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Do I have too high expectations?

(32 Posts)
Palika Tue 25-Jun-13 12:38:24

I can't get rid of the thought that other peoples' teenagers are much easier than my 14-year old DS. I talk to 2 sister in laws of mine who have a combined 7 teenagers and they seem all so...well, 'normal'. They all play instruments, they are good and even brilliant at sport and they are good or very good at school, they have friends and engage in a lot of activities.
My husband and I were like this as teenagers as well.

Our own DS is underperforming at school - the teachers call him 'lazy and silly', he constantly lies to us, he is bad at sports, bad at any musical activity, has poor social skills (somewhat improved recently) and generally not interested in anything else but computer games. We always struggled to control his difficult behaviour - it was a hard ride.

I know many of you struggle with far worse problems than I do but I still find it hard to let go of the disappointment that I feel about him.

When DS was in primary school I used to help him a lot. I think he had mild adhd and dyspraxia but was never officially diagnosed. I did years and years of physical exercise programs with him, spelling games and math games, you name it.

Now he is older, he obviously and healthily wants to have more independence and without my constant support (some would call it 'pressure') the whole picture of his poor performance and lack of motivation becomes more evident.

I try to tell myself that our children are not there to make us proud or to give us anything at all but deep down I feel this rage towards him (which I try to not to take out of him).

If you reply can you kindly try to not judge me because I am doing this already myself. I genuinely want to find a way to not be so disappointed and more accepting of the situation.

AmberLeaf Sun 30-Jun-13 09:13:39

Longtimelurking. No you are not the only one.

tungthai Sun 30-Jun-13 09:40:11

Palika, there is no harm in continuing to provide support with organisation. Keeping a detailed planner on his wall listing when he has to certain tasks doesn't mean that you are being a helicopter parent, you are just helping him with an area that he needs more help with than most.

Keep talking to him about his dreams and ambitions, he probably has dreams but possibly lacks the confidence and self esteem to achieve them on his own. He might feel embarrassed to share them.

Often children like your ds come into their own and find their niche when they leave school and start work.

cory Sun 30-Jun-13 12:51:16

Maybe it would help to sort your feelings into a few separate categories. There are

a) *legitimate grievances*:

As alemci points out, it is extremely annoying to have to listen to complaints from the school because your offspring is not behaving as he should. We've had the laziness too, and I keep assuring the school that we are 100% behind any measures they take to kick ds' backside. Laziness and inattentiveness spoils it for the whole class and you are perfectly entitled to feel angry and embarrassed about that

b) *parental dreams*:

This is the area where you have to accept that you cannot change other people, you can only change your own reactions to them.

I was surprised to find that ds didn't enjoy reading at all, couldn't care less for the natural world, had no interest in history or art and really didn't see the point in playing an instrument. (I was perhaps less surprised to find he didn't want to join any organised sports either as I hate organised activities myself.) Really, for a long time it seemed as if he wasn't interested in anything.

Lately, partly through my observing him more closely, partly through him getting confident enough to claim his interests as legitimate interests, I have come to realise that he does have interests: they are just things that I have never thought of as interests children should or could have. A bit like my mother never recognised my brother's Beatles obsession as an interest in music; to her, music meant something very different.

c) *worries for the future*:

This is a tricky one because it does so much seem part of our duties as parents to take thought for the future. But worrying rarely helps things, and quite frequently makes them worse. Worries about a child's social skills or coping abilities can so easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy ("I am hopeless socially, even my own family think so, so there's not point in trying").

Perhaps best to focus away a little bit and remember that "even the very wise cannot see all ends".

On the whole, I think I'd have to say that the things I have worried most about concerning dc haven't happened and some totally unforeseen things have, so the time spent worrying was probably time wasted: I should have spent that building up my own resilience instead.

d) need to compete with other parents

Well, we're only human, it is a natural thing to want.

But I do try, every time I find myself getting caught up in this, to step back a bit and do something that makes me feel good about myself instead. begs the question what I am doing on MN this bright and sunny morning when I should be courting fame and glory by finishing my article

antimatter Sun 30-Jun-13 14:46:01

if your son wants to be an Engineer does he know what does it take to become one?

maybe he doesn't realise that he needs to be very well organised and thorough to become one?

maybe seeing a goal of becoming one would help him to focus?

I would question teacher's assessing a child as silly - the behaviour is probably inappropriate, where is it coming from?
Is he trying to impress his friends, why is he not given tasks which are engaging and right for his level of knowledge and concentration.

Besides - praising always gets better results than criticizing. Esp at that age!

Palika Mon 01-Jul-13 14:25:18

I feel your post comes across as incredibly judgemental!!! You are judging me, yet your criticise me for being too judgemental. That just does not add up.

You probably also judge yourself very harshly. My advice to you is to be kinder to yourself and then you can also be kinder to someone who asks for help.

To the others:
thanks so much!
yes, I have thought many times that my sister in laws may not tell me the whole story about their kids. Some would call it being positive and others would call it boastful. I try not compare...only when I am weak...

I feel much better...

salopia Tue 02-Jul-13 15:48:52

In answer to your original question, yes, you are , but this is with a huge dose of hindsight . we can never expect our kids to turn out like us, I should know , mine are nothing like me ,or in ways, like my DH.

I was fairly academic, artistic and confident , DS1 has stuggled at school, was a good all rounder at sport , but not competetive, so never won anything, and suffered with anxiety in his younger teenage years, for which I blamed myself (too much pressure ).

He has just qualified as a fitness insructor, and got a job at 19yrs on his 2nd interview ever.

I am so proud of him. He didn't really start working at school until he was 17yrs and found what he really wanted to do.

Your son may be a great engineer, he may also be a great car mechanic or plumber ! I am sure you will be proud whatever he does because you love him and you have both done the best you can.

Lastly, smile sweetly at tales of other peoples kids, their parents may rue the day they boasted !

Palika Tue 02-Jul-13 21:57:03

Salopia, Antimatter, Thongthai and Cori
thanks so much for your kind and encouraging posts. It's so good to know I am not alone in all this.

I am an 'older' mum, so have not many friends with children of the same age. It's nice to go on a forum like this and receive support. smile

I do think the point is to find the right balance of accepting your child and also 'push' them to be better than they are. But to find this perfect balance is never easy.

I do not believe that sheer acceptance is the answer to all our childrens' problems as the two very angry posters in this thread seem to think. But obviously, being too pushy is not good either.

My DS has always thanked me (and still does on occasion) that I helped him to overcome the dyspraxia and adhd and also improve his social skills. So, I kind of know that that was alright.

But with his underachievement in school he is less influenceable. Having said that, while we were talking here he has actually brought a very good mark home, which is making me hopeful again.

thanks again to you all!

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