12 Year Old Boy (Sorry Kind of Long)

Updated on December 14, 2011
T.C. asks from Anoka, MN
21 answers

Hi ladies, I really need some advice. I have a 12 year old boy who is having a tough time latlely. His dad, my ex is an alcoholic and hasn't been around in about 1 year. He calls every now and again and he maybe sees him 1 time every 3 or 4 months. I know its hard on him even though he wont admit it. I know its better for him to not be around him but getting him to understand that is hard. To top it off he doesn't seem to have any friends. He goes to school and comes home. He doesnt call or meet up with anyone. Tonight he was crying and telling me that this kid named brad who he thought was his friend will ignore him sometimes and act like he isnt talking. Another boy max keeps telling him he is a marshmellow. I dont know if thats a fat joke or what? He is a big boy about 5'6 165 lbd. I wouldnt consider him fat but a little chunky. I have asked the doctor and he said he will thin out in the next couple years. He is a very sweet boy and this is breaking my heart to see him sad. He has never really had alot of friends but it seems to be getting worse. He got 5 A's anf 1 B on his report card so its not effecting his grades. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I dont know what to tell him to make him feel better.

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So What Happened?

Thank u everyone for all your advice! He does have alot of great men in his life like his stepdad, grandpas, uncles. I have called the scho counsler and she said she was going to watch him for the next couple of days to see how he is interacting with other kids and we will go from there. Wish us luck :) thanks again

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answers from Miami on

Get him into some outside activities. Find which one will work for him. Karate is good for his self confidence. Be honest tell him kids are horrible now and mean. Most are and to remember that. Also that he does not have to take it. It is better to walk away alone than be treated badly. But you need to help him bulk up.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

Put him in a martial arts class to develop his self confidence. He will become more muscular as well. He can go to AlAnon for relatives of alcoholic to be with other kids his age with similar issues.
Does he like music. See if there is a class at school that teaches music. He needs an outlet for his creativity.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Oklahoma City on

First of all he needs to have activities outside of school. That way he can form friendships without the influence of "school". We all lived through it somehow and we didn't have all the issues kids today have.

I would say he might do some activities that are active instead of ones that are sedentary, such as soccer instead of science club. Or Gymnastics instead of a reading group...see what I mean. Not something he can't do or that is too hard for him but something that will build his self confidence. It would not even have to be a sport but just something that would insure he had a group of people around him that depended on him to be there and be part of the group.

If you have a newer YMCA in your area you might see if they have a youth game room. We have one and the kids learn a lot of good interaction skills while they are playing these games. They have to work together a lot to reach the goal of the game.

There are also piano lessons, karate, classes at the local Jr. College that are geared to kids, I can't even begin to remember all the classes ours offered when my daughter was younger.

I think pulling him out of the house and getting him around other youth would be good, even it is a youth group at a local church. He needs positive interaction with peers his own age.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

As far as the possible weight issue, that is common in many teen boys... I don't remember my son's stats, but he was a bit on the chunky side, with the 'man boobs' that sometimes happen, too.

He started shooting up in HS, and is now 6' tall and about 175 lbs.... (he is 20 now).

I wonder if a group like ala-teen (I'm not sure of the group name, but there is usually one for the teen children of alcoholics) would help... if he sees that other kids have some of the same issues, he may feel a little better about his dad.

I do agree with getting him into some groups outside school, either with church, sports, or even scouts... that can all build confidence.

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Dear Tam,

I agree with Elaine, a good church and youth group can do wonders for a child or adult's self-esteem.

I'm sure you let him know that he is loved and that you are proud of him. His grades are great!

Parental abandonment can have a lasting effect on a person, so for his sake, I would try to keep in touch with his father, let him know what's happening with your son and even if he's not going to come visit, (in fact when he's drinking he should not come around)--maybe that's why he stays away), but AT LEAST he could give his son a call once a week so he can have a connection with his father.

I know it is hard when we see our children hurting and my prayers go out to you both and his dad. I hope you will be able to get your son into some new ativities and that his dad will put his son in front of the drinking, step up and be father. Kids deserve both parents in good working order, because it's a tough old world to be growing up in.

May God bless and keep you all.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

This is a hard age and his dad isn't hellping him by his actions. Try to find outside activities that he can be involved in that have a positive male role model. Martial arts might help his build self-esteem and help him loose weight. My grandson his having this problem about size and trying to fit in in freshman year of high school.

If a kid doesn't fit in with the "norm" in size in school they are targeted and can be bullied. So be aware of this. But it is up to your son to "want" to change his image about himself and to look at the future goal of what he wants to do and work on that. He seems to have the grade part down but it is now the social side that he needs to work on.

Good luck with getting him into something that he likes.

Happy holidays to you both.

The other S.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

I would try to put him in a good youth group! The influence would be fabulous, the kids in them act better than most and the activities are monitored. Lots of time they do service projects (good for his self esteem and bonding with others) He needs to be with other boys who encourage his manhood. Seek this out, I really think a good leader of a group like this would be a tremendous help to him.
Are there uncles, cousins someone older that could step into that "dad" role and take him fishing, to the lake etc? I know you want to fix it but he is at a time in his life that he needs to be around good male influences. Best of luck to you....it'll get better.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My youngest is also a twelve year old boy. First off, middle school kids are just mean. If your son has emotional issues, and he is not in counselling, I would get him into a therapist. I would also speak with your son's guidance counselor, who may be able to help with any school issues and give him a safe place to vent. As for not making plans with friends, perhaps some organized activities would help. A sport or scouts or 4H would give him socialization with other kids who have a similar interest. Good luck

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


I'm sorry you are going through this. This has to be hard on your son.

For me it is not about telling him what will make him feel better - it is showing him it will be better...You have several options...

1. Get him into a counselor to help him sort out his feelings - at some point - you both need to do talk it out.
2. Get him into a martial arts class (Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Jujitsu, etc.) - it is VERY good for health and self-esteem.
3. Find out if your church has a youth group - and get him there for the meetings.
4. If your son recognizes that his dad is an alcoholic - I would recommend that he attend the AA meetings for family and friends...
5. If there is a hobby that your son likes - chess, etc. find out if there is a chess club that he can join.
6. Check into a Boys and Girls club - so he can get a positive male role model in his life.

BE INVOLVED! It's sooo great that he is coming to you with this!!! Talk to the school counselor and see what they can do to help him.

Yes. He will thin out if he exercises and eats right - another reason to suggest he try out Tae Kwon Do - the kid calling him a marshmallow is telling him he's fat or at least "soft"...so therefore a "target" - middle school is hard. Kids are mean...sucks...but you CAN make it better!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Lafayette on

My kids are 10 and 13. I am thankful everyday that they have FANTASTIC people in their lives besides dh and myself. They are both in martial arts, and our youth pastor is wonderful. Those contacts are really important as they get older and don't necessarily want to talk to their parents. Also, make an effort to invite a friend over or to go with you (pool? movies?). Although, my kids almost neveer get together during the week with friends--everyone is too busy. But over winter break is a great time! I would also say that I think it is important to have a sport/exercise (good habits!) but I also allow 1 non-sport (maybe scouts?).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

It sounds like he may be getting bullied at school. Take it seriously and talk to his guidance counselor at school. It probably took alot of courage for him to say something.
The counselor may be able to address the feelings about dad as well. Don't wait... Get him some help now.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Bismarck on

Please try out Alateen.

He's not too young to feel the effects of his father's alcoholism and the hurts that he's not able to express! Being in a supportive group with other kids his age will let him know he's not alone and give him tools to find himself.

Hugs and More Hugs.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Role play with him to get him familiar with "I" statements when kids are mean. "I want you to stop it." "I don't like that." Even "I don't care what you think!"
I had an alcoholic father. Your son needs to understand the DISEASE of alcoholism. And the fact that while drinking, his father will most likely continue to make poor choices. I liked the idea you got about A/A for kids/teens.
What does he LIKE to do? A sport? Art? A musical instrument? Scouts? Try to find a place where he can get involved with what he enjoys doing.
And invite someone over. Someone he likes or would like to know better. Lots of kids do better in a O.-on-O. situation.
All the best to you & your boy!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lincoln on

Is your son interested in music, boy scouts, sports, taking lessons of any kind? Some of these places even offer scholarships for income challenged families if that's an issue. My son has had similar issues, and having outside interests from school really helps. Are there other adult men in the area that are willing to be involved in his life? From church, your family, etc? I am lucky that for me it is my Dad that takes my son to the garage to work on projects and give him some "guy time" but having someone to do that for him may help. Those are just some of the things that have helped us thru a very similar situation. Hope it sparks some ideas for you :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I would look further into whether he's being bullied at school. Talk to the school's counselor. Middle school can be rough. My youngest, a 6th grader and also 12, has been bullied at school and on the bus this year. Although he's gotten a little teasing in the past because he's so small (can't win, get teased whether you're big or small) this is the first time he's been seriously bullied. The school counselor is helping us. Kids react differently to bullying. Mine got angry and upset and he told me about it, but more introverted kids are likely to withdraw like it sounds your son is doing. An outside counselor or therapist and some extracurricular activities like others have suggested could help too. Several of my son's best friends are kids he's met in his activities and not necessarily kids he knows from school. Good luck. Oh, in my experience, bullies know to bully when there aren't responsible adults around to witness it, such as hallways, lunch and the bus, so the teachers may not have observed what's going on although it doesn't hurt to ask. Bullying has been front and center lately in our state and especially in your school district (although for other reasons). I would think the school administration would want to help if that is in fact what is going on.



answers from San Francisco on

Get your son involved in Alanon, I think that's the AA for family members of alcoholics. He may not have any friends because he feels self-conscious about his dad and his problems. MOst of the boys at school are probably talking about their dads to some extent. Your son cannot join these conversations so he feels left out and it's wearing on his self-esteem. Getting involved with alynon will allow him to make friends with kids going through the same stuff he is so he may find more of a connection. As far as what the other kids are saying to him, I tell my granddaughter that they are doing that so they can feel better about themselves and rather than be mad, we should feel sorry for them because apparently they don't feel very good about themselves. Try to turn the anger into empathy.



answers from Eau Claire on

Its a hard thing to raise a boy without his father around. To me it does not sound like he is being bullied. Not yet anyways. Boys are like that - they razz each other. The ones that can send it back and join in become part of the group and the ones that can't or worse show that they are hurt by it end up getting picked on more. As a Mom you want him to tell you all about it and get his emotions out. But make sure that he isn't doing that at school. At his age it would be a nightmare all through highschool. You probably do need to get him around other guys though. At that age they act weird and rude and think its cool - kind of like the stupid humor movies that most women don't get with Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler. Boys don't really care much about weight like girls do unless its funny so you might want to consider that the marshmellow nickname is more about him being soft and that they think he's a pushover. Boys don't really call each other to hang out either - if they play sports they plan games, but if not they just run into each other at places kids hang out. It used to be game rooms at the mall now, I don't know, maybe virtual game rooms like xbox live or skate parks. Getting him involved in something is the way to go - like a bowling team or lessons at the YMCA. Good Luck!



answers from Des Moines on

He needs someone besides you and the occasional dad. If he's the nerdy or bookworm type, inactive, couch potato type, etc., have him get involved in chess club, acting classes, reading/discussion groups at the library, volunteering for various organizations, etc. If he's more active (or wants to be) he should get involved in sports such as football, wrestling, soccer, basketball, etc. Karate or Tae Kwon Do would be excellent.



answers from Minneapolis on

It breaks my heart to read questions like this one... hugs to you and your son.

I would like to add that if he isn't already involved in it, some kind of Karate program will help him HUGE re: self esteem, w/ his weight issues, help him gain a social circle, etc. Good luck!



answers from Madison on

You've gotten a lot of great advice -- I love this site! Have you looked into the Big Brothers program through the Y? I would think having a positive role model in his life would help a great deal. And, I would reiterate the suggestion of the Alateen or Alanon programs. Good luck!

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