Rude, massive DS (14) seems increasingly unparentable - help?(203 Posts)
Caveat: he's doing fine at school, he has nice friends, he's active (loads of sport), teachers and friends' parents are glowing about him. So he's not all bad by any stretch. But ...
He is unpleasant company a lot of the time at home. I give him the space he wants most of the time - the family meals I'd like aren't worth pushing for anymore because the atmosphere at the table can be so grim for everyone else. But when we do have to interact, it's more often than not coloured with sarcasm, contempt, disgust. Yesterday he told me to fuck off, and that I'm irrelevant, after I challenged him about an over-the-top Xbox-related rage fit (swearing, shouting, crashing about in his room).
I'm having a tough time with work and a few other stresses at the moment, and don't have rhino-hide skin. The way he talks to me is really starting to get to me.
I have the "Get out of my life but first take me and Alex to town" book - which is the one thing that makes me think this is still (just about) within the realms of normal teen arsehole-ness and he might yet become a lovely young man (we genuinely see glimmers of this).
But I feel I just can't parent him effectively anymore. He's a very very tall rugby player, broadening out, deep voice, side-burns - he started developing at nine, so has looked like a much older teen/young man for a while, and I find this complicates disciplining him. I am probably a bit scared of him, which makes me feel so weak and cross with myself.
He lives with me and parenting is down to me 99% of the time (he sees but never stays with his dad). When I call his dad to get some help with his behaviour, there's usually a suggestion I'm not handling it well enough or should have done this or he'd have done that. What he doesn't appreciate is that (a) he's still stronger than DS and (b) I have a much younger child in the house who I don't want to traumatise by inducing a man-sized tantrum from DS. (Before yesterday, DS last had one about a year ago and it was very stressful for all to be around.)
I've talked to DS and he insists nothing else is bothering him. This just seems to be our dynamic currently - and it saddens me, as we've been close in the past. I find it emotionally exhausting, and I find myself treading on eggshells around him and unable to make him do anything anymore.
Especially if you're on your own with an over-sized teen, how do you deal with endless rudeness? How do you make them get on with homework they're leaving to the last minute (or is it down to them now to mess up and deal with the consequences?)? How do you get them to do a few chores? How do you make them come off phones/consoles and get ready for bed? Or do I just give up now and let him work it out for himself? I don't want to baby him, nor turn my back and withdraw parenting he still needs (even if he doesn't realise it).
I'm finding this stage really, really hard.
I have no answers to your questions but I do think it is reasonably normal.
Really frustrated with the arrogance of my nearly 15yo DS today. I can't say anything right or useful. Dinnertimes are not great, he either switches off the conversation altogether or knows better then everyone about everything.
I am still persevering with the 'encourage the behaviour I want and ignore as much as possible' strategy but it is hard. My DS is also doing well at school & has nice, good friendships. He is also very nice to his GPs so I am hopeful his indifference to me is just a phase.
I heard a child psychologist on the radio a few weeks ago suggesting that when dealing with challenging behaviour, a parent visualise their teenager as ten years younger than their actual age. It sounded daft until I thought about how impatient I can be dealing with behaviour infractions that I think should be obvious to my 13 year old. This snippet of a conversation has made me reconsider the way I navigate them. I don't mean to patronise him but I just borrow from the tools I had when I parented him as a much younger child. Does that make sense?
I'm imagining talking to DS as if he were 4; 'wow DS, you kicked those trainers off and left them in the middle of the hall really well! Now let's have a race to see who can get your History book out of the bag first. Do you want the green pen or the purple one? And when you've done that we can watch TV together (starts singing theme tune)'
It just might work! He might feel that cosy nostalgic feeling of being mothered in that way and the effortless intimacy between a mother and her young child.
I'm going to watch this thread with interest I think as find myself in a similar situation. To make matters worse I have people adding their opinions with no experience themselves which only adds to my frustration.
Also watching with interest as I have two of these. Premature ageing in progress
Ours will sit at the table for a meal but does not engage in any conversation and leaves ASAP. Any kind of communication is usually sarcastic or shouty or demanding. I’m hoping it is a phase that will soon be grown out of, I have on occasion tried speaking as if DC was still a lovely and gorgeous little one but that just results in “why are you talking/being so stupid?”
Try 'Divas and Doorslammers' by Charlie Taylor - there's lots of tips for tackling teenage behaviour. ('Get out of my life' is good for understanding why they're behaving as they do, but not so much focused on changing things when you really need to. ) I particularly like his '6:1' strategy (positive to negative comments rather than food ), but also things like chopping up pocket money into small increments then tying them to outcomes, etc.
You have my total sympathy. While my DS isn’t huge, he’s a brown belt at karate (though I don’t think he’d ever be tempted to use it on me), incredibly strong, I’m tiny and DH is always at work.
I find him much easier to handle if I stay calm. Earlier in the week he swore at me, told me to Fuck Off. The WiFi’s went off, although I did tell him first to save whatever he was playing on. It wasn’t long before he came around, apologised and we did the tasks.
It can be incredibly hard to stay calm though and you can never, ever show that you’re scared of them.
As a parent of an older teen boy, I think your DS sounds pretty much like a lot of teen boys I have come across including my own.
It is a very trying phase, especially the arrogance of them always being right and you always being a completely imbecile. I recommend finding a group of other mums of teen boys and going out for an evening of sharing stories of teen boy idiocy and de-stressing with them.
Also read threads on here - you are not alone.
As far as actually doing anything about it - my method was a) have a rational conversation at an appropriate time about what you expect and try to elicit some kind of buy in from your DS and b) use a combination of bribery/ rewards - food related always worked with my DS and c) control - technology is your friend - you can set the router to kick him off at certain times of day, confiscate/ hide the Xbox controller until homework etc has been done.
The fact that your DS is doing well at school and sport and impressing other adults is all good. Plus you don't mention any issues with drugs/ alcohol so also a positive.
My DS is still a PITA at times but he did manage to knuckle down and get good GCSE grades and has an improved work ethic as a result and is a bit less volatile these days.
Please don't do as PP suggested re pocket money and splitting it up against chores.
Otherwise known as performance related pay, or pay per unit. Assigning a monetary value to tasks will not teach DS how to respect you or himself. Chores should be done to contribute to the overall running of the house; learning how to take care of his own needs age appropriately.
He should put his clothes in the washing pile because he knows they need washing and he can't expect someone else to collect up his dirty clothes for him. Next stage: he should learn to use the washing machine and wash his own clothes, to ready himself for leaving home. He shouldn't get paid for this.
In terms of tech, I have a kill switch in my phone for the WiFi router. WiFi goes on only after homework. It's off during dinner and for the 20 minutes before bedtime. All devices downstairs then the WiFi goes back on again
so I can dick about on Mumsnet!
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a bit of performance related pay with a 14 year old. Doing household tasks out of altruism can come later. In my case it’s usually if you want a lift you cut the grass type of arrangements
You’re not alone OP. I am lone parent to 6ft 3 14yo and I stand on the stairs two steps up to gain sufficient gravitas sometimes
I repeat myself A LOT to remind him of homework etc. I agree it’s exhausting
I won’t put up with swearing etc unless there is a particular frustration or reason and we would always discuss afterwards and he would apologise
Russell - it's not about splitting it up against chores. I can't remember the exact schema suggested (I have a co-operative helpful 16 y/o these days!! ) - but more like a daily amount that goes into the 'jar' etc for a functional non-confrontational day.
I agree with trying to treat them as younger than they are/ignoring the bad & overreacting to the good etc.
I also found downloading a WiFi blocker on my phone absolutely invaluable.
Just to reassure you, DD1 was irredeemably cuntish at 14. Worse, he was also lovely at school and to other people’s parents
He’s nearly 18 now and couldn’t be more wonderful if he tried.
I’m going to be a wreck when he leaves for university.
Oh, I don’t chase up homework/ sports kit etc for any of mine (youngest in yr1)
If they forget and face the consequences they soon learn to nag me instead!
I do talk to them a lot about the benefits schoolwork/clubs/responsibilities will have on their lives now and in the future.
I make sure they have all the kit they need and might remind once but I don’t chase.
This sounds tough and it probably is just a phase - one that feels it may never end.
I don’t have children (dss) but I remember when my sister was like this with mum. She was horrific. She was so lovely and then turned into this- I don’t know what you call it. Demon.
It sounds like he has had a lot of stuff done for him- and he is taking it all for granted whether he knows it or not. I believe too much can be done for kids growing up they don’t get to value anything as it’s all done for them.
Mum was strict with me and my one sis. My other one has EVERYTHING done for her. It was crazy - we’d hace to iron our own clothes - she’s walk into mums room being handed a crisp pressed shirt!
What if you spoke to him (on a good moment) and said you weren’t able to do as much for him and he’s going to have to start helping out? His washing/ironing etc
I think lots of people are guilty of doing too much without realising and it doesn’t help in the long run.
Nobody wants to wind up with a partner that looks at an iron with a “what is that?” Expression either...
I hope it gets better for you... good luck
Re reading your OP - you could leave him to mess up with stuff by doing his homework late, forgetting his PE kit and face the consequences but it depends on him and the school.
I tried that with DS & his year 10 exams but it was not very effective as he either did well in his exams having done no visible revision or did slightly below par and blamed it on the exam/ the teacher/ everyone else but himself.
So for GCSE year we did make him do more than he would have done left to his own devices but quite a lot of spoon feeding was required.
I was basing my feedback re performance related pocket money on my own experience. As a teenager this was how my dad did it (with full knowledge of DM but couldn't be bothered to have any input).
Being told I wasn't worth anything today was souls destroying. I did the jobs, but not good enough. My best efforts were worthless. And I still feel worthless today. I have very low self esteem, not completely due to how pocket money was allocated, but it's a pretty strong factor.
The challenge would be in how you ensure your child knows they are loved and cherished at the same time as you chose to pay or not pay that day/week's worth of effort. Fair enough if there is clearly zero effort but beyond that, how do you choose what they are worth? It's a shit system and I think pocket money should be handled differently.
Following this with interest. I'm in exactly the same position with my 15 year old.
He's a massive dickhead most of the time, such a draining time, I'd go back to the terrible twos in a flash given the chance!
I understand. Ds1 cares for nothing other than playing fortnite and playing football.
But I wont let him speak to me like that. I have said many times, both at the time, when he says it, and later, during very calm conversations with ds1, Dh and I, that I simply wont be spoken to like that.
Dh is tougher than I. He will ban x box for 24 hours and will generally not tolerate ds's speaking disrespectively to me.
You need to be tougher. its just not ok. Lack of respect to mum is just not ok.
No going to town, no x box, unless he's nice. End of.
It's really sad that you feel sacred or intimidated by him simply due to his size, he's still a kid and your baby
Teenage boys just need to get through a few years when they are assholes - don't sweat the small stuff and create arguments
We have managed to navigate this with almost 16yo DS by being very relaxed in some areas, giving him responsibility, autonomy and space but having very clear no no's
So for instance I don't dictate bedtime or screen use /gaming, I ignore bad language when using it with friends but it is absolutely unacceptable to use around other adults or towards mum and dad in anger
Another example is he must shower every day - non negotiable but when he does this is up to him.
I don't insist he eats with us but once a week I will order his favourite pizza and I do expect that he'll sit and eat/chill out with us for an hour
This seems to be working really well - we dont argue, I very, very rarely have to speak to him about behaviour/attitude and we generally get on really well together
Fantastic advice from everyone. My teens are both over 6foot now and the best advice I was give was to make them sit down before you spoke to them so you still have the height advantage!
Good luck, it will all come good in the end - especially as he's well behaved at school
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