, and were in need of additional corrective action. When we actually accepted, with remorse that we had earned everything we were being punished with, our parents, and other adults around us, could see that it was a one of mistake, rather than part of a pattern of behavior that needed broken. That usually meant settling in for the long haul and accepting that how long we would be untrusted was entirely subject to our parents feelings on the matter. That all we could do was obey them and hope for the best. Took a while to get the hang of ‘manning up’ and accepting what would happen. But it did get less sever when we learned to do that. As for what you did, you would have had us cursing like wounded sailors to describe the folly of it, and what you were in for.

    When I first read your letter, I wondered if there was anything my daughter could pull one day that would get me to react like your dad. And the only thing fitting the description, that I could think of, is exactly what you did. And the reason I though about it, was because I had recently read about it in the news. You frightened and humiliated your parents, you terrified their friends, and your parents got blamed for you. You are used as an example of why every kid should be helicoptered. Even if that wasn’t you I heard about on the national news, they would be getting such blame locally. And they probably are questioning themselves a bit too. What signs did they missed, what did they fail to notice that lead to you threatening your school. And importantly, how do they make amends with their community.

    I only knew two school mates who ever made the news with their stupid maneuvers when I was in high school, and it was only a brief blurb on the evening news. (That blurb, gave my mom flash backs, to stuff she experienced up close and personal, and you and I read in our history books. And it was a huge topic at the baby naming I went to that evening). Anyhow those boys were offered the choice between a criminal record (destroying their futures), and having to perform with our very unpopular, entirely female, color guard. This also meant dropping out of marching band, which they long enjoyed. They took the color guard route, and thanked the vice principal for giving them an option that wouldn’t destroy their futures. They sucked up all the grief that was dished at them, and it was plenty. They told anyone who asked exactly why they joined the color guard. In their telling they always took full responsibility for what they did, acknowledged the folly of their actions, and said they were grateful for the mercy they were offered considering the gravity of what they did. It wasn’t easy, but acceptance made getting through the punishment and the disrepute of the whole school, a lot easier than it would have otherwise been.

  43. Tee Dee February 19, 2016 at 1:49 pm #

    James, I don’t think you understand how serious what you did actually was. That’s some scary, scary stuff right there.

    A “joke” Instagram post about the prospect of a school shooting isn’t your average shenanigans. I am very liberal and I am super free range…. but if my kid did this, I don’t think I’d trust him again for YEARS. You’re damn right he would lose the internet, and smartphone, and anything else internet-related until I was SURE he had some sense.

    You could have easily ended up in jail. I have to tell you that I think your father is well within his rights to ration your computer time like he does. I think you need to learn to deal with it and accept that you did something crappy and it may take him a long time to feel safe with you on the internet again.

    You put yourself and your family in danger of involvement with the law, and you put your father in danger of losing his reputation with the community. I had a controlling father myself, and sure, maybe he is being too hard on you. But I don’t think there’s much you can do at this point but fall into line. And for the love of God, never EVER forget the power of the Internet.

    But enough about your dad. What I ACTUALLY want you to take away is this:

    Kids will do stupid things. I was one and I haven’t forgotten. It’s your TIME to be stupid and learn how NOT to be stupid.

    But keep your stupid stuff OFF the internet. Trust me. When I was your age the internet was slow and the Web was brand new so I didn’t have the privacy issues kids have today. But I have been around long enough to see how this works. And even as an adult, I’ve had stuff I’ve written on the internet come back to bite me, personally and professionally.

    Instant communication that others can see, coupled by it generally being over text (which loses something in the translation, assuming that what you said was INDEED dark humor) can lead EVERYONE to your business in the blink of an eye. NOTHING is private on the Internet. Not even if you think it is. Things can and WILL be found by people who you don’t want to see them. If you want something to stay private, keep it off a computer or a cell phone, keep it off the internet.

    No sexting. No questionable pictures with anything that can identify you in them. No dark jokes. No controversial opinions on rape, violence, etc. NOTHING.

    Any electronic media is public and it is FOREVER. Don’t ever say anything that you don’t want coming back to you, not even by text message.

  44. Ron Skurat February 19, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

    Whether this father is lying about his motivations, or is simply not very self-aware, his actions are, in fact, punitive, not remedial. It’s been shown for years now that strategic RPGs like Civilization actually help students academically; it’s also been shown that all people, not just students, are reading less than they used to, even as recently as ten years ago.

    This guy is an idiot, plain & simple, and while I would never advise James to cut his father off once he turns 18, in his place that’s exactly what I would do.

  45. Tee Dee February 19, 2016 at 2:34 pm #


    I had a controlling dad myself. I’m generally the first one to tell people to cease contact with that sort of emotional abuser. In a vacuum, this father certainly seems abusive and controlling.

    But did you catch what this kid did?

    He made school shooting threats on Instagram. He claims they were a misunderstanding, and perhaps they were. But regardless, this isn’t just the isolated incident of the computer. This isn’t just a controlling father. There’s more in the mix.

    I don’t think it’s fair to hold his father’s parenting decisions under a microscope in this context. If my kid did what this kid did, I would lay the everloving smack down.

    So would any decent parent. Because if you don’t, you’re NOT A DECENT PARENT.

    Yes, I said it. Feel free to judge me for it.

  46. Meg February 19, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

    James posted in a few threads previously, and there were several posters who left him kind responses at the time.

    I’ll repeat the gist of what I said then,

    James, you obviously scared the daylights out of your dad. You cannot expect things to return to the way they were immediately. You are clearly a person of Exceptional intelligence. While I understand that much of a typical teen’s social life is online these days, there is still plenty to recommend in the off-line world. Do some volunteer work, join some new clubs, start a band in your garage….In short, come up with activities that will allow you more freedom, improve your social life, and demonstrate responsibility to your father. Over time, he will likely loosen the reins. A visit to a family therapist together is also not a bad idea. It shouldn’t be overly expensive, and it can be helpful to have a neutral party help sort things out. And, btw, you’re clearly not a bad kid at all, but you’re darn lucky you weren’t expelled from your school district given today’s climate. I know kids who have ended up in juvenile detention for making poorly timed jokes.

    I tend to think this letter is authentic in that the writer made no attempt to sound like a teenager.

    That makes me think he IS a teenager, but almost certainly one with a genius level iq, and very bright teenage boys tend to be their own worst enemies in more ways than one!

  47. Deidra February 19, 2016 at 5:45 pm #


    I posted earlier like Meg. I googled kids who have posted fake school shooting threats as a joke or for other reasons. In most states, this is considered a felony offense which if you were an adult would include potential jail time and/or hefty fines. Do I think this is too severe, perhaps. But I would hate for the one time it was not taken seriously result in csdtrophe. I am sorry you had to learn such a hard lesson. But mistakes are how were learn. I agree with Meg about volunteering. you are such a great writer, perhaps you could tutor kids who need help with writing. Your father loves you and your actions probably scared him. it is going to take baby steps to regain his trust. The most important thing you can do is accept responsibility for your actions. it’s a hard thing to do even for adults, but a heartfelt and geninue admission and acceptance of your actions will go a long way. good luck and keep us posted.

  48. andy February 20, 2016 at 4:36 am #

    @Ron Skurat Ironically, your reaction is not remedial either. You seek to punish father for not being perfect by some theoretical standards of parenting and you are not willing to give him chance to learn from mistakes either.

    Also, your advice deals with what going to happen 4 years after now – which is too far into future.

  49. JP Merzetti February 20, 2016 at 9:37 am #

    Well James, I could add to all the accolades here, about your accomplishments and abilities, and how this all bodes well for the future.
    Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the reality of the here and now.
    It is true enough that in today’s reality, the punishment does not always fit the crime.
    Hopefully, and in relatively short time, you will be able to prove yourself and earn back the level of trust you probably deserve.

    I have often pondered that bright and mature kids don’t always seem to earn the respect they deserve, these days…..and fears about a much harsher, bleaker and more complicated world – fuel the actions that parents take.
    They cannot entirely be blamed.
    Many years ago my father had an infinitely easier time raising his brook….there were far fewer things to have to worry about.

    So for the time being, I’d strongly advise you to stick to your code, accept your lumps (such as they are) and look toward a bright future.
    And one other bit of advice: I work in North America’s 3rd largest library. I was raised by a writer. I became a lifelong bookworm at the age of 9.

    Books……are indeed, one of the lasting treasures of human legacy.
    So read. It will do you no harm.
    What you will find in books – to stimulate those good brains of yours….you will never find online.
    Good luck to you!

  50. sigh February 20, 2016 at 12:22 pm #

    I’m as Free Range a parent I think as any there ever was, and yet— I am still vulnerable to the judgement of others. And if the judgement of law enforcement is that my kid committed a felony online, it would be hugely difficult for me to not “take action” and try to redeem myself somehow.

    I know it’s selfish. I know it would be all about me. But the truth is, I have made adjustments, large and small, to try to fit in, at times, with what the culture defines as a “good parent.” Even though it pains me at times. And in the case of something like you describe, oh man, I would likely doubt myself so hugely that I would take some pretty heavy-duty “action.”

    The dumb stuff we did as kids was not witnessed by hundreds of thousands in the way dumb stuff is telegraphed today. No matter how much we warn kids about the “zero tolerance” aspects of internet dissemination of images and words, they are still going to mess with it, and this is where I wish there were more tolerance. You don’t want to ruin a kid’s life forever because he innocently posted a dark joke.

    Sounds like law enforcement had some sense here: they let you off the hook. But who knows what they said to your dad? Who knows how much tension there is between your divorced parents, with parent A saying, “Of course this happened on YOUR watch. You’ve always been too permissive!”

    The pressure on parents is HUGE these days. It sounds like this “small” transgression has brought on a firestorm of Little House on the Prairie-style reactivity, but I have a LOT of empathy for dad here, as well as you.

    Hope you all can find some peace.

  51. Rina Lederman February 20, 2016 at 11:40 pm #

    Hopefully your dad will read this post. That should help.

  52. Barry Lederman February 20, 2016 at 11:42 pm #

    Based on your excellent vocabulary and writing style, you must be doing some reading and a lot of learning. You sound like a good kid. Enjoy your growing pains!

  53. Barry Lederman February 20, 2016 at 11:44 pm #

    Trust takes a long time to gain and a short time to lose – but it can be regained. Cheers!

  54. JLM February 22, 2016 at 2:45 am #

    Too busy laughing at the incredulity of some readers to the mature writing style of a 14yo to formulate a coherent, constructive response to said 14yo!!! I have a 13yo. She is only moderately gifted, and I’m fairly sure could formulate almost as well-structured and clearly-expressed an argument as James’.

    I agree with those who have stated that James needs to sit down with his father and work out an explicit plan for regaining trust. Negotiate. What do you want to earn back. Baby steps. Start with, e.g. access to one favourite website. Ask Dad what specific behaviour he expects from you in order to prove you are trustworthy enough to access that site. Etc. Etc. The last thing a parent wants (believe me, I’m a parent of a 13yo) is a combative conversation. Whenever something comes up that you want to rail against, calmly ask for clarification, e.g. “I’m wondering why you feel that particular restriction is necessary?” You want to understand your father’s thinking, not question its validity.

  55. Thea February 22, 2016 at 11:58 am #

    You want to earn your Dad’s trust back and a restoration of the freedoms he had granted you? My advice is to stop complaining about the restrictions he’s put in place. Be respectful and obedient. And honestly be the good kid he assumed you to be before your lapse in judgement.

    If you were my kid, you would’ve been locked down so hard because of this behavior that your only “toy” would’ve been a hoop and stick. If you needed the computer for homework, I would be sitting by your side for every second. And that would last until you had behaved in such a way as to restore my trust in you.

    Look kid, you screwed up and in a major way. You lucked out that you didn’t have much worse consequences. You are clearly bright as evidenced by your writing but you are also young enough to still make thoughtless, stupid decisions. We’ve all done that. So, count your blessings. “Do your time”. Quit complaining and be the good kid your Dad knows you can be. And honestly, I’d make your mom hold your to the same restrictions.

  56. Mike February 22, 2016 at 12:42 pm #

    Am I the only one who finds it odd that James would go “complain” about his father to a blog his father obviously also reads? I certainly hope for his sake his father doesn’t read this post because he would be within his rights to restrict him even further.

    As for the “punishments”. The controls on his computer time seem perfectly normal as he demonstrated he needs this control. James seems to think that three months would cure all the harm that he has done even while stating the police involvement has not even ended yet. This shows me he still does not grasp the severity of the situation he has caused.

    Daily meetings? Excellent idea in every situation.

    Personally, (assuming this whole post isn’t BS) I think Dad went somewhat easy on him. I know I wouldn’t have.

  57. Papilio February 22, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

    @Barry: Trust comes on foot but leaves on horseback – Dutch proverb

  58. E February 22, 2016 at 5:31 pm #

    @andy — your reply to Ron is perfect. Well said.

    And I feel compelled to mention that it’s foolish to presume everything that this person is saying is the whole story (it’s an impossibility). There are no details about the legal predicament or costs, no details about school predicament and clearly we have no idea about how James has handled this post-infraction — though he does mention stepping out of line, so there’s that. “Dad” should be given the benefit of the doubt as much as James.

  59. Mel February 22, 2016 at 9:20 pm #

    Hi James:

    You come across as a very intelligent young man who can readily think for yourself. By questioning things that you do, is a parents right but interfering is another matter. By that I mean trust. I just believe your parents are good to you and want the best for you but they do feel that playing video games does take you away from learning. Yes, you like to play adventuresome games as well as I do. What I find is that, you can get into a rut where so much time is wasted when constantly playing these games where you do have to think and provide strategy, and that your priorities get messed up. Lots of time is wasted which can interfere with your real responsibilities Believe me, it happened to me when I was younger. Your parents are watching out for you. Talking to your father and telling him how you feel and what you can do to change things like how much time will you be allowed to play some games, after you do your chores, homework, etc, will be beneficial to both of you. He will trust you more and lift the restrictions on the computer. I hope this helps. Good luck.

  60. Amber February 23, 2016 at 12:45 pm #

    I’m trying not to laugh. I know this is frustrating. I was homeschooled for highschool, but in eighth grade I remember there being a lot of school violence/murder/dead baby/rape jokes going around.

    No one really made a big deal about it. But then, few of the kids were dumb enough to make those jokes in front of adults they didn’t know well. They usually only acted like themselves in front of their own parents, if that.

    Imagine you walked into a giant white never-ending room, matrix style. In that room are your friends, teachers, friends parents, and other people you have never even met extending off into the distance. Imagine telling that joke there, where they can all hear you. Not too bright, eh?

    Your father is watching all of this, the fallout. He’s realizing just how easily you could have accidentally screwed up your entire life. He’s dealing with police, who I’m sure are putting him through hell. And he’s dealing with your mom and the other parents and staff at your school. Parents of high schoolers often act just like they are in high school.

    You’re a smart kid. You’re probably used to not making the mistakes other kids make. You might be used to being respected and trusted and knowing just what’s going on in life. This isn’t going to be one of those times. The best thing you can do is to admit to yourself and your dad that you’re in over your head. It won’t make you less of a smart kid.

    Ask him about what he’s dealing with. Make a plan with him to find out what parts of your life style can lead to trouble. Then make a plan about how to deal with it, together. A bad situation snuck up on him and he’s desperately trying to protect you. And you don’t understand. You’re mad at him for it and fighting him. That must scare him, that you might fight and stop him from protecting you. It must hurt him.

  61. Hancock February 24, 2016 at 9:55 am #

    James is leaving out a lot of context, such as why he wasn’t expelled or arrested, what legal liabilities his father faces, and what steps his family has taken to keep him out of jail.

    Nice writing style, but at it’s heart, this sounds like the whining of a young person who got caught and no longer has free access to his addicition. Let it rest a year or two. It’s not the end of the world if your don’t get to play “thought provoking” games (as if claiming something is thought provoking makes it a good thing).

  62. julie5050 February 26, 2016 at 9:33 pm #

    simple…you have to behave your way back to trust.

    by making a “mistake” so severe that the police were involved I am sure his parenting was questioned and he felt put under the microscope….

    when I was first divorced..I made sure there was always milk in the refrigerator,,because I was afraid my ex would call CPS on me….ridiculous over kill paranoid but when a parent is “on alert” we sometimes feel like it is best to go extreme rather than let trouble come in.