11 year old son who doesn't care about dad - FamilyEducation
11 year old son who doesn't care about dad
04/01/2008 at 12:59 PM

My son is a generally a good child, he is a only child just went from elem. to middle school.  He always wanted to do things with my husband and I until about a year ago.  He expresses that he doesn't like his dad and the reason so he states is because dad, "spazes out".  This isn't true, they used to go snow boarding, baseball together.  Now my son doesn't want to go or do anything with us.  We try to communicate with him, give him his space, let him make his own decisions within reason.  Last night, we had to force him to sit down with us at dinner and he wouldn't eat, always telling me he doesn't like what I prepare.  He never complained in the past.  I think maybe we gave him to much freedom, now he doesn't listen and leaves wrappers around, etc.  He's not destructive.  I don't know how to get him to communicate more and help us be a happy family and do things together.  HELP - - - -

Hey I feel bad because nobody had any suggestions for you. The only thing i can think of is that he is definitely in a transition time. Maybe even starting puberty. My son's started to not want me to kiss and hug them in front of ppl at that age, but as for not wanting to hang out, I'm not sure. Is he happy otherwise? Is he an only child?

There are other much wiser ppl than me here, Gail can you think of a suggestion or comment? You usually have some pretty good (not always popular) insight...

It was at about this age that my youngest son started to distance himself from my partner. They were still friends, but he no longer wanted to hang out with either of us. Part of it I think is the old Alpha Male thing. He distanced himself from me, bu more outside than at home. If we went somewhere by bus, he would sit seats away from me, and walk down the street yards away from me. Hormones are changing too. Mealtimes were more awkward too. Suddenly he didn't have too much to say to us, but would spend hours talking to friends. It's just part of growing up I'm afraid. Things have changed for us once again as son is now 18 and mellowed. I think he has worked out his own strategies and is content with where he is in life. Now he treats OH [who has been his stepdad since he was 4]like a pal and can laugh and joke about 'men' things. I think it is probably just this phase that your son has entered, but you could seek counselling if things get too bad. Good luck.

I came up with some questions and ideas. It is true that part of the adolescent task is separation from parents, but it doesn't necessarily follow that the child is disrespectful. So, first thought -- does your child have the opportunity to save his own money for extras--video games, sports equipment, whatever "stuff" he needs to meet his own interests? Second-- does your child have the opportunity to interact with people who are less fortunate? Is there a soup kitchen, thrift store, or shelter where the three of you could volunteer? Third -- do you and your husband present a unified front? It is easy for a child to misinterpret teasing between adults as disrespect of one for the other. On another note, when my son was disrespectful of me, (cooking and other efforts) my husband failed to utter the simple, Beaver-cleaverish phrase, "Son, don't treat your mother like that." I finally stepped up and said that exact phrase. I also started to respond to him immediately. If he was critical of the food, I gracefully removed his plate from in front of him and said "you are excused," and the kitchen was closed til the next meal. I promise if you do this, he won't starve or even get malnourished. Fourth -- what is his media consumption like, and how do his peers behave? If there are few decent male role models outside his family it could just be that he is reflecting the mistaken broad social attitudes about the diminished importance of men in sons' lives. About the only father in the media recently that is portrayed as worthy of respect is the character in "The Pursuit of Happyness." I was trying to think of another, and I came up with Ben Cisko on Deep Space Nine. Really, modern dads get no respect. Fifth -- does your child have family responsibilities? This is in addition to managing his own room and his own stuff. He's mature enough to take on bathroom cleaning including toilets, mealtime chores, vacuuming, yard care, cleaning up after pets. Working alongside a man is a great way to take his measure. Chore time should be every day, either before everybody leaves for school/work, or in the evening, not the first thing after everybody gets home, but at some point in the evening. I hope this will spark some questions of your own, help you find a path that will lead to greater harmony in your home.