Advice please

I don’t think he’s bi-polar. Or if he is, he doesn’t have any of the ‘down’/depressed symptoms. The impulse-control thing? Definite issues there.

With further thought/obsessing about him, I’m wondering if it’s ‘just’ boundary-pushing. Fairly extreme boundary-pushing, yes, but I guess there’s much worse things he could be doing. Like taking a big knife to school with the intention of injuring or scaring someone?


If he’s frustrated with each of those hobbies, any sign of coordination issues?


As the proud owner of my grandmother’s mother-of-pearl handled folding pocket knife, I’m glad the cops confiscated his grandfather’s knife. I hope they hang on to it for such a long time that it feels like new when (if?) it’s returned. Just to introduce some real consequences into this kid’s life. If I’d had my grandmother’s knife confiscated by cops, the cops would have almost been a comfort against my mum’s reaction.

If something is that precious, don’t bring it to school. Take some photos and show off those. Okay, his friends did it too. That just establishes his friends are also foolish. Loads of people speed, but just because a lot of them get away with it doesn’t mean you won’t get a speeding ticket if you get caught doing it.

Edit: autocorrect corrections


It can not look like depression. A teenager can cycle through the states rapidly throughout the day. It can look like anger a lot.


However, as children often have difficulty expressing their feelings, depressed boys often act out in unexpected ways. The symptoms are not what someone might equate with typical depression. Bipolar boys are often defiant and display irrational irritability, aggression and extreme temper tantrums. They often express anger explosively by yelling or screaming accompanied by slamming or throwing objects. Activities that usually bring joy or satisfaction are commonly of little interest during depressive episodes that can last several weeks.

Signs Of Bipolar Disorder In Boys


Yeah, I think anger often takes the place of one or the other. Perhaps it should be called tripolar.


Depression often expresses as anger, especially in men and boys who are trained that they are not allowed to feel sad or hurt, let alone ahedonic. Especially when society tells them that the way to deal with their pain is to externalize it.


When I was in high school there was a group of kids that had a sort of ongoing swap meet, buy, sell, trade of knives. Personally, I took bowie knives, butterfly knives, throwing knives, push daggers, and a variety of pocketknives. There was never any intention of injuring or scaring anyone, it was more like an edgy teenager show-and-tell with a bit of trading going on.

I got caught with one in metal shop, but it had a bad rivet and I asked the teacher how to fix it; since we’d only done cutting and welding, but not riveting, it became an educational experience and I learned how to fix my knife. He did tell me not to bring it back again, and that it might even be illegal (even off school grounds). But back in the 90s that was a teach/advise the kids situation rather than a “call the cops” situation.

My anecdote may not be relevant at all, but when you said “because his friends did”, it made me think of that. That sort of thing used to be normal among teens (well, some teens anyway). My stepdaughter got handcuffed and taken to the police station over something that would’ve been a suspension at worst when I was in school, and probably wouldn’t have even been reported. Things that used to be considered normal teen growing/learning experiences sometimes get blown out of all proportion now.

However, if he seeks attention through violence then maybe none of that applies. It’s really hard to tell what is normal teen behavior and what isn’t. The only suggestion I have, both from being a teen and raising one, is to stay close and try to keep up with where his psyche is. Try to be ready to deal with whatever, and be there for him when he needs somebody. It’s not easy.


My boyfriend had a butterfly knife. It was considered cool to be able to open them one handed. I think it was a thing to have one. I don’t think he was the only guy with one. And he was not the kind of guy to be particularly into violence. He was more of an artsy nerd - became a computer programmer.


Question for you folks: what are your thoughts on caffeine for teens/tweens? Our daughters (they turn 13 and 12 next week) have started requesting tea with their breakfast. Expert opinions vary on what age it’s reasonable or safe. Their pediatrician says a cup or two in the morning isn’t going to hurt them and may help them get moving. (They’re at that awkward age where physiologically they need more sleep but won’t go to bed earlier to get it.) They are slightly unusual in that they do not have a lot of exposure to caffeine already-- our kids drink little soda and what soda they do drink is seldom caffeinated. So 100 mg of caffeine in the morning is going to be a big kick. I started drinking coffee at 14 and it doesn’t appear to have harmed me. But I recognize that I have a life-long addiction that would be near impossible to break, so there’s that. RatWoman has been drinking caffeinated beverages as long as she can remember. Thoughts? Experiences? Advice?


I myself drank Coke and Pepsi as a little kid - Faygo Rock & Rye used to have caffeine in it, back when they had glass bottles and no deposits in MI, too - but not in a running-to-the-fridge-every-time-I-was-thirsty-type of way. (Mom made the best Kool-Aid in the 'hood, plus as a family of four we put away seven gallons of milk a week.) I didn’t drink coffee till I quit drinking alcohol over thirty years ago, and I drink four to six cups a day. I also make iced tea from regular Earl Grey tea bags. But mostly I drink coffee, and other than peeing a lot, it’s not affected me too much physically or emotionally.

BUT…I’d recommend decaf tea, or half-caf (if it exists). No sense in making weak tea that’s caffeinated, the flavor will suck.


My dad, who could drink copious amounts of coffee, was the one who got me into tea, at age 8.

It was herbal at first. We had chamomile, rosehip, and mint. Of the three, I hated the chamomile (still do), loved the rosehip because it tastes just like Kool-Aid if you add sugar, and liked the mint plain.

Mostly at that age I just loved how grown up it was. We’d sit down especially for it and I’d get to add my own sugar and milk.

I got into black tea… the beginning of high school, I think? So 13 years old. The average cup of tea had 11mg of caffeine, so no biggie compared to coffee’s 40mg.

Never got into coffee, although nowadays my standard brew before 3pm is unsweetened, black, and very strong.


I only have experiences, not actual advice, because I’ve only ever been on the kid side of this situation.

I had my first taste of coffee as a toddler, I mean it was mostly milk, some sugar and tiny little bit of coffee. That’s what the people of my birth country do, it being a coffee producing nation.

I didn’t drink regular coffee (mostly coffee with some milk and sugar) until high school, and didn’t become a full on addict until college. And, today, I drink one (fairly large) cup a day.

When I was in high school, if I was not allowed coffee at home I would have gone and found it elsewhere. I’m glad I didn’t have to do that, because there was always excellent quality coffee at my folks’ house, and at that time the only alternatives were from gas stations, because it was the late 80s / early 90s.

And, at this point, I’m sure I could give up caffeine if I needed to, but the flavor of really good coffee feels like home, so I won’t.

I’m sure your girls are going to be fine, whichever way your family decides to go.


It’s all my Irish grandparents fault.
Little bit of tea, lots of milk. Though I didn’t start drinking tea in the morning consistently until I was in my 20’s.

And as I recall, the research on caffeine seemed to indicate it wasn’t bad if you kept the amount human.
I was under the impression that a cup of black breakfast tea was more like 45mg of caffeine- am I that far off?

My $0.02 is to let them go for it. A cup of two of warm tea in the morning seems hardly worrisome as a vice at that age.


Thanks for the advices. I’m going to brew up a big pot of Irish Breakfast in the morning and we’ll see how it goes. I’ll keep you posted. @chgoliz brought up an excellent point on another site… when we move to Ireland, it’ll be a more common thing, tea is everywhere there.


Since this has morphed into more of a “general advice” topic, I have a question of social/familial etiquette.

What do you say when a family member lets slip a surprise announcement about another family member that you haven’t been let in on yet (but they assume you have, as you’re more closely related than they are)?

I want to be especially careful here, as the family member who is the subject of the announcement is very sensitive about being discussed behind their back.

Edit to add: The only discussion that has happened so far is, “Congratulations on [revelation about family member]!” I haven’t replied yet. Neither the family member doing the revealing, nor the subject of the revelation, is one that I’ve spoken to in months (I’m not good at keeping in touch, but that’s not an uncommon trait in our family).


Maybe something like “they’re waiting for the perfect time to tell us, when we can be face-to-face, so don’t let them know you’ve spilled the beans before they’ve had a chance to”.


To the person making the announcement or the person who’s the subject of the announcement, or other family members?

I would say:

Former: “That’s nice/interesting/too bad/whatever. Isn’t the weather nice?” I.e., change the subject (I guess).

Latter two: Nothing, unless someone else brings it up, in which case maybe don’t reveal that you know already?

I’m replying not because I have any special insight but because it happened to me, only about a good friend, not a family member. In that case, the friend admitted to us he was married, after mentioning his wife to others right in front of us. Under the circumstances, it was a big surprise to us. But he wanted it kept quiet, so his dying father (whom he had a rotten relationship with) wouldn’t find out. He also didn’t want his brother-in-law to know, for some odd reason. I accidentally mentioned it to the BIW after some stressful episode (after the father died): BIW asked “have you heard from X?” me: “No, even when we sent a wedding gift.” Oops.

Friend held a grudge and didn’t speak to me for about 2 years. He called finally and said, “Well, I tried, but I couldn’t hold a grudge any longer.” Well, the friendship was already over.



…Not sure how that works as a reply to “Congratulations.”

Part of my problem is that I don’t want to confirm that this is a true thing (I have no idea if it is, although I can plausibly see how that person would have found out before I did), and I also want to try to avoid making them feel too bad about spilling the beans prematurely.

I think I’m going to have to err on the “That’s news to me” side, though.


I guess I misunderstood. They weren’t congratulating you, were they? They were talking about someone else?


They are congratulating me. I have no idea why. Maybe they think it’s customary?