posted at 3/13/2012 8:44 AM EDT
So for the first time, my 13 almost 14 year old hung up the phone on me. I wanted to strangle the kid. I understand teenagers change with all the hormones and such, especially a boy to his mom, but I am not ready for this and not sure how to handle. Talking seems useless, ignoring I don't think is right either. He is generally a good kid, good grades, etc. We used to be so close and now, its like he has been taken over by some alien.
Any suggestions aside from the obvious, ignore him until he is 18?
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posted at 3/13/2012 10:51 AM EDT
I was thinking the same thing. Wasn't going to be the first one to post it, though.
The thing is, nothing stays the same. This time next year he'll either be more OR less respectful of you. Ignoring (which is accepting that behavior as OK by default) means the latter will be yours to deal with. Sounds like accepting disrespectful behavior is what he expects you to do. I'd say a surprise is in order.
posted at 3/13/2012 11:02 AM EDT
Some-guy, I wish it was that easy, but his father is of no help in this area at all.
Agreed kargiver, I do not want him to think that being disrespectful is at all acceptable. When he was little, all I would ever had to have say was I was disappointed in his behavior and he would break down in tears. Seemed that used to be enough.
posted at 3/13/2012 11:11 AM EDT
For each time he gets away with it the less respectful he'll be because he knows he can and will see how far he can go.
A disappointed look worked because your approval was good currency to him. If that's shifted (which it often does), find his new currency and make him pay that way. Take his beloved something away for a time, deal with the unpleasantness that ensues, and he won't be as likely to keep pushing you. Make it worth it to him to NOT push you.
ETA: The fact that Dad isn't any help is statistically part of the problem. Not that you can do anything about that, but you've got a harder row to hoe than most and will have to make up for it with being tougher on him, not easier (maybe out of some guilt?). If you (continue to) lose his respect now by ignoring disrespectful behavior and hoping he grows up OK without your laying down the law in your home, he'll be a nightmare by 18, and there will be no going back to this fork in the road and taking the tougher disciplinary path. Now is the time. Make him sorry he even thought of disrespecting you that way.
posted at 3/13/2012 12:48 PM EDT
When you are driving in the car sometime, and everyone is calm, I'd tell him you were hurt and concerned about the disrepect he showed you. I'd tell him that if you were a boss, or a teacher or coach, or girlfriend/boyfriend, the concequences of him hanging up on a conversation he wasn't enjoying would be far more serious, and you're concerned he would show ANYONE that level of disrespect.
Acknowledge he's getting older and it's appropriate to test boundries, but disrespect to you or his father is not acceptable, and the consequences will be a lack of respect on your part to his schedule and needs (no rides to sports/school/activities), no packed bags, no lunches, no clean clothes, no friends over, no video games, no phone, no computer - whatever.
And if he gets uppity about it, stop the car as abruptly as he hung up.
His Dad is contributing to the problem by failing to back you up (thus showing disrespect for you as well). But that's a whole other conversation. Sorry.
posted at 3/13/2012 12:52 PM EDT
If it's at all practical, I would take away the phone for a certain period of time (2 - 3 days?). If it happens again, then you take it away for a longer period. I'm a big fan of "natural consequences," so if you mis-use the phone by hanging up on your mother, then you don't get to use the phone. You didn't specify if it was a landline or cell phone. If he has a cell phone, it may slightly inconvenience you for him not to have it, but at 13, if he's away from you, he will probably be somewhere where there's a landline he could call you from, so take it away. It's not like there's a risk of him being out driving and the car breaking down. I didn't have a cell phone until I was 26, and I managed just fine.
Other suggestions if he has a cell phone and this happens again, would be to cancel all the "extras" on his phone--texting, any "smartphone" capabilities, etc. You may even be able to make it so that he can only call certain numbers from his phone (e.g. home, mom's cell/work, dad's cell/work). If you don't know how to make this happen, call your service provider. At least one provider out there has a parental control system for kids' phones--so parents can set various limits on their kids' phone use.
When he's cut off from phone use, also cut off all non-homework computer access, no TV, no video games. Nothing. To keep him busy while he's cut off from the world, make a list of unpleasant tasks that need to be done--clean out the garage/shed/basement/crawl space, dust the tops of cabinets/bookshelves/other out-of-reach areas, pull out all the shelves and drawers from the refrigerator and make them spotless. If he doesn't do a thorough job, don't let him have access to the world until it's done correctly. You get the idea.
Depending on when this incident happened, it may be too late to decide to punish him now, but you can sit down and talk with him about hanging up on you being unacceptable, what an acceptable alternative would be in the future ("Mom, I'm feeling very angry right now and I would like to take some time to cool off and finish this discussion later."), and then tell him that IF he hangs up on you again, what the consequences will be.
Never forget that you are the parent and it is your job to teach your child how to function in the world. I don't care how old he is or how many hormones are coursing through his system. There is acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior and it's better he learn the difference now, from you. You're right that he will continue to test you and that this will only get worse--IF you don't set reasonable limits and if there aren't consequences for unacceptable behavior. If you nip it in the bud now and make it clear that you can make his life very unpleasant, he'll come out better for it in the end.
posted at 3/13/2012 1:05 PM EDT
First, Dad smacking people upside the head for being rude may teach someone not to be rude, but it doesn't necessarily teach any skills for disagreeing with someone in a constructive manner. Kind of hard to go through life if all you've learned is "s*ck it up and shut up."
Second, Dad punishing a kid for being rude to Mom teaches kids that Mom cannot deal with life herself and needs Daddy the Pitbull to protect her. Which is a very sexist lesson to teach a child and undermines Mom's authority when Dad is not home.
Anyhow, kids need to hear the message that it is OK to be frustrated with someone, but it is not acceptable to be rude.
I am assuming that you can accept the fact that he might legitimately disagree with you, or that you happened to hit a sore spot--that you are not in principle opposed to the thought that a kid might have reason to be upset with you. Or he might be in a miserable mood and dumped on the next person to get on his nerves (which was you). Those do not justify rudeness, but they aren't necessarily a sign of hating you or deep down disrespecting you as a person and/or authority.
And consider the possibility that he thought hanging up was the lesser of two evils compared to telling you in great detail what was on his mind at the time. He could have been fighting, yelling or cursing at you or something. I doubt he sat there and said, "Well, I'm going to get even with Mom by being mean to her, ha ha ha, take that!" but more along the lines of "OK, this is going nowhere, I'm peeved, never mind!" So teach him some skills to deal with it in a more civilized manner.
posted at 3/13/2012 1:31 PM EDT
ml2620-2, that is an excellent idea. The whole, I am the parent/you are the child I dont think works anymore. So explaining that he could never do that to a boss, professor etc.... may show him that there is no excuse for that kind of disrespect.
And yes, his father is a whole other story not worth the time in this forum.
Daisy, he really doesnt use the cell (it was his cell), so taking it away doesnt really do anything. But I agree with some form of punishment ie, no video games no iPad, etc.... And, I have always had great conversations with him. We have always been able to talk through issues, I am hoping we will be able to talk through this one.
purple- his father would never stick up for me (we are not together, so that may explain some of this as well), so I would never expect his father to defend me or to teach him that that was unacceptable behavior. And like you said, I dont want our son to think his mother is some kind of weakling. I am certainly not. I do agree I will just have to sit down with him and explain that being frustrated and upset is ok, being rude is not. There really wasnt a disagreement, he just didnt want to talk anymore and wanted to go and do his own thing, but I was in the middle of a quesiton that needed answering.
Thank you all! This has been helpful. I wish, sometimes there was a place to send teenagers and then you get them back at 18 all wonderful and loving again :)
posted at 3/13/2012 1:39 PM EDT
I think you already got some great advice but I would suggest still telling your son that you're disappointed in him. I know that even though I wouldn't show my mom how much that got to me at that age I was still really affected by it. He most likely won't burst into tears like he did when he was younger but it will make him think and he'll ultimately end up feeling bad about it. I can really only remember once when my mom said that to me (summer after freshman year of high school) and it stung big time.
posted at 3/13/2012 1:46 PM EDT
If there were such a place they'd have to keep 'em 'til long after 18 (30 maybe?), but as everyone here has said, there's no easy way around it. He has to have immediate negative consequences as punishment and sit-down chats about your value system pretty regularly. Unfortunately, you do have the job of both parents, and as non-mathmatical as that is, that means more than twice the work. And, that's about all it will be...work. The friendship you desire with him will come much
While kids are being raised, they should not have the emotional burden of being their parents' buddies. You want him to just want to have a friendly relationship with you, but he's in a difficult transition that needs the strong mother you are to guide him in difficult, confrontational, and tiresome (for both of you) ways. Structure, definition, and house rules give teens a soft place to land and emotional security despite how they complain and make life generally cantankerous over it. They complain because they are caught in between childhood and adulthood and are not equipped to handle it yet. How you handle that transition over the coming years will determine how equipped he ultimately is as an adult.
posted at 3/13/2012 1:51 PM EDT
Another thought is that it's important for you to be a good example for him. Teenagers live in a world where things are supposed to be fair and don't respond well to "do as I say, not as I do." If he's seen you hang up in the middle of unpleasant conversations (not saying he has, just continuing your example), he's not going to believe you that it's a problem. Actions do speak louder than words. I'll also second the car as a great place to have conversations because it's quiet* and private, but not face-to-face.
*Maybe not a Jeep.
posted at 3/13/2012 2:01 PM EDT
Very well said, kargiver. While his father strives to be his 'buddy', I have always been the 'meany', in the sense of the disiplianrian while his father and he, giggle or laugh at me. There had been a lot of undermining. We did have a great relationship as mother and son for a very long time, and I knew it would change once he entered teendom, I just dont think I was prepared for this. I am thankful he is more like me than his dad in that we think alike and he understands what I am saying. Whether he wants to listen is a whole other story.
Emphatically agree that now is the time I need to be stronger and more structual about the rules and what is and is not acceptable.
posted at 3/13/2012 2:06 PM EDT
- thanks, I am sure that will come out in my conversation with him, that I was very disappointed in his behavior.
- Absolutely. I do try and lead by example of what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. I haven't reached the "well I saw you do that" yet, and I don't think we will. There was an incident where his father took him skiing and had him 'steal' some ski goggles that someone left behind. When we talked about how wrong that was and how he would have felt if those were his goggles that he accidently left behind, he got it immediately. He is a smart kid, just a stubborn ox!
posted at 3/13/2012 2:22 PM EDT
I don't have teenagers so I don't have much to add other than this: my DH was the son of divorced parents and his dad was not around much and never disciplined him. His mom raised him and along with that she punished him, disciplined him, taught him manners etc. Apparently he wasn't super nice to her as a teenager but today he would do anything for her. You may have to wait awhile but I'm sure your son knows deep down which parent is truly raising him and will outwardly show it someday.
posted at 3/13/2012 2:36 PM EDT
rama- that is my biggest wish. Its hard when you were the one raising them, taking care of them. We were two peas in a pod. He went every where with me, I was the sole caretaker of him when he was smaller. So to go from that, to this, is heartbreaking for me.
posted at 3/13/2012 3:02 PM EDT
I'm sorry Jeeps, I'm dreading the coming years, but I know it's all part of the process. My oldest daughter is 12, so it's just around the corner for me.
I remember being sad when she stopped holding my hand in public somewhere around 4th grade.
hang in there!
posted at 3/13/2012 3:20 PM EDT
Jeeps I feel your pain as well. My only, DS is 11.5 and I was a single parent 8 years. I'm the meany while his dad is the fun parent. I was crushed when he told me I couldn't kiss him in front of friends or hold his hand in public.
posted at 3/13/2012 3:31 PM EDT
Thanks JD/winter. I expected the stop holding hands and no more PDA. But this hanging up the phone while I am in mid-sentence, I did not expect.
posted at 3/13/2012 7:35 PM EDT
Like rama's DH, I also grew up with divorced parents. Mom was super strict and definitely not my friend. Dad came and went and bought me all the things I wanted, never had to choose between two things (got them both) and had no rules. Who do I have tremendous respect for and a great relationship with? Mom. I have apologized countless times to my mom for all the times she was probably hoping I wanted to go to boarding school :-). Good luck!!
posted at 3/14/2012 8:47 AM EDT
fwiw, I think you sound like a great mom, conscientious and vigilant. Yes, you got caught off guard by this outburst of disrespect, but I don't think you will, again, and will be ready with an appropriate disciplinary action that stems the tide and gets things on track pronto. It seems you totally get that the more stern and consistent you are, now, the more likely you'll be to have the relationship you want with him later. Yes, it will be much
later that you'll see the payoff, and in the meantime it will not be fun, but hang in there. I believe in you mainly for your eagerness to discuss this openly and non-defensively.
When I'm up against something that I know is universal but I'm not sure how to handle it myself, I usually go to Amazon and search the books for key words. Then, I look for a 5 star, prolifically reviewed book on the subject whose reviews all say, "Wow, this book really blew open this topic for me and helped so much!" I figure I'm not the first or the last who has ever gone though whatever it is, and why not take advantage of what's helped so many other people with the same thing? Raising teens has to be one of those subjects, lol. I just did my method and came up with the one I'd try: Yes, Your Teen is Crazy 5 stars, 109 reviews
. Here's an exerpt from the synopsis, "...giving parents the training and skills they need to transform their teenage children into strong, confident, productive adults.
" For $9, can you go wrong?!
posted at 3/14/2012 9:03 AM EDT
Thank you kargiver, that is very kind to say. It surely is not going to be an easy road. And I have no doubt, behind closed doors I will probably have more breakdowns, but can only hope in the long run, it pays off.
I like the sound of that book!
posted at 3/14/2012 9:29 AM EDT
You're welcome; I just call it like I see it. :)
Re the book, there's no need to reinvent the wheel all by yourself! It's new to you, but every parent faces the exact same questions and challenges. Browse in Amazon books by searching "raising teens" - a whole bunch comes up!
posted at 3/18/2012 10:32 AM EDT
Been there, done that! I am a single parent of a 17 year old daughter. It's been just me and her for 10 years. We are very close and 95% of the time I am treated both lovingly and respectfully but that other 5% can be so difficult,
What I have learned, is to address the issue immediately. I tell her she is being disrespectful and I will not deal with her when she acts like that. Usually the attitude is brought about by my not letting her do something she wants to do. She has learned that acting like a two year old won't get her anywhere. After a cool down period she always apologizes.
As much as I hate to admit it there have been times when I have been the one with the attitude. When life has you stressed out you take it out on the one's closest to you. I always apologize too!
One thing I want to add. Life is very tough for teens today. There are so many influences out there. I want home to always be a safe place to land. If that means I have to take the brunt of a bad mood, so be it. I can take it. One day, when my daughter was about 13, she was being just awful. I asked her what was going on and she told me she was mad at some of her friends for leaving her out of something. She didn't want to chance losing their friendship by fighting with them so she was taking it out on me. Smart kid! She knows she won't ever lose me.
Dealing with a teen is much different than dealing with a young child. They have their own ideas about things that don't always agree with your own. Mutual respect is the only way to go.
posted at 3/18/2012 6:22 PM EDT
I agree with the others, if you just ignore his latest attitude then it just might mean to him that its ok with you. This shouldn't be and your son must know it. As a teen, they have all kinds of attitude that just sprouts and it is difficult for parents to keep up. I guess, what you can do is stick with your guns. Never stop disciplining
your son. If he does something wrong, let him know and give out punishments. This way, your son will know what you don't like about him. But, talk in a way that he can understand as well, never when you are in anger or in the heat of the moment because that just leads to an argument and that never ends well. Good luck. :)