Not happy about teenage son's behavior

sleeperbluesSeptember 15, 2004

Hi, I just had an incident with my 13 year-old son that is bothering me, but I don't know if I'm overreacting. Ted is 13, in grade 8, and over the summer really started growing and becoming good-looking. We have always had a great relationship where we talk about anything, but he has started to become really secretive. I can understand that, having once been a teenager, but I've always had a better relationship with him than my 15 year old daughter. I picked up the extension Sunday when the phone rang, and I overheard him talking to a girl. She was begging him not to hang up on her and asking why he broke up with her. Well, he didn't say a word, just hung up. I was frankly shocked that he would act that way. We have never set any rules about dating, because we live in a small town and I know all his friends at school. I didn't know this girl, or that he was "dating" her. I have always taught my kids to be kind to others, having been a nerd when I was their age, and I never thought he would act like this. I told my husband what had happened, and he had a talk with Teddy and told him how upset I was, but it's now Wednesday and Ted and I haven't spoken about this. I guess I'm upset because I remember what it was like to be treated that way, and I don't want my son to be unkind, no matter what this girl could have done. Am I off base here? I'm not liking this puberty thing at all. Never had to deal with issues with DD.

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Ah...teenagers, what fun...NOT. My kids did the same thing, got really secretive around that age, and I always talked to my kids. My suggestion...keep trying. I have always decided that I will always try, then if they say..BUT YOU NEVER, I can at least say, I tried.

I have no other thoughts for you, these are the most challenging years I ever had with my kids. I truely didn't like them at times. Always loved them, but didn't like what they did, and it was not because I couldn't control them, but they developed different values that I'd raised them to have. YUCK.


    Bookmark   September 17, 2004 at 1:44PM
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I think you were wise to let your husband handle this one. At 13, your son is probably going to be extremely embarassed to talk to either of you about dating, but particularly his mother.

Sometimes more sinks in than you might think. If his dad talks to him about treating girls with respect and kindness, and sees his father treating you that way, and sees his sister being treated that way, he will end up following suit, even if he doesn't talk about it. You are wise to keep an eye on him, from a distance if he doesn't invite you in to his world.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2004 at 5:25PM
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Thanks, ladies, for the encouragement. I really expected the lack of communication with my daughter, but she seems to actally want to discuss her life with me more than my son. I have decided to continue keeping a close eye on both of them, and when they want to talk I will be there. It's just hard seeing your cuddly little boy turn into this smelly (feeted) semi-adult with secrets to keep!!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2004 at 1:39PM
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Sleeper I went thru this with my 13 yo all summer...only it was the girl who was being mean and possessive and to the point of stalking..She was rich..had a big farm and all the toys and games that my son loved..(motorcycles and 4 wheelers)...I knew if I voiced my opinion, it would just make him run to her I let it ride out...She was homeschooled and was calling him 5 and 10 times a night cause she saw no one and had nothing to do...I blocked they went to the computer..i kept him busy and off the puter...finally she started back to school and they "BROKE UP"...she became very abusive and downright mean...We've always tried to teach our kids to be respectful and bless his heart he was...she had him miserable, but has finally moved on...THANK my 17 year old is giving me fits...I wanna run away...Good luck and I hope things improve for you!...

    Bookmark   October 2, 2004 at 12:43AM
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Liz, Gosh, sounds like you're living my nightmare, lol. Actually,things have really calmed down here now that school is back in session. I guess I just had never seen him do something like that, and it reminded me of all the boys that were mean to me at that age. Some things are hard to forget. Sounds like you handled the situation perfectly. You are right, if you had tried to interfere it would have pushed them together. That girl sounds like she needs some parental control. It sounds like you are raising a nice young man. What's going on with the 17 y.o.?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2004 at 8:52PM
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There's only one thought I have and it is, you don't really know the whole story, and you didn't ask him for the story.

You got really upset. But you still don't KNOW what really went on in that piece of his life.

Maybe he broke up w/ her and is nasty to her now. BUT, maybe he broke up w/ her straightforwardly and not meanly, and she's being a pain about it. Maybe hanging up on her was really the only way to handle her. I mean, suppose he broke up w/ her, or told her that no, their few trips w/ friends to the movies didn't mean he was dating her, and SHE defined it as "breaking up." Then, she's pestering him, why doesn't he like her, what can she do to get him "back," etc. And short of telling her he loves her (which he doesn't), nothing he says makes her happy. So, finally, he wisely decides to simply never talk to her about anything and he hangs up instead of trying to unsuccessfully reason w/ her.

Maybe. (I hear that girls that age can be REALLY pushy--in fact, I think it's out of line for a girl to ask a boy "why did you break up with me?" Because he wanted to, or because he doesn't like you, that's why, and the only reason you ask that at ANY age is if you want to get your feelings even more hurt. He should have stayed on the line, you think, and said, "because you're bossy, and I don't like you, and there's another prettier girl I like better"? He has rejected her, which is his perogative. It's probably kinder to just end the conversation than to try to persuade her to accept an unpleasant reality she doesn't want to accept. Frankly, that girl put him in an impossible and unfair position--it was rude of her. In fact, the more I think of it, the more I think that was about the only thing he *could* do without being mean. He doesn't want to be mean, because you taught him not to be. But he's ONLY 13--how does he say, "I'm sorry you're unhappy. I'm not changing my mind. The reasons why don't matter and would only hurt you if I said them out loud. I'm going to hang up the phone now.")

Or, maybe not.

But you don't know, because you didn't ask. You got a message to him that you were upset with him for HIS behavior, but you don't really KNOW anything.

You've given him even more reasons to keep a secret--he may think he's doing the only thing he can, but he'll get his mom upset and his dad lecturing him.

Now, he knows he can't come to you and say, "this girl is bugging me, how do I get rid of her?" because you'll be upset that he's not respectful enough to a girl.

Now would be a good time to say, "Listen, I've realized I don't know the whole story. I still would want you to be respectful to any girl you were 'dating,' and I'd like to talk to you about what 'dating' means to you and your friends. Would you tell me about that girl?"

I think w/ kids, esp. teens (and what do I know? I've haven't raised one yet), it's important to gather info before you decide they're wrong.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2004 at 2:30PM
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Wow, Talley Sue, totally different perspective that I didn't even think of. I actually did talk to him about why he did that and he said she cheated on him. So I guess he was angry and that was the way he responded. Did I screw any chance that he would confide in me in the future? Probably, I see now. Hopefully not forever. BYW, I am also a May 24th Gemini

    Bookmark   October 4, 2004 at 4:29PM
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sleeperblues, may 24 rocks! You, me, Bob Dylan, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

who knows whether you've truly screwed up any chance he would confide in you. This could be your chance to salvage it.

But if some guy cheated on me (however you define that at 13!), and I broke up w/ him, and he called me demanding to know why, and begging me not to hang up, what would you suggest I do? I'd hang up.

It's not a polite response. But sometimes it's the only one. Maybe that's the NYer in me (that I've developed, since I'm orig. from Iowa), but frankly, it's sometimes the right thing to do.

We can't spend out lives trying to make other people agree with things they don't want to agree with. Some girl is never gonna say, "you're right, you should break up w/ me, I'm scum." So once he's said, "I don't want to go out with you," that should be the end of it.

Best of luck. I'm scared of 13--and it's only 3 years away, in our house!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2004 at 12:45PM
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I didn't know the Brooklyn Bridge was "born" on May 24. Cool. Our high school band is taking a trip to NYC in June 05 and some of these kids have never been out of Wisconsin, so should be interesting!! I appreciate your big city candor, having grown up in Chicago. I had to laugh at your comment "you're right, break up with me,I'm scum". So true. And you're right, girls these days are much pushier than ever, especially here where the "dating" pool is limited. Gear up, Talley,cos the teenage years are really interesting, but I'll be here for you, lol. Anne

    Bookmark   October 5, 2004 at 1:27PM
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when you get to 42nd st. by Bryant Park & the library, wave!

Have a nice trip to the city w/ the Wisconsin kids.

and here's a request from all us "rushing around" NYers--try not to walk down the sidewalks in groups bigger than 4--it's hard for us to rush around or past you, LOL!

The other comment someone I used to know well always made when welcoming college kids to NYC: "if you think it's looking a little dirty or smelly, just remember: 7.3 million people live here. That doesn't count the nonresidents who work here. It's not that easy to keep it clean."

    Bookmark   October 6, 2004 at 5:42PM
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