C.P. asks from Pleasant Grove, UT on April 12, 2009
Teenagers Are a Challenge
I am so good and patient with little kids but I really need help with my teenager. He is fourteen years and old and making me pull my hair out. When he brings home his report card it usually has mostly below average grades. I am a single mom and so I am doing everything I can (alone). His father has completely different morals and behaviors than I do. His father just moved to Phoenix and he feels if he sends child support then the kids don't need anything else. I also have an older daughter with this man and she is doing great because she can use me as a role model. I have tried to talk to the father about the issues with the son and I get nowhere. I just throw my hands in the air and question my parenting. The guidance counselor at the school says that boys will give you the biggest challenge. Somehow that doesn't help. I think that a positive father figure in my son's life will help so much, but I am not really interested in dating. I have been married and divorced since his father and the step-father was very mentally abusive to all of us. My son is probably dealing with more demons than I know. He is a very closed kid. I have a free counseling service through my work and I have taken him there and it helped only for a few months. What can I do?? Please give me all your ideas.
So What Happened?™
I want to thank everyone for all their positive input. I got the names of some books that I want to read. We are taking this battle day by day and eventually we will succeed. Unfortunately, Big Brothers and Big Sisters has a lot of budget cuts going on right now but I also got the name of another service that will be helpful. You guys are just full of great ideas!! I also feel that when my daughter (who is a 3.98 GPA student) leaves home it will help our situation. He probably feels like he is living is her shadow.
N.J. answers from Denver on April 13, 2009
I think that Big Brothers Program is a good idea. Also, see if he can talk to a counselor at school so that he can go see them when he needs to talk to someone. I also think like a family member that you trust can be the male role model too. School counselors who they can relate to are more available. You also have to reach out too and keep the lines of communications open. He will need you too as much as he needs a male role model. Be a listening ear so he can eventually come to you.
L.L. answers from Denver on April 13, 2009
I think it's great that you've been willing and able to get him some counseling. If he had an abusive step-dad, there's no telling how long those effects will last. Maybe it's time for another round. I love the Big Brothers idea, too. Good luck, mama.
B.C. answers from Denver on April 13, 2009
There is a phenomenal book by John Davis (he's here in Littleton, Colorado) that deals specififically with teenage boys. It's called Extreme Pursuit: Winning the Race for the Heart of Your Son (you can find it on Amazon for about $4.50 used). He has helped my teenage nephew for a few years now and can help you steer your son in the right direction.
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M.R. answers from Boise on April 13, 2009
A male role model doesn't have to be someone that you are romantically involved with. My 13 year old son has lots of role models. He is on a shooting team with male coaches, he is in Young Marines with male leaders, he does dance at school with male instructors. My point is that male role models are everywhere and it sounds like your son could really use one. Being a teenage boy is hard and it is even harder when there isn't anyone that can relate but friends around. Both my boys had a hard time even with all the activities and leadership cause well it's just hard to be a boy. I haven't ever done it so I don't understand and I'm not sure I ever will. Good luck to you.
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J.D. answers from Denver on April 13, 2009
You mentioned you are a role model for your daughter--you are one for your son too! Just think of all the amazing lessons on strength and courage you are teaching him. So much of what he believes about women and the world, he is learning from you--particularly since his dad isn't around. Sit down and be honest with him and definitely look into Big Brothers or some program that gives him time with an older guy who can talk sports, school and the things that are bothering him. But remember, your son looks up to you. It just might take him time to realize and show it!
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C.H. answers from Denver on April 13, 2009
I am around age 50, from a divorced family with brothers, and parents who dated a lot, have studied a lot of psychology and witnessed many similar scenarios. Based on my experience, your situation with your son is, unfortunately, normal. Boys have a terrible time turning into well-adjusted men without the father figure, which you are figuring out. If you listened to Dr. Laura, for example, you would hear calls like this every day.
The only suggestion that I have about proper role-modeling is to get the young man involved with a church teen group. Men who are well aware of these issues generally run these groups, they provide positive role-modeling, and they have in-depth discussions which could help provide the guidance that he needs. (Some of these groups are run by women -- you want the ones with the men in charge for your son.) Church teen groups are full of all kinds of kids from the community, including kids who have never gone to church.
People hate it when I say this, because they don't want it to be true, but GENERALLY SPEAKING (I didn't say "all the time", right?) kids hate it when their parents date and there's very little chance that a teenage boy will accept a new step-father as a role model. (I'm going to get hate mail now. Whatever.) Most of these kids will not tell the parents that they don't like the new girlfriend/boyfriend, because they don't want the parent to be mad at them.
M.B. answers from Denver on April 13, 2009
There is a lot going on here and your son's issue's are just a part of it. First of all regarding him, I highly reccomend Love and Logic parenting books, it works, it is not easy but it will help. It sounds like YOU have some issues as well, two marraiges and both to less than desirable men, can you get some counseling for yourself, it will help with your relationship with your son and any future relationships you may have! You are right about the Dad, just let it go and be grateful he does send the child support, some don't. And absolutely do not bad mouth the Dad in any way, let him create the relationship and suffer the consequences, good or bad. And don't take your son to counseling hoping they will fix him, you need some help first. ( sorry if that sounds abrupt but that's what I got out of your note).
H.Q. answers from Great Falls on April 12, 2009
I think your son can get a positive male influence without it being someone you're in a relationship with. Big Brothers is a good idea. Also, if you're involved with a church, you could talk with the pastor to see if he can suggest anyone from church. How about an uncle? Do you have any male friends who could fill that role?
People forget that boys need a good male influence in their lives at least as much as girls do. No matter how hard you try, you can never be that influence (your parts are wrong!)
M.S. answers from Denver on April 12, 2009
Have you considered contacting the "big brothers, big sisters" program in your area? that might help with the male role model part... also, keep him in counseling... he is still so young, but growing up fast. he'll need all the guidence and influence (of good people, obviously) that he can get. i think having an absentee father is hardest on boys, and with all kids they can tend to kind of lash out at the person he is the most stable in their life (and kind of pine away for the one who has hurt and abandoned them the most)... just keep trying, keep reaching out to him and let him know you love him.
good luck and god bless you all.
J.B. answers from Denver on April 13, 2009
Well, first you are right - teenagers ARE a challenge! We have a teenage boy and girl (and a toddler!). Both are overall good kids, but the boy was by FAR more challenging (and still is) than my daughter. Sounds like you are doing the right thing with the counseling - can you continue? A couple other resources you might think about:
-Big Brothers: When I was single, I was a Big Sister, and it's a great program, and is designed for situations like yours, when there's not a positive role model in the boy's life on a full time basis
-Church: maybe talk to your minister, or, if you aren't active in a church, find one in which you are comfortable. In addition to youth groups with positive male role models, your minister may know a number of other community options
-Uncles, friends etc - doesn't have to someone you are dating - maybe a neighbor that knows your son and would be willing to spend some time.
-Boy scouts (?)
Good luck - and remember that lots of parents - single parents AND married parents are going thru the same thing!