13 Year Old Son Making Me Crazy!

Updated on May 20, 2013
B.S. asks from La Grange, IL
22 answers

I know this is probably perfectly normal, but my 13 year old son is making me a little crazy. He is going through a phase and does not want to get his hair cut or even trimmed, is ripping out the knees on all of his jeans and refusing to wear shorts. On one hand, I feel like these are not HUGE things- I am sure it is a phase- but on the other hand, his reactions when I ask him to change his jeans or get his hair cut seem so extreme- you would think I had asked him to cut off his arm, not some hair! He says that I am being inflexible and too strict and that 'everyone' else thinks his hair looks fine.

I think he is being disrespectful and honestly, kind of mean to me about it. I've always been a reasonably strict parent, and normally don't even ask for advice about things, but I just feel like all I do is annoy him and make it worse, whether I try being stricter or backing off! Are all teens this annoying and will it get better???

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So What Happened?

LOL- thank you mamas for all the great replies and helping me remember to keep things in perspective! Normally I do give my son a lot of leeway about how he dresses or has his hair, but this morning his surly attitude AND the hair in the face AND the jeans ripped out at the knee were just the last straw for my sanity. But you are all right and I am going to try not to sweat it in the everyday. Weirdly enough, he actually LIKES getting really dressed up for church or special occasions, so that is not an issue. I am planning to tell him that if one more pair of jeans get the knees 'mysteriously' torn out of them that he is paying for the next pair out of his allowance. Thanks!

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answers from Dallas on

He is 13. Why on earth shouldn't HE be the one who decides what his hair and jeans look like? Why does he have to wear shorts? WHO CARES!!! So long as he is not dressing inappropriately (profanity on his clothing, his butt hanging out, etc) it's his choice to make.

Yeah, I would find it completely annoying if my mom was telling me what to do with MY hair and MY clothing. I think he's old enough to wear his hair however he wants. That is quite inflexible, in my opinion.

He's a teen, you will annoy him because you are mom. Teens just act annoyed and put out by parents. Yes, that sucks :(
However, the clothing and hair thing should be a non-issue. Perhaps, if it became a non-issue...this particular area will get better.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I understand what you are saying...I have a 13 year-old boy as well. I just try to keep a balance and try to not nag too much about it, otherwise he will be doing exactly what I don't want him to do or wear. They are at the age at which they want to be themselves, be more independent, have their style and live in their comfort zone. However, I let my teen to do what he feels comfortable with while keeping certain common sense parameters; for instance, I do have my expectations and rules about hygiene and grooming (hair cut, daily shower,clean clothes).

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from St. Louis on

Ask yourself will this have any impact on his life in five years. If the answer is no then let it go.

For the love of god, don't answer yes! There is no way ripped jeans or hair will effect him. The hair can be cut, the jeans replaced.

Problem with making this an issue is you have become white noise. Then when he wants to pierce something, start drinking, pick your poison, he isn't going to see any value in your advice. You want your words to be advice, not the nagging or a parent who can't accept that as they get older you lose a bit of control.

Oh and if it isn't obvious, yes, he is perfectly normal, and will grow out of it.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If the hair and jeans are the only issues: Back down. Yeah, they'd annoy the heck out of me too. But still back down.

Choose your battles. Save the real strictness for when it's really needed.

Is he doing OK in school? No social issues? Does a chore when asked? Talks to you like a reasonably respectful kid? Treats others well? Then let him have hair to his waist if he wants and wear his jeans inside out and backwards. Priorities!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I think this is where you have to pick and choose your battles.

It's his hair. He can wear it however he chooses. He wants to grow it out, so be it.

He would rather wear jeans than shorts - so what? When it is hot out, it might not make sense to you, but whatever. If he's gets uncomfortable, he will decide to change himself. However, I would not allow him to just rip holes in the clothes you have bought him. If he is going to insist on doing that, he's going to need to use his own money to buy his own clothes. Set an allowance and have him budget it out. If you are going somewhere like church or a nice restaurant, I think it's reasonable to expect him to look presentable. Otherwise, what does it matter?

Yeah, it's pretty normal for them to want to do what they want to do and not really care what Mom thinks. Save your energy for when it really matters.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

What he's telling you is "Mom, I'm finding who I am, and what I want to look like". You are still holding onto the idea of your little boy.

Leave his hair and his clothes alone, unless he is nasty then tell him to go take a shower. None of these things are things to worry about. Currently my 11 year old has long hair, he did when he was little also...like down to the middle of his back, then one day he got tired of being told what a pretty little girl he was. I mean he was dressed like a boy, but he has a very pretty face. For the last few years it has been kept short. Recently he decided to let it grow again, it's his hair, on his head and it hurts no one. Not a fight I feel the need to fight.

For the clothes, my DD used to do that so while she was in that stage we went to second hand stores for her jeans, didn't hurt me to see her rip them apart cause they didn't cost that much. She did have to have 1-2 pairs of nice jeans though, the rest were her's to do what she wanted.

Compromise, it will get you further with him as he wades through the teen years.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Yes they are all annoying and yes it gets better. My two oldest are 15. I know the worst may be yet to come (I have a feeling that once they and their friends are old enough to drive that that's when the real trouble begins) but they are better now than they were two years ago.

IMO, unless what a teenage boy is wearing is totally inappropriate for a venue (such a wanting to wear ripped jeans and a concert t-shirt to a wedding) then I don't care. As long as they can neaten themselves up for things that count like holidays or dinners at nice restaurants, I don't care what they wear (within reason - girls need stricter rules than boys in this area given that their clothing can be too tight and/or revealing).

This is not a hill worth dying on. Leave his hair alone, he'll ask for it to be cut when he wants to.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

He is beginning puberty and the hormones are beginning to come into play.

Hey, as long as he bathes and uses deodorant, let it be. In fact take a few pictures of him at his "worst" so that you can capture the changes as he grows up. So when he complains of things to his children, you can bring out the pictures.

My grandson had purple hair, a Mohawk hair cut, and a pierced ear. I don't complain it is part of the youth now days and I don't live nearby. He is still my grandson and I love him.

I work at a university and see students everyday that wear much worse than torn jeans in the knees. They have every shade of the rainbow hair colors and crazy hair cuts some long, short, dread locks, and everything else. It is a time of expression. By the time they graduate, hopefully, they will have had a chance to express themselves and be ready for the real world of work.

So let it be and find something else to do. Or it will be in one ear and out the other.

Good luck to you.

the other S.

PS As long as he cleans up nicely for special occasions, it will be fine.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

As kids grow and change parents need to do the same.
He's 13, not 5, he deserves to have some control over how he looks and dresses.
Now is the time to let him start making some choices and taking some responsibility for himself. Growing up is a process, and this is part of it. He won't suddenly become an adult at 18, he will gradually become an adult over the next several years.
Letting him make "dumb" choices about his clothing and hair is an easy and safe way to give him some power and control.
Save the battles for the important stuff, like grades and chores and curfews.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Welcome to the teenage years! I have two teen boys, 13 and 16. Yes, many of them are like this. I don't fight the clothes and hair battles. There are too many other things on which I need to put my foot down. Unless they are going to a special event or potential frost bite is an issue I don't really care what they wear. Well, no offensive t-shirts, but that hasn't been a problem for us. They do start to be more concerned about their appearance and hygiene once they start high school (girl factor?). Unless he needs a special hair cut or dress clothes for a special event, I would just back off and let him be. Funny, my oldest son is the opposite re the jeans thing. He refuses to wear jeans and prefers only shorts (or athletic pants in the deepest, coldest part of winter). And yes, it is our job as parents of teenagers to annoy them. I tell my boys that all the time.
(-: Seriously, though, I hope that aspect improves if you back off. I am constantly reminding my boys that they can disagree with me, but they need to do it in a respectful way and tone of voice. Good luck.

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answers from Washington DC on

My dad was a Naval Officer and things in our house were run fairly tight. The ony thing they let us all do what we wanted with, was our hair. My brother even shaved all buyt his bangs and then used kool-aid to dye them. My parents laughed. The red faded to pink - and he shaved them off. LOL.

Holey clothes, eh. For playing and even school - no big deal. I don't like it, but it's not a world ending infraction.

Pick your battles, you will be fine! And so will he :).

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answers from Dallas on

Puberty is reverse menopause - if we consider how we respect women for the hormonal torture they go through on the back end, we need to also remember that it's just as crazy going into it - maybe MORE because as adults we have more life experience to help us cope.

I know it's annoying, but are these the hills you want to die on? He is trying to become "himself" and make choices that make him happy. These choices are harmless. Try to be a team with him if you can. Discipline is one thing, strict is one thing. But it's his hair. And if he lets his jeans fall apart at the knees, who cares?

Somehow you need to pull back from the COSMETIC teen issues - the ones that DON'T matter, and won't matter a few years from now. Respect his choices if they are good. Respect him and help him become a good-choice-making adult. You want to be there for the BIG stuff. Start communicating now - there may need to be some dictating, but that needs to start changing so he makes the good choices from the inside out - not just because he'll get in trouble with mom/dad, but because they are the best choices.

If his decision will not harm him, let it go. Natural consequences - for example, my 5 year old didn't want to wear a jacket because it was cold (upper 40's). He refused - are you sure I asked? Yes. So on the short walk to the school, he got cold but we were too far from home for the jacket. I asked him - what will you do next time if mom tells you it's pretty cold out? His answer - wear my jacket. HE learned and made the choice. Do this as much as you can.

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

You indicate that he is being disrespectful and kind of mean.......

Have you taught him how to disagree with you?

If not, now is the time. He needs to develop GOOD conflict resolution skills. He will need them in college, when he gets a job and when he begins to date. Teaching someone the SKILL of standing up for themselves is priceless. In fact, you are doing him a grave disservice if you don't teach him how to "argue" and have disagrements.

likely he is being rude and disrespectful because that's what gets your attention. So teach him how to do it effectively and respectfully. It's another step in preparing him to be an adult.

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answers from Denver on

I am letting my 11 year old grow out his hair. Because it's his hair. He looks like a shaggy dog and it is at a terrible stage right now, by the end of summer he should be able to pull it all back. O I want him to wear it that long? Not really, but this is not a battle I want to choose. The pants? Same thing. Just make sure that he is dressed appropriately for, weddings, funerals, and church. Otherwise let it go. He is old enough to exercise control over his clothes and hair (within reason) I think these things are reasonable. You can't fight them on everything.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cheyenne on

While my son is not a teen yet and have have very little to exp on the issue of teen boy I wanted to offer my support!! I feel your pain. for me personally it bothers me when I see boys with hair in there face look unwashed and like hobo's. I also think of my self as a reasonably strict parent. My son would love to grow his hair out, but I have tolled him while I am paying for his hair cuts I get to pick how he has his hair.
All that being said I also know that about the age of 13-ish this is a fight I have to probable back down from. At some point soo it will be important that the boy has his own ID of who he is and not how mom and dad see him. As long as his look is not totally off the wall then maybe relax a bit.
Here is what trouble me...its not that he has long hair and wear ratty jeans...and I dont think that that is the core of the issue for you too....its the lack of respect he is showing you....again I think is a behavior that most kids get at this age...CONGRATS your son in normal!!
What I would do is maybe sit your son down and have a conversation with him. Say something like "You realize that he isnt a little boy any more and that he is trying to figure out who he is, and that your ok with that within reason (Might want to say what are deal breakers for you), but the way he talks to you isnt ok and make you feel, sad disrespected (Or however it makes you feel) and then ask him his thoughts on what the both of you can do to fix it together. Strike a compromise that you both can live with.
Chance are that this is a faze, and he will start to clean up his look a bit when he want to get a girls attention. Until then see if you both can come up with a way to live though this bump in the road
Good luck sweety!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would pick my battles.

Hair: If he doesn't need it cut for school or work, then I would allow him to have long hair. I would tell him, however, that it must be kept neatish. So no greaseball head, no huge rat's nest. One of my young relatives never showers regularly and I hate, hate, hate when his hair is greasy. It's not pleasant. We told my SD that if she wouldn't maintain her hair, it had to be cut. So when it was nothing but a rat's nest, she had to get it trimmed up.

Jeans: If they are not holey in the wrong places and not falling apart and not against the dress code for the event/venue, I'd ignore it. I would again tell him my expectations for things like going out to dinner or going to church or wherever, but then if it's his time, let his knees ventilate. I had more of an issue with exposed underwear when my sks were teens. DH threatened to duct tape their jeans to their waists.

Again, the shorts thing. I had a friend who was terribly self-conscious about her legs. In HS, she might have worn shorts or shorter skirts that showed her knees twice. If it bothers him to wear shorts, then fine. But whatever he does wear needs to be appropriate for the occasion. See the comments on jeans.

If you think he's tearing them on purpose, then that is another matter. "Son, I paid a lot of money for you to have good jeans without holes. Either these jeans are not worth the money I am paying for them or you are deliberately ripping them. If you want to modify your jeans like that, I will take you to the thrift store so you can pick out several pairs for less. If you continue to tear up your new jeans, it will come out of your allowance."

Sometimes when the kids destroyed x or y, we'd put it in terms they understood. "SD, when you didn't pick up your CD and it got broken, that's like throwing $15 out the window. That's a week and a half's allowance." Or "No, I am not buying that earring set. You didn't take care of your CD and it had to be thrown away. It wasted my money and I don't appreciate that. You can spend your own money on your earrings."

Being disrespectful is another thing and I would address that as it's own topic. "I will only discuss this with you if you are respectful." Kind of the teenager version of "I can't hear you when you whine."

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answers from San Francisco on

No, this won't get better if you don't back off and let your son wear his hair and clothes the way he wants to. He's not being annoying, he is just doing Step 1 of breaking away from his parents and becoming a self-sufficient individual.

Like you said: "perfectly normal." Back off.

ETA: "Surly" is another story. That's where dad comes in handy. If he's surly, dad should set him straight. "Knock it off, dude. You don't talk to your mother like that."

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answers from Las Vegas on

My son who is 11 is similar, but it's when it comes to bathing, which is something he used to love to do.. NOT lately.. I have to ask him several times to do it.... This includes brushing his teeth.........
Now, when it comes to his clothing, he does have certain things he likes to wear and I no longer argue about it. I just figure, ah what the heck..I need to choose my battles.. This includes hairstyles.. for awhile, he liked wearing it longer and it was looking kinda messy.. but again, I figured it's just hair... now he is wearing it short.. I think all kids go through phases..
Maybe you can negotiate with your son so that he thinks HE has some choices.. which might mean he can wear the jeans of his choice BUT for certain situations, he needs to clean up a bit..
Even adults like to have choices.. I know I do...
When my son thinks he has some say so in his appearance.. He tends to be more agreeable..
also.. I take into account that I still want my son to have a mind of his own and therefore, I work with his wants and mine.. Often, I have to take a step back and say to myself, is this worth arguing about... is it really such a big deal.. my parenting skills are ever evolving and I am always trying to find new ways to approach each situation..

good luck

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answers from Chicago on

My son graduates 8th grade in 3 weeks. I told him we were for sure going to ge this hair cut this weekend. We were supposed to do it 2 weeks ago but got busy. He told me "naw". His hair looks shaggy and he thinks it is fine. And everything you tell him is a personal afront against him. His chore is to clean the bathroom. Not a full out cleaning. Just clean the toilet, wipe the sink and make sure the drawer has paper/take out the garbage and sweep. If you tell him he did not do it like he was supposed to, he takes it as a total war against him.
And he does not want to wear shorts. It has been really nice lately and he has been wearing his school sweatshirt over his t-shirt or polo. And like you say, everything annoys him. Not sure which is worse, my teen girls or him. same age

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answers from Chicago on

Yep...this is normal. You need to remember that you are dealing with a man-child. Not a child, but not quite a man yet. Nagging at a 13 year old is not the way to get things done. My 13 year old is now full of hormones, and he is as tall as me soon to be taller. I think you need to back off. If he wants his hair long, let him, it's his hair. Let him style it the way he wants. If he is not taking a shower, eventually he will soon. I don't nag my child for things he needs to be in control. Hair, clothes and bathing is his responsibility. Pick your battles, because sooner or later he will ask you "Mom, I need a haircut or mom could you mend my shorts. I take my boys old jeans and heam them so they can wear them. Easy right...he wants to be treated like an adult, let him grow up and let him make his own decisions. Other things like picking up after himself, cleaning, doing chores is usually areas that I need them to do. But, they do it when asked just consistent nagging would drive anyone crazy. Don't you remember what it's like when you were a teenager? Did you like it if yor mom said that you need to keep your hair short?



answers from Chicago on

totally only buy resale jeans from now on, and let him know that unless he grows length or waist wise out of the jeans you are not buying new ones but he is welcome to do so with his allowance or any money he can earn at a job (walking dogs, mowing lawns, trimming trees for a neighbor, etc.)

the hair would bug me, I had no problem with my 13 yr old daughter dying hers rainbow but I would have had a problem with a half shaved head or something like that. I hate long hair on boys so I have spent their whole life telling them that when we saw it, not on purpose, but like saying a smoker smells of smoke and is nasty it was just part of what I mentioned while talking with my husband or with them. SO, since my girls have heard it all their life they don't like long hair on boys either. PERHAPS you could message his friends who are girls through facebook or if you know them from seeing them at school things in other ways like that and ask them personally if they like his hair or really would like him to cut it. If they say not really loving it then encourage THEM to say so to him. Enough girls tell a guy to cut his hair it may just work at that age.



answers from Chicago on

Yes, they are all that annoying! Hang in there. He sounds like a good kid if those are his worst problems.

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