Should I ground my son?

I was reading the newspaper the other morning and, as I usually do, I checked out the daily report, where they list recent arrests and some magistrate court dispositions. Much to my surprise, I found my son listed in the magistrate court dispositions, having pleaded guilty to possession of less than 15 grams of narcotic. He was given 6 months probation and fined $164 in court costs.

This boy is 18 years old and a freshman at the local college. He is living at home, so we immediately dragged him out of bed and got the story out of him. According to him, he and a couple friends were caught smoking pot and ticketed for it. If he goes to a drug awareness class and behaves himself, his record will be wiped clean after six months. He had been told that the notice would not be published in the paper, so he thought that we wouldn’t find out for at least six months.

Now, the question is, what should we as parents do to help him learn from it? Keep out of it and let him handle it himself (pretty much our path so far, other than some lecturing)? Ground him? Other? If he were still in high school, I feel like we would be much more likely to ground him in some manner, but as he is an adult, I’m not sure what my reaction should be.

I think 18 is too old for grounding. A reasonable curfew might not be a bad idea though.

He’s an adult. He has made an adult mistake and has found himself in an adult court situation. Treating him like a child by grounding him will not make it any less likely that he will do it again. Resenting you will likely be the only result.

Seeing as how he had already negotiated the ticket, the court appearance and the fine without your knowledge or involvement, I think he’s past the need to be grounded.

ETA: D’oh! Love the username, though!

If you think getting caught, busted, tried, convicted, sentenced, fined, and currently living out his probation hasn’t gotten his attention, grounding him isn’t likely to have much effect.

He’s 18, and he’s already learned what he’s going to learn. Getting grounded is not the consequence for an adult doing something illegal. Getting ticketed is. And he has been.

We’ve been telling him to be home after work since we found out, which is about 10pm, but I’m thinking that we might ease up on that after a while. I spoke to the mother of one of the other boys, and they practically haven’t let that kid see the light of day since then, other than going to classes.

Yeah, he’s a big boy. I suspect that if you try to ground him, you might have a huge explosion you probably don’t want, resulting in him moving out and resenting you.

Thank you all for confirming what I was thinking in the first place. I was having my doubts after speaking to the other mother, but feel that they’re going way too far with the punishment.

The only other factor is that we are providing everything for this kid - room, board, tuition, clothes, car, etc. - so we do have quite a bit of leverage. He works, but the only thing he pays for is eating out, gas, and entertainment type things, plus court costs and drug classes now.

Honestly I think grounding might be a bit much, but you’re paying for his college? He is living at your place without paying rent?

Getting busted and going through all of the crap that goes with it is bad, to be sure, but honestly if he isn’t self sufficient he isn’t the adult everyone here says he is. Don’t ground him but he should be punished in some way, even if it is just a lecture and a promise of paying for his own education or something the next time it happens. No matter how old he is it is still your house and while I was living at home on my parent’s dime I was very aware of the effect my actions could have on my living situation and that had a lot of effect on the choices I made.

I might do a “well, if you have all that excess cash to spend on drugs, maybe you could contribute to the household a bit,” guilt trip, but that’s about as far as I’d go.

If I were you, I would definitely check into what the laws in your area define as a narcotic.
Marijuana isn’t a true narcotic, but it is sometimes categorized that way legally apparently. If you have any reason to suspect his arrest was related to a true narcotic (like heroin or oxycodone), I’d be far more concerned than I would be over pot use (though still not thrilled about that).


I approve of your urge to do something, WVmom. My stepkids are both 17, and their parents shrug at everything because they think it’s too late to change them.

I wouldn’t ground the kid, but I would start making him pay for more of his own expenses. If he’s got money for pot, he’s got money for books. I wouldn’t do it as guilt trip, just a straight up “Okay, Johnny, next semester we’re paying for tuition, room and board. You’re paying for your car payments and insurance, gas, books and clothes. Start saving up now, bucko.”

He’s your son, so you can always nag him. Life-long Parental privilege.

At this point in his life though, he should be treated more as you would a spouse or roommate. If your husband got a ticket, would you ground him or make him do more chores? How would you feel if he did the same to you?

If you want him to contribute more to his housing and food, that’s fine. I wouldn’t make it punishment for this, though.

I agree with DungBeetle and WhyNot. If he’s working for only his own pleasure, he can afford to pay some form of rent/his own tuition.
I don’t think grounding is the answer, nor any other form of childish punishment. Money and time are how adults are punished.

The only option:

Double Secret Probation.

I agree with everyone who said 18 is too old for grounding. Of course, I also think 18 is way too old for this…

When, if ever, do you plan on encouraging your kid to grow up?

I have a friend that did this same thing in a similar situation with her daughter, though the issue in her case was smoking rather than drugs (my friend is very much anti-smoking, after seeing her own mother suffer the health effects of a lifetime of smoking).

She sat daughter down, told her she was busted, and that if she had enough money to buy cigarettes then she certainly had enough cash to carry more of her own expenses. Mom and Dad continued to pay her tuition and let her live at home for free, but car insurance, gas, and anything else not directly related to school was on her dime after that.

It worked.

The only thing I’d add is that there are some very draconian laws on the books when it comes to drug possession in a residence. I’ve read a few cases where the home owner lost their property because someone living there had possession of a minor amount of drugs.

I have no idea if those were exaggerations or not, but considering the severity of the consequence, you might look into it. Make sure he understands that he is not, under any circumstances, ever to bring his illegal recreational substances into the house.