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Where am I going wrong with ds1? (long)

(26 Posts)
marthamoo Sat 07-Feb-04 13:38:18

Ds1 and I (after a very rocky start - severe PND) have always been exceptionally close. He's a shy, sensitive, imaginative child - very like me as a child. He'll be seven next month and suddenly, there seems to be a chasm developing between us. I can't say or do anything right - he says I don't listen, that I'm always having a go at him. I just don't know what I'm doing wrong. For example, this morning: now I don't have my "best Mum in the world" head on - I'm very tired and slightly hungover (3 bottles of Cobra lager over a curry with the girls - pathetic ) but I thought I was doing OK. Dh was at work this morning, so it was just me and the boys (ds2 is 2). All they've done is bicker over toys - "he won't let me have it..." "he's hitting me," and I've tried to be fair and keep the peace. Then dh came home and said he'd take them out to McD's - asked ds1 to get his shoes on. He found his school shoes so I said "why don't you get your boots on.." and before I could finish my sentence "they're by your desk in the kitchen," he yelled "I don't know where they are!" and burst into tears. Thus ensued TWENTY minutes of wailing - and I mean loud wailing - with dh saying what's wrong and ds1 sobbing "Mummy's always telling me off...she doesn't listen to me..."

It sounds awful I know (and I'm feeling guilty now) but he's done this so many times just lately, with the loud OTT wailing and gnashing of teeth, and sobbing on dh's shoulder with tales of how UNFAIR Mummy is, that I just couldn't be bothered to even try to put things right - I just went upstairs til they'd gone out

Dh came up to say "do you think you could try and make a big fuss of ds1 when we get back - say how much you've missed him etc." so obviously he thinks it's me too.

What am I doing wrong? Am I just this horrible nagging witch of a Mum. Ds1 and I have always been best of friends - he's always been "my" boy, perhaps to the exclusion of dh (ds2 is far more of a Daddy's boy than ds1 has ever been). But suddenly, dh seems to be on ds1's wavelength more than me, and I'm feeling bereft.

Now I know the theory,. I've read Steve Biddulph's "Raising Boys" : Mummy's from birth to 7, daddy's from 7 to puberty, then it's all peer pressure from puberty to adulthood. But it actually seems to be happening and I don't like it I want my little friend back - not this Kevin the Teenager sullen, sulky thing that views me as the enemy.

I probably do nag. I'm the *sensible* parent, the one who makes sure he's ready for school in the morning, that he does his homework, doesn't play on the X-Box too long, gets to bed at a reasonable time. Dh is the *fun* parent - the get in from work and go wild wrestling on the floor one and it's always me that has to call a halt when things get out of hand.

And I know ds1 is still finding it hard to deal with having a younger sibling (he was nearly 5 when ds2 came along). Ds2 - typical 2 year old - boisterous, unco-operative, destructive - all the things ds1 isn't. And ds1 gets frustrated and is too rough with ds2 and, yes, I probably am harder on ds1, and seem to spend all my time saying "don't do that, he's only a baby...he doesn't understand how to share..he's only two!"

Oh I'm just rambling now. Is that it? Have I had my 7 years of closeness with ds1 and now I'm just going to be an irritation to him? I just can't seem to find any common ground any more.

Sorry..just needed to let that out. Feeling sorry for myself today.

suzywong Sat 07-Feb-04 13:43:43

oh MM what a sad tale, you poor thing feeling bereft. It seems S Biddulph is a proft and the time has come.Hugs and sympathies and reiteration that you are VERY super mum
xxxxxx

Browbeaten Sat 07-Feb-04 13:48:18

marthamoo, don't be so hard on yourself. I have a ds of 16 months and a dd of 3 and I really notice now that the bickering is starting. Up till now ds would do as dd said and so she was happy. Now there is alot of nagging from me regarding sharing etc. Maybe your ds1 wants to be a baby sometimes and not the big one. I am struggling over this as my dd is really still a baby herself and I expect her to be more mature and understand that ds is only a baby and therefore let him have the toy and he'll get bored in a minute with it. Maybe some separate times are necessary. Can you take him somewhere just you and him and make a fuss and listen to him and tell him how special he is as your no 1 - I don't have answers but really sympathise.

Clarinet60 Sat 07-Feb-04 13:49:42

This could have been my morning, marthamoo. Ds (41/2)acts badly done to much of the time too. He also has a little brother (21 months) and gets fed up with having his games interrupted.

I've been feeling a bit like you lately, but one or two things seem to have remedied the situation. I have sometimes given him a cuddle and sympathy when his behaviour really warranted a telling off. That seemed to help. I also spent an hour playing snakes and ladders with him this morning (my DH is at work too.) That seemed to satisfy him for a while. I feel guilty because I spend most of my time tidying up or seeing to ds2.

I think it's probably a phase. HTH

twiglett Sat 07-Feb-04 13:50:29

message withdrawn

Clarinet60 Sat 07-Feb-04 13:53:17

With regard to the second half of your post about you being the parent that gets things done and DH being the fun one, I feel this very strongly too. I'm always the policeman, and the one who makes meals and clean clothes possible. DH is like another, older child. A while ago, someone on mumsnet put it brilliantly - DH is like an uncle who comes to play.

jmg Sat 07-Feb-04 13:54:05

I think youm might have got it withe the steve biddulph theory. He needs to separate a little from you but he doesn't like it either and he's scared too!! Time for lots of extra cuddles, attention and reassurance I would say.

Angeliz Sat 07-Feb-04 14:22:03

marthamoo, you sound like a lovely mam and i can understand why you're upset! I have a girl but if she was feeling this way it would upset me! I don't know about boys and you are obviousy well read about boys but here's what i'd do.
I would try to find a time when it was just you and him, make the time to have a meal together alone while daddy takes the younger boy out? I would start a conversation by saying that he is obviously unhappy about you at the moment and that you don't like him to feel like that. Ask him what you could do to make it better as you try but you don't know. Tell him that you don't realise you are always nagging him and what does he think you are always telling him off for??? Tell him that the next time he feels you are telling him off, he can tell you and you will listen to what annoyed him. Tell him that it's making you really upset and sometimes you don't know what to do!
I just think if you cleared the air with him he might feel a bit better and so would you!
I hope you are not fuming by this point thinking,"what the f*** does she know", but if you are, i am only saying what "I" would do in that situation. I hope you manage to feel a bit better about it soon as it's obviously making you sad
You sound like a great mam +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Candie Sat 07-Feb-04 14:29:04

You are a very good mum and you are showing it by feeling so upset and concerned. My ds2 is nearly 9 and like your youngest, a typical boisteous boy. DS1 is 10 and is the opposite,everyone calls him little professor. Sometimes when they go to bed I feel like cying cos we have such a bad day, with them constantly fighting and saying i,m always nagging. I always thought things would get easier as they got older but in some ways it is much harder. But however horrible they can be deep down I think they are going through so much change - I read somewhere that they get male testosterone surges which affect them - and they need reassurance from their mum that you still love them, even if you feel like you don't like them at times. When things have gone really wrong for them, such as things at school, they soon drop this macho image and want their mum.

GreySquirrel Sat 07-Feb-04 14:44:55

I am by no means an expert in this field, having two young girls and no boys, but I have seen how children tend to lash out at those they are closest too when they are unhappy, and play relatives off against each other to get attention. They don't seem to understand that it upsets people, they are only thinking about their own needs which is all part of being a child I guess. So I wouldn't take it too much to heart, I know how upsetting it is when they come out with "I don't love you any more Mummy" etc, but they really don't understand what they are saying, just that it is getting your attention.

I also know about being the sensible parent and how that does make you feel like you are always being negative and you don't want to be that person, but they do need someone to fill that role. I read somewhere that it is a good idea to pick your battles though, try not to make everything the issue, focus on the the "don't play with matches" etc but maybe let them get away with other minor things like deciding to run around the house in the nude(my personal battle!), then you are not always telling them off?? I found that useful not sure if it is any help...

I agree with all the others, the very fact that it is bothering you so much shows that you are a great mum and a very loving parent, which is what he needs even if he doesn't always appreciate it!

beetroot Sat 07-Feb-04 14:48:16

Message withdrawn

Kayleigh Sat 07-Feb-04 14:48:33

Marthamoo, you have all my sympathies. I have a ds2 who is almost 6 and seems to be at this phase already. I was starting to wonder what I'd done wrong. Unfortunately my ds2 (almost 3) is a complete Mummys boy and I think in my case that sibling rivalry has a lot to do with it.
I feel like I'm always shouting at ds1 as he is contantly winding ds2 up and i don't want him to feel that I am always on at him. I try and tell ds2 off at the same time but that isn;t really fair on him either as most of the time he has done nothing.
It is a constant battle at the moment and I'm not enjoying it at all. But I do find when I can get some time alone with ds1 we do have a nice time and get on much better.

Can you spend some extra time with your ds1, just the two of you ?

Kayleigh Sat 07-Feb-04 14:49:52

sorry that should have been "I have a ds1 who is almost 6". Really should preview !

eli Sat 07-Feb-04 16:24:46

I go through this at times with my 7-year-old DS though. You are probably quite right him feeling that his younger sibling is taking away some of 'his' time. i don't know if it will help but have you tried giving him some extra time at bedtime - reading a story or whatever. mine is a sucker for having his back stroked. Tends to be a nice cuddly time when all sorts of things can be forgiven. Also, if you feel you are having to play the stern Mum a lot can you come at it from the other side and maybe award stickers for things well done? We have a system where if he collects enough stickers he gets a treat such as a bionicle - though of course it doesn't have to be a toy. We don't do it all the time but if we are going through a difficult patch it sometimes helps.

marthamoo Sat 07-Feb-04 17:56:36

Thankyou thankyou thankyou...you are all wonderful and have made me feel much better. Some really wise advice from you all (I would expect no less from lovely Mumsnetters). Definitely we need some time doing things together, and I need to stand back a bit before I start with the nagging. You've all posted such sensible advice, and it's nice to know some of you are going through it too (well, I'm sorry you are, but glad it's not just me, iykwim). Thankyou for telling me I'm a good Mum - I needed to hear that today

And angeliz - absolutely not fuming or thinking you should f**k off

THANKYOU!!!!!!

Angeliz Sat 07-Feb-04 18:23:51

Glad to hear it
Also nice to see you sound happier already, mumsnet's great innit?++++

roisin Sat 07-Feb-04 19:04:36

Marthamoo - my ds1 is 7 in July, and I feel just like you sometimes. If he's being stroppy I feel I'm constantly nagging or telling him off; and if he's not being good - he's off reading or playing on his own, or with his brother, and he doesn't need me.

A few of tactics I'm trying at the moment with some success are:

1) Telling him how great I am! Seriously! When I do something for him - like scanning a load of pictures onto the computer and printing them out in reduced uniform size, so that he can make them into a set of cards - I give them back to him and say "Aren't I the most fantastic mummy in the world?"

2) The other thing I'm trying is to get him to take more responsibility, and to recognise the rules. Some of the trickiest problems we have is if he feels he is being reprimanded unjustly, or if a punishment is unfair. So we have started having 'family council meetings' to discuss things, and give them both chance to air their views. Together we have drafted some 'house rules', and the hope is that having worked on them together he will be more accepting of them.

3) When they are playing nicely, as well as remembering to go and praise them, also sometimes going and getting stuck in and playing with them, rather than just being happy to let them do their own thing.

Glad you are feeling better this afternoon.

zippy539 Sat 07-Feb-04 19:28:12

Marthamoo - sorry you've been feeling so bad but like everyone else has said it sounds like you are a brilliant mum There's been so much good advice here from people who have a lot more experience with this age group than me, but I did wonder if there could be anything else upsetting him - (at school maybe?). Maybe he is finding something else hard to deal with and he is taking it out on you cause you're the closest one to him.?

You've probably already thought of this and sorry if someone has already mentioned it (only skimmed the thread) but it could be worth considering.

Hope things improve soon - I suppose you just have to keep the communication channels open - easier said than done, I know.

marthamoo Sat 07-Feb-04 22:47:06

Thanks zippy and roisin - fab advice, roisin. Zippy - as far as I know, things are OK at school, but he can be less than forthcoming (things tend to come out in dribs and drabs) - agreed, though, it is worth keeping in mind.

He was very cuddly when he got back from McD's - he obviously felt bad too. Before bathtime, instead of clearing up the dishes etc., as I usually do I challenged him to a game of Quidditch World Cup on the X-Box. He was less than impressed by my skills on a broomstick and I managed to score a big fat zero against his...710, but it was fun and we had a good laugh together.

We had a little chat when I read his bedtime story (I was well armed with advice from you lot!) and I am feeling much more positive. Will try and get *time out* just the two of us tomorrow.

Really, truly sincere thanks again for taking the time to give me your thoughts - much appreciated.

WideWebWitch Sat 07-Feb-04 23:41:12

Oh marthamoo, your post made me feel so sad for you and your ds. I don't have any words of wisdom but I've read Biddulph too and my ds is 6 with a new sibling and he's growing away from me a bit and I feel sad about it too. I get a cuddle in the morning when he's half asleep but other than that they're tailing off a bit. Can you make some special time that just you and ds have together? I know my ds likes it when we go out with the pram because the baby falls asleep and "we can have a chat can't we mummy?" so I reckon he needs me more than he lets on, from comments like that. Oh, just read the other posts and see that others have said exactly the same and you've already implemented it so I'm a bit late here but I've typed it now so will post to you anyway. I sincerely hope we don't just get 7 years of closeness with our boys and hope someone comes along to tell us it aint so.

SofiaAmes Sun 08-Feb-04 09:34:32

One other suggestion. Why don't you sit down and talk with your dh (away from the kids) and try to look at a few specific situations that have happened to see how he might be able to back you up a bit better. There is nothing wrong with one parent being the organiser, but it's important that the other parent doesn't undermine it, or turn that parent into the "evil" one. For example, if you say please put your boots on, then it's important that your dh doesn't say "oh it doesn't matter, just wear your school shoes." He needs to back you up and say "yes, wear your boots so your school shoes will stay clean for school..." Perhaps your dh does back you up, but if he doesn't it could be part of the source of your son looking to play you off against each other.

Anyway, I grew up in a family where my mother was the organiser, disciplinarian, boss etc. and my father didn't notice much of anything. And I adore my mother and talk to her everyday almost. So don't despair, a good mother is never underappreciated in the long run.

tigermoth Sun 08-Feb-04 10:20:51

marthamoo, I've seen this thread a bit late and wanted to say I'm sorry you feel a little cut off from the closeness you share with your ds1. I didn't realise your sons have the same age gape as mine ore or less - I've got a 9 yer old and a 4 year old. It has got easier as the younger one is no longer a toddler and has more in common with the oldest one - they do more and more things together. That brings us all closer.

I did go through time of thinking my oldest ds favoured his father over me more (and they have always had a close bond anyway, since dh was a stay at home dad while I worked). I seemed to spend my time tending to the demands of my mobile, lively toddler. Coincidentally, my older son was reaching a natural stage of wanting male company more. He also wanted to distance himself from 'baby things'.

One thing I've always done is talk to my oldest son last thing at night, and give him a cuddle - or more lately, a back rub. This is his time to talk about anything, if he hasn't managed to get round to telling me something during the day. He is 9 and I feel really close to him - he is my friend as well as my son.

Also, I agree with Zippy - this calling you unfair might be something he has picked up from school. Perhaps he's heard other children saying 'it's not me it was him' as they do a lot at that age IME, and adopted this approach at home. So when you ask him to do something, he says 'that's unfair'. I also wonder if your dh has once said something sympathetic to him about mummy being unfair, and he's hoping that he can use this reason every time he feels he is being go at by you. Agree with sofiaAmes that you need to talk to your dh about this.
Sorry have to dash off - catch up with this later.

marthamoo Sun 08-Feb-04 11:11:28

You are all so fantastic and thoughtful - please keep posting, it's not too late (I'm always slightly reluctant to return to a thread and say "thankyou" in case people don't post any more).

I think I'm just feeling a bit down at the moment and everything seems worse - feel like ds1 is growing away from me (which is inevitable I know) but I'm not ready yet. I suppose it's part of motherhood - feeling like you are stretched too thinly: time for each child, time for dh/dp, time for housework, time for MN , and a bit of time for yourself (and I'm a SAHM...how people fit work into the equation I don't know). It's wanting to get it right.

Oh, I don't know. Just a bit of a gloomy doomy marthamoo at the moment. Visions of deliquent ds1 drinking cider in bus shelters at 10....

Do you know that quote?
To a mother, a child is everything; but to a child, a parent is only a link in the chain of her existence.

I'm feeling that quite keenly at the moment. Gawd, I think too much, that's my problem. Think I might go and drink some cider in a bus shelter. Thanks for bearing with me

Candie Sun 08-Feb-04 11:54:58

i know how you feel Marthamoo. When ds1 hit his 10th birthday he was really excited and I ws gutted. I keep thinking how many more years till he leaves home and how time is flying. Then I think I will do more with them to make the most of the time I have with them then I find another day has flown past. My 2 are 16 months apart and even they were babies it was just one big blur.
My friends children are now grown up and she says that even though she gets nostalgic about the times when hers were small, she has enjoyed every stage of their lives, though there were good times and bad.
You ds1 is still only young and he has got a lot of growing up to do and he'll be with you a few years yet. He still loves you, whatever he says.
My ds2 and said he hates me in the past and I have sat and howled, but when the chips are down its mum they want.
I do know how you feel, and will be thinking of you.

Philly Mon 09-Feb-04 09:48:44

I can really empathise here I have DS1(10),ds2(7) and ds3(2).the seven and 2 yeaar old fight a lot and it is difficult to explain why ds3 doesn't understand etc.When ds1 hit this stage I felt so like you do,what seemed to help was that we now have a monthly outing just the 2 of us usually to do something which the youger ones either are not old enough for or wouldn't enjoy,eg cinema,last month we went into town to spend voucher (he could have time to choose without hassle from others)and then cafe Nero for a grown up drink,coffee for me smoothie for him!sometimes we just go to the library so that he can choose his books in peace.Some time where he gets my undivided attention and we can chat if he wants to or not if he doesn't ,I really look forward to these times and hope that it will build bridges as he starts to hit the teenage years.

In the mean time it sounds like you are a fantastic mum and don't be so hard on yourself

P>S> I also have limited skills on Quidditch World Cup!

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