So glad I found your website! My son who has 3 teens of his own + 2 stepsons (teens also), has custody of his children because he is such an awesome father (mother not)-- he has a demanding job, spends all his off time taking kids to and from ball games, coaching, scouting, etc. He has also spoiled them -- they have everything plus more! They all adore him. Last night he called me from one of his boy's games, and told me he was totally exhausted, and more than anything, frustrated. He gives and gives of his time but his kids don't appreciate it in any way. He sounded so desperate and sad. His college teen is doing the party scene, getting tickets, etc. I think my son has finally realized he was caught up with "keeping up with The Jones" and tried to do too much for them. Perhaps it was because of their mother (he was trying to make up for her treatment of them). He doesn't sleep at night (work worries and children worries). Is is too late to get these kids back on track -- they are really very good kids, well mannered, etc. but just never learned to show their appreciation and empathy for what their dad is going thru or sacrificing for them. Any advice would be helpful. Thank you so much.
From: MsRhae, Houston, TX
It is never too late -- repeat, never too late -- to make changes in parenting style. Because these kids are all teens, they are need to hear the truth. My advice is for dad to call a family meeting and tell everyone that he's exhausted, over-extended at home and at work, and needs their help. He needs to avoid blaming statements ("You don't appreciate me.... Why can't you kids...."). This isn't about the kids, it's about him and how he parents.
First, he needs to state the problems ("Im not getting enough sleep, I need help with x, y, z...."). He wants to make changes. He can say, "I feel like I've made some mistakes, that I shouldn't have stretched myself so thin....." He can ask for their suggestions. He can also ask them to help in specific, concrete ways -- "I need someone to volunteer to take out the trash and bring it in every Tuesday;" "I can't get to sleep until I know Tommy is home, so I need you, Tommy, to be home by curfew so that I can get the sleep I need." Lastly, there need to be consequences -- that he will enforce -- for lack of compliance. Settle on consequences collaboratively ( "What's a good consequence, Tommy, if you're not home by curfew?" "What happens if someone doesn't clean the bathroom when it's his turn?" ) rather than dad announcing what they will be. The kids will be more likely to buy into the solution if they are part of creating it.
Change takes time and it's gradual. But I'm betting that these kids do appreciate dad and will be willing to step up.
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