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To ask Mumsnet for advice on parenting 9 YO DS? I am struggling to adjust as he grows up.

(29 Posts)
Lookproperly Tue 12-Apr-16 13:33:06

I have one DS who has just turned 9. I am suddenly feeling a bit lost as to how to be a parent to a child who is no longer 'little' but at the same time not all that 'grown-up'. I guess I feel like we are sort of in no man's land.

I want to support him as he grows up without babying him but I don't feel like I know where to start.

He has no siblings due to my infertility (this has taken some time to come to terms with and is irreversible so I find comments regarding sad only children very difficult).

He loves spending time with his friends which I facilitate as often as is practical but obviously this can't happen all of the time. His Dad and I have not been together for 5 years. DS sees his Dad once a fortnight. I have a wonderful new partner who DS likes and gets along with, but he works at the weekends and often is not home until 7. We have friends over a lot, but inevitably there is lots of time when it is just DS and I. Until now, those times have been good and happy, but increasingly I find myself feeling a bit lost.

DS has always had a sunny happy nature and lots of enthusiasm. However, he has a tendency gets lost behind a screen- ipad, minecraft, you tube etc.. Until recently I've not found it too hard to prise him away from screens and engage him in something else, but I have noticed that he and I seem to find it increasingly hard to find something that interests him which doesn't involve a screen. Left to his own devices he would play on a screen 24/7 and I do feel it is my job to limit this.

He's not terribly sporty but enjoys being outdoors, cubs, learning guitar, and cricket.

We used to spend lots of time doing stuff together- baking, exploring, gardening, but he's now less interested in this and I feel a bit lost for ideas of things to do together. Things like reading to him at bedtime, having bubble fights, icing cakes, make believe etc. feel too babyish and I don't know what to replace them with. I feel like I was a good 'small child' mum, but don't know how to be a 'big child' mum.

I guess I'm just a bit lost as to what happens in a normal household with kids of DS' age? What to you do together? How do your children tend to spend their time? How much independence do they have? What non-screen stuff do they get involved in at home?

Any thoughts would be very gratefully received.

MyFriendGoo52 Tue 12-Apr-16 13:38:48

What's wrong with cooking and baking ?? Those things aren't babyish.

In fact my ds enjoys cooking with me, he comes and helps most nights.

Other than that walking/ beach combing / geo caching / swimming / cinema visits etc are all great fun and couldnt ever be considered babyish.

Lookproperly Tue 12-Apr-16 13:40:13

I maybe should have mentioned that we don't seem to be very good at talking these days. Getting anything out of him about his day is impossible. He also hates telling me when he is upset for any reason- I can tell there is something wrong because he is on the verge of tears but nothing I do convinces him that he can talk to me about things.

I hoped we would have an open relationship and have tried hard not to overreact when he says something tricky and to accept his feeling about things. This hasn't made him feel any more comfortable about opening up though.

Lookproperly Tue 12-Apr-16 13:42:43

Oooh geocaching, I had forgotten about that it sounds great. Thank you.

IdaBattersea Tue 12-Apr-16 13:42:54

I still read with my 9 year old DD at bedtime, we both enjoy it. She often reads the book to me but if she is tired likes me to read to her.

We play board games together now, things like cluedo, scrabble. And we watch films together.

She has recently asked to come running with me.

I also try to get her more involved in cooking so making cakes on her own while I am there with her supervising but she does it on her own, so we are still spending time together. Or helping prepare a meal.

Miloarmadillo1 Tue 12-Apr-16 13:45:37

My oldest is 9. He would also play Minecraft 24/7 if he was allowed, but his screen time is limited to an hour a day and we have 'screen-free Sundays'. He spends quite a lot of the rest of the time scribbling plans for Minecraft on bits of paper or talking my ears off about Minecraft, but you can't have everything! We have a dog so insist that everyone goes out to walk her both days at the weekend, so he gets some fresh air and exercise. There's often a bit of moaning but he's ok once he's out. He likes swimming, climbing, roller skating - is there any activity your DS would like to do with you, or do whilst you watch admiringly with a cup of coffee ? He still likes to cook and bake but now does so more independently - so I'll ask him to plan tea, write a list, go shopping ( I wait outside the shop) and then follow a recipe. I help if he gets stuck or with the oven etc. He is allowed to play on his bike on our lane without supervision, go to the postbox, go to the shop (involves crossing 2 roads with lights/crossings).

puddock Tue 12-Apr-16 13:47:19

I'm interested to read other replies here - my DSs are just a little younger - but agree with the suggestion about walking (geocaching, orienteering or just strolling around) - or running or going on bike rides together.
I remember finding it easier to talk to my parents about Big Stuff when I was a tween/teen if we were both side by side looking at something else (e.g. the horizon) than if we were face to face.

Gatehouse77 Tue 12-Apr-16 13:47:23

Cooking and baking aren't babyish - they're a damn useful skill!
I still sometimes read to my 13 and 15 year olds at bedtime - I'd happily do it more often but they procrastinate and we run out of time!

Swimming was always popular with mine at that age.
If he's into music what about going to some local gigs? Or seeing if there's somewhere that offers local jam sessions, ensembles or the like?

Iggi999 Tue 12-Apr-16 13:49:08

My almost -9 year old just wants to sit in front of a screen too. He will sometimes look at books, do football cards, but isn't into Lego or drawing or much else really. He is active when outside and loves swimming and sport. Having a sibling and a dad at home hasn't made any difference to this, so please try not to worry about that side of it. One thing he's very interested in at the moment is talk of a pet - he wants a dog but I'm trying to persuade him towards something invisible smaller.

puddock Tue 12-Apr-16 13:49:49

Oh yes, board games - if you/he don't like competitive ones, try a collaborative one like Forbidden Island, which can be adapted in all sorts of ways (different every time) and works well as a two-player.

Lookproperly Tue 12-Apr-16 14:07:10

Thank you all so much for your brilliant suggestions. I think I am going to make a proper list, and plan these into our time over the next few weeks.

I was wrong to say cooking is babyish. I wasn't thinking it through properly and missed the opportunity to take it onto the next stage of him cooking by himself. He seems to see cooking like some sort of experiment and dislikes following recipes which can be rather expensive! However, I will do my best to encourage him to cook more edible food.

Iggi999 thank you for the reassurance that siblings and a Dad on hand might not necessarily make much difference. It is very very comforting to hear that!

gilmoregirl Tue 12-Apr-16 14:10:05

I am a single parent to 10 year old DS, he too would spend 100% of his waking hours in front of a screen if left to his own devices.....

We do a lot of stuff like going to the play park and climbing local hills, going on walks that end in a coffee shop, going out for pizza/burger. He loves the cinema (suppose that is just a bigger screen) and still loves soft play although I know a lot of people will deem him too old - he is happy to go even on his own for the hour.

We also do baking - although he only stays to crack the eggs most times, and lots of board games - and things like top trumps and Uno.

He also happy to play still (again I know a lot of children his age don't) and will spend hours will lego or drawing things - usually minecraft or clash of clans inspired.

We also watch a lot of Dvd's together - he likes a good family drama series - I think having been brought up by just me he is fascinated by family life. Things that are 12 certificate such as "parenthood" and "brothers and sisters" (although some racy scenes) he has really enjoyed.

PippaPug Tue 12-Apr-16 14:12:21

Have you got a iPhone?

You can download a app called Munzee and you have to walk around finding tiny bar codes he may enjoy that as he can use a screen, both getting out and about and it becomes good for starting to map read, knowing where certain things are.

Board games?

curren Tue 12-Apr-16 14:14:28

I don't think the activities have to change. But I think there are changes you make.

I might draw with both ds (5) and dd (12) but it's different. Ds wants me to draw with him, where dd wants me to appreciate her drawing or have my input or encouragement while she does it.

Same with baking. I bake with DS. Dd loves baking and cooking but likes to make the decision about what she is making and do most of it herself, just asking for guidance and advice.

As for the not talking to you. This happens. May be he (mistakenly) feels he is grown up now and a grown up handles stuff themseleves. Most kids go through this stage. They don't realise that us grown ups do usually need someone to talk to at times to. I think the worst thing you can do is nag or try and drag it out of him. That's what my mum did and only made me worse.

Give him a cuddle and tell him if he needs to talk you are there. Don't badger it out of him, just make so he knows you are there when he needs it.

This is how I have done it and dd talks to me now more than she did a few years ago.

Janecc Tue 12-Apr-16 14:21:16

My DD is an only child not through choice. She would also love a sibling and I would love to have been able to give her one. The mourning process is tough I know. There is nothing to feel guilty about. I don't think my daughter would have been particularly good at sport either but DH and I take her to lots of activities which she loves and has greatly improved her athleticism and confidence. She enjoys horse riding, judo, and swimming. She also does rugby as well and blows a bit hot and cold on that one. She always has to be around people or doing something but would spend hours on video games as well. We take her to these activities because she has tons of energy and needs to burn it off. On the plus side, she's also used to befriending a whole bunch of new people, which will put her in good stead as she gets older as well as giving her the interaction with other children she craves.
If you want to take your son to an extra activity I would perhaps consider judo or
rugby. Dds been doing judo for around a year with a boy her age, he's not great at sport either and another of her friends - also a another friend, a boy, has joined recently as well and he's also not great at sport. All the 3 children really enjoy going. The environment at rugby is also great and the children are there to have fun, not compare each other, which can be a problem at school. What I'm saying is just because your son isn't traditionally 'Good' at the select sports they play at school it doesn't mean he won't have fun doing something outside school.
You sound like a wonderful mum and I wish I was well enough to do half the things you enjoy doing with your son. I take my DD places because I can't play with her as I would like. As long as he is always allowed to be open and honest, your Ds will tell you when he considers the games/acitvities babyish.

curren Tue 12-Apr-16 14:24:31

Oh and my dd wasn't very good at sports. Until she discovered kick boxing. She is more confident and learnt determination and how to push herself.

She is now fairly good all round in sports. It just took her finding 'her sport' and the ready fell into place.

She isn't amazing at kick boxing. But the changes in her have helped her no end.

BrandNewAndImproved Tue 12-Apr-16 14:33:37

I started taekwondko with my dc. They had already been doing it for a few years and now I do it with them. I love sharing a hobby with them and they help me practise.

My dc (10 and 8) would also be lost behind a screen all day if I let them to. Ds loves helping me cook and chats more to me when he's doing something with me then if we were both sat down doing nothing.

They also chat more when we're driving somewhere as well.

sunnydayinmay Tue 12-Apr-16 14:34:53

I have a 9 year old boy (also an older boy), and it is one of those ages when things seem to shift.

Ds would happily spend all day in front of Stampy, but also loves being read too at bedtime (opportunity to read more challenging books - currently E Nesbitt etc).

We go for walks, cook - he is great at prepping veg. The main time we spend together is around his hobbies. I think that it is great if they really enjoy something at this age, as it gives them something to build on when they are older. It also helps with confidence and independence.

In his case, chess and music, so we play music together most days, and I spend at lot of time at chess clubs and tournaments. These are the times I enjoy most, because he is actually miles better then me at both, and so the balance shifts a bit again as he has to take charge!

flissfloss65 Tue 12-Apr-16 14:37:51

I'm a single parent to an only ds. At 10 or so we had days out using English Heritage card (free with Tesco vouchers), went to local wildlife park lots (cheap annual pass). I was always on the look out for local events, workshops that might be fun. Took train to London and visited museums, lots have workshop events.

AKissACuddleAndACheekyFinger Tue 12-Apr-16 14:44:10

All the above are great ideas but on the topic of Minecraft...if you can't beat him, join him! Three of our children are Minecraft obsessives but their screen time is limited to two hours each weekend day and a bit on a Friday night if they've had a good week at school. I found myself losing them to a silence of I learned! I asked them to teach me and that lack of conversation you speak of (normal, btw) vanished! They were soon giving me all sorts of tip offs and hints and we were building worlds together. I bought Minecraft Lego to do together and we have decorated two of their bedrooms together-Minecraft themed! I have to teach maths as part of my job and when this is to 16 to maybe 20 year old learners I have also cracked out my Minecraft skills and devoted whole lessons to it as it can be very educational and constructive.

I am not by any means suggesting you parent him by sitting on screens day and night but this sort of acknowledgement of the thing he loves the most may help you to get to know him
Again as I know how you feel and felt mine were growing away from me. An unexpected effect for me was that two of my sons then offered to join in MY passion-the allotment (don't judge!) because I had shown an interest in theirs. I fully expect I'll have a Minecraft veg patch before long though....

AKissACuddleAndACheekyFinger Tue 12-Apr-16 14:45:23

Ps also, in case your son is ever a bit of a monkey, understanding Minecraft can help you no end-just threaten to destroy his latest Minecraft world and I guarantee immediate compliance grin

Witchend Tue 12-Apr-16 14:49:03

I have a nearly 9yo boy, and two bigger girls.

He loves cooking, either with me or with a sister. You just give them more responsibility. They can choose what they cook, they can weigh out and mix etc. I usually put in/get out of the oven, but dd2 was doing that at 10yo.

We curl up together with a book. Play music together; board games etc.

Yakari Tue 12-Apr-16 14:51:21

Similar aged DS, I found once I engaged in his interests the talking came back. So I'll spend 20 minutes discussing Fifa to get 5 minutes on what upset him at school. I have never been interested In football but can now hold my own on most premier league teams and a good few European ones!

I also find he talks when doing something else, so walking or driving somewhere, while drawing, if he plays on his iPad then when I can I sit next to him reading or mumsnetting and we natter from time to

We've just agreed to try and really hard jigsaw because we both agreed we spent too much time on screens. It will be good to see how that goes.

I think the dynamic does change - but I have to confess I love his new found maturity and willingness to talk about 'adult topics' like politics, the world, music, films

CodyKing Tue 12-Apr-16 14:51:42

Well can I suggest you go and play mind craft with him? You'll be amazed at what he knows - and he'll speak whilst playing!!

Also get a science experiment book - lots of yucky things to make!!

There's a few good books on paper airplanes and model making - along with getting out a high pile of Lego!!

Bat and ball in the car for walks

Build a den

Get a rope swing

Challenge his friends to rounders Inge park rather then sitting in

Let him ride his bike

Play board games or teach him some card games

Knockmesideways Tue 12-Apr-16 14:52:02

Our DS is just coming up to 9. I've started sitting with him, sometimes, when he's on the games so he can 'teach' me - my way of being able to check what he's on properly and it makes him laugh when I am so bad at all the games! I can spend ages nagging him to come off if he's playing alone - I find if I have the time to sit with him it's easier to end a game. I'll just ask if I can have a go and when I've lost (which I almost always do) I'll just close down the game and we'll do something else.

We choose a film or a watch again programme to watch at some point every weekend and snuggle down as a family to watch it - I'll do a big lunch time meal and prepare sandwiches or nibbles and we'll stuff our faces in front of the TV!

If I or DH see something on TV that we think DS would be interested in we do a watch again. Last night I saw the BBC4 programme with Neil Oliver about Ancient Britain. DS is into everything from dinosaurs to Romans so we're watching that tonight as a family - assuming it's on watch again. It sort of helps us get shared interests if that's the right word (DS is very impressed when he discovers I do actually know something that he doesn't...), and he is really pleased when he's allowed to watch again on a grown up programme (even though anything with Neil Oliver isn't exactly going to be dodgy).

We go off to the park or the beach now the nicer weather is here. If it's the beach we try to find the most interesting shell or stone or just wander down the sands or play some sort of beach game (usually involving burying dad) then get fish and chips. Nothing spectacular but it's the non spectacular stuff that makes a family I think.

As far as finding out if anything's troubling him, I don't ask him how school went as that's always got an 'OK' in the past. I ask him what went well or what went not so well, who was good and who was not so good. It gets more out of him! It's a bit of gossip really but it starts a conversation which can't be bad.

I or DH still read to DS at night or one of us will sit with him whilst we look through a comic or he explains what has happened in a story he's reading. Sometimes he'll just have time to read to himself then put his light out but one of us always try to sit with him for 10 minutes or so to have a general natter and a bit of a giggle before lights out. I don't push it but I always finish by saying something along the lines of "well, anything you want to tell us about, we're here, good or bad - night night" and leave it at that.

Sometimes he'll tell us things days after the event. Like you and I, I guess he just wants to mull it over and sort out his own feelings on things then discuss them. I've learned very early on with DS, not to jump in if he tells me something 'bad' (though it's hard), and to try to take the lead from him - does he want to try to sort it out and just need advice, does he want me or DH to step in or did he just want to talk it through and now leave it. My mum was the opposite with us - any problems she'd be on the phone to another parent or up the school or having a word with someone - and it stopped me telling her lots of things which may have been better shared because she didn't follow MY lead. I'll probably find DS will be like my mum with his kids citing my 'give him room' stance as being rotten for him but there you go!

DH and DS love doing sudoku - DH has taught DS and now DS is almost as fast as him. We also like watching things like Pointless, Eggheads etc and DS is really proud when he gets an answer right. We'll play boardgames like Monopoly or do jigsaw puzzles now and then just to have the time to talk without our heads buried in a gadget.

I also find myself asking DS's opinion on things now more than I used to - could be things like does DS think it's right for kids to eat this or watch that if it's been in the paper or should I buy a blue top or a red one, that sort of thing. He's growing up, he has an opinion and, if I think he's a bit off the mark I have the chance to talk him through it.

I'd say don't push too hard if you do want to make changes - add a few things gradually and make them part of 'what your family does' each day/week/month then move on to something else. Trying to change too many things can be exhausting for both of you.

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