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Addictive Behavior


shelbyclimber
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Today, our son decided to take a geocaching trip on his own.

 

(No permission, no call telling Mom or Dad, no note, no helmet while on the bike, no water or drink, and basically NO PLANNING!!)

 

He mounted his bike and went one mile to a cache, found it and them rode home to log the find. Then the real action occured, he all-in-all rode 23.3. miles on back country roads looking for a dang cache. He rode on state highways, main roads, fresh-gravel and chip roads.

 

Our issue, he sees nothing wrong with this and wee need REAL SUPPORT and advice.

 

THANKS...

(While this will be funny in a few years it isn't now. Please respond with serious support ONLY, we'll laugh in some time. Losing it in Ohio!)

Edited by shelbyclimber
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My mom used to give us kids some money and tell us to bike to the store to get a drink and play video games. The nearest store was 3 miles away, along a paved road through a swamp. No one had helmets.

 

A distance of 23.3 miles on bike is pretty impressive, though. The most my son's done in a day was about 6 miles, and we found 2 caches. But he's only 4; how old is your son?

 

Anyway, there's nothing much any of us here can do to help, except maybe offer to take your son along on a caching trip (with a driver and seatbelts and everything). And two caches is FAR from "addictive behavior".

 

And for what it's worth, I make my son wear a bicycle helmet. And I usually ride with him, wearing my helmet.

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I reckon that depends on how old and how bright he is. If he's doing this at 10 years of age, alarms bells should be going off. If he's a teenager, and smart enough to tie his own shoes, maybe not so much. Unless of course, he's an only child, with helicopter parents, in which case feel free to freak out all you want. :blink: As a parent of 5, + 1 adopted niece, my biggest concern would not be that he wants to go hunt for Tupperware, as I'm betting y'all are the ones who taught him how much fun that can be, nor would my concern be for the distance he's willing to travel to accomplish his goals. My objections would be that he did so without letting you know what he is doing. Explain to him that, until he turns 18, and he's living on his own, you are responsible for both his actions and his welfare, and you need to know when and where he is going. Then utilize whatever punishment you feel is suitable for the offense.

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There were some obvious mis-judgments on your son's part here.

 

Good judgment comes from experience,

but...experience comes from bad judgment.

 

I would suggest expressing pride that your son was able to complete his goal without incident, but also explain that a good adventurer always makes provision for support from the home team if needed.

 

This is natural behavior, and careful management is needed to avoid creating an unmanageable rebel, or a milque-toast 'mama's boy'.

 

Sometimes you just have to let them make the mistakes, and then be there to pull them out of the fire.

He will respect you for it. I respect my parents for it.

 

There are a lot of much worse things he could have been experimenting with.

 

23 miles? Your kid rocks! :blink:

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Hi folks......I, as a parent understand your concern. I looked in your gallery and saw some great pix of family caching. I saw a pix of your son. Frankly he looks old enough and intelligent enough to handle a day away friom home caching on his bike. He also just proved he can handle it. You might conceder his actions as very disturbing, however you can also choose to look at it as a great chance to bond with him as he enters a new period of developement in his life. He has a desire to branch out and explore a wider area of the world and test his skills. This is part of life, a good part. Were there things he could have done differently, safer..Sure there was. Therein lies your chance to learn about him as he learns about life and his place in it. It would be good for all of you to sit down and discuss what you found upsetting. This is also the time to let him know you will trust his judgement PROVIDED he shows you he can take a map and plan a safe route to find caches. Discuss with him what roads are safe to ride on, most of the ones you mentioned are if you use proper skills and equipment. Have him read online or from a book about riding with traffic. Of course he needs to wear a helmet and keep in touch. It's better to guide him in safe methods than try and stop him from moving on in life. Good luck with it all.

 

When I was a kid I did basicly the same thing, riding all day away from home, 20-40 miles. Of course there were no caches, or for that matter no helmets, but the simple joy of exploration was wonderful. I used to stop in the post office in different towns and send a post card home, they were .01 cents then, got a big kick out of that. I guess the bottom line is don't kill the spirit, encorage safe habits, enjoy watching him grow up, it happens faster then you'd think.

 

Wiseye

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Today, our son decided to take a geocaching trip on his own.

 

(No permission, no call telling Mom or Dad, no note, no helmet while on the bike, no water or drink, and basically NO PLANNING!!)

 

He mounted his bike and went one mile to a cache, found it and them rode home to log the find. Then the real action occured, he all-in-all rode 23.3. miles on back country roads looking for a dang cache. He rode on state highways, main roads, fresh-gravel and chip roads.

 

Our issue, he sees nothing wrong with this and wee need REAL SUPPORT and advice.

 

THANKS...

(While this will be funny in a few years it isn't now. Please respond with serious support ONLY, we'll laugh in some time. Losing it in Ohio!)

 

From your bold, italicized print, I can see that you fully understand what you wish to impress on your son. I fully support your explaining this to your son and then using whatever means you have available to you to deminstrate that you seriously mean what you say. (For us, we found that taking away the computer for a period of time made our point.) Kids don't often agree with their parents in these matters, so don't expect it. This is the hard part of parenting, but it must be done. Chin up! He'll come to respect and understand your reaction one day; and then, you will have a good chuckle together.

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Today, our son decided to take a geocaching trip on his own.

 

(No permission, no call telling Mom or Dad, no note, no helmet while on the bike, no water or drink, and basically NO PLANNING!!)

 

He mounted his bike and went one mile to a cache, found it and them rode home to log the find. Then the real action occured, he all-in-all rode 23.3. miles on back country roads looking for a dang cache. He rode on state highways, main roads, fresh-gravel and chip roads.

 

Our issue, he sees nothing wrong with this and wee need REAL SUPPORT and advice.

 

THANKS...

(While this will be funny in a few years it isn't now. Please respond with serious support ONLY, we'll laugh in some time. Losing it in Ohio!)

 

It is my theory that as a parent you need to occasional let your child fall down. I mean it in more of the metaphorical sense in addition to the literal sense. A child needs to tests his or her limits.

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The ONLY part of that that I see as a problem is the "No permission, no telling Mom or Dad" part. No helmet? We didn't have helmets when I was a kid. No food or drink? He survived. 23 miles on a bike? Then he was probably in a place where he could have survived much longer without food or drink.

 

You need to have a talk with him and make sure he understands about the "buddy system", and that you guys are his primary buddies. Beyond that, I not only see no problems, but plenty of reason to be proud of him.

 

Addictive behavior? No... that would be crack or booze, not geocaching. You have a son that is growing up and learning independence.

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No helmet? We didn't have helmets when I was a kid.

 

the fact that you survived your childhood does not mean he should go helmetless.

 

i never wore a helmet as a kid and wouldn't think of skiing, rafting, or biking without one.

 

i am only alive today because i wear a helmet. at the boarding school where i used to work any kid caught riding without one got to wear his nonstop for the next 24 hours.

 

we lived through our childhoods without benefit of seatbelts and all kinds of medical procedures, but the fact that we were not among the dead does not mean we should forego modern protections.

 

kids will try to tell you they're too good a rider to need a helmet. when faced with this attitude at work, i'd point to my wall of medals and trophies (which i kept at work for this specific purpose) and ask if my multiple championships made me too good for the helmet that saved my life.

 

alternately, i stop kids riding without one and ask: your parents let you ride without a helmet? do they have kids at home they like better than you?

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Hit him with the "common courtesy" chat, treating him in an adult manner. If he is going to do this again, please would he let you know, as it was not knowing that scared you. (If it did, be honest about that.) Please take food, water and helmet....and you will be OK with him caching alone if he leaves a note saying where he is going. Does he have a cell phone for the "phone home" option? Might be worth considering.

And....did the young man find the cache? I have to applaud his independance, but think a meeting half-way is good.

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I was the kid who always took off on my own.

I don't remember thinking of the risk, or any other worries. Many times I didn't make it back home on time.

 

I would suggest taking a day to think thru the penalty for not reporting in.

Focus on the most important part of the violation.

It sounds like a quick phone call might have helped to focus everyone on the risk of the proposed bike ride.

 

I always tried to talk thru the decisions my kids made. My point is, they will have to make lots of choices in life, so focus on their thought process. Help him to develop good reasoning skills..... Remember that he did succeed in his adventure....as bad a choice it was.

I liked to ask them What if ? What if the police came? What if you crashed the bike and broke your leg? What if you got lost? What if we came home and couldn't find you? ....and my favorite.... Let's make a quick list of what could go wrong, and what you would do.

 

Hope this helps.

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alternately, i stop kids riding without one and ask: your parents let you ride without a helmet? do they have kids at home they like better than you?

 

I think there is something to the theory that over-protecting children is just as damaging as under-protecting them... just in a less obvious way and more long-term way.

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Today, our son decided to take a geocaching trip on his own.

 

(No permission, no call telling Mom or Dad, no note, no helmet while on the bike, no water or drink, and basically NO PLANNING!!)

 

He mounted his bike and went one mile to a cache, found it and them rode home to log the find. Then the real action occured, he all-in-all rode 23.3. miles on back country roads looking for a dang cache. He rode on state highways, main roads, fresh-gravel and chip roads.

 

Our issue, he sees nothing wrong with this and wee need REAL SUPPORT and advice.

 

THANKS...

(While this will be funny in a few years it isn't now. Please respond with serious support ONLY, we'll laugh in some time. Losing it in Ohio!)

 

Since you've decided to put your internal family drama up for public comment, I think you may realize NOW that the issue is not as black and white as you thought..... :blink:

 

Addictive...

 

Getting outside and away from the computer games/TV is one addiction I can get behind. :huh:

 

Perhaps the OP should do MORE to facilitate their positive geocaching behavior..... IMO... Since the kid had to go off on his OWN to get a fix.

 

I for one would foster any activity that kept my child OFF drugs and OUT of gangs as well as getting them to READ outside of school work and develope map and location finding skills.

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My mom used to give us kids some money and tell us to bike to the store to get a drink and play video games. The nearest store was 3 miles away, along a paved road through a swamp. No one had helmets.

 

A distance of 23.3 miles on bike is pretty impressive, though. The most my son's done in a day was about 6 miles, and we found 2 caches. But he's only 4; how old is your son?

 

Anyway, there's nothing much any of us here can do to help, except maybe offer to take your son along on a caching trip (with a driver and seatbelts and everything). And two caches is FAR from "addictive behavior".

 

And for what it's worth, I make my son wear a bicycle helmet. And I usually ride with him, wearing my helmet.

 

He is 14, going into the eighth grade, and from a small town (10,000 people) in Ohio

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I reckon that depends on how old and how bright he is. If he's doing this at 10 years of age, alarms bells should be going off. If he's a teenager, and smart enough to tie his own shoes, maybe not so much. Unless of course, he's an only child, with helicopter parents, in which case feel free to freak out all you want. :blink: As a parent of 5, + 1 adopted niece, my biggest concern would not be that he wants to go hunt for Tupperware, as I'm betting y'all are the ones who taught him how much fun that can be, nor would my concern be for the distance he's willing to travel to accomplish his goals. My objections would be that he did so without letting you know what he is doing. Explain to him that, until he turns 18, and he's living on his own, you are responsible for both his actions and his welfare, and you need to know when and where he is going. Then utilize whatever punishment you feel is suitable for the offense.

 

He is 14, going into the eighth grade, and from a small town (10,000 people) in Ohio. We adopted him 7 years ago.

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He is 14, going into the eighth grade, and from a small town (10,000 people) in Ohio. We adopted him 7 years ago.

This really clears things up, and the Riffster pretty much nailed the situation. Are you aware that, not too many years ago, it was legal to drive a vehicle in some US states at the advanced age of 14 years? I personally drove halfway across the state of Mississippi when I was 15 (I had a learner's permit, but no, it was NOT legal because I was alone). Your son is growing up and stretching his authority. I'm still admiring the fact he choose to do this by bicycling an amazing distance by himself and then finding his way back home. He didn't try drugs, get in a fight, get drunk, or smoke a cigarette. What he did was simply advance his participation in a healthy outdoor activity that you introduced to him.

 

(No permission, no call telling Mom or Dad, no note, no helmet while on the bike, no water or drink, and basically NO PLANNING!!)
These appear to be your main concerns.

No permission, no call telling Mom or Dad, no note: This is easily fixed with a sit-down, if done carefully. Stress the fact you love him and were worried about him. What if he had gotten in an accident 10 miles from him? How would you have found him? Whatever you do, do NOT make it appear that you're trying to control his life by requiring notification/permission. He's is going to continue to stretch his authority. Give him room to stretch, within limits.

No helmet: In spite of my earlier comments, this is a biggie. Helmets are not an option when biking on pavement. Even for adults. I have at least one dead friend to emphasize this for me.

no water or drink... NO PLANNING!!: This is his problem, not yours. He won't die if without water for a few hours, and surely he can get to a store or house within a few hours while riding a bike. He'll get thirsty, and if he's smart he'll remember to bring water next time.

 

But one thing no one has mentioned... does he have a cell phone? If he doesn't, get him one. If you're worried about him running up a huge bill, get one of those pre-paid ones, or even one where he can only call a few pre-set numbers. No matter what you do, he WILL do this again. Let him do it with a little preparation.

Edited by J-Way
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alternately, i stop kids riding without one and ask: your parents let you ride without a helmet? do they have kids at home they like better than you?

 

I think there is something to the theory that over-protecting children is just as damaging as under-protecting them... just in a less obvious way and more long-term way.

 

you're suggesting that requiring helmet wear is over-protective?

 

have you just turned NORBA and UCI into helicopter parents?

 

"mom, i'm going for a thirty-mile bike ride."

"that's nice, sweetie. wear your helmet and take some water."

 

yep, i can see where that'll be damaging in the long term.

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Your son is 23 now. It's time to let go.

 

(ok, I have no idea how to respond without an age .... if my 10 year old did this I would be concerned ... my 16 year old, not so much)

 

He is 14, going into the eighth grade, and from a small town (10,000 people) in Ohio.

 

I was first allowed to go off on my bike alone when I was 7 but my parents set a boundary of what streets I could not pass (giving me a range of about 10 city blocks in each direction to roam). When I was 11 I asked permission to go beyond that. After some discussion between my parents the restrictions were lifted and I was riding 10, 15 and 20 miles a day - sans helmet (Not that I condone riding without a helmet, but in those days nobody wore them). Sometimes alone, sometimes with friends. We all made it to adulthood and I think my thirst for adventure was sparked by those bike trips and it stays with me today.

 

Now the no planning, no helmet and no permission things are issues that need to be addressed. I can see why as a parent, they concern you.

 

However if he were my 14 year old I'd tell him to go for it, provided he tell me where he is headed, about when he expects to return, wears his helmet and takes a cell phone and enough water/food for the trip.

 

The middle teen years are a time when kids begin to find themselves and start chopping away at the parental cord. I'd rather my kid achieved this on a bike, going after geocaches, than doing it hanging around park with friends and a 40 of Colt 45, or in friend's basements doing who knows what.

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He is 14, going into the eighth grade, and from a small town (10,000 people) in Ohio.
He's old enough to do this on his own. Get him a cheap cell phone for emergencies, tell him to leave a note on the fridge, and let him go.

 

I hafta agree here. But STILL geocaching is a source for the OP to connect with their kid at a time when they are pulling away.

 

DON'T MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY!!!:blink:

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First, a bit of an off topic diversion...

 

When I was 10 years old my brother and I asked my father if we could get a "mini bike". A "mini bike" back then was a small aluminum framed motorized "motor cycle" that typically had a 2-3HP lawnmower engine. The "brake" was nothing more than a metal pad that rubbed against the rear wheel. "No", my father said, "and if I ever catch you riding one you'll be grounded forever". A week later he brought home a used Suzuki 90cc motorcycle, two helmets, and some good boots for each of us to wear. After a couple of weeks of my brother and I fighting over who got to ride it he bought a honda 90cc motorcycle for my brother and the Suzuki was mine. During the winter he'd take us up into the hills to ride on some muddy trails every few weeks. As a result, I learned at an early age how to ride a motorcycle safely and got to spend some pretty good times with my father.

 

What you have here is the opportunity to compromise.

 

Explain that taking his bike on a 23 mile trip without leaving a note is not something that you're going to allow but if he:

 

1. Always leaves a note as to where he is going (a listing of the GC numbers for the caches he hopes to find would work well)

 

2. Always wears a helmet when riding his bike.

 

3. Stays off of roads you consider too dangerous.

 

4. Brings along a buddy.

 

5. Brings along a cell phone.

 

6. Limits is searches to less than 5 miles from home.

 

That would still allow him some freedom to do some geocaching but sets some reasonable boundaries. You can also suggest that if there are some caches 10-20 miles away that he wants to find that he takes note of the GC number and waits until you can all go find them together. That way he not only be able to enjoy the game on nearby caches but can also look forward to the opportunity when he can go geocaching with you and go after some "destination" caches.

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Sorry, but I was one of those kids as well :) Went off at the age of 13 on a 180 mile bike ride around Mt. Hood in Oregon on my own. Told Mom I'd be back in three days. No cell phone, no helmet. Just me and the asphalt. I finally pooped out on the third day and called Mom to pick me up about 15 miles from home, rather than face the traffic on the last few miles through Portland. I survived, and I'm sure my parents considered putting me up for adoption on more than one occassion :P

 

My suggestion:

 

1. Reinforce the helmet requirement (it's a law in some States).

 

2. Get him a PLB (Personal Location Beacon, such as SPOT or similar emergency beacon that notifies 911).

 

3. Get him a cheapy cell phone with restricted minutes or incoming calls only so you can contact him.

 

Good luck and koodos to your family for adopting :D

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He's old enough to do this on his own. Get him a cheap cell phone for emergencies, tell him to leave a note on the fridge, and let him go.

 

I hafta agree here. But STILL geocaching is a source for the OP to connect with their kid at a time when they are pulling away.

 

DON'T MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY!!!:P

True, but I also got the impression that M&D were working and Jr. was "bored" so he took off. :)

 

If M&D don't work then going with Jr. is a time for some "quality" time to keep the connection open.

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He's old enough to do this on his own. Get him a cheap cell phone for emergencies, tell him to leave a note on the fridge, and let him go.

 

I hafta agree here. But STILL geocaching is a source for the OP to connect with their kid at a time when they are pulling away.

 

DON'T MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY!!!:P

True, but I also got the impression that M&D were working and Jr. was "bored" so he took off. :)

 

If M&D don't work then going with Jr. is a time for some "quality" time to keep the connection open.

 

It's still summer and the kid's 14. Time to ease off the throttle.

 

When I was 14 I was working at a gun club 6 miles from home and sometimes going on the road to referee skeet and trap competitions. I had a motorcycle that I paid for with my own money and a hardship license.

 

Conversly, there's a kid I know that was reigned in his whole life. He's a good kid. Never went bad, but to me if he were a flavor of ice cream he'd be vanilla and not the good kind. We're talkin' cheap store brand vanilla. The crappy yellow lookin' stuff.

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Sorry, but I was one of those kids as well :) Went off at the age of 13 on a 180 mile bike ride around Mt. Hood in Oregon on my own. Told Mom I'd be back in three days. No cell phone, no helmet. Just me and the asphalt. I finally pooped out on the third day and called Mom to pick me up about 15 miles from home, rather than face the traffic on the last few miles through Portland. I survived, and I'm sure my parents considered putting me up for adoption on more than one occassion :P

 

 

Really? At age 13?? I think your parents were happy at the thought of being rid of you, man. What did you do to them? Sorry, but I find your story kinda sad. :D

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You know your boy better than any of us do, and I question how many people who have said that your concerns make you overly concerned have experienced the parental side of raising a teen. I think that you must do what makes you feel comfortable about the safety of your son.

 

The information about him being adopted by you at the age of 7 reminds me of a conversation I had with a cousin who adopted a boy from Ethiopia at about the same age. He is now about the age of your son. Recently, she said that he was beginning to wander off on his own without telling his parents what he was up to. She feels that it is related to his adoption and his experiences of having to care for himself at a young age. She dealt with it by taking the boy aside and telling him that there are reasons that children stay with their parents until they are a certain age and that he must follow the family rules because they were put in place to help him grow up safely and because they love him.

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The hardest lesson my sister-in-law had to drive home to my brother when they got married was the call home. Her family was very communicative (the joke was before cell phones they used to call home when they reached the market even after clearing the trip before leaving the house) and my family ...well not so much...

It was not uncommon for my brother and sisters to wave as we headed out the door with an I'll be back later. We lived on the outskirts of the city and life was different and much less crowded. My sis-in-law was from deeper in the city and its congestion that lent to a more 'I need to know, what, where, when' environment.

So allot depends on the style of family communication you foster, the social/city environment you live in and the level of safety the kid has mastered and USES.

The poster board next to the door only works if its used (yeah by Mom and Dad too) and the helmet fits the same rules (yup M&D ya got yers on?)

Since 14 means jr high or high school thus greater commute and peer group expansion you gotta have faith your training is working or ya gotta go into retraining but if you haven't gotten the foundation in yet the structure is not going to be stable.

Good Luck you've had 7yrs so have faith and just keep reinforcing the structure and the building will last.

Jeff

The Chicagoan

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Sorry, but I was one of those kids as well :D Went off at the age of 13 on a 180 mile bike ride around Mt. Hood in Oregon on my own. Told Mom I'd be back in three days. No cell phone, no helmet. Just me and the asphalt. I finally pooped out on the third day and called Mom to pick me up about 15 miles from home, rather than face the traffic on the last few miles through Portland. I survived, and I'm sure my parents considered putting me up for adoption on more than one occassion :)

 

 

Really? At age 13?? I think your parents were happy at the thought of being rid of you, man. What did you do to them? Sorry, but I find your story kinda sad. ;)

 

Wow. :D That was really unnecessary. :P You don't have judgement to pronounce about my parents letting me work and drive drive the dangerous roads on a motorcycle at 14? :D BTW - I started that job at the age of 12 and worked there until I was 20.

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Sorry, but I was one of those kids as well :) Went off at the age of 13 on a 180 mile bike ride around Mt. Hood in Oregon on my own. Told Mom I'd be back in three days. No cell phone, no helmet. Just me and the asphalt. I finally pooped out on the third day and called Mom to pick me up about 15 miles from home, rather than face the traffic on the last few miles through Portland. I survived, and I'm sure my parents considered putting me up for adoption on more than one occassion :P

 

 

Really? At age 13?? I think your parents were happy at the thought of being rid of you, man. What did you do to them? Sorry, but I find your story kinda sad. :D

 

This one ranks way up the list of rudest posts for the year.

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When I was 13/14 my family was big into cycling. I would go out on 20-25 mile trips by myself all the time. The difference was that I always wore a helmet, carried 2 bottles of water with me, and always let my parents know the exact route I was taking.

 

Other than that, I think good advice has been given in this thread. Whether you realize it or not, I'm sure your son is proud of his accomplishment. I agree with the folks who say you should sit down and have a talk with him about wearing a helmet and letting you know where he's going.

 

I used to think wearing a helmet was so dorky until I got in a wreck and flew over my handle bars landing on my head (I was wearing a helmet)....they didn't seem so dorky after that :P

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He's old enough to do this on his own. Get him a cheap cell phone for emergencies, tell him to leave a note on the fridge, and let him go.

 

I hafta agree here. But STILL geocaching is a source for the OP to connect with their kid at a time when they are pulling away.

 

DON'T MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY!!!:P

True, but I also got the impression that M&D were working and Jr. was "bored" so he took off. :)

 

If M&D don't work then going with Jr. is a time for some "quality" time to keep the connection open.

 

It's still summer and the kid's 14. Time to ease off the throttle.

 

When I was 14 I was working at a gun club 6 miles from home and sometimes going on the road to referee skeet and trap competitions. I had a motorcycle that I paid for with my own money and a hardship license.

 

Conversly, there's a kid I know that was reigned in his whole life. He's a good kid. Never went bad, but to me if he were a flavor of ice cream he'd be vanilla and not the good kind. We're talkin' cheap store brand vanilla. The crappy yellow lookin' stuff.

 

He probably drinks Bud Light too instead of a hearty belgian ale or microbrewery IPA.

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Sorry, but I was one of those kids as well :) Went off at the age of 13 on a 180 mile bike ride around Mt. Hood in Oregon on my own. Told Mom I'd be back in three days. No cell phone, no helmet. Just me and the asphalt. I finally pooped out on the third day and called Mom to pick me up about 15 miles from home, rather than face the traffic on the last few miles through Portland. I survived, and I'm sure my parents considered putting me up for adoption on more than one occassion :P

 

 

Really? At age 13?? I think your parents were happy at the thought of being rid of you, man. What did you do to them? Sorry, but I find your story kinda sad. :D

 

This one ranks way up the list of rudest posts for the year.

 

Gee. I'm sorry that it came across that way. I was influenced by his comment about his certainty that his parents considered putting him up for adoption on more than one occasion. I was sort-of joking just as he was.

 

It seems this hit a nerve with a few of you. Hey, sorry all of you let-the-kid-gallavant-all-over-the-countryside folks out there, I don't think that many of your stories relate age appropriate experiences. That's my opinion, and that's what I would have told my kids if they had come up with such crazy ideas. I would tell them that they would have to wait until they were older or we would try to work out a plan with which I would feel comfortable.

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There's a book called "Never Saw It Coming" (Karen A Cerulo). The upshot of the book is that generally speaking, people are very, very good at visualizing the best outcome. "Here's my goal, and here's what'll happen, down to the pair of shoes I'll be wearing when I give my acceptance speech, which will be as follows..."

 

However, when it comes to negative outcomes, visualization becomes hazy. "Uh...I'll get into trouble." "Uhh...I could get hurt". Trouble how? Hurt how?

 

People, in short, have a really hard time asking -- and, even worse, answering -- the question "what's the worst that can happen?"

 

The Admiral at my workplace refers to this as "the COA of Hope". (COA means "Course of Action"). He refers to situations in which people present him with a plan but there are no plans for suboptimal outcomes. What if the plane breaks? What if the crew gets sick? Do you have backup plans to spin up extra planes, or are you sending extra personnel as backup?

 

The point to this long-winded intro is that I think that you should express to your son how unbelievably proud you are of him. This is, as others have pointed out, not addictive behavior. Rather, it is him exploring his world. His lack of planning is natural and has nothing at all to do with his age, really.

 

Planning is an acquired skill, usually because either you've messed up and gotten into (recoverable) trouble, or because you are severely hurt or killed and thereby end up as a lesson to someone else.

 

So, although you are proud of him and want him to continue what he's doing, he should be thinking about the sub-optimal possible outcomes. Have him make you a list. Make sure that he understands that you are his support element, to put it in military terms. What are all of the situations that could happen, what's the probability of them happening, and what is the severity of the outcome?*

 

What could he take with him to help prevent the more common outcomes:

o dehydration = take water

o flat tire >5 miles from home = cellphone

or less likely but definitely more severe outcomes:

o severe brain trauma leading to life-long paralysis = helmet

o severe accident = planned home-by time and travel path so that the support element can come looking if he's overdue and does not call

 

What items could he leave at home with his support element (you), provided he takes along a means of communications with the support element (cellphone)? Example: spare bike tire.

 

What does he think YOU might need? A spare GPSr, for example, so that when he calls you and says "I'm stuck with a flat tire at LAT/LONG" you can get to him.

 

So, obviously, part of his exploration includes planning (where he's going, how to get there, what he needs to take) as well as communications (letting you know that he's going, where he's doing, and when he plans to be back).

 

Once you've gone through all of this with him, either buy him a backpack or help him acquire the stuff he needs to pack up one he might already have. This is his geocaching bag, which will contain all of the items he might need, plus swag, CITO stuff, cache-repair kits, whatever. He planned it, he packed it, it's his. He now has ownership of his exploration in a way that includes planning & communication with you.

 

I'd also recommend that you get any and all of your children interested in pen & pencil roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, Champions, Call of Cthulhu, etc. You have to practice thinking of the worst possible outcome all the time, so it makes you a real whiz at planning for outings (if you take the time to think about it, that is).

 

*All of these terms are from a Navy program called "Operational Risk Management" (which I'm sure is being used in other branches of the military). You're required to do an ORM analysis of stuff, most especially stuff you haven't done in a while, or complicated stuff. "The COA of Hope" is such a natural way of planning that ORM had to be specifically designed and we have to receive refresher training on it all the time or we'll start forgetting to do it. Seriously.

Edited by Jackalgirl
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my mom's rule was a good one: tell us where you're going. if you change locations, tell us.

 

thirteen is an age where developmentally it's a kid's full-time job to push boundaries and test rules. they HAVE to do this. it's our job as adults to keep them from making mistakes that they won't be able to undo later.

 

you can actually explain this to kids with pretty good success.

 

things you have to keep them from, regardless of how much they like it:

 

commission of crimes

excessive use of drugs and alcohol

unwanted pregnancies

serious life-changing injuries

 

you will note that i say "excessive" use of drugs and alcohol. although i do not drink or use drugs and do not approve of this behavior, i have to concede that having a few beers probably isn't going to ruin anybody's life forever.

 

in your formative years, though, it's too easy to use substances and get caught up in them, thereby preventing appropriate emotional and mental development. your family policy about what constitutes "excessive" is up to you. in my house, "any" would qualify.

 

 

a kid who takes off to do an essentially healthy activity needs to get a refresher course in appropriate gear and parental notifications and probably little else.

 

going places by bike is a splendid way for a kid to learn self-sufficiency.

 

 

the tricky bit is to keep the conversation open.

 

i have a young friend who often talks to me wen she thinks her parents are being overbearing. i'm in a position to explain to her that her folks are just terrified of losing her, or having something bad happen to her. it helps her a lot to understand this and it helps her to talk with her folks about it.

 

it is my opinion that every kid should have at least one adult friend not related to them by family or by profession. of course this friend should be a suitable adult friend vetted by the parents. i wish i didn't have to add that part, but i do.

 

let kids make the small mistakes. knives are sharp. fire burns. head injuries suck. getting run over is bad.

 

they got to get out there and develop skills. give 'em appropriate safety lessons, appropriate gear, appropriate guidelines. insist that they use 'em, kiss 'em goodbye and hope for the best.

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You can tell him my story. I went for a ride in Portland and woke up in the hospital. I was wearing a helmet and one side of the helmet was flattened. I have no idea what happened. I suspect I did an endo (over the bars end-over-end) because both my hands had scraped knuckles and I broke my collar bone. If I was on a back country road and landed in a ditch my chances of survival would probably have been less. The helmet saved me, I think. I don't know the terrain there or kind of bike, but I would not recommend riding on hills on a mountain bike alone.

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Where is the OP here, since reporting the age of their adolscent. Now that Snoogans has brought it into the open, I must ask... what is this post doing here?!? If you really think that this is a serious parent/child problem, you are not going to bring it to the geocaching forums. You're going to bring it to Dr. Phil or maybe even a real physcologist. "Addictive behavior"? What about what he did makes you believe that there is anything addictive about what he did? Enthusiastic, for sure, but that's a good thing.

 

How do I say this in a helpful way...? I'm thinking that you do need to bring this question to a professional, but don't let it be a "why is HE ?" question. It seems to me that the problem may be on either side of the fence, or more likely, on both.

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I didn't mention this before, but should have: the whole business about leaving without letting you know where he's going? You've got to nip that in the bud, quick. If he can't agree to that, using the ORM/planning process I outlined, then you need to discipline him. No matter what, there is absolutely no room for negotiation on that point whatsoever. Either he lets you know where he's going (accurately) when he goes, or he doesn't go, period.

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Somewhere around 10-13 years old, most boys begin to think they know everything. They are also convinced they are invincible and at least 10 times smarter than their parents.

 

The trick, as a parent, is to find a way to convince the child that he is really not a tenth of what he thinks he is - without destroying all his sense of self worth. It is a difficult thing to do. There are limits on independent activity of children that become less restrictive as they mature, but some rules need to be immutable.

 

Absence without permission is one of those rules. He needs to know that not every car on the road will hit him, not every stranger out there will harm him and not all his actions will kill him. But, he also needs to understand that there are cars, strangers and actions that will harm him and that he doesn't really know enough to avoid all of them. He also needs to understand where you, as a parent, are coming from - love, worry, desire to teach, etc.

 

Now, girls, at 13 they are just as bad, or worse. They can't be convinced of any of this. :P

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