Son Grown up and Pulling away-All Within 2 Weeks...

Updated on March 23, 2017
E.B. asks from Sour Lake, TX
9 answers

Need a pep talk. I realize it is totally normal but my Mama heart is breaking. My older son and I have been through ALOT together and he will soon be 17. He's a great kid, all I could ask for but suddenly, he has pulled away from our family (apparently we're boring) and is all involved with his friends and girlfriends families instead. Normal probably, but it still hurts a lot. Seems like my breathing bothers him now.:) He also has a job and I know he's super busy but goodness. Seems like this all happened in a flash. Is this normal? I knew the friends etc would get more important in his life but I didn't realize that we were going to turn into "nothings" in his eyes within a few weeks. Would love to hear your stories and hopefully encouragement that it will all get better.

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So What Happened?

Wanted to thank you for your stories and encouragement. As my Dad used to say "this too shall pass". :)

More Answers



answers from Honolulu on

My son sounds a lot like your son (he's older, now, but at 17, their stories sound similar). Mine was also a good kid, not in trouble, doing well in school but suddenly, our family was well, embarrassing? boring? dull? His girlfriend's or buddy's family could be eating the exact same meal as we were at the exact same time, but somehow, the way they ate or the way the lettuce was arranged in the salad was just SOOO much more interesting than us!

It stayed that way for awhile. He went to college and of course kept in touch, but still, it seemed like he didn't need much advice. I let him have his freedom and, like you, it made me sad. With my daughter's medical emergencies, I had depended a lot on my son when my husband was deployed. And it was slipping away.

He'd call, but usually for money, or a favor. I sometimes would dread seeing his number pop up on my screen. What did he want now?

And then, one day, he called and he said "just thought I'd say hi. What's new?" And he didn't ask for money. And then, he drove by and said "wanna get a drink and a pizza?" And now he's in his 20s and he calls to just talk, or to tell me about his job. Last year, he had a one week vacation and asked his dad if we could help him with plane fare to come visit us! That was his choice (we didn't mind helping with the fare - it's a very long trip and really expensive to fly to here) and we had a wonderful week.

Sometimes I attribute it to maturing, on his part, and to relaxing and waiting patiently, on my part.

Stay available, don't be too shy about telling him you miss spending time with him but don't do it in a way that makes him feel like you're desperate or heart broken or totally lost in life. Stay patient, and loving, and show him that you're proud of the young man he's becoming. When he asks for advice, don't dump the entire advice bucket over his head - try to just stay focused on the issue he asked about. Make him his favorite cookies.

It will be for a season, but only a season. Be grateful that he can be independent and believe that the love you have for him will not be forgotten.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Those damn kids!!!!! You groom them and teach them to be mature free thinking humans. You give them wings and then one day BAM they fly out of your nest and you are left thinking HEY COME BACK! I LOVE YOU! COME ON BACK AND SPEND TIME WITH ME!

I think a lot of it depends on your child. I have 4. Three of them I hear from several times a week but daughter #3? Nope.I hear from her once every 2 weeks or so. Very independent with a job that takes up a lot of her energy so she just doesn't think to call me. And her work schedule is wonky so I don't call her. Instead I text every couple days to check in on her. I send pictures of the dog, my breakfast, etc just to make her laugh.

So at some point you probably won't be boring. Your breathing won't be annoying. Your son will figure out his was in the world and then figure out how to put his family back into it. Hang in there and just continue to be loving and supporting. He just needs that space to figure out how to flap those wings.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I only have a daughter (22 now) and humorously.... I am so thankful that I'm not the only mom who has a child who is bothered because she can hear me breathe.

I'm past the age you speak about plus I have daughter vs a son but I feel you are going through a stage and yes it hurts like he$$ sometimes.

Remember...they always come back. Magically within time you are no longer stupid and know nothing... YOU become the focal point for advice, etc

Hang in there and know you are all good and normal.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

It seems to ebb and flow around here. One day he's all about spending time with his friends, seeing his girl, hanging out with her at her family's house. The next he's plopped here at home, asking what's for dinner later. Glad to go to the movies with us, out to eat, seeing family. The next he's at work. Then doesn't even come home after but off with friends or his girl. Then all day home on a Friday.

It just depends. Mine is 18. Part of it is having some autonomy and freedom to feel like he can do what HE chooses. Part of it is having other people TO choose to spend time with, outside of family. Part of it is realizing how fast it's all happening and wanting to be a child without responsibility again, and then realizing he's not. Same for us. They're not children anymore, so we can't treat them like children. We have to be careful how we discuss plans with them, so as to sound suggestive (and hope they choose well, for the most part) rather than imposing too many rules. They're almost out on their own... they need that space to make decisions so they can make mistakes and still have a place to recover from them.

We're not nothing. And he knows that. You should, too. He's just learning what ELSE there is out there. I know it's hard. Try not to make him feel guilty for doing what is normal--breaking away and becoming an independent human. That was our goal all along. :) Hugs.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Oh E., I'm so sorry you're going through this. The intellectual side of your brain tells you it's normal and a strong move toward maturity, but the emotional side is lamenting the loss!

Turning you into a big giant irritation is his way of coping. If he creates distance that is "your fault," then he can steel himself against the feeling of loss that he will feel.

This is totally temporary. A good solid dose of real life will remind him how sheltered and nurtured he has been with you. Right now, the joys of independence are exciting and new and fun. After a while, the demands of a boss in a 40+ hour a week job will wear off, and he'll see how hard it is to please someone who isn't his family and who doesn't love him "just because." Then there are the bills and the car maintenance and all the other adult responsibilities that he's just not envisioning right now, at least not how boring and draining and expensive they are! He's also bracing for his friends taking off in different directions after graduation. It's something they don't like to face.

For us, the "reunion" happened at Thanksgiving break of freshman year in college, and absolutely at the end of the semester. Absence made the heart grow fonder, and he really craved his own bed and his dog and his mom's cooking and his dad's jokes. When he matures, he will come back. The most important thing is not to complain to him about how much you miss him now. The more accepting you can be of this as a natural process, the easier it will be for him to "come back" without being extra ticked off at you for this current period of time.

Hang in there!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Did you ever hear the advice that new moms get when babies are angels at daycare, then come home and cry for mom? That babies cry for mom, because they know that mom will always love them, and so it's a safe place to be fussy. I think the teen years are a little of the same kind of thinking. Kids start to stretch their wings. They put all their conscious effort into that and they don't think about mom, because they know that mom will always love them.

I'm 100% sure I was this way with my parents in my late teens/early 20s. It's not that I ever thought of them as "nothings" but during those teen years, I didn't think about putting any effort into our relationship. It didn't occur to me that the parent-child relationship needed any effort - it was simply there, my entire life, so why wouldn't it continue to be?

Of course, over time I grew up and realized that all relationships require effort on both sides, so I'm sure it's a phase for your son too.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

We all go through stages when we are closer or farther away from our parents emotionally.
Regardless of how irritated over nothing they seem to get - the teens/young adults need to respect their elders.
Although some kids with jobs may be paying some of their bills - we still give them the bulk of their food, clothing and shelter.
After all - if they think we're embarrassing just for breathing - we've got pictures of them as babies/toddlers in totally cute yet embarrassing situations.

Teens just like to think they know everything and invented everything.
We are annoying reminders that that just isn't true.
Eventually they get over that attitude but it helps if you don't accept it as inevitable and acceptable and demand some common courtesy and respect.
If they can be personable and nice at other peoples homes - then they can manage to do the same in in their own home as well.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

Sounds like me at 17, although I don't think the change was sudden. More like a natural progression. I can tell you that the more my mother tried to cling, the harder I pushed back and kept a distance. I needed space.

I know this was hard on her and I remember her shock when she realized that when I moved out for college, I had moved out for good. The disconnect is that we never had that conversation. Mom had assumed I'd be back for breaks and summer, but I found summer employment elsewhere then got an apartment. (I was financially independent and didn't have to rely on the goodwill of my parents for support.)

We started reconnecting as adults (vs parent-child) in the summer before my 20th birthday when I had seasonal roommates that were slobs. I'd clean the floor and they'd track mud all over when they came home, not noticing or caring. I called my mom to tell her about it and asked how she could stand having kids making a mess all the time. She laughed and laughed. :-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

It's part of life. You have prepared him for this moment and now it is here and you have to take a step back and let him go. There will be a few bumps and trips along the way to final adulthood but he is on his own and finding out what it out there.

Do check in with him every two to three weeks. Now is the time for you to find a hobby or a job to keep you busy and "interesting". Start looking at the things you wanted to do but couldn't and begin again.

It is hard not to just pick up the phone and call them but you have to let them go. I hear more from my daughter about every day or every other day. I will text her and she sometimes calls more than once a day depending on what is happening in her life. She is single and hoping that her friend is "Mr. Right" this time.

Son is married and has his own family. He usually calls once a month or so. Sometimes I try to call at lunch time because that is about the only time I am guaranteed to get him to chat for a few minutes. Otherwise he will call me on his way home from work.

It will all even out in the wash as they say when he has a family of his own and he calls for ideas and help. Just hang in there.

the other S.

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