View Full Version : mothers of older teenage boys...

01-31-2013, 02:28 PM
How do you navigate your new role with your older sons? How do you even know what that role is? How do you go (gracefully and graciously) from being the most important human being in your son's young life to being increasingly irrelevant as he approaches adulthood (I ask that without resentment, just realism). How does your relationship change and how do you handle it, both outwardly with him and also inwardly when you just want to cry (I'm highly emotional, sorry!)?

I've been in tears over this for a week or two. My dh assures me that ds will "come back," that he'll talk to me and appreciate me when he's grown, but right now I feel like I'm just a driver (not for long), a grading machine, a cook, a shopper, and an alarm clock to him.

I think the hardest thing has been that he's totally unwilling or unable to discuss his future -- we had been talking about college but he's just shut down with me. Every time I ask a question about anything -- college or not -- I get this grunt/whine sound that means "get off my back," even though he's too polite to say that.

He's a good kid. I know that my problems are way less than many other moms who have wayward teen sons -- he's not wayward and he doesn't lie or backtalk me. He just is pretty much silent and I feel like our relationship is slipping away. :(

So I'm sad. I don't know how to handle this new stage. I know it won't last forever, but how do I get through it? What do I say to him, or do I just totally leave him alone? I've already told my dh that I am done talking about college. I'm not bringing it up again because it's obviously a sore spot with him. I'm through nagging him to get motivated or to apply himself (he's pretty lazy when it comes to school, and a huge procrastinator). I'm tired of arguing with him.

He's also got a girlfriend. She's a nice girl. I have no problem with that. Ironically, having the girlfriend has coincided with him becoming more considerate and helpful around the house (yay for that!), but has clammed him up even more as far as verbal communication.

Tell me how to me the mom of an older teen boy. A son who seems to just want me to never ask him anything, never check up on anything, never give advice ... just basically leave him alone. But he's agreeable and not a "problem" kid. I told my dh he has to step in and be the parental influence here because the boy is obviously not in need of his mom right now.

I am a highly motivated, emotional, talkative, planning-type mom with a non-emotional, live-in-the-moment, mostly unmotivated son who doesn't want to talk to me anymore.

I don't have anyone to talk about this with IRL.


Julie Y
01-31-2013, 02:50 PM
:group: :group: I think you're doing the right thing in recognizing the stage he is, and realizing that you need to step back. My suggestion would be to focus on your other kids and your husband, and just be available when your older boy is ready to open up (and that might just be for brief glimpses into his current world).

I can relate to what you're going through, because I have a son in that stage right now. It's not too hard for me to "let him be" because I have all these daughters around me who want to tell me everything :lol:. And, because I've been around this block a few times and know not to take it personally as they struggle to become an independent adult.

But, and I hope this gives you hope, you might remember that my older son (oh him of the years of problems and heartbreak), is temporarily living with us? That has been so nice. He is so much more pleasant now than he was in those last few years that he lived with us -- when he was constantly trying to break away and be independent. Now he appreciates any bit of mothering I'm willing do (I did say to him, the other day, "You did cook for yourself when you were living on your own, right? You do know how to do this?" and he admitted he just likes having me take care of him some, now). And, he likes to sit at the table and chitchat with me about his new, adult views on things and share the conversations he's had with co-workers about current events. It's a new stage in our relationship and very sweet.

So, hang in there, sister! This is just a stage with your son and it, too, shall pass! :group:

01-31-2013, 04:19 PM
Since this coincided with the arrival of a girlfriend, it's possible that he is simply using up all his words talking with her, and has no leftovers for mom. Perfectly natural and nothing to worry about, but I can see why it would be troubling for you.

Both of my olders have clammed up at times re: future plans and intentions. Both times it was because what they were leaning toward was contrary to the expectations that had been discussed previously. Not expectations that we had pushed, but things that THEY had planned, that we had come to expect would happen. They had changed their minds for whatever reason, and were afraid to disappoint us.

With my dd, she had decided to wait a year before college. She was (still is) a driven, type A, academic, and she did go to college a year later. She was a "young" grad, still 17 when she finished high school due to a summer b-day, and I fully understand why she didn't feel ready. Her entire senior year she deflected our questions re: applications and such before finally confessing.

My ds1 had been leaning toward engineering and possibly the military. He decided instead to go after a graphic arts degree. (His first semester of college they did a right/left brain analysis, and he came out with an even split! Very much in line with his choices.) He was partially driven by the appeal of a 2yr program vs. a 4yr. As he is so NOT an academic it was a wise choice. He hasn't totally dropped the idea of engineering, but figures this way he can have a good job and work toward an engineering degree at a slower pace, if he decides to.

You might want to gently explore the possibility that he's reconsidering his options, but I wouldn't push for answers. Letting him know that you understand that he might change his mind, and that that's OK, might help him open up.

Rachel Jane
01-31-2013, 07:19 PM
My guys talk to me while we do things together, whether it is work or play. A lot of times, our best talks are in the car.
I am rarely the initiator of the topic.

I had a conversation with another mom recently and she said she had outsourced her nagging. She has hired someone to do the schooling and keep him on track. He still finds things to feel nagged about. She ruins his life by asking him to pitch in. That is just who we are to our sons right now. They feel like adults, but they are not adults. Don't take the attitude he gives you personally. It is his hormones. I think my kids get frustrated with my 'nagging' partly because they know they should have done it and didn't and our reminding reminds them that they don't have it all together. Who wants that? I sure don't want anyone telling me I am falling short on a daily basis. But as the mom, it is our job to gently nudge them into keeping track and fending for themselves.

Joy in Alabama
01-31-2013, 07:41 PM
I have two grown sons and, for me, they've come back. Joshua moved out when he was in his early 20s and came back for awhile until he got a girlfriend and got married. Then he really came back when he went through a divorce and needed us for emotional support. He matured a great deal in his 20s and calls me just to talk all the time now and especially when he has cooking questions, as he and I like to cook. And he comes over a lot.

Daniel was very antsy to grow up, but after he got married (at 18), he came back. He calls me at least once a week just to chat about kids and cooking and such.

Don't be discouraged. He's probably just trying to differentiate himself.

02-01-2013, 09:30 AM
:hcry: Thank you.

I think I'll come here and read this thread over again every morning. :) Each of you has given me such words of wisdom and good advice. I really needed to talk to moms who understand and have BTDT. And have seen their sons come out the other side.

So many times in life I just don't understand family dynamics or relationships because I have nothing to compare it to from my own upbringing. I definintely have no basis for understanding young men and what they're going through. I love being able to come here and get the wisdom and encouragement I need.

Cindy in CA
02-01-2013, 12:23 PM
I am so glad you posted this question Rebe. I agree the wisdom here is so very helpful. The dynamics in my house are changing greatly ( oldest is 15) and since it is just me and the boys, I often feel very alone raising them and figuring out how to deal at times. Your post has helped me too, so thank you sweet friend!


02-01-2013, 01:27 PM
They come back.

Dylan was always uber respectful and did what we asked but he went through a stage where he simply retreated to his room a lot. I would try to talk to him but he simply didn't like us for a while, heck he would even say "Why do I have to like you? I'll respect you but I don't have to like you." I would tell him "Hey, I know you don't like me much right now...but when you decide you like us again just know we'll be here." It took about a year. Now he's a great guy. We love hanging out with him...and we suddenly became smart people again! (By the way it was from 16-17 that it was rough).

He even admits he was a putz for a year.

Gail in NY
02-01-2013, 09:26 PM
the turning point for me was when our pastor preached a message about boys. He talked of the stages: babies who nuzzle, snuggle and nurse. You are theri world. Then toddlerhood: you applaud his every accomplishement and are his best coasch and cheering section. Pre-school: his world is opening up - he is exploring, curious and learning, and you are there. Dad likes to play with him, take him places, but when he gets hurt, it is Mom he wants. School age: you are his teacher. You fill his days, but as he learns about the world around him, gets involved in scouts, Awanas, 4-H etc, you are his taxi, coach, cheerleader etc. Now he is making friends, learning about other people and their udeeas, different people and different beliefs. Then PUBERTY! This was my wake up time. They are becoming men.They need the leadership and guidance of men now much more than women.
They think like men ( different that women!) they reason like men ( not like women) they react like men (TO women!) Just as your husband can become tuned off to nagging and withdraw what we call "reminding" they take as nagging. When we question the wisdom of a decision, they take it like a man will....a little irritated that we dont believe in him and trust his decisions. *sigh* it isnt easy becasue we still see things as a mom, but he is becoming an independent leader, which is what he is wired to be....it is just a rough road as he transitions. It would be must easier for us uf Dad is tuned in and is there to walk him through it. Pretty much our job as "mom" is over. It is a very touchy time. But yes, they come back. My sons talk to me more now than ever. Asking my thoughts and opinions, sharing insights they've gleaned from life and thanking me for my input into their lives, and even a little bit of awe!!!! Like, "Wow. Mom, I dont know how you did it with (fill in the blank). Ahh sweet!

Ginger Lynn
02-02-2013, 09:43 AM
Thank you for sharing that Gail. Very insightful.

Colleen OH
02-02-2013, 11:11 AM
BTDT (and will a number of times yet again). Gail is right.

02-02-2013, 11:01 PM
I wanted to come back and update because an amazing thing happened tonight. My ds and I talked ... actually talked for about 30 minutes. In a row! :lol:

He procrastinated in a big way and wrote a lousy English paper. He didn't follow the instructions. I pointed that out, and he didn't try to defend himself -- he just said he forgot to look. He didn't balk when I told him that he was going to have to redo it. He talked about how procrastination is a problem for him -- he wants to stop but he just can't. We talked about how he can stay on track. I got dh involved, too. We came up with a plan to keep him on track for the next book. Then, the conversation morphed (somehow) into his friends and why he goes to their houses but they don't come here. We talked about how we could make that happen, given his two annoying younger brothers, a small house, a non-usable basement, and an open floor plan (not a great situation to bring friends over). We talked about other possible get-togethers with his friends (and girlfriend).

This went on for half an hour! He was pleasant, mature, and reasonable. He didn't do the grunt/whine thing even once. :clap:

I'm seeing glimpses. I'm not going to get my hopes up that he'll stay this way, but I'll sure take what I can get right now.

I have to admit, I was proud of myself for not nagging, not asking too many questions, not being upset about anything, not raising my voice, involving dh, and just generally not screwing it up. :)

Then he told me he got Pinger so I can text his iPod from my phone (he won't use the phone we got him, so I had no way to contact him). He did that on his own, so I could stay in communication with him. I hate to text, but it looks like I'm going to learn to like it real quick. :yes:

Rachel Jane
02-03-2013, 07:12 AM

Nedra in California
02-03-2013, 02:00 PM
I really believe 18-21 are the toughest ages. Hands down. I have one that just left this age bracket and is so much easier to deal with and have a relationship with. I have one that just entered this age bracket (almost 19) and was the easiest kid/teen in the world but can now be a bit challenging.

They are adults, want to live like adults, make their own rules, set their own boundaries, distance themselves from being parented, yet live under our roof. We did give much more freedom but still have some boundaries and they would like to be boundary free at this age. Not gonna happen if I am paying for your food. ;)

I will say second child around is much easier than my first in just about every way. But still challenging.

Sending a hug to ya momma.

Julie Y
02-04-2013, 10:24 AM
I have to admit, I was proud of myself for not nagging, not asking too many questions, not being upset about anything, not raising my voice, involving dh, and just generally not screwing it up. :)
I'm proud of you, too! :clap:

And :lol: about the texting. that's the only way my teens will communicate with me when they are out and about. But I have this dinosaur cellphone (no keyboard) so it is definitely a labor of love for me to respond to them with anything other than a smiley face.

stacy z
02-04-2013, 12:36 PM
:group: reading along intently! i am there, too.

02-04-2013, 03:25 PM
I'm proud of you, too! :clap:

Me too! :clap:

Each kid is different and figuring out what works for each one at each stage is a challenge. I think having open communication and open hearts is so important, and you have both! :group: