On a serious note,need some parenting advice

Submitted by Jeff F. on 1/2/05 at 10:26 AM. ( NaturesTrophies@aol )

I turn to the people of the forum because of the great amount of knowledge and experiance here within. We stand beside each other in times of good and bad and I very much respect that. Anyway, my issue. My X had visitation with my 12yo boy this weekend. She called me this morning and said that after they went to bed last night he came knocking on her door with a sort of urgency. She went to his room to find that he had started a fire in a waste basket and it burned through the bottom and had lit the carpet on fire. The fire was immediately extinguished but the thought of what could have been. I've spoken with him recently about what can happen when playing with fire but it apparently didn't sink in. I'm looking around the net to gather some pictures of what burn victims look like but don't think that will be enough. To be honest,I'm scared. Anybody dealt with this kind of behaviour? Are there any suggestions on how to deal with these kind of actions. In my day, a good ole a$$ woopin would have been appropriatwe but not feesible with todays laws. HELP! Jeff F.

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Forget the law

This response submitted by concerned on 1/2/05 at 10:40 AM. ( alittleleathergoesfar )

I think it would help if he associates the fire of that match with the fire of a good ass woopin!


This response submitted by Becky P on 1/2/05 at 10:47 AM. ( )

You may want to consider some kind of counseling. He may be acting out because he does not know how to deal with his feelings, or may be for attention. Good luck. BP

It's a phase................

This response submitted by Randal R. Waites on 1/2/05 at 11:00 AM. ( rwenglish1@aol.com )

Glen Beck, recently had spent a day on his radio program, (http://www.glennbeck.com/home/index-800x600.shtml) , about this topic.

He told how when he was a kid, about your sons age, how he was fascinated with fire, over the next couple of hours, mothers and other individual people came forward, and all told of their own stories.

All of them got over it, they all said, that they just had a fascination with fire. I am sure my youngest son was a little that way, we always had a camp fire going out by the pond, or up north, and he was the one who always wanted to tend to it. As far as I know, he never did anything in the house.

But a lot of people telling of their tales, never got caught when they had something go wrong in their homes, mostly because the parents weren't home at the time, and they were lucky it was a small incident.

I would find a place outside, to have a camp fire, and then sit there at night and enjoy it, and let him take care of the fire all he wants, and if he wants to pick up a burning stick and twirl it around, while the cinders are dropping and catching the grass on fire, well just sit there with a pail of water, and enjoy the camp fire, with stars over your head, and enjoy it with your son.

He will soon grow out of it, and on with his life, doing other things, such as sports, friends, college, and you will see less of him as he grows. So, take this cautiously, but, it's just a phase.

He is seeking attention

This response submitted by Evelyn on 1/2/05 at 11:10 AM. ( )

Right now your son is turning from a child into a young adolescence. A lot of hormone changes going on in his body right now. Having gone through your divorce and having to share mom and dad can have a profound impact on a child's mind whether they show it on the outside or not.

You child might blame himself for what happened between you and your x. This is not uncommon thinking in children of that age. Your son right now is seeking attention, any attention good or bad.

I agree with Becky that your son needs counseling. He doesn't need an "ass whooping" as was suggested above, he needs help. His problem are going deeper then what you see. I bet he knows what fire can do and how dangerous it is. Understanding the danger of fire is not the problem. Your son is crying out for help. Go get him counseling and while you are at it, both of you, your ex and you should go as well.

The more you understand what goes on in your son's mind and how he thinks, the better you will be able to help him.

Just my two cents worth since I went throught the same thing when I got divorced. I have three kids, now ages 21, 15 and 13.

Divorce hurts kids

This response submitted by duckfeathers on 1/2/05 at 11:28 AM. ( )

Please always keep in mind that children of divorced parents are in emotional distress. Some feel great pain that is difficult for them to deal with. This fire occurance may be a warning of more dreadful consequences to come. Get help and build a support network that may make a difference. Trust me please, the most primary job in your life now is to take care of your child. And be cautious every time your child is transfered between parents.

A Phase?

This response submitted by concerned-oldshaver on 1/2/05 at 11:46 AM. ( oldshaver@yahoo.com )

A phase is growing long hair, baggy pants, an ear ring, not playing with fire inside the home. How many kids around the world do you think have been permently disfigured, or killed from playing with fire. Sure kids have a facination with fire, but this touchy-feely approach in dealing with problem has no STERN consiquences. This matter falls in the same catagory with teaching kids firearm safety. There are no in betweens or exceptions. I can remember very well the first time I loaded a shot gun in the house, before going hunting. ( we had hundreds of acres of woods behind our home) My Father had told me never to load in the house, load just before going in the woods. Well he caught me loading that old single shot just before I walked out the back door of the house. I didnt get a second chance- it was then unloaded by him, and turned into toothpicks against the nearest oak tree. Needless to say, I never loaded up in the house again! Just remember, there are alot of kids out there that didnt get a second chance. My opinion, whip his butt good. It really will hurt you more than it does him, but he WILL remember what he is going to get for playing with fire.

My nonprofessional views

This response submitted by g on 1/2/05 at 12:01 PM. ( )

The kind of help your seeking won't be found in this forum, although I am sure lots of advice will be forth coming....you didn't give enough facts to glean the answers you seek..... a 12 year old male could have been having a smoke, upon which nothing other than the good old arse woopin would be in order.....if the fire setting was intentional as for attention....your problem is beyond this forum and "help" is warranted....12 is a difficult time, hormones kicking in, not a kid anymore and not an adult either, has there been any sudden loss of interest in school? I take it by your statement "I've spoken with him recently about what can happen when playing with fire" this was prior to the X calling this morning to inform you about the incident. So I have to assume his fasination with fire was known by you prior to the X's visitation, and this was her indoctrination to it?

There is a certain amount of "experimenting" that is natural, but as I see it your answer lies within your statement "To be honest,I'm scared." I picked my wifes mind about this who has a degree in psychology, and her remark was that not enough background information, was provided, she did express some concerns though.

My interest is that I never had a brother that I knew because at the early age of 5, he snuck out matches and set fire to the bedding of a dog house and died of those injuries. I don't think your picture idea will work any more than stopping DUI's by showing pictures of car wrecks caused by DUI in driving schools.

Hopefully you can get this problem addressed

Assaulting with a beating

This response submitted by Mr. T on 1/2/05 at 12:06 PM. ( )

Assault and battery they call it, been on the receiving end of it growing up, a very dysfunctional parenting tool. Best way is what Randall posted, take the fire outside and teach him the proper way that it can be used, while spending time with him for that is what the child really wants, through their actions they are saying, look at me! So then we beat them instead? How 1940'ish and primitive. Each person is created an individual belonging to God; Whipping Gods creation because you are mad only proves that you need counseling to. Dr. James Dobbson has many books on partening and has covered this type of area you are in Jeff, Please pick up one of his books or tapes.

More info.

This response submitted by Jeff F. on 1/2/05 at 12:09 PM. ( )

His mother and I have been divorced for about 7 years. He is very good at manipulating her for about anything he wants. NOT in my house. My new wife and I have been together for about 5 years and from the beginning we approached him as a team that would not be manipulated. He understands this and seems to respect that stand when with me. His behavioural problems always occur when he's with mom. I just took full custody last month and have done everything I can do to reassure him that I'm always there for him. I know he needs some counseling and am working on setting that up. There is no way I will encourage him to play with fire for fears that he might believe that he can control it. I'm not much to deal with discipline in a violent matter as I believe it encourages violent reactions. Thanks for the support guys and goyles. For now I'll stand strong and do what I have to do. Thanks- Jeff F.

I did not say it was ..........

This response submitted by Randal R. Waites on 1/2/05 at 12:23 PM. ( rwenglish1@aol.com )

I did not say it was ok to experiment in the house, but I would be willing to bet, their are over 50 people who read this forum, that could tell a story, of similar situations. Kids do stupid things without thinking.

But, isn't it odd, and mostly true, that with familiarity, comes boredom, and abandonment? rw

agreeing with oldshaver.............

This response submitted by Randal R. Waites on 1/2/05 at 12:32 PM. ( rwenglish1@aol.com )


I did not read all your post before my above response, but I agree, it does hurt us more than the kids, I can still see and remember the face on my youngest son, on such an occasion, after he looked back after being told that if I caught up with him before he reached the house, he would get it again, I had no intentions of catching up with him, it still bothers me, we have talked about it, and he tells me that it kept him out of a lot of trouble, by thinking about that before doing something.

I did not say, I believe in touchy feely, I just believe in communication, many parents don't. They never have a clue, what is inside of the kids mind. They are to busy screwing it up with their own childish ways and habits.

A thought

This response submitted by duckfeathers on 1/2/05 at 12:36 PM. ( )

In your sons world your new wife means the end of his true family, the family he was born into. For the past seven years he probably has hoped that things would work out and his emotionally necessary security in life (his family) would be saved. He may have prayed to God for the reconciliation of you and your ex. Now all is betrayed and anger has set in. Depression may get involved. The fire is a symtom of serious internal strife. If you don't work out his issues things may get worse. In addition read or talk to someone qualified about emotional trama during puberty. Your school district should have a councelor who should be knowledgable about this.


This response submitted by Dan Hudzik on 1/2/05 at 12:43 PM. ( hudzik@madisontelco.com )

Well I did something similar when I was a kid. I read a story in the newspaper about aq hamster that saved a family from fire. The little boys hamster somehow got out of it's cage and crawled up on his chest and woke him up. The boy noticed the house was on fire, notified his parents and everyone was rescued and the house suffered minimal damage. Well I thought it would be cool to teach my hamster to know what fire was! LOL Yep I killed him. I lit a match in front of his face and then the smoke was inhaled and I guess that killed him. Granted I didn't set anything actuallyon fire but after dad gave me a good whoopin with that belt I didn't play with matches any more. Needless to say I wasn't allowed to have anything with fur again in the house. Hey maybe thats why I became a taxidermist! LOL A good butt whoopin isn't abuse. Thats why a lot of kids act the way they do today because of the lack of proper parenting. I've read the books and I have listened to the so called DR's but come on people sometimes a butt whoopin is the medice that needs to be prescribes. I've been around the timeout kids and I have been around plenty that have had their butts beat by their parents. Seems to me the butt whoopin is still the way to go. In this case it's too late now. If it didn't happen then you can't do it now but getting a fireman to talk to him might even help. Fire Safety is taught every year at the public schools here by the fire department. Hope that helps. I don't think he'll do it again if you really stress the proper way to use fire. Good Luck, Dan Hudzik

I think everyone makes a good point

This response submitted by oldshaver on 1/2/05 at 1:01 PM. ( )

G probablly said it best. A wooping might or might be the best response. Counceling might be best? I think that the attitude of a spanking being a form of assualt is rediculous though. I dont ever remember being whipped for the same thing twice! That says it all. Not just talking about spanking here, but I believe that is whats wrong with the world today. Not enough stern decipline at home! No consequences for bad behavior. I sure wish I could have gotten a TIME OUT, instead of a woopin when I was young. I wouldnt have been so worried about dad getting home from work on those days I really messed up. Younger children are now given drugs now help their parents control their behavior. Whats that all about? The world would be a better place if a little of the values and morality of the 1940s was practiced at home. Went into a convenience store the other day, and could not believe all the porno magazines that were displayed in plain view across the counter, at the register. On my side of the counter was every kind of candy you could think of. The first things a kid buying his candy is going to see is a wall of naked women? A little off point here, but as you can see, there are quite a few things in our daily lives that could stand a little OLD SCHOOL make-over. Just a thought, but to each there own.

See a professional, Jeff

This response submitted by cur on 1/2/05 at 1:13 PM. ( )

All the bullcrap advice by us amateurs will not begin to approach the nexus of the boy's problem or conditional responses. A small amount of data or even pages of type will not begin to provide a basis for counseling. I know folks mean well, but a set of actions taken in one instance will seldom fit all instances.

The fire could be a result of a sneaked cigarette butt, or it could be an action by a child seeking attention or rebelling against a condition. Whatever it is, us bozos are a far cry from a cure, no matter what we may think of our opinions.

First talk to the boy, then arrange for professional help, which should probably include help for you and your ex as well, in order the circumstantial conditions which led to his behavior or reaction be eased or removed.

100k of yakking by us will never provide you a cure. I raised four children, was married to a shrink and had a zillion words of advice - some good, and a lot of it bad. No kid comes with a playbook or instructions, or at least none of mine did. We, my children and I, all got through the mess eventually, but it took counseling on two occassions to get past a couple of issues because of the rocky road thay lay between my home and that of my former wife. I had custody of my children too, and know well what problems may arise, but what I did, or said, or didn't say or do has no consequence where you and your son are concerned.

Go see a professional.......last word.

I agree

This response submitted by Bo on 1/2/05 at 1:59 PM. ( )

with old shaver and Dan......What is the world coming to with the "Oh you can't spank cause thats abuse". Thats bullórap. My dad used to whip me groing up with hands, belts, coat hangers, you name it. I love and respect my dad still today. There is a difference between disipline and a beating. I don't believe in whipping a kid in anger which I never do with my 4. I have 4 kids from 10 to 21. The oldest would bend over for a whipping today if I told him, thats how much respect he has for me. Kids today that are always getting in trouble in school or sassy etc etc. The biggest majority of them are the ones at school who's parents have instructed the school not to spank their child. Thats horseórap. Those kids know nothing can happen so why not do it anyway. All of that to say this: I DID lite matches in the house when I was a kid. Under my mothers bed one evening when they had company. A spark went up and caught the box spring on fire, SCARED the órap out of me as well as the A$$ Whoopin I got was enough that I didn't play with matches again. little OLD SCHOOL never "abused" anyone!

12 year old children

This response submitted by cur on 1/2/05 at 2:33 PM. ( )

Do not "play" with matches....

Jeff, go with................

This response submitted by Swampfox on 1/2/05 at 3:10 PM. ( )

Curs' advice. It is sound judgement. Might cost you a few bucks, but your son is worth it. You are in need of peace of mind, go to a pro. Good luck.

Thanks Everyone

This response submitted by Jeff F. on 1/2/05 at 3:45 PM. ( )

I wasn't sure how this post would fly and I can't thank you enough for the thoughts and concern that have come through it. I've definately got some food for thought. I will try a few things differently and continue to do some things the same. Posts like this TRULY show that this forum is one class act. Thanks again to all in my taxidermy family. Peace- Jeff F.


This response submitted by Becky P on 1/2/05 at 6:45 PM. ( )

You said what I was thinking about a 12 year old and matches. A 12 year old knows what fire is. If he were only 5 or 6, then I'd say a spanking might be in order, but at 12, he knew what he was doing. BP


This response submitted by pup on 1/2/05 at 7:22 PM. ( cbcr@net ins.net )

I'm a firefighter in "real life" I'll look and see if I can find some literature from our junior firesetter program.Glad to hear things weren't worse. I had a fire this summer where we lost a mother and two children, with a third child severely burned. I hope I never see that again. You can e-mail me, or call me at 712-350-0050 I'll be on duty Monday, so calling would be best then. Greg


This response submitted by Lt. Woods on 1/2/05 at 9:26 PM. ( )

As I sit here on duty several things come to mind. This is not a youngster who does not know he should not be playing with matches. There are many reasons a child lights things on fire. The problem is you are not going to know why or be able to fix this yourself. The disturbing thing is he lit the fire in the house. I can almost assure you this is not the first time.For the safety of all involved you need to act quickly. First you are going to have to keep an eye on him and remove as many ignition sources he can get his hands on. Next I suggest you call your local fire dept., as most have some sort of juvenile firestarter program. Remember once the thrill of lighting small fires is gone he might move onto bigger things. Showing him pitcures of burn victems probably won't help. Good luck and if you would like to discuss this furthure I can tell you more. I am on duty and my # is 425-771-0270. Good Luck !

I set my trash can on fire

This response submitted by KB on 1/2/05 at 9:34 PM. ( )

when I was about that age, because it seemed "cool" to dispose of some papers that way. The can melted to the shag carpet, and after I got the fire out, I had to trim the melted carpet fibers with scissors. My parents never found out. I didn't do it for any other reason than it seemed like a good idea at the time, and I was dumb. Last summer my 16 year old son set himself on fire because he thought it would be neat to fill a pop can with gasoline and blow it up with a firecracker. He's normally a very intelligent kid, but ? He got away with a couple good burns on his hands and no hair on his arms for a while, and I'm pretty sure he won't ever do that again.

I'm not saying that your son is okay, because I don't know. All I'm offering is that it's common for kids to be fascinated with fire, and sometimes they do dumb things just because. Does your son say why he did it?


This response submitted by John M on 1/2/05 at 10:22 PM. ( )

Some very good advice from Cur , Superpig, ETC. But when someone comes on here asking how to mount their deer to save a buck the general consensus is to take it to a pro. You need to call someone first thing in the morning, not the fire dept. or some other program like that, YOU NEED TO CALL A PRO.

Channel his fascination in a different direction

This response submitted by Jan George on 1/2/05 at 10:41 PM. ( turkeylady@jangeorge.com )

after making sure that it is JUST a fascination (maybe through a visit to a counselor). Twelve years old is pretty old for a kid to "play" with fire. Even if you find that it was for attention, I would get appropriate counseling and then contact your local fire department to see if they have a program for young people, so that maybe you could channel his fascination or whatever it is into something positive such as leaning toward a career as a firefighter. I have a daughter who is now 27 and extrememly intelligent but very lost, and I can only wish that I had been able to channel her energies in a different direction. But hindsight is 20/20. Jump on it now. He might become a great firefighter.
Jan George

Juvenile Fire Setting Program

This response submitted by JW on 1/3/05 at 12:45 AM. ( )

Almost all of these programs are based on a National model. All the Fire Dept.does is facilitate the program. When you make contact, they arrange an interview with a Social worker(PRO)who primarily does Family counciling with a specialty in fire setting. They recieve individual counciling, Family Counciling, along with Firesetting counciling if needed. These are mostly funded programs, so the family receives help whether they can afford it or not. The fire Dept. assists in explaining how devestating fires can be. Not the counciling portion. For example..the small trash can fire could have turned into a small room and contents fire. Put out in about 10 minutes from the first arriving rig. Small, yet most families are displaced for 1-4 months from this small fire. The smoke damage requires the house to be sealed with a sealer prior to any occupancy. Alot of your posssions will need to be cleaned or disposed of.What burns these days is nasty stuff.The Fire Dept. has videos to this effect all the way up to large scale fires involving fatalities. In certain cases the individuals get to visit some of the Fire Houses and speak to the FF's who respond and hear what it is really like to see this devestation first hand. Not all Dept's offer this. Rural Volunteer Dept's usually do not. But larger dept's with Fire provention divisions do. The nice thing is you will get the help you need and you will be put in touch with a counciler who knows this type of problem. It won't hurt to ask your local Dept. if they offer this or maybe it is offered where your ex lives. Again Good Luck and lets hope it was a one time thing. Joel


This response submitted by Bill Yox on 1/3/05 at 1:18 AM. ( )

Ive been there, as a boy, the divorce, etc. Fire too. All the above advice is good, to a point. Each situation has its own interests, too, though. Feel free to call me if you still need yet another opion. Ill skip posting it all here. Good luck to you.

Smoke Detectors

This response submitted by Randal R. Waites on 1/3/05 at 10:55 AM. ( rwenglish1@aol.com )

Of all the post that have been made, has made this interesting and informative, with lots of positive input. But I can't believe, myself included, we did not strive to have Jeff make sure smoke detectors are installed and working, and definitely have one that works, in his sons room and outside the door.


This response submitted by Jeff F. on 1/3/05 at 11:20 AM. ( )

I checked the batteries in the detectors first thing yesterday when I heard of the incident. And to everyone else, I found a couselor this morning who deals with children and also called the local fire dept. The fire dept. has an officer that specifically sits down with the kids and puts a good scare in them. And I have been trying to find avenues of interest to him such as his art and now beginning to play school basketball. He's my boy and I will do evertything in my means to see what I can do for him. Thanks for the great suggestions. Jeff F.


This response submitted by daveh on 1/3/05 at 12:20 PM. ( )

I guess it would depends on if this is an isolated incidence or if he has done things like this in the past. He could have been screwing around (like all kids do) and things got out of hand. It may have been that it just happened to be with matches instead of something else. I believe you can do damage by rushing a perfectly normal kid to a counselor and making him believe that he is screwed up. I have 4 kids that range in age from 14 to 20 and i have seen allot of crazy stuff. A good a$$ beating goes a long way in some instances and depending on the individual it may not be effective. The main thing is that a kid know there is a consequence for bad behavior. Some kids it's an a$$ beating an dsome it may be firm conversation or something else. I have done all sorts of things to my kids over the years, but never physically or emotionally hurt them. ( not including a stinging a$$ for a couple minutes.

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