Disrespectful Teenager

roscoesJanuary 28, 2009

I am a divorced (4 yrs.)and live together with my boyfriend who is also divorced. My son and I have a strained relationship. My son only visits me on Wednesday's after school and usually every Sunday for part of the day.This is never enough time for me and I always invite him for more time and let him know this too to no avail. Also when he visits he spends too much time on his cell phone or my house phone talking to his girlfriend and I indicated my disapproval and asked him to limit his time on the phones. My son has repetitively called at the last minute to run him around. I told him I didn't like his lack of planning and expected more notice otherwise I wouldn't take him or pick him up. Last week he called again and actually said mom in about 1-1/2 hrs can you pick me up at my girlfriends and take me home. I said I will come get you now but no to the 1-1/2 hr wait. He quickly indicated his Dad, grandparents, Dad's girlfriend all always take and pick him up. So he said he would call his Dad who does everything. I felt sad but had to draw the line somewhere. I discussed this with his father of whom indicated this is a 15 year old and did I plan when I was 15? His father also indicated he runs him all around and this problem was between my son and I. The final hurt was after discussion with my son and setting definite rules regarding mom's taxi service he hasn't visited Sunday or Wednesday. I called Sunday to ask if he was coming over and he indicated no, Dad was cooking. My heart was aching but I am trying to teach my son courtesy and respect. He didn't call or come to my house on Wednesday so I called him and asked what he was up to and he indicated he was at his Dad's girlfriend's house eating. I said okay see you bye. I immediately broke into tears because this is how he treats his mom? I love my son but want him to give me courtesy and respect. What to do?

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motherlode

Roscoes-if you have read any of the posts re estrangement I urge you to get some professional intervention before it gets to the stage some mothers are facing today when their kids become adults. Resentments build and fester and come out as distancing themselves later on in years. My son has recently disownd me and the pain is unbearable. I know you will have a hard road especially with a teenager-15 is still pretty young to understand completely how his actions-or inactions affect others. Of course they love to play both parents and reap the rewards of laying the guilt. If I sound cynical I apologise but I have raised 6 and know just about every trick in the book with teens. The funny thing is my oldest son was always so dependable and I thought we were close. He was not the one I had the challenges with but he is the one who turned away from me. I just do not want one more mother to suffer like I and many others do. Come to estranged stories and check out what many parents are coping with and maybe you can pick up some pointers-it is too late for me but still hope for you. Take care and god bless.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 2:44AM
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popi_gw

Roscoes

Even in the most stable families, like mine, teens turn away. I think it must be difficult for broken families to decide what is "normal" teen behavior and what is behavior that is a result of some underlying issue.

I know you are trying to teach him respect which is good.

But if you the only time you spend with your boy, is in the car, ferrying him around to places, well, maybe that is all you can grasp at, at this stage. Every time you spend with him, is an opportunity for you to influence him and bond with him.

It's the time you spend with him that is the priority.

Perhaps you could bargain with him eg: "I will pick you up, if you also stop at a coffee shop with me and have a coffee".

I feel for you - I have felt sad in my own situation, when my son seems to turn away (he is 16), and I, his mother, seem to be a source of annoyance.

Things get better.

I wish you well.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 5:13PM
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daisyinga

Is there some reason picking your son up or driving him places is difficult for you? Do you live a long way away from him, or are you caring for an elderly parent who can't be left alone, or some other special circumstance? In that case, I can see why you'd need some notice.

Does your son have an attitude about it - does he get angry if you tell him no, you have to work late and can't make it, or you're right in the middle of cooking dinner? I would see that as lack of respect.

But if you live close enough and don't have special circumstances, then to me driving teenagers around is just a part of being a parent of teenagers. Things come up unexpectedly for teenagers - last minute sports practices, music rehearsals, study groups, last minute trips to the movies or the pool, or just last minute hanging out with friends. I don't see last minute requests to drive him as lack of courtesy and respect, unless there are special circumstances. Also, if dad and his girlfriend have been doing the bulk of the driving, then perhaps they could use the help?

If you want to spend more time with your son, then driving him around is a great way to spend some time with him. My kids and I got more talking done in the car than anywhere else. Driving your kids friends around is a great way to get to know them, too.

Popi's suggestion about coffee is excellent. I often volunteered to be the mom to drive, and often we would stop for an ice cream or something. It does build a rapport. Kids will open up and chat a lot over a Starbucks.

My kids were always free to ask me to drive them around. Sometimes I said no, I'm cooking dinner, or not now, or even - if you'll empty the dishwasher then yes I'll drive your friends to the pool. I never had to deal with an angry attitude over not driving. My kids always knew that I would drive if I could reasonably work it out, and they were never angry or argumentative if I said no. If they had been, I would definitely have considered that a lack of courtesy and respect.

I hope you find some way that works for you and your son. It's difficult to be the mom of a teenager, and it's probably much harder when he lives in another home most of the time.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 7:08PM
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colleenoz

I too don't understand why you're so reluctant to drive your son around at short notice. If you're in the middle of doing something, fair enough, in that situation I'd say something like, "I have a cake in the oven at the moment but it should be done in 20 minutes, I can come then," or whatever. If you're so keen to spend more time with your son I would think you'd jump at every opportunity.
In your son's place I'd be a bit distant after that last episode, too. You say you've been telling him you want more notice and not last minute calls, so he gives you 1 1/2 hours' notice (a LOT for a teenager, they usually can't tell you what they're doing tomorrow let alone next week) and you turn around and say, no I'll do it immediately but not in 1 1/2 hours. So what's he supposed to think?
As to the cell phone use on visits, I'd say as nicely as I could, "You know, we don't get to spend much time together as it is, and I'd really like to spend more time with you. So I feel very hurt whern you spend our visiting time on your cell phone with other people. I'd really appreciate it if you didn't do that." And spend the time with him. Talk with him, cook with him, get him involved with you. If he's involved with you he won't have time for calling others.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 9:23PM
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stephanie_in_ga

I agree with the other posters. If there was a conflict that prevented you from picking him in 1 1/2 hour, that is one thing. But if you did it to draw a line, I think you just shot yourself in the foot. He's 15, he doesn't respond in relationships the way an adult would. He reached out to you the way a 15 y/o does... to meet his needs/wants.

My DS is also 15, but lives with me, along with 2 younger brothers, a younger sister, and their father. I am not always happy about it, but I run him around on short notice for social reasons. I show up to pick him up from practice at 8, and wait until 8:45 just b/c they guys decided to scrimmage at the end. As long as I don't have another committment, I let him have his life. While there are times it seems like a hassle, and there is something else I might *want* to do for myself... in the end, it's worth it, and he does acknowledge the fact that I sacrificed my time for him. In the end, I am glad I just sat watched my son enjoying his life while I can. I remember what is was like to be 15. If I have a conflict (say, I'm already running the other kids to practice, etc) I tell him not this time. If I've taken him 2-3 times in a row, I will say not this time, we need to not go anywhere. But I understand he makes plans on the fly, that's what teens do. There have been times he asks me to take him somewhere in an hour, come back and pick him up... and by the way, pick up and drop off a friend, too. That's fine. It IS an opportunity to talk in the car and get to know his friends.

If you want more planning, you do the planning. If you know he has a regular activity, practice, whatever, offer to take him and/or pick him up. Offer to drive him and a few friends to the movies next weekend. If you want to know your son better, you could have offered to bring him and his girlfriend to your house for a movie/snack/game or to take them somewhere. You could call it lack of planning, or you could just call it spontaneity and enjoy it. It might pay off for you in the end.

If he is spending all his visit time on the phone, engage him in something else. Don't just tell him not to talk on the phone and wait for him to initiate conversation with you. I think you need to try harder to meet your son on his level. Of course you deserve to be treated respectfully. But he does not have the skills to create a relationship with you, you have to take the lead in that.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 10:49PM
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khandi

He's probably thinking that his dad and grandparents drive him around all the time, he only sees you twice a week and you won't even drive him around when he asks! Does she even care? What does she want from me? etc., etc.

If he's on the phone a lot with his girlfriend when he's at your house, why not suggest he invite his girlfriend over for dinner. It would give you the opportunity to meet her, etc.

Make the most out of each visit you have with your son, while you can!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 7:53PM
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runsnwalken

maybe go on a vacation somewhere.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 8:34PM
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popi_gw

I remember being annoyed when my teen "expected" me to drive her to places. Her attitude was not one of gratitude but one of "you MUST do this for me". If she was just a bit nicer about it and appreciative I would have not minded.

I remember being annoyed. It is all coming back to me.

Now she has moved on - so I guess they grow up, then they are better behaved !

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 10:13PM
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