Jump to content

Menu

Ladies...I need help/advice...I'm at the end of my rope with my eldest son


Recommended Posts

UPDATE: Oh goodness, you gals have been so kind, supportive, and encouraging to me today and I really needed it so very much. I cannot thank each of you enough. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

 

Well, I did go to my son this afternoon and apologize for acting childish, for shouting and throwing a glass, for threatening to send him to school. I told him that it wasn't my intent but I realize that I was trying to manipulate him into behaving the way I want him to behave by threatening him. That was wrong. He is a young man and will choose how he wants to behave and I understand that. I told him that I love him more than anything and I want to make things right between us. He graciously accepted my apology and offered one of his own, of his own volition. He said that he doesn't hate me and he's sorry for telling me that I ruin everything. He was just angry like I was.

 

He asked to go with me to the supermarket tonight when I had to make a quick trip. He never goes to the store with me. I cannot remember the last time we went to the supermarket together. He talked more in the car. He asked me to go rock wall climbing with him tomorrow night, just the two of us. He's never asked me before; that is something he always does with Dad. He's trying to make up with me. I love him so much. : )

 

My son has a good relationship with my dh; we got married just after his 4th birthday. My dh is really great with him and treats him no differently than his biological children. Over the last year and a half they've become joined at the hip and do lots of Boy Scout stuff together and just hang out together a lot. I'm open with my ds about his biological father when he brings it up, which isn't often, but occasionally. I've told him before of good qualities that I see in him that remind me of his biological father. He hasn't brought it up recently but I'll ask him tomorrow if he's been thinking about it. I'm certain he feels comfortable talking to me about it -- at least, he always has in the past. Despite our blow ups he does confide in me.

 

My ds is really a great young man. I feel like I made him out not to be, but I know you all know what I meant because so many of you have been here. My son is amazing with his baby sister and eagerly plays with his brothers -- he's such a great person. I'm lucky to have him. I know I can't take things so personally anymore and I have made up my mind firmly not to engage him when he's testy or escalate things by having to have the last word. It doesn't help. That's a shortcoming of mine and I'm aware of it.

 

I've read each and every response here and will again -- so many great suggestions and just kind and encouraging words. Thank you all again. : )

 

*****************

 

He's 14. He can't stand me. There is just this constant tension and animosity between us. He talks back to me all. the. time. He says hateful things to me.

 

This morning I got onto him (used a stern voice, not shouting) because I had to ask him repeatedly to brush his teeth. He just kept disappearing down the hall and not doing it. He wouldn't clean up after he ate breakfast -- it took three reminders before he finally did so while grumbling. There were a few other small things. He kept talking back to me. "It's not my fault that I didn't do it the first time. I'm a kid. That's what kids do!" "It's not my fault you had five kids. You shouldn't complain when you have to clean up after us!"

 

This has been going on for a year and a half now. Sometimes it escalates -- once I slapped his face when he said something particularly hateful and he told me if I ever did it again he would hit me back. That was a one-time thing -- I don't go around hitting my kids. I'm not proud of it. I completely lost my temper that day.

 

Today I told him that something has to give. I don't know what else to do. I am so tired of fighting with him all of the time. It's not even about his school work because he does that well and willingly most of the time. It's the dynamic of our relationship. It hurts.

 

I told him that if we couldn't find a better way to relate to one another then perhaps it's time he went to school so we could at least get a break from each other. He said, "Oh, great. You don't even want me around!" I said that I do but that I don't want him to hate me and I feel like he does. He said that I was right. I asked him what he thinks about me and he said "Nothing nice. Nothing that I can say. It's all just curse words." Then he said that there are a few good things about me but that I ruin them all with my personality.

 

Ladies, I am so hurt. I am crying. I yelled at him to leave my sight. I threw a glass across the room in anger after he left. He stormed off and slammed his door.

 

Of course I want him around. I've devoted ten years to homeschooling this child. I said as much. I just want each of us to be happy and we're obviously not.

 

I spend so much time and money on activities for my children, on making sure they form same-age friendships, on getting them out of the house and into the world. We are not isolated.

 

My little boys heard us arguing. They saw me crying. Ugh.

 

I don't know what to do for my son. I can't go on like this. I don't know if school is the answer, he excels academically with homeschooling. He likes his school work for the most part. We've had a good school year thus far. It's our relationship outside of school that is suffering.

 

I don't know if this is somehow related to my dh being his step-father. He doesn't know his biological father at all. My son hasn't asked about him in years. My mother likes to play armchair psychologist and she thinks that he has pent up rage due to being a stepchild. IDK.

 

I've only got four more years left with my son before he heads off into the world. I don't want him to hate me or hate our time together. I am so broken.

Edited by Pretty in Pink
Link to comment
Share on other sites

:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug: People always talk about the mother/daughter stuff and how at about age 13 the girls turn hormonal and don't get along w/ mom...blah, blah, blah. Nobobdy ever mentions that it happens w/ sons too. BTDT- some days are good, some days are just like you described. Ds can go from loving me and hanging on me one second, to just what you described the next. Hormones suck! :grouphug:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We just push each other's buttons so easily. We are both oldest children and have similar personalities. And when he starts talking back to me I just can't let it drop. I can't seem to let him have the last (sarcastic) word. Which just escalates things further.

 

He doesn't want to go to school. Sending him would be a punishment. I know that. I wish I had a thicker skin. I would have never said something so hurtful to my own mother but I had friends that were quite mouthy teens and have loving relationships with their mothers now.

 

I don't know if school would help. Maybe it would. Maybe he'd come home and still treat me the same way.

 

Sigh. This parenting stuff is heavy sometimes.

Edited by Pretty in Pink
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it is normal, and it is worse with some than others - girls or boys. The only one of mine that was as disrespectful as you describe (I was sure he actually hated me), was my second son.

 

He grew out of it, but it took him joining the MC and spending some time away from home. A few years ago, I heard him tell one of my younger sons not to speak to me disrespectfully. I wanted to say, "really?"

 

He is now married and has a son of his own. He calls or Skypes me almost every day, and we are very close. He comes home every chance he gets. All that to say: he will outgrow it and he doesn't really hate you. It hurts like nothing else when you're in the middle of it, though. :grouphug:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it is normal, and it is worse with some than others - girls or boys. The only one of mine that was as disrespectful as you describe (I was sure he actually hated me), was my second son.

 

He grew out of it, but it took him joining the MC and spending some time away from home. A few years ago, I heard him tell one of my younger sons not to speak to me disrespectfully. I wanted to say, "really?"

 

He is now married and has a son of his own. He calls or Skypes me almost every day, and we are very close. He comes home every chance he gets. All that to say: he will outgrow it and he doesn't really hate you. It hurts like nothing else when you're in the middle of it, though. :grouphug:

 

Thank you. I am tearing up again. This gives me hope. It all feels so intense and dramatic right now. I hate that I let him get to me like this. I hate that he is so displeased with me all the time.

 

It must feel amazing to have that kind of relationship with your ds now. :grouphug:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:grouphug:

 

That was age 13-17 in my house and it only just stopped because he's 1500 miles away in college now.

 

Last spring I was visiting my godmother and we were talking about this issue and she talked about her oldest child (who is now over 50). She said "I don't think --- ever got over not being an only child." It was such a relief to hear that someone else went through the same carp.

 

My dd is now almost 15 and she is not hostile or difficult. I think there are some personality traits that are hardwired. It's hard to understand and it's very hard because you love your child even if he's making life all around miserable. :grouphug:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sorry. Some people do have difficult personalities. Some are more mellow.

I have a 14 yr. old son and we are very similar but we get along great. BUT, my husband and son BUTT heads all the time.

 

So I get to be the referee. That stinks almost as much as having your kid talk back to you rudely.

 

Your son is testing you, I think.

 

Can you talk to him at a calm time and explain what he said really hurt you?

 

Good luck.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the risk of generalizing, I would say that every family I know of (with the exception of 1), who has a blended family has had struggles with the child from the previous relationship/marriage. I don't know what it is, but it's always around the 13-15 year old range that the child who is not biologically from BOTH parents begins to struggle. Maybe he is feeling disconnected on some deep psychological/emotional level. Maybe he sees that you have other children who are products of both you and your dh, and he feels left out. I'm certain this has nothing to do with you or dh, or your parenting. I've known wonderful parents who had kids that felt this way.

 

I would really consider therapy. A boy who feels such rage against mom is a danger to himself, to you, and to the littler ones. Not physical danger, necessarily, but crossing a line that you can't undo.

 

You have my sympathy--this has got to be unbelievably hard. Get him some help and see if there's something deep down, a wound that he's struggling with.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you. I am tearing up again. This gives me hope. It all feels so intense and dramatic right now. I hate that I let him get to me like this. I hate that he is so displeased with me all the time.

 

It must feel amazing to have that kind of relationship with your ds now. :grouphug:

 

It is wonderful now, but I will never forget how awful he made me feel. I felt like such a failure. My dh gave me some advice when all that was going on that I'll pass along. He said "Don't take it personally. He is so miserable himself, and is too arrogant to believe it is his own fault. He knows it is safe to take it out on you, because you love him more than anyone else and that isn't going to change." I tried to remember that when things got really bad.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your DH is a marine... is he deployed?

 

If not, I think it's time for your DH to have a conversation with him about speaking respectfully to all women, but especially to you.

 

My parents were both in the Navy, and while I did my share of smirking and eye rolling, I cannot imagine ever saying hateful things to my mother just to say them. My dad would have spanked me for that even after my parents divorced (and he only spanked me three times in my life, all at age 5- once for walking onto the highway alone, and twice for getting in trouble for talking during nap time in kindergarten - he was upset about disparaging the family name by being publicly reprimanded, not that I broke a rule).

 

He may need to step in to require some respect from this kid.

 

Also, you need some emotional boundaries. He's 14, his power struggle is natural. Your emotional reaction to it is a little oversensitive. He's doing everything he can to trip every emotional trigger you have, and you're letting him. He's just a child. Stop letting him do that. You should not give a bratty child the ability to bully you, a grown woman, into crying. When you can wrap your mind around all of that and are feeling a little stronger emotionally, consider apologizing to him. You never wanted him to feel unloved or unwanted. You love him unconditionally, you'd love him even if he murdered you, but that doesn't mean that you aren't perfectly entitled to be both hurt and angered by his terrible behavior as of late. His behavior has to change, and it has to change now.

 

If this were the mid 1800's, he very well might be considered old enough to leave home. But we live in a different era. His frustration about not being able to control more aspects of his life is natural, but his entitlement is not. Entitlement and disrespect are what you need to work on, not the frustration. If that conversation didn't immediately cause repentance and an apology from him, I'd strip ALL privileges immediately.

 

Other ideas:

 

  • Severely limit his access to media. I'm not a huge one for censorship, but there is definitely a link between bratty kid behavior and what tv shows, video games, music, etc. It's like that saucy snarky thing is so prevalent they think it's normal. Teen TV shows seem especially bad about this. As an adult snark might have it's place- it's hilarious and takes a quick wit - but as a child it is not acceptable. And if a kid isn't smart enough to understand when it's NOT okay to use snark, they need to limit their exposure to it for a while.
  • when he has the proper level of respect, discuss with him what is frustrating him so much and why he's acting this way. This is not about him getting to complain about you, this is to figure out why he's so unhappy. Maybe there are simple things you can do to make him feel more in control of his life. Or perhaps you will figure out he's simply being an entitled brat and you need to remove ALL privileges until he genuinely feels remorseful and has a better attitude.
  • he needs more physical work to do. If there is nothing available, then more exercise. Perhaps he can do PT with his dad twice a day and exercise at noon with you. Three hours of moderate exercise a day is not extreme.
  • He's no longer a child, and he needs to start preparing to be grown and gone. This means he needs to not only clean up after himself, he needs to do his own laundry, make his own bed, etc. If you find he hasn't brushed his teeth the first time you asked, he needs a consequence, something like a combination of less screen time and an extra chore to complete.
  • If at all financially possible, you need to get him into some activity that requires you to change your demeanor and attitude to succeed. Horseback riding is really good for that. So is martial arts. An extended backpacking trip, perhaps with boy scouts, perhaps alone with your DH. Outward Bound is particularly good at this sort of thing, though that's easier in the summer.
  • He needs to pick a difficult physical goal he wants to accomplish and work towards it. Something challenging, but that he might accomplish in 3-9 months. It doesn't have to involve exercise per se, it could be something like learning to sail, or shooting a basket 100 times in a row, or building a tiny house himself from scratch and scrounged free materials. Something that involves concentration and physical work.
  • We have never needed to threaten military school, but if a bratty kid was being combative and emotionally abusive, I might.

One last thing- if this is a sudden change, seriously consider what he's done lately and who he's been with. Figure out if the change may have been triggered by abuse or drug use.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you've read New Kid by Friday you'll remember he talks about lack of respect. The gist is that you give up your power by begging, cajoling, reminding, etc. Some kids don't respect people like that and when they don't respect them they feel contempt, even for their own parents. Plus, it infantilizes them, like you think they're so inept you have to constantly remind them.

 

The author's recommendation is to make sure you have their attention, request something once, then walk away. People learn to listen if they find info won't be repeated. If you tell him 3 times, he knows he doesn't have to do anything until the 3rd time. After that, don't cajole, beg, remind, etc. It will be tempting, but be strong. Leave the task undone for days, if you have to.

 

A 14-year old kid is totally dependent on you for everything in life. If he doesn't do the thing you asked him, just wait until he needs something, like a ride, help with a task, money, etc. Don't give it to him and ask if he knows why. Once he figures it out, he will probably remedy the situation. This is crucial: do NOT give in after the situation has been remedied or he has said he's sorry. Accept the apology or thank him to cleaning his room or whatever. Be gracious. At that point he will expect you to give him a ride, money, whatever it was. DON'T. (It is usually at this point the solid waste hits the rotary blades.) Teach him he can't let things slide until it's a problem for him, then fix it and get what he wants. There's no up-front responsibility for him that way. Let him fix it and still don't give him what he wants; that's how he will learn to listen the first time.

 

So:

 

You: Please was the car before dinner. <walk away>

<Dinnertime, no car washing yet. Say nothing.>

DS: Can you drop me off at Mike's? We're supposed to work on our project.

You: Nope, sorry. <Pleasant voice, clearing dishes, no anger because you're in control. DS doesn't respect someone who's not in control.>

DS: Why not? You said yesterday you'd take me tonight. <agitated>

You: Why do you think I'm not taking you to Mike's?

DS: <eventually after some back and forth> The car washing?

You: Yep! <still pleasant>

<DS goes outside and washes car>

DS: Okay, it's done. Let's go.

You: Thanks for doing the car. It looks really clean. Sorry, but we're still not going to Mike's. <still pleasant and calm>

DS: WHAT?! I washed the car like you said to! Mike will be really angry with me.

You: Yes, but I asked you to do it before dinner. Be sure to call Mike and let him know you won't be there.

<Lot of yelling from DS. Be strong. Very strong. Pleasant and in control.>

 

Get his attention, say it once, walk away. Every. Single. Time. If you slide or give in once, you'll be starting over. Within a week you'll see a difference. Keep going. Over time it will be easier. Stick with it and he will learn to respect the Institution of Mom.

 

:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't realize you're a blended family. That complicates things a lot.

 

He's already feeling left out. I wouldn't send him to school.

 

I would, if I were you, admit you're having trouble not escalating things too, and apologize for always having to get the last word.

 

And if he's feeling so left out, I might tether him to you for a while. I mean, just like you would a toddler. Keep with him at every moment. That way perhaps you can see what's triggering him and soothe any fears about not being part of your life/family/heart.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is tough. Hang in there. There were lots of times I felt like selling my teenagers on EBay, but wasn't sure how to handle the shipping......

 

 

You've got little ones and a baby and kids and a moody teen who's part way between being a little kid and a grownup. :grouphug:

 

The one thing that having survived my older teens has taught me is to apologize. I struggle with keeping my mouth shut and losing my temper. But apologies keep the relationship together.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does he respect his step dad? Is there another strong male in his life he looks up to?

 

I ask because it many of the boy parenting books it mentions how important this is for that age. One author mentioned that a situation in which the teen called his mom a *itch and she slapped him. He then pushed her against the fridge with his hand raised to strike, and the dad (who had been in the other room) ran in, grabbed his son by the shirt, lifted him off the floor against the wall, and in a very low and steady voice said, "You will never speak to my wife like that again nor ever ever try to hit her." The kid had a big attitude adjustment from then on. Of course, I'm sure they still had arguments but it never escalated to that level because the son knew where the line was drawn.

 

I can't remember which book it was.

 

Does he need more vigorous exercise/hard physical work?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:grouphug:My 15 y.o. son has been horrid to me ever since he turned 15. He's always been hateful towards his father (why??:confused: I don't know-- his dad is a complete mush) but right around his birthday the hate started at me too.

 

Here's how I'm dealing with it.

 

1) I give him space and I don't try to be close to him. I'm civil, polite, but I don't try to reach out to him or ask him probing questions. I try to keep it business like and I expect the same. We have no physical contact beyond the rare arms-length hug.

 

2) He pulls his weight around the house. This is non-negotiable. He cleans up after himself, maintains hygiene, does general chores everyone else does, and chores that he is assigned (that he is paid for). If he is asked to do something chore-wise, he does it. If he gives me an attitude then I come down on him like a ton of bricks and won't hesitate to take away every privilege he has access to. This usually keeps him in line in terms of not saying hateful things, and doing what he's asked to do.

 

3) I give him freedom within reason. he watches what he wants, eats what and when he wants, isn't expected to do family stuff (beyond chores). I leave him alone.

 

I don't know if this helps at all. Basically, our only remaining point of contact is chores :tongue_smilie: but it's better than nothing.

 

He has a lot of other issues (PDD NOS and tons of weird tics that he is not growing out of) so I am gravely concerned for his future & his ability to live independently. If he were more capable and I knew he could be on his merry way at age 18 it would be a whole lot easier. I'm facing a possible lifetime of him as my roommate. I love him to death but he has turned into a crocodile.

 

My main point of advice is: do not get emotional (at least not that he can see). No more throwing stuff or slapping, even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom for a while to calm down. Be civil, calm and polite-- and expect the same.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My ds15 is very much like this. I totally get what you are talking about with how things can escalate. Ds was always angry about everything. For us, we ended up going to counseling and ds started some medication. Apparently teenage depression manifests itself in this way sometimes. Something to consider, perhaps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He's 14. He can't stand me. There is just this constant tension and animosity between us. He talks back to me all. the. time. He says hateful things to me.

It sounds like the tension in your relationship is hurting both of you. Because your son is less mature than you, he is probably ‘acting out’ his feelings about the problem, rather than being rational like an adult would.

 

This morning I got onto him (used a stern voice, not shouting) because I had to ask him repeatedly to brush his teeth.

There is no reason for you to be making sure a 14yo brushes his teeth. At his age, they are his teeth and he is free to rot them. He probably won’t – all that childhood information about dental health does tend to sink in… but but brushing, when, where and how Mom says? At his age, that’s just not a battle to fight.

He just kept disappearing down the hall and not doing it. He wouldn't clean up after he ate breakfast -- it took three reminders before he finally did so while grumbling.

Again, this sounds like an unnessisary conflict. If he doesn’t clear his place, don’t offer him the next meal. If it becomes a real problem, buy disposable dishes for him and charge him for what they cost. Try to help him see life as, “My choices and their results.” Rather than, “My mom’s feelings and what I have to do about them.

He kept talking back to me. "It's not my fault that I didn't do it the first time. I'm a kid. That's what kids do!" "It's not my fault you had five kids. You shouldn't complain when you have to clean up after us!"

That’s not back-talk. It’s an immature attempt at a normal conversation. It’s important that you learn to listen to him, even when his feelings make him say some things in a rude way. First, you say, “I think you mean… <express his concern in polite adult phrasing>.” Then reply to him in polite adult phrasing. That’s how you turn complaints and ‘back talk’ into real conversations that help.

Examples:

Him: "It's not my fault that I didn't do it the first time. I'm a kid. That's what kids do!"

You: “I think you mean, ‘Mom, I make honest mistakes. I don’t like how I feel when you blame me as if I’m irresponsible on purpose.’ My answer to that is: because I want you to grow and be more responsible every day, it’s an important part of my job to make sure you notice when you’ve made an honest mistake. So I am going to tell you things like this, and I am going to expect you to do things better… but I don’t need to be blame-y about it. I’m more interested in helping you do better than in being blame-y.”

Him: "It's not my fault you had five kids. You shouldn't complain when you have to clean up after us!"

You: “I think you mean, ‘I think it’s the mother’s job to clean up while her kids are young.’ My answer to that is: yes, that’s sort-of true. Very young kids need to have someone else do their cleaning, so that’s part of her job. As the kids get older, the mom’s job begins to also include teaching the kids and helping them be responsible to actually do the sorts of cleaning they can to at each age. I don’t think you are young enough to expect your mother to clean for you. What is going to happen is that I am going to keep telling you how to do your own cleaning. You are a young man, and young men take care of their own things.”

 

This has been going on for a year and a half now. Sometimes it escalates -- once I slapped his face when he said something particularly hateful

You sinned against him and should repent.

and he told me if I ever did it again he would hit me back.

That would be him sinning against you – but if you as an adult occasionally yield to the temptation to hit people who upset you, you shouldn’t be surprised when a child yields to the same temptation.

That was a one-time thing -- I don't go around hitting my kids. I'm not proud of it. I completely lost my temper that day.

I get that, and I hope I’m not being harsh. I think all people deserve some slack when they lose their tempers from time to time – I just see the injustice that when ‘you’ do it, it’s regrettable, but if he even thinks about it, that’s inexcusable.

 

Today I told him that something has to give. I don't know what else to do. I am so tired of fighting with him all of the time. It's not even about his school work because he does that well and willingly most of the time. It's the dynamic of our relationship. It hurts.

It hurts both of you. As the adult in the relationship, it’s you that holds the responsibility of trying a new strategy to make it better.

 

I told him that if we couldn't find a better way to relate to one another then perhaps it's time he went to school so we could at least get a break from each other.

That’s a plausible solution, but it doesn’t sound like you were brainstorming together. It sounds like you were upset, maybe even trying to think of a punishment that would (as a threat) make him do the changing. That’s not going to work.

He said, "Oh, great. You don't even want me around!"

He felt like you were ready to reject him. It was important for you to hear that feeling and comfort him – rather than continuing to make your own perspective understood.

I said that I do but that I don't want him to hate me and I feel like he does. He said that I was right. I asked him what he thinks about me and he said "Nothing nice. Nothing that I can say. It's all just curse words." Then he said that there are a few good things about me but that I ruin them all with my personality.

He is confusing *who you are* with *how you effect his world* -- that’s normal at his age. He has an immature brain. All his (painful!!!) comments really mean is that he is not having a good time in his relationship with you, and he thinks it is your fault, so he wants it to be different.

 

Ladies, I am so hurt. I am crying. I yelled at him to leave my sight. I threw a glass across the room in anger after he left. He stormed off and slammed his door.

That’s another strong rejection message. I know that few people could endure hearing comments like that without loosing their temper, but if you want to fix this, the damage needs to be repaired. You both lashed out with your words and injured each other. I have compassion for you: you were pushed very far… I also have compassion for him. He’s young and you are the only mother he has, and he’s been in pain over you for years.

Of course I want him around. I've devoted ten years to homeschooling this child. I said as much. I just want each of us to be happy and we're obviously not.

I know – and honestly, other than the rejection messages that need healing, I really think the only problem is your tendency to micromanage him as if he as half his age. That’s *such* a manageable problem to have that it should be a relief to hear it.

 

I spend so much time and money on activities for my children, on making sure they form same-age friendships, on getting them out of the house and into the world. We are not isolated.

It sounds like you want a little gratitude, respect and co-operation as ‘payment’ for all that you put into parenting. That’s not a ‘bad’ thing to want, but your children are *children* -- they aren’t going to be able to give you that all the time. Their hearts and minds are just growing. They are immature, unreasonable and they have a very narrow point of view on the world. If you ‘give’ to your children, it should be free of ‘strings’. Find satisfaction in what you provide, not in how they react to what you provide.

Continuing...

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... Continued

My little boys heard us arguing. They saw me crying. Ugh.

It’s OK for kids to learn that people argue and lose their tempers. It’s also *very* important for them to learn that family love is unconditional and that people who love each other work towards fixing relationships that get damaged… It’s worth thinking about how to ‘show’ them that using the relationship with your older son.

 

I don't know what to do for my son. I can't go on like this. I don't know if school is the answer, he excels academically with homeschooling. He likes his school work for the most part. We've had a good school year thus far. It's our relationship outside of school that is suffering.

 

I don't know if this is somehow related to my dh being his step-father. He doesn't know his biological father at all. My son hasn't asked about him in years. My mother likes to play armchair psychologist and she thinks that he has pent up rage due to being a stepchild. IDK.

If nothing else, he’s probably particularly sensitive to rejection messages, and he probably fears people leaving him. It might be worth investing in counselling for a season (rather than in activities and-such). It’s not easy being a young teen, and it would be worth its weight in gold for him to have a counsellor who understands him (and might be able to advise you).

 

I've only got four more years left with my son before he heads off into the world. I don't want him to hate me or hate our time together. I am so broken.

He will be your son for the rest of your life. If you want to change your strategy, you totally can. Think how much parenting you do from a baby to a 4 year old… it’s a long time and a lot of things change. Don’t feel pre-defeated about this!!!

And when he starts talking back to me I just can't let it drop. I can't seem to let him have the last (sarcastic) word. Which just escalates things further.

It sounds like that part of your new strategy might require some strong self-control. You can do it!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't have teenagers so I can't give personal advice on a parenting level. But I can state that my parents met the end of their rope with me when I was 14. They put us in a year of family counseling and it helped tremendously. It was actually more ME going to counseling but they met, I believe monthly with me in there as well. I became to LOVE going. It was a neutral zone where I could hash out all my anxiety, anger, etc and not be told I was wrong to feel that way, etc.. and usually after the psychologist asked me a few questions I would talk my self into realizing my over reactions, etc.. It was a hard time for me that year but I would hate to know the relationship I would have with my parents now if they hadn't allowed me to do counseling for a year. I actually CRIED when the psychologist told me I didn't need to see him any more!

 

Anyway, that is just an option.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Two more things...

 

Don't escalate the situations. You said you do. Stop it. Stay completely calm. So easy, eh? :D

 

Don't go fishing for hurtful comments. If you ask him how he feels about you, he'll tell you and he'll make sure it's as hurtful as he can make it. There's a good chance he's just angry period and you're simply the safe and easy target. It may have little to do with you ultimately.

 

Watch some episodes of World's Strictest Parents. :D Seriously, those parents have their acts together and I find them really inspiring with their compassion, consistency and tough discipline.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He's 14. He can't stand me. There is just this constant tension and animosity between us. He talks back to me all. the. time. He says hateful things to me.

 

This morning I got onto him (used a stern voice, not shouting) because I had to ask him repeatedly to brush his teeth. He just kept disappearing down the hall and not doing it. He wouldn't clean up after he ate breakfast -- it took three reminders before he finally did so while grumbling. There were a few other small things. He kept talking back to me. "It's not my fault that I didn't do it the first time. I'm a kid. That's what kids do!" "It's not my fault you had five kids. You shouldn't complain when you have to clean up after us!"

 

This has been going on for a year and a half now. Sometimes it escalates -- once I slapped his face when he said something particularly hateful and he told me if I ever did it again he would hit me back. That was a one-time thing -- I don't go around hitting my kids. I'm not proud of it. I completely lost my temper that day.

 

Today I told him that something has to give. I don't know what else to do. I am so tired of fighting with him all of the time. It's not even about his school work because he does that well and willingly most of the time. It's the dynamic of our relationship. It hurts.

 

I told him that if we couldn't find a better way to relate to one another then perhaps it's time he went to school so we could at least get a break from each other. He said, "Oh, great. You don't even want me around!" I said that I do but that I don't want him to hate me and I feel like he does. He said that I was right. I asked him what he thinks about me and he said "Nothing nice. Nothing that I can say. It's all just curse words." Then he said that there are a few good things about me but that I ruin them all with my personality.

 

Ladies, I am so hurt. I am crying. I yelled at him to leave my sight. I threw a glass across the room in anger after he left. He stormed off and slammed his door.

 

Of course I want him around. I've devoted ten years to homeschooling this child. I said as much. I just want each of us to be happy and we're obviously not.

 

I spend so much time and money on activities for my children, on making sure they form same-age friendships, on getting them out of the house and into the world. We are not isolated.

 

My little boys heard us arguing. They saw me crying. Ugh.

 

I don't know what to do for my son. I can't go on like this. I don't know if school is the answer, he excels academically with homeschooling. He likes his school work for the most part. We've had a good school year thus far. It's our relationship outside of school that is suffering.

 

I don't know if this is somehow related to my dh being his step-father. He doesn't know his biological father at all. My son hasn't asked about him in years. My mother likes to play armchair psychologist and she thinks that he has pent up rage due to being a stepchild. IDK.

 

I've only got four more years left with my son before he heads off into the world. I don't want him to hate me or hate our time together. I am so broken.

 

When my daughter 11 told me that she hated me I said, "Good, then I'm doing something right. I'm your mother, not your friend. Someday when you're grown it may be my privilege to be your friend. But right now I'm your mother first."

 

That seemed to reset things a bit around here for a while. It bugs me that she hates me but truly that's not what's important. I hated my mother when I was that age too, for many years! It wasn't until I was out of the house for a couple years that I saw how great a friend she was to me. She still is today. She's my best friend and I treasure that friendship.

 

Don't give up yet. He knows how to push your "buttons." Don't let him.

 

:grouphug::grouphug:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm so sorry that you are going through this. For what it's worth, my relationship with my ds15 is just like what you described! I absolutely hate it and fear that it will cause permanent estrangement. I am really thinking of trying the Love Language approach or Have a New Kid by Friday. Something has to give!

 

Cindy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a small observation... I would disagree with your mom about the problem being that he has a "step" dad. I think, if there's a problem there, it may relate to *not* having a bio dad in his life. Some kids, for whatever mysterious reason, feel that hole, that loss of a biological parent so very keenly -- and it seems to be so much worse in the teen years -- no matter how much love and care the receive their whole lives from adoptive or step parents. I think it's an area that has only barely begun to be studied. We know more about what happens to kids who are abandoned or abused early in life -- but there seem to be some kids who suffer those effects even when they've only experienced what *seems* like a "small" loss to those of us on the outside (even others who've experienced similar losses but respond differently)...

 

I'm just saying... It may not be that there's anything "wrong" with your ds' current family -- nothing wrong with having a step dad (who, I assume, since you don't say otherwise, loves him and cares for him as he does his other children) or half-siblings... But he may *still* experience pain and loss and a *deep* sense of rejection and abandonment because of the early loss of a parent.

 

If it's possible to find a counselor for your son that you could trust, I think it would be a wise investment in both of your lives.

 

I'm so sorry for the pain you're all going through.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:grouphug: I'm so sorry you are hurt by someone you love so much.

 

I agree with bolt. He seems to be wanting you more, not less, regardless of how he acts. You said this started about a year and a half ago. Is that how old your youngest is? He could be feeling that with each new child you have less patience/time for him.

 

If I could give you a mantra it would be: A soft answer turns away wrath.

 

Hang in there :grouphug:.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First, big hugs.

 

Remember, your job is to lead your children into adulthood. That means they may not get to like you, or even love you. It depends on the child.

 

Asking kiddos how they feel about you, to me, sounds like a wounded ex-girlfriend. Stand tall and lead. You shouldn't give a flip about whether he likes you or not. I know that's easier said than done, but you must remain the leader, not the follower.

 

If that doesn't work, consider military academy or some such. This kiddo is robbing you of leadership skills which you need for the rest of your kiddos. Nip this in the bud quickly, would be my advice.

 

And more hugs to you. This stinks because I've always loved reading about your family.

:)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is wonderful now, but I will never forget how awful he made me feel. I felt like such a failure. My dh gave me some advice when all that was going on that I'll pass along. He said "Don't take it personally. He is so miserable himself, and is too arrogant to believe it is his own fault. He knows it is safe to take it out on you, because you love him more than anyone else and that isn't going to change." I tried to remember that when things got really bad.

 

This is fabulous advice!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does your dh intervene? It's really a respect issue....our son #1 did this. A. LOT. It changed for the better when dh told him he wouldn't tolerate ds disrespecting his WIFE. Punishment ensued: his bedroom was emptied, priveleges removed, life came to a halt for this kid. He sort of woke up and saw the connection. He then had to earn every privelege. No fun, but it does pass. It's miserable in the middle of it. :grouphug:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First of all, much love to you. I only have my two boys and my heart is just breaking at the thought of those words coming out of my son's mouth. I can imagine the pain you are feeling right now.

 

What he is doing is on the higher end of the typical crappy teenage stuff.

 

We all know that this sort of behavior can create lasting scars in a relationship, and I am sure that is what you are trying to avoid. Part of me thinks you should send him to school if only to let off some pressure. But, the other part of me thinks that the last thing he needs right now is to feel more punished.

 

I think you should talk to a therapist. I don't mean try to drag your son in, I mean someone to talk to yourself. You need some support and someone to help you find some different ways to react. I don't think you are to blame or anything like that. I am thinking you need a safe place to vent and learn how to cope. You need someone on your side. It doesn't have to be a huge commitment. You could go for 6 weeks.

 

This just sounds so hard. I am sorry.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First, big hugs.

 

Remember, your job is to lead your children into adulthood. That means they may not get to like you, or even love you. It depends on the child.

 

Asking kiddos how they feel about you, to me, sounds like a wounded ex-girlfriend. Stand tall and lead. You shouldn't give a flip about whether he likes you or not. I know that's easier said than done, but you must remain the leader, not the follower.

 

If that doesn't work, consider military academy or some such. This kiddo is robbing you of leadership skills which you need for the rest of your kiddos. Nip this in the bud quickly, would be my advice.

 

And more hugs to you. This stinks because I've always loved reading about your family.

:)

 

This is the post closest to what I think. I think the heart to hearts and questions are feeding into his ideas of being in control and setting him up to evaluate you, which he does not have the experience or maturity to do properly. What he does have maturity to do is figure out which of his 'evaluations' will hit you hardest. Button pushing, plain & simple. I was a 14 year old button pusher once. My Ds is 14 too. He may not go as far as your Ds, but I definitely get some of the same.

 

I think I'd probably come to some conclusions about how I'd handle Ds (with Dh help) and explain it to him and then stick to it. And I would not be looking for his approval or evaluation.

 

ETA: Except for the military academy part...that wouldn't be on of the options

Edited by shanvan
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My dd17 went through this from the time she was like 4 til about 15/16. She absolutely hated me. It was horrible and hurtful. I don't know what I did....well, for her....she wanted to be an only child. She still makes comments today when I complain about being tired. She says "You're the one who had to have all the dang babies"...

 

I can tell you one thing I did that seemed to help some. I started spending MORE time alone with her. I would take just her to the store with me. I would take just her out to dinner, etc. I worked hard on our relationship and tried to validate her feelings as much as I could (some were hard because she just seemed so self absorbed!)

 

Does he get along with your dh? He probably does have anger at his father for leaving him....but he can't direct it at him, so he uses you as his target :(

 

So sorry you're going through this. I hope things get better soon! :grouphug:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't realize you're a blended family. That complicates things a lot.

 

He's already feeling left out. I wouldn't send him to school.

 

I would, if I were you, admit you're having trouble not escalating things too, and apologize for always having to get the last word.

 

And if he's feeling so left out, I might tether him to you for a while. I mean, just like you would a toddler. Keep with him at every moment. That way perhaps you can see what's triggering him and soothe any fears about not being part of your life/family/heart.

 

:iagree: This.

 

His age is a common time for kids to present challenges. Kids with blended families, or other intense family dynamics such as a Dad who ditched him, have an additional vehicle through which the hormonal changes wreck damage.

 

 

Adding that with the tether, intentionally change the tone and dynamic of your interaction. Find reasons to like him. Think affection, playfulness, fun and nurture *first*. It is imperative that you change the tone and dynamic; you BOTH need it. And it has to be done before his changes his behavior, it can't be conditional. Remember, or find, things that you can connect over (for my and my oldest, it started with sarcarsm :001_huh::lol: and moved onto horror movies). Touch him; tousle his hair, rub his back, do *something*. As you find you connect with him, you'll FEEL better towards him and he'll act better. He'll FEEL loved in addition to BEING loved.

 

How To Really Love Your Teenager is a good book for where you are.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just wanted to say I agree with practically all you said. The only two things I would change are:

 

1. He is a child, as you said, and I do think 14 year olds should still be checked up on for teeth-brushing. They are too young to realize how much comes from not -- root canals, implants, etc.

 

2. I don't think the OP indicated at all that she held her son to a greater standard regarding hitting than she is holding herself to. I would hardly call one time a pattern.

 

OP -- I have three sons, and while mine have never spoken quite so harshly, things have gotten very ugly around here. I feel the same way you do. Our children hurt us. They can be so unappreciative. They should not speak that way and should learn to better communicate their feelings.

 

I do think counseling would be best because it seems his feelings are overboard. :grouphug:

 

It sounds like the tension in your relationship is hurting both of you. Because your son is less mature than you, he is probably ‘acting out’ his feelings about the problem, rather than being rational like an adult would.

 

There is no reason for you to be making sure a 14yo brushes his teeth. At his age, they are his teeth and he is free to rot them. He probably won’t – all that childhood information about dental health does tend to sink in… but but brushing, when, where and how Mom says? At his age, that’s just not a battle to fight.

Again, this sounds like an unnessisary conflict. If he doesn’t clear his place, don’t offer him the next meal. If it becomes a real problem, buy disposable dishes for him and charge him for what they cost. Try to help him see life as, “My choices and their results.†Rather than, “My mom’s feelings and what I have to do about them.

That’s not back-talk. It’s an immature attempt at a normal conversation. It’s important that you learn to listen to him, even when his feelings make him say some things in a rude way. First, you say, “I think you mean… <express his concern in polite adult phrasing>.†Then reply to him in polite adult phrasing. That’s how you turn complaints and ‘back talk’ into real conversations that help.

Examples:

Him: "It's not my fault that I didn't do it the first time. I'm a kid. That's what kids do!"

You: “I think you mean, ‘Mom, I make honest mistakes. I don’t like how I feel when you blame me as if I’m irresponsible on purpose.’ My answer to that is: because I want you to grow and be more responsible every day, it’s an important part of my job to make sure you notice when you’ve made an honest mistake. So I am going to tell you things like this, and I am going to expect you to do things better… but I don’t need to be blame-y about it. I’m more interested in helping you do better than in being blame-y.â€

…

Him: "It's not my fault you had five kids. You shouldn't complain when you have to clean up after us!"

You: “I think you mean, ‘I think it’s the mother’s job to clean up while her kids are young.’ My answer to that is: yes, that’s sort-of true. Very young kids need to have someone else do their cleaning, so that’s part of her job. As the kids get older, the mom’s job begins to also include teaching the kids and helping them be responsible to actually do the sorts of cleaning they can to at each age. I don’t think you are young enough to expect your mother to clean for you. What is going to happen is that I am going to keep telling you how to do your own cleaning. You are a young man, and young men take care of their own things.â€

 

You sinned against him and should repent.

That would be him sinning against you – but if you as an adult occasionally yield to the temptation to hit people who upset you, you shouldn’t be surprised when a child yields to the same temptation.

I get that, and I hope I’m not being harsh. I think all people deserve some slack when they lose their tempers from time to time – I just see the injustice that when ‘you’ do it, it’s regrettable, but if he even thinks about it, that’s inexcusable.

 

It hurts both of you. As the adult in the relationship, it’s you that holds the responsibility of trying a new strategy to make it better.

 

That’s a plausible solution, but it doesn’t sound like you were brainstorming together. It sounds like you were upset, maybe even trying to think of a punishment that would (as a threat) make him do the changing. That’s not going to work.

He felt like you were ready to reject him. It was important for you to hear that feeling and comfort him – rather than continuing to make your own perspective understood.

He is confusing *who you are* with *how you effect his world* -- that’s normal at his age. He has an immature brain. All his (painful!!!) comments really mean is that he is not having a good time in his relationship with you, and he thinks it is your fault, so he wants it to be different.

 

That’s another strong rejection message. I know that few people could endure hearing comments like that without loosing their temper, but if you want to fix this, the damage needs to be repaired. You both lashed out with your words and injured each other. I have compassion for you: you were pushed very far… I also have compassion for him. He’s young and you are the only mother he has, and he’s been in pain over you for years.

I know – and honestly, other than the rejection messages that need healing, I really think the only problem is your tendency to micromanage him as if he as half his age. That’s *such* a manageable problem to have that it should be a relief to hear it.

 

It sounds like you want a little gratitude, respect and co-operation as ‘payment’ for all that you put into parenting. That’s not a ‘bad’ thing to want, but your children are *children* -- they aren’t going to be able to give you that all the time. Their hearts and minds are just growing. They are immature, unreasonable and they have a very narrow point of view on the world. If you ‘give’ to your children, it should be free of ‘strings’. Find satisfaction in what you provide, not in how they react to what you provide.

Continuing...

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have so been there with our first son, now 28, and to a lesser degree, our second who is 15 (knock on wood). We have a fantastic and close relationship with our oldest who is now happy and independent (and recently married).

 

A child's objection to parental authority peaks around ages 14-15. It is actually stronger at age 11 than 18. Teens are untying the apron strings so they can form their own identity. You are the safe person he can talk back to.

 

What the two of you need to change is how you talk to each other. The feelings you have are valid, but how you express them could be better.

 

I agree with the suggestion to say something once and that's it. If it's not done by a certain time, then calmly dole out the repercussions. I would suggest when both you and your son are calm that you go over this new rule beforehand explaining the method and what will happen if he doesn't do the request or chore in a reasonable period of time. Give him plenty of time to do what he needs to do, but stick to your guns calmly if he doesn't.

 

When he does these things without your reminding, tell him you appreciate it.

 

At some point in the future, the two of you might want to talk about his father, maybe together and separately with a therapist who could listen to your son and help him with his feelings and perceptions. What he could be feeling is loss and sadness. Maybe he doesn't approach it with you because he feels it would rock the boat with the two of you?

 

Anyway, this book might be helpful to you:

 

Nurture Shock by Po Bronson

Just read Chapter 7 "The Science of Teen Rebellion: Why, for adolescents, arguing with adults is a sign of respect, not disrespect -- and arguing is constructive to the relationship, not destructive."

 

I think your son loves you a lot. Keep in mind that he's in the process of forming his own separate identity. On top of that, his brain is going through a lot of rewiring and pruning switching from a more emotional state (childhood) to a more rational state (adulthood).

 

I bet if you tweak a few things and learn how to speak to each other in a different way, your relationship with your son will improve.

 

:grouphug:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think you have to allow your child to threaten to hit you. That was him trying to make himself the authority figure in your house. I would not ask the child what he thinks of me because it's just another opportunity for him to tear at you and your authority. Treat him with love and kindness and the minute he starts being ugly, walk away.

 

Right now he's feeling the thrill of the power to control you and hurt you. Based on his comments about the children, he may be jealous that you had other children. Take that power back. Love him with all your might, but don't give him the power to control you. :grouphug:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No advice, just wanted to send :grouphug::grouphug: your way. I have a 14 yo ds and some days when puberty meets menopause it ain't pretty!!

 

He's 14. He can't stand me. There is just this constant tension and animosity between us. He talks back to me all. the. time. He says hateful things to me.

 

I've only got four more years left with my son before he heads off into the world. I don't want him to hate me or hate our time together. I am so broken.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't read through all the responses, but my oldest can push my buttons too. We're both strong-willed redheads. My theory is that the early to mid teens with boys is when their hormones and instincts are fighting against being under Mom's thumb. They're moving towards independence, which is good...eventually, and they don't always do it gracefully. Some things that worked for us:

 

  • REMOVE your emotions from the equation. Fake it if you can't. It's not about you, really.
  • Come down hard on disrespect. For us, it worked for dh to be the enforcer here: "This is my wife you're talking to, and you WILL be respectful."
  • Turn over discipline to dh as much as possible.
  • If I had an issue with people not cleaning up after themselves, I made sure to call them back at the least convenient time for them--like in the middle of a show or online game. I let them know that that was what I was going to do but that they could choose not to make the mess in the first place.
  • Choose your battles. If he doesn't have a problem with cavities, let him choose when to brush his teeth. Soon, he'll care.
  • Don't get pulled into justifying your decisions. You don't have to convince him.

 

 

You're in a marathon where one of the goals is to come out with a relationship with your ds. I've talked to a ton of people who agree that 14-15 is the worst with boys.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I second "How to Really Love a Teenager"

 

Since he is a good kid, I wouldn't do anything harsh. I wouldn't even say anything about missing cleaning up anything. You clean up for the other kids, just clean up for him for a bit, the statement was made because he may feel you love the littles more, so prove him wrong. Just positive things and as much love as you can get away showing him. Make his favorite meal, his favorite cookies, pick up something he likes while you are out. I don't agree with consequences right now. He is hurting (and hormonal), and the relationship needs a reset.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think you have to allow your child to threaten to hit you. That was him trying to make himself the authority figure in your house.

I disagree... Well, if by "authority figure" you mean 'a person who is allowed to hit others when they loose their temper' -- then maybe you are right. That's not what I think "authority figure" means.

 

On the contrary, in my opinion, it is *very* hard to be a person who resists the urge to hit others. It is *very* hard for anybody and everybody and sometimes we all flounder. For example, parents sometimes slap their children when the child says a hateful thing during an argument. That's not "authority" -- that's a mistake. For another example when a parent *slaps* a teenager in the middle of an argument, sometimes the teenager hits back... that's also a mistake. Neither action is right, but both actions are essentially the same (except that one was the mistake of an adult and the other was the mistake of a child).

 

In general adults are expected to have better self control than teenagers. Therefore in an argument that has the adult/parent losing control, we would not reasonably expect a teenager to maintain control.

 

In this sitution, when the adult lost control, the teenager (amazingly) kept control of his body, refrained from hitting back, and instead resorted to merely *saying* something about his strong urge to hit. All-round, a bad situation... but not, I think, what you seem to think it was.

 

I want to quote this too:

Can I just add that none of us are perfect parents and it sounds like you are truly trying to mend the relationship with your son. I applaud you for that :grouphug::grouphug:

I really think that too. I hope I'm not being harsh-in-text. It's so hard to convey the right tone on forums!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I didn't read the other replies, but I was an adopted by my Dad kid and my teenage years were really hard. My Dad and I were NOT close and I was very angry with my Mom for this. I felt abandoned twice. I would definitey get couseling, enlist your dh. He wants to learn how to be a man and you cannot teach him.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...