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To consciously take a back seat to parenting knowing that it will likely impact my son’s future

(123 Posts)
Atadaddicted Mon 29-Jun-20 10:46:37

So - I’ll keep it brief.
My 11 year old son and I have a fraught relationship.
He is a very complex and tricky character. He is kind and empathetic but very very hard work and also been. Required intense parenting.
He is also very intelligent.

But to get him to do anything - be on time / not lose something / study - is forcing our relationship in to The gutter.

I am a bit micro management mother / “tiger mom”. I see that but not excessively. Although definitely on the higher end of having high expectations and pushing.

And I’m wondering whether anyone has been similar but decided to actively take a step back, knowing that it will likely lead to more punishment at school, late for things and ultimately not achieving as highly in exams as potential BUT a happier and more relaxed mother and son relationship?

OP’s posts: |
Atadaddicted Mon 29-Jun-20 10:49:56

Single parent btw

Father is a good dad but very much a weekend Disney dad and absolutely no chance of that changing

OP’s posts: |
BrieAndChilli Mon 29-Jun-20 10:51:02

I would pick my battles.
So remembering PE kit - that’s on him, he’ll soon learn when he keeps getting detention etc
School work I would work with him to create a schedule, he’s still young. My DS1 is 13 and similar and I sit with him and go through what he has to do and we timetable it. It breaks it down for him and make it seem less overwhelming.

Tidy room unless it’s a health hazard I would leave him to it but make something like pocket money contingent on having a tidy room on day a Sunday.

As a parent we need to guide them but not do it all for them. It’s a thin line so I would not sweat the small stuff and save your energy for the big stuff that effects the rest of thier lives

romeolovedjulliet Mon 29-Jun-20 10:52:57

i used to kick off at a similat age at my mum as she micromanaged me, it caused all sorts of problems and she never really let up until i was in my mid teens. there is still resentment on my part even now.
you need to step back abit and let him do his thing a bit more, if he gets told off at school he has to deal with it. he may even thank you one day for being less um...'tiger mum'

Serendipper Mon 29-Jun-20 10:55:27

my parents worked full time and were unavailable a lot when I was school age, by the time my sister reached that age they had started a business and working hours were much more flexible so they were able to do a lot for her (bringing forgotten pe kit to school etc)
I just had to deal with the consequences of my own lack of organisation but she could run to daddy.
As adults it all seems to be the same, I’m far more independent and sort my own stuff out but my sister is still running to daddy every time she messes up.

I don’t think doing so much for your kids helps them in the long run.

However I don’t think it’s fair for you to step back with no warning, I think I would start easing the responsibility to him bit by bit with some warnings Eg (from September I won’t be driving you if you miss your bus)

dontdisturbmenow Mon 29-Jun-20 10:56:10

I did because I could see that my constant being on his back was starting to ruin our relationship and making him more withdrawn. My DS didn't have other people to really support him so it was essential ours remained opened. I could also see him getting more and more withdrawn and borderline depressed whilst there was no improvement at all in the areas I was pestering him about.

It paid off in our case. We have indeed gone back to being close and being so relieved a lot of his stress and anxiety.

I was concerned that it would impact on his studies and results but as it was, he did give 100% to his GCSEs just at the time he really needed it and end up doing very well, much above expected.

However, he was a bit older when I took that step back, more around 13, he also always was quite a disciplined student doing relatively well and always was quite emotionally mature.

Some areas have remained a fayre, mainly the state of his room, and it got so bad, I've resorted to clean it myself against all my principles, but he excels in other areas, has found work and is doing brilliantly, saving money, no trouble, drinking, partying or anything, so in the scheme of things, it's not that much.

So yes, it worked for us, but because of his personality. I might not have had the same approach with another child.

Macncheeseballs Mon 29-Jun-20 10:56:10

I'm not a massively strict parent and all my kids are high achievers , I prefer them to be happy and find their own path in life than me lecturing them about tidy rooms, lost pe kits, exam results etc

Mrsjayy Mon 29-Jun-20 10:57:00

I do think you need to pick your battles as said PE kit is on him you need to back off and let him pick up some responsibility for himself he is a person not a project which micro managing says to him.

ElephantLover Mon 29-Jun-20 10:58:16

Similar situation with my 13 year old. Always been hard work for every little task. I only realised how much effort it was taking when my second child started school and showed how quick & swift another child could be.

I pick my battles to keep the peace. In some things - like academics, phone usage etc. I am still particular but in many 'lighter' issues like being organised, being on time, getting dressed - I let consequences teach their lesson. It's a much better relationship now but teenage years are a struggle even without all of these atypical problems. So I have to go even more easier now.

ChikiTIKI Mon 29-Jun-20 10:58:22

I would. The impact could be a positive one.

Anything he will just get a detention for, let him go ahead and get the detention. He will learn and become more dependent. And it will save a lot of time.

You could warn him first that he is older now and you're not going to remind him to pack his bag and do his homework.

Smallsteps88 Mon 29-Jun-20 10:59:13

I don’t want to be that person but I think it’s worth asking here- have you considered having your son assessed for ADHD?

ElephantLover Mon 29-Jun-20 11:00:01

Also my DC got into severe monitoring by teachers in school due to forgetting things. It was a tough 2 months to climb out of that, but hopefully has taught the lessons necessary.

sandieshaw Mon 29-Jun-20 11:02:11

I'm not a single parent but my son (10) sounds very similar to yours and I can be equally frustrated with trying to get him to conform to basic expectations (homework, self organisation, etc). It gets very fraught at times.

I've actually got another thread on the go which has resulted in school referring my son for a dyspraxia assessment and I think this is partly why he's struggling so much with focus, getting things done on time etc.

I'm also trying to balance the "difficult" stuff with fun stuff too. So we spend time every day doing something he likes together (sometimes playing outside, sometimes Forza, or me reading to him). It helps to keep our relationship "bank account" in credit.

It's helped my son to have checklists so he knows what the expectations are (e.g. morning checklist includes: get dressed, make bed, teeth & a wash, open blinds, tidy away your own breakfast things). Then it's not so much me nagging, it's a clear expectation that doesn't change every day.
With study, we list all the days tasks every morning and plan in breaks/treats (e.g. when you've done tasks 1 & 2, you can watch that Horrible Histories episode you wanted to see, I know you hate task 3 so we'll break it into chunks and spread these out during the day to make it more manageable).

It's not easy, and it's exhausting, especially in your situation when you're tackling the majority of it on your own. I think in your situation, I'd definitely still push a bit on the high priority stuff (like maths, science, reading and writing) but perhaps leave him to learn the hard way on other areas like art projects etc.

AlexaShutUp Mon 29-Jun-20 11:03:15

I actually think it will benefit your son if he has to take a bit more responsibility for himself. He is not a baby now. He will make mistakes, probably, but he will learn from them.

I agree with a previous poster that you should step back gradually, though. Explain to him that he is getting older now, so you're going to pass more of the responsibilities on to him. This will mean less nagging, but he will have to take any consequences if he forgets stuff, loses stuff etc. He might actually surprise you and prove more competent than you expect if you leave him to it!

Try to frame it in a positive way if you can. Don't make him feel like you expect him to mess up. Let him know that you trust him to get it right. And don't get mad at him if he gets it wrong, just let him experience the natural consequences and help him to work out what he needs to do to avoid those consequences in the future. Be positive and supportive. He will learn.

Laserbird16 Mon 29-Jun-20 11:05:01

I think depending on what it, yes let go.

It is pretty low stakes at 11 if you're late or lose your water bottle etc. It gets more serious when you're 18 and at University and you can't manage your time.

Support him to succeed e.g. a visual checklist or time table etc that you make together and then it is his job to remember.

If he gets detention for being late then so be it.

I don't mean give up entirely but lots of things are worth it or have natural consequences he will soon learn. Unless it's like forgetting to apply sunscreen etc. Willfully allowing your child to do something harmful is something you should not do!

If it's like practicing a musical instrument then encouraging intrinsic motivation is the aim but hard to do.

You describe yourself as a tiger mother but how much? My DB is forever haranguing my poor nephew and I can see he just wants DB to get off his back. Have you read 'the book you wish your parents had read'? I liked a quote from that 'are we raising something to perfect or someone to love?' It helps me recalibrate my thinking now and then

FizzyGreenWater Mon 29-Jun-20 11:10:02

I'd only add one thing, a Disney dad isn't a good dad.

Here, I'm sure the fact that he isn't getting any guidance or example of responsible behaviour from his male role model is a big factor in his own behaviour.

Atadaddicted Mon 29-Jun-20 11:10:04

All these are just so thoughtful, considered and genuinely helpful - really, thank you.

I stupidly posted and now need to work, so will come back later this afternoon.

Thank you - food for thought (and relief to know that not alone)

OP’s posts: |
EdgarAllenCrow123 Mon 29-Jun-20 11:12:54

Inattentive ADHD springs to mind.

StatementKnickers Mon 29-Jun-20 11:14:08

If he's 11, he's either in secondary school or starting in a couple of months. If you don't stop "micromanaging" him now, when will you? 13? 16? When he goes to uni? It can be a gradual and supportive step-back, as others have said, but he needs to feel responsible for himself.

Stuckforthefourthtime Mon 29-Jun-20 11:14:15

And I’m wondering whether anyone has been similar but decided to actively take a step back, knowing that it will likely lead to more punishment at school, late for things and ultimately not achieving as highly in exams as potential BUT a happier and more relaxed mother and son relationship?

Do you not think that maybe he'll actually achieve better in exams if you take a step back now? Some consequences at school right now might be exactly what he needs to take more responsibility.

I come from a 5 child, very traditional family where my 2 sisters and I were left to look after younger ones / fend for ourselves while our brothers were groomed and managed at every stage. As we got older, we were far more able to manage self-directed study and found moving to university also a far easier transition. I have 4 sons now and very intentionally have put them in charge of many things - even my 5 year old is responsible for ensuring he has a water bottle and snack for school, or he will have a day of being a bit hungry. It's harder as they get older, but they need to understand - my eldest was always making us late in the morning because he'd not get ready the night before and always be in a faff as we left - after lots of pushing (pointless and as you said, bad for the relationship), DH and I decided to do our own faffing around before his weekend sports club and he missed the first 10 minutes. He was grumpy and embarrassed and we pointed out that this is exactly how we feel strolling into work late everyday. We helped problem solve for a better way, and 90% of the time he now gets ready the night before so it's easier.

Can you help him set things up, as that's hard at this age (e.g. he writes a list of all the tasks he needs to do weekly, including chores, but with you helping / reminding) and then he has to take more ownership.

There's a really good book for more challenging children called The Explosive Child, I bought it for DS2 with ASD, but it's been helpful with all my children for finding constructive ways to work through things that are negatively affecting our family.

Randomnessembraced Mon 29-Jun-20 11:14:39

At 11, I think you should have a chat with him about improving 1 thing he isn’t good at. For example, being late or x amount of study a day at set times no matter what. Have an open and honest conversation and ask him what you can do to help him get better at this one thing. Let the rest go for now but focus on improvement in one area with a treat at the end. Then once he has it sorted move on to the next thing. It is painful as a parent if you have a child with huge potential but who lets himself down to lack of organisation. But you need to teach them organisation skills very slowly one by one so it isn’t overwhelming for them. Also every child will have their faults to work on just like us adults. You could offer to work on one thing about yourself too so make the whole thing into a how can we grow as people.

ChicCroissant Mon 29-Jun-20 11:14:55

Step back gradually, it might not be as bad as you think! Don't write him off as a failure without your input, is he starting secondary school in September?

I'd remind him to pack his bag the night before - secondary can be a bit overwhelming in the first few weeks so he may need a bit more direction but they do pick it up eventually.

As a PP said, don't be all 'I told you so' if he gets into trouble for forgetting anything even if it was easily avoidable! If your natural style is more directive, it can be difficult to step back into being more of a background support but it sounds like the right time for both of you.

StatementKnickers Mon 29-Jun-20 11:16:28

Also the title of your thread is interesting - I thought it was going to be about you accepting a job with lots of travel or your partner becoming the SAHP or something like that! You can still do just as much "parenting" without being a pushy micromanager/tiger mum. Supporting your DCs to grow into self-sufficient and reliable adults is very much still parenting.

Weenurse Mon 29-Jun-20 11:16:32

Both DH and I always worked full time. Leaving the house before they left for school.I encouraged getting stuff ready the night before, but if they forgot, it was on them..
Bedrooms were up to them.

Atadaddicted Mon 29-Jun-20 11:19:43

Worth noting

He’s very intelligent (full scholarship to phenomenal school) but.... he’s not genius or anything and work is required. Otherwise results are negatively impacted, as has happened when I didn’t organise and cajole and threaten a few months back.
Stakes are high as need good results to get bursary to secondary. The Alternative is a mediocre academy. Whereas bursary option is to a world renowned school that really would be an incredible opportunity.

But at what cost. Our relationship I suspect. Whereas local mediocre (at best) state academy - won’t offer 10% of the alternative. But a much more positive relationship.

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