August 6, 2015
I’ve heard these themes (these are not actual quotations) time and again from young people. The spin varies depending culture and economic status.
- I wanted my father to talk with me – not only teach me or tell me what he expected or to tell me his stories from the past that seemed like ancient history to me – but to engage with me.
- I wanted a dad, not just a sports coach – although I loved it when he coached me sports.
- Even though I was trying to be very masculine and self-sufficient I needed to know my dad had my back.
- Sometimes it felt as if my father was really trying to get close to me but that he didn’t know how – like he was afraid of me. I only know that now – I couldn’t see it then.
- All I wanted was for my parents to be friends – the divorce didn’t stop the fighting.
- When my parents were friends everything was hopeful about life – when they fought, even over the smallest things, it would feel like my life was falling apart.
- “The thing I remember the most was when he’d ask my mother to leave the cooking up to him and to me – those are the times I really treasure.” (Actual quotation)
August 4, 2015
“I am dealing with the so-called ‘terrible twos’ but mine seems to be worst than most – she has regular temper tantrums, she screams in public places, stamps her feet when she doesn’t get what she wants. Please help. How long does this last?”
See your pediatrician and relate everything you have related to me (and I am sure there’s more). There may be something else going on other than what people commonly refer to as the “terrible tows.”
Many of these behaviors last for as long as a parent is willing to tolerate them. I know many parents (myself included) who simply refused to allow children of any age to misbehave and the children for the most part, responded and did not routinely engage in the behavior you describe.
While my children were far from perfectly behaved they certainly, even at two, knew better than to engage in such outbursts.
That said, as I reflect, I recall nicknaming a brief period when each boy was thee the “thunderous threes” – but that did not last. I was very clear about what would be acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
Stand up to your child – it may take a few meltdowns, but I believe it is a battle worth winning.
July 28, 2015
“My son (23) seldom talks to me anymore. We used to be very close in his young years. He’s cut me out and it is very painful for me. He talks a little to my husband but it doesn’t seem to bother my husband too much. How do I get him to trust me again?”
Yes, you will be his mother forever but the acts of mothering him have ended – he’s apparently made that decision.
When the mother (or the father) needs to provide mothering (or fathering) more than the adult son or daughter wants or needs, there is a problem (for the parent).
Your adult son and everything about his future is in his hands.
It will be a good thing for him (and you) if he included you in his circle but he has clearly decided he needs more space than you were ready for.
This is one of the essential reasons I have encouraged parents to have a full life OUTSIDE of their babies and children from DAY ONE.
This said, I believe your son will return and include you in his life – once he’s shown himself that he is capable of designing his life on his own.
December 29, 2008
A is for Autonomy — a brief, powerful reminder of 26 ways (A to Z) to be more healthy, more defined, more yourself, in your closest relationships
Order through link on the right
This book is a must read if you are trying to find and maintain your voice in your most intimate relationships.
Each letter will provoke you to greater personal power.
Each letter has a short description of the principle promoted.
Each letter will make you want to get up and live.
“I am going to read this every morning, just to keep me on track,” Jennifer (Durban, South Africa)
ORDER YOUR COPY THROUGH THE LINK ON THE RIGHT
September 16, 2008
When one writes an advice column it would be easy for readers to be under the illusion that I am on top of things. Of course this is not true. It would be no surprise to you (if you have lived a year or two!) to know that my life is often as much in disarray as yours probably is.
Today I feel scattered. Anxious. My one son (6) is not well. On top of that, I feel terrible for forgetting that he was the scheduled “star student” in his class at school yesterday. My son arrived at school without a poster reflecting his life and interests, or snacks for his class when all the other children, on their “star student of the day,” come to school with designer posters and personal caterers in tow! (I exaggerate, of course.)
Nathanael arrived at school with nothing because I didn’t read something he brought home. This gets to me. It really does. He wandered through to me in the middle of last night, and before I sent him back to bed, I hugged him again and I apologized for the tenth time about forgetting his big day. As sleepy as he was he voiced again his forgiveness. Thank God children are so resilient.
June 3, 2008
“My son’s father and I broke up before I found out that I was pregnant. There were minimal monetary contributions for 3 months after my son, now 13, was born. He wanted me to abort but I refused. My son has never asked me about his father and so I have never told him anything. I wonder if I should bring up the subject or let sleeping dogs lie. I’m
afraid that if I bring it up, then he might want to find him and his father might say he doesn’t want to meet him, which might make things worse. He is married and has other children. My phone number has not changed so he has no excuse for not getting in touch. I wonder if my son ever wonders about him but as far as I know, he never says a word even to his friends. Do I bring it up or wait until he is ready to ask questions?”
Email me, I am listening.
Sleeping dogs usually wake up hungry! What you avoid will be more powerful than what you face. Talk to your son. Tell him everything you have told me – but for the suggestion of abortion. He doesn’t need to know this.
April 1, 2008
“You write, to a woman asking for help with her son that if she gets her attitude right she might see a shift in her son’s attitude. Just because she has a ‘right attitude’ it doesn’t mean her son will. It seems to me you were a little heavy handed with someone asking for your advice. I am a single mother and two of my three children are boys. My boys are very respectful of women because they have been taught by me to be that way from a very early age. My feelings for their father have nothing to do with it. At the age of 11 it will be difficult to change the attitude of a son but can still be done. Let him know that his attitude and behavior toward women is uncalled for and will not be tolerated. It can be difficult for a woman to raise a son alone especially when the father is not much help but it can be done.” (Edited for clarity)
As I said, attitudes are contagious. It seems your no-nonsense approach has paid off for you and for your children. Congratulations on your success. I am sure your children have thrived, at least partly, as a result of your forthrightness.
March 31, 2008
My son (11) is quite ungrateful for all I do for him. I don’t want him to go around being unkind to women and he’s not getting any good lessons from his father who is a miserable woman-hater who I am glad I divorced. What can I do to make him appreciate all I do and honor and respect me. I am a single mother. Please help.
Taking care of some of your anger might be a good place to start. The tone of your letter hardly suggests you are roaming around life with your arms and voice lifted in praise and thankfulness.
May I remind you the father of your son is the man you once loved enough to marry?
Attitudes are quite contagious. Get yours right and you might see a little shift in the manner in which your son sees life.
January 29, 2008
Did you hear about the mother who complained her children were always in her hair? Now that her son and daughter are adults she can’t get them to return her phone calls. They are out of much more than her hair.
What about the dad who buried himself in his work just to find some peace and quiet? Now that he’s retired and his adult children are living such busy lives he never sees them. The peace he craved is driving him crazy. He had no idea quietness could be so loud and unsettling.
Then there’s the one about the mother who complained the children slowed her down in the mornings making her late for everything. Now, with nowhere to go, she’s never late for anything. Her daughter texts her saying, “Can’t talk. Will phone next week.” Her son ignores her voicemails altogether.
And while these scenarios are birthed in my mind, the situations are very real. Go to any retirement home and you’ll hear tales of abandonment and woe. But here’s the really scary part: in so many ways we get what we want, and then discover we didn’t want it that much in the first place.
January 28, 2008
“Our daughter is seeing a man and with a bad track record. She has already been married once before. The problem we have is the impact her life has upon her children. The children (9 and 7) are torn between their mother, father, and the new man. They want to be loyal to all the adults in their lives but it seems no one stays for very long. The children get let down constantly. As grandparents we try to be as consistent as possible without interfering in our daughter’s affairs. Our only issue is the amount it affects the lives of our grandchildren and we often talk about how this will impact their relationships one day.”
Like each adult must, you grandchildren will face their individual histories and have to decide to make the best of what they have been offered.
Few people, without considerable work, can break the orbit a parent provides and so, yes, it is likely (although by no means inescapable) that your grandchildren will face some relational issues in their futures.
Continue to provide the sound platform you do provide, and trust the children to gain progressive and helpful insight into their lives.
Your job is to continually expose them to what is possible in a healthy relationship.