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Old 10-27-2010, 11:26 PM   #1
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So I got divorced about 8 years ago, and I ended up with custody of my two kids. My son is currently 13 and my daughter is 11. Lately I've been getting into a lot of fights with my son. I mostly just chalk it up to him being a teenager. That, and he's just as bull headed and stubborn as I am.

I don't have Facebook, or any other kind of digital social network association, but I do rely on my ex-wife and other friends to keep me up to date on anything that may be of concern. A recent post on his facebook account was brought up to me, and it seems that he recently got into an argument with an unnamed female friend of his. Since he broke up with his first girlfriend a few weeks ago, and is currently "dating" someone else, this was a concern to me. FYI, he assures me the breakup was mutual.

I talked to him this afternoon about what was going on, and he pretty much stonewalled me. I explained to him that he has a lot of influences in his life right now and I want to know if anything is a problem for him. In short, he explained to me that he doesn't really want to talk to me about it, he'd rather talk to his mom (who I get along with great, but lives in a different time zone). His reasoning is that he is closer to her than he is to me.

The longer I think about this, the more it breaks my heart.

For the past several years, these two kids have been my whole life. And it just kills me to think that he doesn't trust me enough to talk to me. So I'm left trying to figure out if this is typical teenager separation, or should I be concerned? After a couple of particularly bad arguments a few months ago, the suggestion was brought up that maybe he should live with his mother. This came from her, but originated by my son. Would this be a good idea? She has assured him that circumstances would be no different at her house than at mine, but I'm concerned with the type of people he would be exposed to while there, and I don't think that anyone would make the same expectations about college that I do.

So my questions are...

Is this normal behavior?

Should I give any serious consideration to him moving in with his mother and step-father, and if so, under what circumstances should it be made?

And for the record, I am also discussing this with my father and step-mother. I respect their opinion, but I feel like I should get more opinions from others. I don't really know anyone at work who is in even a remotely similar situation. The only people I know who are divorced with children, really don't talk to their kids. Thanks for any replies.

J

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Old 10-28-2010, 12:01 AM   #2
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Boy, that's tough. Kids definitely test boundaries every day. They also have the "grass is always greener..." philosophy.

If you know that your ex would be as good a parent as you, and your son really wants it, I think maybe you should consider it. It'll be on you and on his sister, but it might make him feel like he has some control over his life. If they are willing to do this, it might be a good idea. Or at least, try it for one school semester. If her rules are the same as yours, and he's not seeing it as a way to get more freedom, then it might be a good thing for him.

In my case, my daughter always wanted to live with her dad, and she's still close to him. BUT he is a terrible parent, and he even acknowledged that she would be better off with me. After several years of head-butting, she grew up into a beautiful and wonderful adult who now has a wonderful relationship with me. She also still adores her daddy, which I think is great.

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Old 10-28-2010, 01:48 AM   #3
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my kids are younger than yours, so i have to go on old personal experience.

kids will be kids.

just remember that if he doesn't have to discuss it with "dad" and wants to handle it on his own, it might make him feel more secure or mature..... (based on recollection)

or its just a lot of mixed up emotions, and hormones that are most easily expressed by 'i hate everything'.

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Old 10-28-2010, 02:13 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Yooper_Brew View Post
Boy, that's tough. Kids definitely test boundaries every day. They also have the "grass is always greener..." philosophy.

If you know that your ex would be as good a parent as you, and your son really wants it, I think maybe you should consider it. It'll be on you and on his sister, but it might make him feel like he has some control over his life. If they are willing to do this, it might be a good idea. Or at least, try it for one school semester. If her rules are the same as yours, and he's not seeing it as a way to get more freedom, then it might be a good thing for him.

In my case, my daughter always wanted to live with her dad, and she's still close to him. BUT he is a terrible parent, and he even acknowledged that she would be better off with me. After several years of head-butting, she grew up into a beautiful and wonderful adult who now has a wonderful relationship with me. She also still adores her daddy, which I think is great.
I was actually hoping you would chime in. I don't know your whole story, but I know you have some similar experiences and seem to give some pretty solid advice.

The thought had occurred to me that it was some kind of "momma's boy" type thing, in the same way that it might be a "daddy's girl" thing someday. I know when I grew up, I lived with my mother away from my father. We moved around a lot, and that is definitely something I don't want for my kids, having to make new friends all the time. So far, I've been largely successful and I'd like to make sure he doesn't have to deal with it until he's an "adult". So I try to separate my feelings about that from what's right for my kids. But I'm hoping he just wants to solidify that connection with his mother. I've always encouraged it and don't want to stop it now.

As for his mother, she's been a decent parent, but I got custody of them because she didn't fight it. Actually, she offered them to me. I often get asked why she would do that, and I reply "I don't know and I don't want to know. She's good to them now and her reasonings are her own." Not to speak against her, but she spends a pretty good amount of time in a bar. Not to mention the two bankruptcies and the home foreclosure she's gone through since we've been separated. I'm sure that alone would cause some kind of psychological damage to a kid. But I can't say for sure, for all I know, I'm screwing him up just as bad...

But it's reassuring to know that people have fights with their teens and they grow up to be responsible individuals. Thanks for the input.

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Originally Posted by brewmonk View Post
my kids are younger than yours, so i have to go on old personal experience.

kids will be kids.

just remember that if he doesn't have to discuss it with "dad" and wants to handle it on his own, it might make him feel more secure or mature..... (based on recollection)

or its just a lot of mixed up emotions, and hormones that are most easily expressed by 'i hate everything'.
I'm hoping for the "mature" angle on this one. I am an extremely independent person, I have a VERY difficult time asking for help from anyone. I know that our kids grow up to be us, and to that extent, I've done my best to NOT be the same as my parents for reasons I won't explain, but even I can see that it has had limited effect. So I can understand how he might be like me, I really don't like talking about my feelings. This crowd is easy, I don't really have to look you in the eye as I explain these things.

But if you're right, then this is going to be a difficult evolution for me as I've tried to be everything for them for so long, its going to be difficult to let go.
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Old 10-28-2010, 02:40 AM   #5
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This reminds me of a similar situation that my sister had to deal with. She got custody of her daughter and ended up moving over a thousand miles away. Her daughter visited her dad a few times a year... a few weeks over the summer, around Christmas, etc... When she got a bit older, she and my sister really banged heads and she kept at my sister until she convinced her to let her move and live with her dad.

It lasted less than a year... my niece ran away from his house and made the trip on her own with a friend back to my sisters house (remember over 1000 miles!!!).

In the end it was pretty clear that he made a fine "Summer" dad... He took a couple weeks vacation and showed her a great time... at Christmas, he hadn't been saving every penny for school clothes, and all the "normal" stuff that just isn't covered by support, so he bought her outrageous gifts.

He had NEVER had to drag her out of bed to get to school, or take her to the dentist, or any of the stuff parents have to do. So, she thought it was going to be like that when she "lived" there.... wrong.

Now... had she not had the chance to find that out for herself, I wonder if she would have hated my sister for not letting her???

My niece is 30+ now. She and my sister are as close as sisters.

Tough spot... either way, it's not going to be easy.

Good luck.

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Old 10-28-2010, 02:43 AM   #6
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well, you asked if this was normal behaviour. maybe i was not as clear as possible, but it seems like it IS normal teen behaviour. he didnt want to discuss his love life and air his dirty laundry with his father.

I don't think its' letting go quite yet. by you letting your kids know what the boundaries are in their life, and by staying constant, that does give kids a sense of security, whether they realize it or not.

with the arguments you mentioned, & their inferred escalation, perhaps someone in a family counseling practice will have better questions and recommendations, to give you ideas on how to start a conversation with your son.

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Old 10-28-2010, 02:44 AM   #7
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I wouldn't take it personal. To me I think it would almost weird for a teenager not to rebel and just be overly very pro-Mom and Dad. To some degree it's a healthy part of the path to being an adult.

I didn't want to talk to my parents about anything at all starting about 13. I was raised by two parents but I if I had to tell something personal it would be to my Mother over my Father always. To some degree it's still the same way. Nothing at all against my Dad on any level at all, it just feels more natural to speak with my Mother about private personal things. Maybe it's just overall that men aren't real big on discussing feelings and such.

2 cents.

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Old 10-28-2010, 02:58 AM   #8
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Coming from one who has recently shed his teenager status, I want to give some input. I loved my mom to death, but JUST COULDN'T STAND HER. We have just completely incompatible personalities and the way I was treated compared to my siblings really pissed me off when I was younger. I did drugs, drank dipped and did pretty much everything I could to spite her when I was 15-18. When I went to college and was on my own, it was like everything was perfect again now that we had space between us.

Every time I tried to share anything out of my personal life with her, she would turn it into "well you shouldn't be friends with this person" or "I heard from other moms that this kid got in trouble, so you need to find a best friend". It caused me to just completely stonewall her and never share anything in my life with her. When I went to college it lowered both of our blood pressures significantly.

Now that I am living at home and taking a semester off, it is all coming back again...but I found a different outlet for my frustration with her without doing anything illegal but I still have this dip problem...

I am not saying this is the problem with your son but there may be something in your relationship you need to look at for the reason he does not feel comfortable in confiding with you. Whenever my mom approached me with something from my personal life, it never seemed like she wanted to help...more like she wanted to snoop...or it seemed very forced and uncomfortable.

My suggestion is share something with your son from your past...sometime you phucked up, felt depressed, had trivial girl issues (from highschool) etc. Find something you can connect on and try not to risk it back-firing into him saying "well you did it so why can't I".

I am not really sure where I am going so I will conclude with this. It is just very hard for a young person to feel comfortable sharing some of his personal issues with someone who he feel's is completely detached from the current generation's trends and interests.



You just need to connect with him. MUCH harder said than done. If it was me I would run and hide mentally if I felt like my parent was forcing it.

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Old 10-28-2010, 03:20 AM   #9
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I have been remarried for year and we have blended a 10, 12 and 13 yo along with our own 4 and 1 yo so i kinda understand divorce and pre-teens.
First off, most kids think the grass is always greener on the other side, so you would have to feel moving your son is in his best interest, not what he talks you into.
I have two hormonal pre-teen girls and we have a great life together, but when hormones kick in, we have some good old fashion blow outs too.
I also have my 10 yo living with mom in another state and have to parent from a distance which is extra hard.
I have too say you are doing something right if you have primary custody and stick to your guns, you with the life experience knows the right answers.
As a 10 year cop, i know what i tell parents to do with their trouble kids, and as a parent, i know what i tell my own. My advice is stick to your guns and no matter how challenging they can be, sticking to your values will pay off when they are grown.
Id be glad to help more if i can.
good luck

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Old 10-28-2010, 07:57 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the input, everyone. I'm currently working nights for the past month and it looks like I'll only have a few more days on this schedule. I'm kinda glad I'm at work, I had a couple of jobs to take my mind off of my newest "issue". After relaxing about it and thinking about it, I really think this just may be one of the first moments of my boy turning into a man.

But there is some good insight here as well. Maybe I'm pushing a little too hard to get info, maybe its just bad timing and makes him feel a little awkward. When it comes down to it, whenever my family brings up my "personal life", I tend to avoid the subject. He probably picked up on that and imitates my behaviors.

I'm pretty sure if he did move in with his mom, he'd want to come back to my house pretty quick. But it's nice to hear that the way it happens in my mind, happens in real life as well.

I really do appreciate the insight. I'll keep my eyes on the situation, but the more I think about it calmly, the more I think that this is just a normal transition. Let him have his space, but let him know that I'm here if he needs me.

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