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MR Cache – A Bad Parenting Week

Weekly Thoughts

When my son was born, he looked a lot like me.  Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about my weaknesses through identifying his weaknesses and realizing that I have many of the same ones.  Obviously, since I put my kids first I try to correct his issues by helping him realize what they are and try to conquer them together.

So far my success rate has been near zero.  Oh, he’ll change for a month, but then reverts back to the same old mistakes.  Perhaps I’m expecting too much from an eleven year old, after all his teachers and other adults really seem to like him.  When he was in the fifth grade, the principal of the school actually sought us out at a school function and shook my hand telling me what a great kid we have.  That was an odd moment for me!  I couldn’t even tell you if my fifth grade principal when I was in school was a male or female (most likely a male though).  I obviously didn’t know my principal’s name…  But it’s different with my kids, a big part of where we decided to live was based on the school system’s quality, so things are a bit different for my kids growing up.

Back to my problems with my son:

I’ll identify his weaknesses and try to help him overcome them with ideas, but he just get mad, sassy, or gives up angrily.

I know that the shows he watches always has the dad and mom identified as idiots.  Since kids really don’t know any better, I would guess that he has watched enough shows (over and over and over again), that portray parents as a source that aren’t reliable or trustworthy source (thanks TV writer folks).

My problem:

My problem is I’m not a patience man, and I’m getting tired of this repeating performance.  I’m about ready to give up on trying to help him improve and just let him be what he is, problems and all.  My initial thought was I’d give him a leg up on things by helping him conquer the issues I know of and have conquered, but since he doesn’t respect me, I guess he will have to figure it out years later.  What a time waste…   Oh Well…

Now on to more positive things, my parenting rant is done:

Weekly reads from other bloggers:

Conclusion, back to my parenting rant!

I love my son, but now I’m kind of worried about when he hits his teenage years.  I envisioned my son and I having a great relationship and playing golf together, but now I’m not so sure.  Perhaps he is taking my help as criticism, and instead of helping him, he is just getting angry at me.  As a dad I feel it’s my duty to help him improve, but it’s not working out.  Time to think and come up with an alternative plan…

Either way, something need to be done because the path that we are on isn’t one that gets us to a beneficial location.

Hope you had a better week than I did!

MR

17 Responses to MR Cache – A Bad Parenting Week

  1. Oh MR, do not fret!

    Hope you are ready for a long comment…

    First of all, who wants to hear about their shortcomings at any age? It is natural for him to be defensive.

    I understand you wanting certain ‘idiosynchrasies’ of your son’s to change, but it isn’t going to happen until he is ready, and maybe not even then. Of course, I am talking about things like not having his homework organized and such, not punching his little sister or whatever.

    My oldest son has caused me so much frustration over the years! I could talk until I am blue in the face about how he needed to talk to a teacher if he didn’t understand what they wanted on an assignment or whatever. Advocating for himself was not part of his DNA. I couldn’t understand how if the teacher gave the kids an opportunity to turn in a rough draft first on a paper, why he wouldn’t jump at the opportunity. I just shook (and shake) my head at his choices. Sure, I know it is better for him to turn in a rough draft because most likely he will end up with a better grade. However, he just didn’t see the importance because he got an ‘A’ anyway. We would discuss that it is about the learning what you did wrong blah blah. He heard none of it, until….

    He was a junior in high school when the switch got flipped. His basic personalty stayed the same, but he started wanting more. That year, he because class vice president, gave several speeches to the entire school and also competed and won to become the student rep on the board of trustees. I would have never, ever thought he would seek all that out on his own, but he did.

    However, his turnaround was not because he and I fought. It was because he found what he was interested in and had the confidence and determination to go after. When he was 11, I would have NEVER pictured my son to be doing all he does now. I truly believe that kid’s brains all develop at different rates in terms of maturity, and things will click when they do.

    Keep in mind, he and I fought like cats and dogs over the years because I was afraid he was going to end up like a bum and live at home forever. I still discussed a length with him what he needed to do differently, and we had a lot of calm conversations about it too. I am sure our discussions were a small part of why he changed but I really don’t think he was ready to change when we first discussed his lack of motivation if that makes any sense.

    Through it all, he and I have always had a fantastic relationship, so do not give up hope on golf games! We had/have our tense moments, but we also have a lot of fun playing ping pong, frisbee, going out to eat after his games, and more. We laugh all the time and always have. Just do everything you can to keep the lines of communication and maybe accept some of his quirks for now. I am not saying give up, I am saying, maybe talk about some of these things when you aren’t arguing. Nobody hears a word when they are fighting, so I have found that most things need to be discussed in a calm setting, and that I can’t get caught up with my son’s stubbornness or I will drive myself insane. I learned to walk away from arguments after some experience and then discuss issues later when he is less frustrated.

    Bottom line: He will be fine, and you will be fine. I know you don’t want to give up, and I can’t say I didn’t have similar thoughts through the years. He has his own path and will follow it with your guidance along the way, but change will not come overnight. Always find time to talk with him, and I mean really talk. Learn about his friends, his teachers, listen to stories about school or whatever. Laugh together and be available, and you will find yourself on the golf course for the rest of your life.

    Thanks for the link!

    • Excellent advice, and I actually feel better now. Most of what you typed, down deep I knew was the answer but I was still unsure.

      “lack of motivation”, lack of drive, etc is exactly the problem that I’m trying to tackle. Life is short and time at school and youth in general can be an incredible time if taken advantage of.

      I honestly feel better after reading this comment! Thanks!!!

  2. Really I can’t add much to the first comment by Everyday Tips. Simply stay consistent in your expectations, discipline, and love. Eventually he will come around. You are planting the seeds and even though you may not think he is getting it, he is learning more than you realize.

    Thanks for including me.

  3. Hope you have a better week. Regarding your son, you can’t talk motivation into someone. I would start focusing on the things your son does right and on just doing things together that he enjoys. Then later in life if he decides that the things you see as weaknesses are something he wants to change, you’ll have a good relationship and he may come to you for advice. Or you could just work on your own weaknesses and he will likely learn by example when he is ready to. Kids pay a lot more attention than you think, but don’t like to be talked at and criticized.

  4. Have you considered getting rid of cable? We are in the process of doing so for the future sake of lil’ SPF who will join us in 4 weeks or so.

    We figure if he doesn’t have TV From the get go it will be easier than cutting him off later. We’ll still rent movies and such but we really want our boy to be using his imagination and creative juices and to play outside than to learn these bad examples of what parents are like.

    • Yes, I have thought about getting rid of cable, but my wife stops me from doing so. She also wants a landline phone (another thing I would love to get rid of).

      TV is one of the biggest ways to waste life, and most people don’t even realize it. It’s so easy to turn on TV and let it suck the life out of you…

      Kudos to you for thinking ahead and setting a great path for you child, I’m impressed!

  5. MR, you have more going for your parenting than you probably realize. First of all you put your kids first. Who does that these days? Very few. Secondly, you are trying to think what to do. You have tried an approach that didn’t turn out the way you expected. At least you thought about it & really tried.

    We were in a somewhat similar situation with our 10-year-old son & finally my husband suggested we take him to counselling. I was reluctant because I thought we should be able to solve it ourselves. After all we are intelligent, caring, educated people. On top of that I was an elementary teacher. Talk about a blow to the ego! I gave in, & our son went to a child psychologist once a week for about 18 months. At first there wasn’t much change in his behavior. Then we began to find that he was more cooperative and thoughtful about his behavior. We also learned that we needed to be more consistent in our schedule, rules and consequences for disobeying the rules. We did not become perfect parents, but we became better parents. He did not become a perfect kid, but he became someone we could have a decent relationship with. We found out that he did indeed believe in our values, but he wanted us to be more consistent. Hard to believe but true. He grew up to be a fine young man & we still have a very good relationship with him.

    The way my husband got me to agree to the counseling was something he said. He said he wanted to feel that after our son was grown that we could say we did everything we could to help him turn out to be a good person. He didn’t want us to say later on, “If only we’d tried counseling.”

    Yes, it is an additional expense, but the alternative could be much more expensive. Also many health insurance policies will cover it, if not in full, at least partially. I wish you the best of luck with your son. It’s a process & there’s no shame in not knowing all the answers. The fact that you care so much is a huge first step.

    • Thanks for uncovering a path that I hadn’t considered. This is a great idea and if it gets much worse, a path that I’ll talk to my wife about.

      Currently, my son and my wife has a great relationship, and my son and I have just an okay one. I think part of my problem is I’m blunt on my comments to him, perhaps to a fault. I think he does the opposite to spite me or he is missing something that I’m not seeing yet.

      Everybody else think my son is great, it’s just me that doesn’t get along with him sometimes. I think I need to approach the matter differently. He is not like a young version of me and I need to realize this fact.

  6. As you know from reading my blog, I’m to this day still analyzing my relationship with my mother and family.

    Kris is right, all the talking in the world won’t do any good, but being there will. My mom is very critical and I tuned it out completely as a teenager. I know now she was just trying to “help” but as a fragile youth, it’s hard to be constantly criticized. Even if that’s not your intent, it can be seen that way.

    My kids are still small, so I have no idea what I’ll do when I reach that phase, but I hope they will continue to talk to me when they need help. That’s all I can ask.

    • Wise words, in addition to the ones by Kris. Reading Kris, your comment and Lynne’s below, I will try to cut buck on the criticism, time is school is short and I want my son to have confidence, so I’ll alter my behavior.

      If it does continue to be bad, I’ll drop back and try Maggies advice above. But really my son isn’t too bad, I wouldn’t trade him for anything! He really is a great guy and overall makes me very happy. It’s just sometimes… but I guess we all have our sometimes…

      Thanks for the advice :)

  7. I would say from that your last statement “everyone else thinks my son in great, it’s just me that doesn’t get along with him sometimes” pretty much says it all.
    The problem is probably not with your son so much as with your idea of parenting and your understanding of children. I have seen so many parents over the years while coaching kids hockey that have such high expectations of their kids that they are damaging their self esteem, not helping them. I wonder how often you tell your son that your love him or that you think that he’s a great guy. How often do you do an activity with him and never correct a behaviour, or try to change him but just enjoy your time with him. Even as adults we tend to not hang out with people that are always judging us or correcting us. If your son reminds you of yourself and your weaknesses and you perceive that you turned out OK, how did that happen? Did someone badger you into changing or did you just turn out OK?

    I think that maybe you should help your son identify his strengths and help him to make these even stronger. No one is great at everything and it is more productive to work on your strengths and plan around your weaknesses than to put all your time into strengthening a weakness. It will never become a strength.

    Also read some parenting books. It is common for eleven year old boys to be sassy. It is important to be consistant and non judgemental in dealing with them. And think how your son would feel if he read in this blog that you had already written off your future relationship with him because of his “weaknesses”.

    • You are right on a few points.

      1.) tell him that your love him
      Every night I tell him that right before he goes to bed.

      or that you think that he’s a great guy.
      Guessing, I would say at least once a month, if I don’t say that, then I say he’s a great big brother.

      How often do you do an activity with him and never correct a behavior
      Yesterday (Monday) we played air hockey. I talked smack to him and he talk smack back, but all in fun.

      Parenting for me is a like a pendulum, and I think I went to far on the criticism side. I’m a clever guy though and as I said in my blog, I’ll adjust my battle plan.

      As for what if my son read this, I re-read it and I see nothing wrong. In fact, all I see is a dad with the same problems trying to give his son a leg up but has pushed too hard and now is in the process of scaling back a bit.

      I did like your comment about Did someone badger you into changing or did you just turn out OK?
      I don’t think I’m 100% okay, but I get along. I think you did hit the nail on the head though, my son doesn’t respond to badgering and I’ll have to adjust in some other fashion.

      Thanks for your comment, it’s very well thought out and some of it is noteworthy.

  8. Remember, he and I fought like cats and dogs in recent years, because he was afraid of ending up as a beggar and live at home forever. Yet, I have a long discussion about what to do differently, and we had a lot of discussion is silent, too. I am confident that the discussions were a small part because they have changed, but I really do not think that he was willing to change, when we talked about his lack of motivation, if that makes sense.