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  1. I have 3 boys ages 8,14, & 17. My oldest is deeply emotional and like me the most. There’s a deep rooted resentment from him towards his brothers. He almost hates his 14 year old brother. He feels envious of my relationship with his brother, liam, the 14 year old. He is always in his room, off skating with his friends or spending time with his girlfriend. when he is home he avoids all interaction with us. He said he doesn’t feel included in the family. But his brother isn’t emotional and enjoys spending time with me and makes the effort to talk and join me on errands. my oldest is independent and always preferred to be on his own rather than hanging around me. But he carrie’s in his heart a lot of pain and it’s breaking my heart. His internal struggles have me crying. He is quick to point the finger at me and blame me for everything. He is spiteful and hates to take accountability for his actions. we all walk on eggshells around him always trying to avoid making him mad because he is quick to snap. He can talk to my as though i’m an annoying kid sister rather than a parent and he is fully aware of this. he is quick to be mean to his brother and will bully him. when i try to hold him accountable for his actions and set boundaries he always points the finger at his brother and wants to tit for tat with me how i’m more lenient on his brothers than him. He will incessantly justify his actions and then attack me and accuse me for all his pain. Ima single mom who has lost control of my boys behaviors due yo me having to work and not being present enough to maintain order. There’s a lot of tension between us all. It’s breaks my heart when my son blames me for everything and hes quick to point out my flaws. I don’t know what to do anymore. i know he truly desires to feel more connected but he also wants ti feel like “the man of the house” because there isn’t one. How do I not dismiss his feelings? how do i get him to take accountability for his actions and stop turning everything issue into a deeply emotionally draining argument that ends in me crying and him feeling more alienated.I know i’ve made mistakes as a parent and with my oldest being 17 I’m afraid i’ve already lost him. I just don’t know what to do anymore.

    1. I am so sorry for your situation. It hurts my heart to imagine what that is like. A couple first thoughts for you: I encourage you to pray and read the Bible to find wisdom and hope in God’s help. Next, would your oldest son ever agree to go for a walk with you or set time aside to do something together where you have some freedom to talk? I don’t imagine you will solve all of the problems in one chat, but perhaps if you had the chance to walk (side by side so he is more comfortable) and tell him you love him and you are sad for how things have gone and that you are willing to work with him to build a more healthy relationship and etc. Sometimes when we humble ourselves and own our part our kids are more willing to look at their part in things too. Of course a counselor would be great help but if that is not an option, writing him a letter or just talking with him might move you in the right direction. Also it may take time. But he absolutely needs to respect you, and I would encourage you to set boundaries and have consequences as long as he lives in your house and you provide for him. But I do believe it must begin with relationship. Praying for you now!

  2. Can you please contact, I have a big issue that I need to deal with in regards to grooming 🙏🏼🙏🏼

    1. I have a contact form on my website that you can use to contact me! 🙂 (see home page at the top.)

  3. Hello! I enjoyed reading what you had to say and I can say I can say my mom does every every single point except #3. I’m 18 years old, just finished my first semester as a freshman at a University. I need your help to help me understand my parents specifically my mom. Everytime, we try to talk about a concerning topic or issue, she is always on the defensive, telling me that I’m always the problem, that I need to stop making excuses. Everytime I try to talk into her about an issue she uses the word “always” a lot. Such as “You always do this, you always do that, you always make excuses.” She hardly ever owns up to her mistakes. Yes, I’m not perfect too and I too need to own up to my mistakes. But everytime I talk to her about something, she constantly uses the word “Always”. She’s too critical as well. She just recently took away my phone just cause I one small detail she told me to do that I was going to do soon. She puts a lot of rules/regulations on me, and for that reason that’s why I’m starting to pull away. I’m starting to see that if I can’t get my mom to listen, when I get older, I won’t even ask her for anything. As for my dad, he’s much nicer, I believe in him cause he actually owns up to his mistakes. My mom she never ever does. She’s constantly blaming me for everything I do, she never looks in her own heart, and what her parenting is affecting me in a negative way. Please Help. Thanks.

    1. Hi Joel, if I were left to guess I would say your mom probably has a very harsh inner critic and she is hard on herself. People who give themselves grace will give others grace. She probably means well. Have you tried talking to her about it, the way you did here in the comments? I wish you the best honey, and pray you don’t take every word to heart.

  4. Just wanted to say THANK YOU for creating this amazing podcast. I have three boys and I can’t get enough of the faith based wisdom, experience and knowledge that you and your guests share with your listeners. Your conversations ground my anxious mom thoughts as well as give me confidence and excitimnet to wake up every day and parent these amazing boys God has blessed my husband and I with.

    1. Thank you so much, Emily!! so kind of you to take the time to comment! sending hugs!

  5. Hello! I’m a 19 year old college student. I recently went through a situation with my mom. I recently went out of state with some family members, which my mom knew about. Normally when we get to the destination I tell her I made it there. But before I got the chance to tell her she complains about how I could of called when I made it. Mind you it hasn’t been 10 minutes since I got there and I was greeting family and such. It’s not as if I wasn’t going to tell her but she never allowed me the chance to do it. I let her know I was going to let her know I was just getting settled in first. I continue with my day and go to a dinner event. The venue is an hour away and it lasted 4/5 ish hours. And of course the drive back is a hour as well. I make it back at a late time and receive a text about how I haven’t called at all. I say that we were at dinner and I wasn’t sure if she would still be up but I could call her in 5 minutes. She says “ 7 hours after you got there it’s ok. Goodnight love you.” I explain that I was busy and wasn’t able to call her. She says “You can give me explanations all you want. It takes a second to call.” I say I would call to make up for not being able to call while i was busy and you declined”. She then says “Anytime somebody wants something it’s not a problem to reach out then. and Yes I did decline. I’m sorry that you feel like you have to make up a call when it comes to me.” I say I was gonna make up for being busy since I didn’t plan to be out all day. And she replied with Since you were soooo busy. Even during the hour drive that i was sitting in the car for. Is this bad parenting? And why or why not? I just don’t understand why a mom would be this way to her child.

  6. Raph Ramos says:

    I’m 15, and a lot of these things my parents have done, I wasn’t surprised that they did these, it’s that there’s probably a couple more like me who’ve experienced this and feel alone because of it, crazy how the world works.

    1. Hi Raph, and thank you for taking the time to comment. I hope you are comfortable sharing this post with your parents. You may be surprised that they would like to talk to you about these things and perhaps your relationship can get stronger! You are loved.

  7. Do you have any insight you can give on online relationships with teens? I allowed my 14 year old son to continue talking to a girl (that he first hid from me and lied about) after I confirmed that she was who she said she was, and not a predator. But it has gotten out of control and it feels like it is the only relationship that he cares about now. They’ve never met and can’t because they are states apart. Is it healthy to allow them to continue talking, as long as we set boundaries and he follows them? Or is a long distance, online relationship where they have never met unhealthy at this age?

  8. Our 17 year old daughter spends a lot of time with another couple for whom she is Godmother to their 1-yr old son. She is a great kid…great grades, well liked by teachers and friends, not into drugs or alcohol, and not “mean” to us. I’ve recently discovered she calls the other couple “Mom” and “Dad” and they even sign their names as Mom and Dad on notes they leave her. She goes to church with them every Sunday. They are good people but I’m concerned about them acting as parental figures for her. How should we handle this? Note, he is one of her teachers at school, and there was even a CPS report made last Summer re: his relationship with our daughter but no evidence was found so the case was dropped.

  9. Hi I have an 11yr old son I miss him alot all the time I have him week on week off he has always been a huge mummy’s boy following me every where just wanting to be with me lately he is just so angry n says I’m annoying he plays on his PS4 alot for hours if it’s not that its tictok or YT he never goes out he swears alot n scares me about how much weight he has put on he says he will hang with me but never does I’m so hurt from this pls help me get my son to want to do things again I miss him even when he is here 😭

    1. Take away the PS4, it will be like a drug withdraws at first- he will act out and be very mean, but day by day for week it will start to get better. You will see a marked improvement in his mental health and use of bad language. Try and implement a schedule where he must spend time with you- meals and walks together or something like that. It’ll be hard, so get ready to have your feelings hurt and your emotions pushed to their limits but it will be worth it.

    2. Remember you are the parent. You can set limits on his technology use. My son enjoys video games but we have his devices set to shut off after one hour. The games are designed to be addicting and addictions can make people irritable, it isn’t his fault, he just needs limits. If he is bored without them that isn’t a bad thing. Boredom leads to creativity. Get family link and then you are in charge of all his apps and how long he is allowed on them.

  10. Hi, my name is Masindi and I’m 13 years old. My parents don’t really spend time with me, but when we do, they’re always comparing me to my older sister(Roseanne) who has graduated from college this year at 22 years of age. They’re always pressuring me to do better than she did in school. What should I do, should I talk to them or what??
    I also wanted to ask if I can date at 13 yrs old😁😁

    1. Hi Masindi! So glad you stopped by here. 🙂 Nice to meet you! I would definitely talk to your parents about how you feel. I’m sure they love you very much but they are human too, and maybe if you open the conversation in a kind way they would be open to your feedback. Maybe you can suggest that you all spend more time together too! Let them know how it makes you feel when they compare you.
      As for dating, that is really between you and your parents. My boys did not date in high school and they feel that saved them from a lot of unnecessary stress. Building good friendships is a great way to lead into dating anyways! :). Most importantly I want to make sure you know that God loves you so much and He has a great plan for your life. So, follow Him and everything will work out! Big hugs- Monica

  11. Stacy Martin says:

    1,3 and 5 are the points that represent me, our family and home life. I appreciate your article. I am in tears. I have two daughters. 21 and 17 soon to be 18. My younger one just informed she would be moving out this weekend and in with a man who is 33 and the other women who is there as well. I was shocked. My husband is gone a lot for business. I am a stay at home mom. I will say that in addition to a few things going on at home, my daughter’s jr high years were horrible. She began cutting herself and dealt with being bullied. I moved her to a different school, where she was surrounded by cruel students and teachers. She had been assaulted while at a boy’s home studying-while the parents were home. Then she met a person, 29, who worked as a Tech at school. Her friend introduced them, as she thought they had things in common. My daughter had been helping him at the end of the school year, after school. The principal called me to say this tech was being looked into for having students in his office with the door closed. I’m still not quite sure what was actually happening. The school seemed overdramatic. There was an investigation. He was not charged with anything but he was fired. It was a horrible summer. I knew my daughter was still speaking to this person. Nothing sexual had happened. She did kiss him once she said. I didn’t take her computer or phone, as I didn’t know what she would do. Would she run off? I thought it was better to at least keep an eye on her. We had gone to two or three therapists. Brief visits but didn’t think they were helping. Ava did not want to go to a brick and mortar high school. I thought it would better if she was around peers, but let her take the online school. I have failed as a parent. The whole time she has been in high school, she has kept in contact with this person. I didn’t say much but hoped she would stop talking to him. She said he had gone through similar experiences. Ava is a bright, intelligent, mature, artistically talented person. Plays the piano well. I am not used to the black and skulls she wears but let her be herself. Now, two days before her 18th birthday, she tells me she is moving in with this guy. She will be 18 and he is 34. There is also another woman who will be there. The two used to date and now are friends. I am in total shock. What can I do? She says she loves this guy. I have met him once. I was not raised this way. I do not know how to react. She does not have her license yet, has not had a job but plans to do this. I have prayed for God to take this person out of her life. He seemed ok when I met him, but I don’t know. This is not how I thought it would be. What should I do? Thank you. Stacy

  12. I can relate with several . But my problem is . I asked my son of 13 years about jewelry I caught him with. It’s a half heart from a girl he totally denied it but I know he is not telling me the truth. I feel a little disappointed cause he usually tells me a lot of his things . Should I insist on know who gave him the jewelry or let it go . Just don want him to get involved with some one so early like I did.

  13. Lauren Johnson says:

    Spot on! Thank you!

  14. Struggle with both my teen girls.
    One 14 and the other 16.
    My 16 year old has serious anxiety and is on medication and counselling (cut her arms beginning covid and took recently an higher amount of ibuprofen because she felt overwhelming sad) school called me to see her at the hospital and just confirmed she is bisexual. My second one has no friends and when she makes new friends she can’t seem to keep them. She is very sensitive and emotional but very smart running her own little business.
    My husband is Asian, very caring travels by car and ferry for 5 hours to get our kids an ice cream cake, always ask what they like from the grocery store etc, but he can’t handle emotional and crying kids, he would use the wrong words such as leave my house, I should never have kids etc things that really hurts a teenagers confused mind. His mom said to me after having our first born “don’t ever show them that you love them” that is how he got raised…
    My youngest wanted to run away last night, talking about rather living homeless or even taking her life.
    I am at the end of my strength
    I like to belief we can make it work but waiting on family counselling and then need to work on my husband who is quite stubborn and can’t show emotions prober.
    I am very emotional myself, grew up the first 5 years of my life with an abusive and alcoholic father until my mother left him.
    I might have added to some situations as I am too protective due to my past. Always want to be loved and be best friend with my kids but understand I am the parent.

    I am struggling

    1. Minnie, I am praying for you. I am so sorry. This is complicated stuff and I really encourage you to find a good, Christian counselor to help you sort through things. Do not give up hope. God has a plan for each of you and it is good. Be strong, have faith that it will work out. But I do hope you talk to a professional. Big hugs to you and praying now…xo monica

  15. That is the best advice for me so far. I will feel better by trying these steps if it can help. I have a difficult, toxic coparent that is of no help, and has contributed negatively toward my daughter/mother relationship.

    1. Thank you, and I’m glad the post was helpful. I’m so sorry about the coparent situation — there are no easy answers for that, but God can do amazing things with even just one fully committed, honest and loving parent. You’ve got this! xo

  16. Tim oliver says:

    I am a father of 3 girls and 2 are teens.my youngest and my oldest are very outgoing and never push my wife and I away. My middle girl on the other hand would rather been in her room on her phone with friends. Kinda hurts sometimes and not really sure how to deal with it. I really love this and I love how you don’t act like your perfect like a lot of things I’ve read. Great advice as well, thank you

    1. Thank you so much for commenting, Tim. I love your heart for your girls! I encourage you to take your middle girl on a dad/daugther date (or go for a walk or whatever works for you) and tell her how much you love her and be really honest about how you’re feeling. Let her know that you want her to grow up well and though it might be hard for her to understand, you have wisdom from years that she doesn’t and you know that so much time isolated and on her phone is not the best for her. Set some limits in the most loving way — and be firm with them. Let her know that you’d like to spend more time with her and then think of some fun and engaging ways to spend the time. Be a good listener and try not to judge or criticize her if she argues. Give it time but stick with your guns. Likely her friends don’t have the same limits you might choose to set but that is ok. Their parents aren’t raising your kid. 🙂 You’ve got this! You’ll never regret it. Done in love, I have a feeling your daughter will (eventually) appreciate your efforts to connect more deeply. (Daughters crave a relationship with parents, I promise!) Keep me posted!! Praying for you now!

  17. Hello, this article has really enlightened my mind and way of thinking to try to understand my son. I will take in consideration and utilize some of these skills with him.
    Thanks!

  18. Dawn jewett says:

    I have a 15 year old daughter and we are struggling with her not wanting to be home much. Going from coming home from her friends cuz she missed me to now staying at her friends for a few days. Only calling when she wants something. I have a 22 and 21 year old sons . I think I’ve compared her to them alot. I think I criticize her to much if she makes a mistake after reading your post. My heart feels broken right now. What can I do

    1. I would suggest talking to your daughter honestly about all of that. Own any mistakes you think you have made, ask her if she is willing to work on rebuilding your relationship! (Kids area usually eager to do so, if given some time.) Also — personally, I would not allow my child to stay away for days at a friend’s house. She is not an adult — you can tell her no. I would tell her you have allowed some freedoms that you realize are not for her best, and as long as she is a child in your home you want to make some choices to be more intentional about how she is being raised. She may not like it at first, but if you are confident about the rules you set, she will respect you for it in the long run. Be loving and be firm and have fun with her and in time you will rebuild a great relationship! Keep me posted!

      1. What if kid doesn’t care for my rules? Just simply doesn’t come home to sleep once every so often. Please don’t tell me to be concern for his safety- We past that.

  19. Felicia McCarty says:

    Hi, My name is Felicia. I have a 14 year old son, he’s smart and usually happy. We used to have a very close relationship but since last summer I noticed he’s been avoiding family time wanting to be alone or out riding bikes with friends. If I say it’s movie night he sets at the table and won’t set in the living room with us. He tells me he does not want to come home because of his step dad and how he’s annoying. I been with his step dad for almost 11 years, yes we have argued a lot and there were times he has put down my son a lot and I put my foot down and stopped it. Even when I say we are going to play a game he gets upset and says man I don’t want to, he’s always trying to be on snap chat or tiktok. I worry he’s depressed or I’m pushing him away by constantly asking him if he’s OK. He says he’s happy and just gets upset when he can’t stay out until his friends go home.. When he goes out side with his friends it seems he’s always angry when he comes back. He used to tell me everything now I don’t know if he does. I have been catching him in lies alot to. He said he’s not mad at me and he loves me but sometimes I don’t feel the love back but I make sure he knows he’s very loved! I tell him constantly, I also let him know how proud I am of him and I give him lots of hugs. Please help me understand my son and get our close relationship back.

  20. Alicia coody says:

    I have a 14 year old son that says he hates me he doesn’t love me because in not here 24/7 no I haven’t been the best parent I work a lot and when I’m home I want alone time and to sleep help me please I want my son back I want him to love me and talk to me what can I do plz I’ve been crying out for help for years but no one hears me

    1. Some teens have quality time as a love language, meaning that’s what matters to them. Can you try apologizing to your son for not being there as much as he would like and make it a goal to spend an hour with him after work everyday and on weekends doing something together that he would like to do(workout, get ice cream, play a game, fish, go shopping at a store he likes, etc.). Sometimes kids who need time with us get upset because it matters so much to them. Once we consistently give a little intentional time together doing something they enjoy, they often have their love tank filled and are ready to go do something on their own for a while. Time means love to them. Obviously he loves you because he is crying out to spend time with you. So forgive yourself (we all make mistakes)and ask forgiveness from him and makes changes. Also, a lot of times teens will say things like they don’t like you and it is out of emotion. Try not to take it too personally. He obviously loves you a lot and positive changes can be made now that you know how he feels.

  21. Nazia Ahmad says:

    Hi I have 17 years old daughter who was with my husband for last three years while i was away for my training in the other country. I had regular contact and visits frequently.
    Since i am back .I felt she had been very distant from my husband and me. It has changed a bit in last two moths. She has been spending a lot of time with friends . No time table to coming or leaving home. She told me that we parents can not tell her anything to do. She sent us a video about a lady saying that children don’t owe anything towards their parents as it was their responsibility to raise them .It was not a favour to look after them. It was very heart broken.
    Now she has changed a lot in last two moths spending more time at home and listening to us regarding late nights and her whereabouts.
    She still does not tell everything about her time out. I thin her friends are using her for car and money which she has access.
    She is very polite and finds it hard to say no. I am worried that she might be manipulated and used by her friends for her money and luxuries or just being under peer pressure.
    Can you please help me to understand her behaviour?

  22. Abu Sayeed says:

    Hi.

    I Have gone through your post. Really helpful. I have a 14 years old boy in grade eight. He is only child. He is intelligent, smart and a good student in school. He is loved by all.

    In the last a month or so, he is little different than before. He does not like our presence in his bed room (+ study room). We thought probably he wanted to hide something from us. But we did not see anything like that. He plays online game with his friends and the game is decent. He is very much friendly with his friends but “little” unfriendly with me and my wife occasionally and it is now. My wife and I sometime have arguments and he jumps in, if we want and stops us (not being annoyed, of course). In the last one month he is not going to school but completing home work online regularly. He sleeps late at night (my wife sleeps in his room mostly). He does not want to go out. He Simply wants to play with friends online, and then watch movie or tiktok video. He is not sad at home. We checked, he is not watching movies for big, but mostly adventurous or horror (alone).

    Whenever he needs us, he calls or seek help. After that he does not want us around. He is healthy and does not have habit of spending time with friends outside the home.

    We are concerned. We want him to be with is like before. I work from home now and my wife is homemaker.

    Please advise what to do.

    We are very concerned!

    1. Im Going thru a very similar situation at home with my 15 (almost 16 yr old) he gets good grades, but Is missing a lot of days because he stays up late on his computer playing video games with his friends. When I tried to set a limit 2 or 3 yrs ago he went crazy, tried to hit or punch me, paced outside my bedroom door, threatened to run away. He never tells me anything, is an extreme homebody (always has been) & he doesn’t want to see his friends only online. I’m sick and nervous most days worried if he’s ok. He said he’s ok but I worry so much.

  23. I’m trying to find information on, my teenage daughter does not live with me. She stopped talking to me when she was 14. She won’t talk to me or visit me. How do I deal with this scenario?
    Sad Mom

  24. I stumbled across this information, and thank you for providing it. My 17 year old son was recently diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. I’m doing everything I can think of to help him – he sees a therapist, started medication, goes to acupuncture two times per week, and I use pure essential oils in his room at night. He’s angry, doesn’t really believe in God anymore saying God wouldn’t put him through this. I feel guilty for not doing something sooner because I always thought his father was too critical of him, maybe even verbally abusive (we’re still married). I think my son has been unhappy for years (he played sports since he was 4, but recently quit). He says nothing is fun and isn’t interested in anything. He wishes he had a hobby or talent, but again, isn’t interested in anything, and I can’t get him to try new things. He used to play video games with kids from school, but says even that isn’t fun anymore. He doesn’t want to spend any time with my husband or I. He has no friends so spends all his time watching tv by himself in his room. We’re not close with family, and are a quiet household. Due to his mental illness I’m not pressuring him to do anything. I’m basically writing this in hopes that people can say prayers for my son (WM) and our family. Of course helpful advice is always welcome too. God bless and wishing you résolution with your problems. 🙏

    1. Hi Cookie. Definitely praying for you and your son. This is so hard and I know you’re doing all you can at this point. While you don’t want to pressure him to do things, I would not quit inviting him to be with you (outside of his room) and over time hopefully nudge him to get outside his comfort zone. If he is under the care of professionals they will lead you in all of this. Just keep loving him and praying. Sorry you have to go through this! ♥️

  25. I’m 16. Dating my gf (15) for almost 2 years. My mom admits she is jealous of my gf even though my gf lives 2.5 hours away and we only see each other once a month and most of the time her mom does all the driving. Every few months my mom says we can’t see each other anymore. So sometimes we go months without seeing each other. My mom doesn’t care what I do until it comes to my gf who has changed me. I don’t smoke, drink, cheat or do drugs and work hard in school. Every other month we visit my grandpa who lives 30 min from my gf and my mom still won’t let me see her. She rather I be a player and drink than be with my gf. But my 14 year old brother can see girls every day. When I try talking to her about it she dismisses my feelings, calls me names, talks bad about my gf or her family (they are good people), takes my phone, snoops through my things and phone, tries to get me to meet other girls or tells me I’m too young for a serious relationship. What can I do to get my mom stop hating gf and stop controlling my relationship?

  26. Penelope Green says:

    I’m sort of having this problem. Their dad is deceiving and manipulating AS HELL. 13yr old boy 12yr old girl. They decided to live with their dad. I gave them a choice. I needed them to know it’s theirs alone. Don’t worry about anyones feelings..except their own. They told me infront of him they wanted to live with me. Soon as he got them out of site. They texted me and said differently. I said that’s ok. It’s your choice. It’s hard. I refuse to question them. I refuse to be the bad one. How can I show their dad THIS IS DAMAGING? WITHOUT HURTING THEM?

    1. So sorry Penelope. This is a tough situation and I am sure it is so painful. Since I have not been through it I don’t want to try to offer you advice, but if I find a resource for your specific situation I will let you know. I’m sure there are great places online that you might find support. Meanwhile you keep being the best mom you can be and in time your kids will very likely be drawn back to you. They see what is real. Pray for them and I am praying for all of you! XO

  27. Bonnie Cardwell says:

    Thank you, my great grandson is 14 and grand daughter is 12 and she quiet and shy. I have had cousdy since they where 3 and 5. both have been the best kids and loving. make good grades. and teachers just love leaf, and said he the sweet and willhelpful But the last four months have gone bad. And you got to understand we where so close, i take him and 6 friends camping for a week ,kids love coming to our home. but now i need help and i will work hard on the seven rules. I know he didn’t want to move back in our other house, but he still has a big room fix up nice with 3 computers speakers, things most kids dream of having.His father lives 5 hours a way. his father -brother is Gay and his partner is paul . i let paul come visit us and did things with us all any he is sweet. but i seen one day he was as little too friendly with all the young boys. so i stop letting him come and try to stop him from talking to him eary in the moroning soon he gets off bus.So much more was i wrong in trying to protect the boys. so much more.

    1. Oh Bonnie– God bless you for your heart and your efforts to love on and care for your family. You are doing an amazing thing. Keep up the good work. I think the kids are at an age where it would be super helpful to get them plugged into a good church and youth group where they might find some good role models and influences. I am praying for you all now! XO

  28. Jamie Olmstead says:

    Wow awesome article my son is 14 and I have 12 & 1/2 yr old daughter going on 16 lol! So this advice will totally works for girls to thank u! I have looked all over internet for this type of advice with nothing as great as yours!! Thank u so much! But one question my son never leaves room always watching YouTube or gaming he does talk to friends on his phone sometimes or through gaming but since kids never go outside to excercise (they don’t like riding bikes or sports walking nothing just not there thing should I worry? I know they need excercise so I ask if they want to walk with me and dog all the time and try to be good influence as far as getting fresh air and excercise but they say boring or no thanks)

    1. Thank you so much Jamie! My advice would be to not allow your son to spend as much time as he wants in his room/on YouTube or gaming. You are the parent. What do you feel is reasonable? Set limits. You can also require your child to get out and exercise. As they get older they need more freedoms to choose, but you certainly can say “you must earn time on games or using the internet by getting so much exercise, doing chores, reading etc.” You are not doing your son any favors by allowing him to live irresponsibly. It is your job to prepare him for the real world one day so I encourage you to set some high standards and encourage him to grow into manhood. Then he’ll really appreciate the time he does get to play after the work is done! 🙂 Hope this helps — it’s a bit of tough love but i believe it is the best way to raise your son to be a responsible adult!

  29. I’m a 15 year old boy my moms a single mom and me and my mom have been separate from my dad for like 12 years now
    And my moms acting weird when I was a kid I thought that was funny that she made me laugh now I find that a bit annoying she acts like a kid and ask everything to me what to do what to buy and everything I don’t know what to to do can you pls help me I even tried to tell her that she is acting immature and she responds roughly and she treats me like a 4 year old kid and I don’t like that she rely on me so much I feel like I can’t live without here because of this I don’t know how to tell her this . this makes me hate her. Pls help

    1. Hervin I feel that my daughter went through a similar thing after my separation. I had a lot of traumatic things happen to me in my childhood and parts of me were stuck in a child state, like frozen in time. I needed to get counselling and help myself to grow up and mature and it sounds to me like your mom needs the same. She probably doesn’t know how to do any better but she is your mom and she is not meaning to hurt you. What my daughter did was she talked to me about it and even though I know she hated me at times, too, I always tried to be open to listen to her feelings. If you tell your mom that you are her son you are not supposed to have her lean so heavily on you – she is supposed to be supporting you, as you are her son, and if she cannot be the mom supporting you it is hard on your relationship. I learned to lean on my girlfriends instead of my daughter. I’m still not perfect but I have been getting counselling and helping her to get some counselling. If your mom doesn’t have money for counselling there are plenty of free ways to get counselling if you searched and if you are willing to wait there are also plenty of resources on YouTube by knowledgeable people. Things are getting better and my daughter and I can have a good relationship now I hope the same for you Hervin.

      1. Jennifer thank you so much for sharing that story. I hope that is encouraging to Hervin! Blessings to you and so happy for all of your growth!! Amazing!

  30. Lorraine Gold says:

    I have 2 teenagers 16 age girl I never see living with me who stays her room all time goes out with her friends I only see her about 3 times aweek my son who 18 works then comes home goes to his room to much time on his phone goes out with friends my kids are like strangers if any think happens to me any time thay be sorry I’m 57 age if any think happens to me it be strange world I don’t have much to e earth 30 years less

    1. so sorry Lorraine — I encourage you to sit down and talk to your kids. You can and should set limits for those in your home and not allow them to stay in their room all the time or go out with friends constantly. You can require them to help in the home and you can talk to them. You are the parent, keep in mind. Get a counselor if you need to but do not continue to live like this. You deserve more and your kids would benefit from some boundaries!

  31. Basketball Mom says:

    Hi! I have a 16 year old son. His father and I have been separated for almost 10 years now. I’ve gone through a custody battle and now have him 5 days and his dad has him for two out of the week but we still have 50/50 custody. My problem is is that every time it’s my day to start off my week with him he always come home with a very moody and disrespectful attitude like he doesn’t want to be here. I’ve spoken with him recently and he confirms that I’m always on his case about everything all the time and he hates it when it’s my day to pick him up because he doesn’t want to be at my home with me. I’ve bent over backwards with everything including sports, travels, holidays, birthdays but he doesn’t seem to appreciate anything I’ve done. My ex isn’t muchly involved in any of his extra curricular activities at all but he seems to be drawing more towards him because he lets him be and doesn’t hound him about anything when it come to getting chores done, school work, sport schedules, eating habits and schedules. I don’t know what to do at this point. I’m hurt that he doesn’t see that everything I do revolves around his schedule to help him succeed in school, basketball and life. Do I allow him to make his own choices and let him start making his own decisions and scheduling his own tournaments with coaches?

  32. Tim Fouraker says:

    Hi Monica,

    My wife and I have a 15 year old son, and I am very worried about him. For starters, my wife and I have a very poor relationship, bordering on hostile, and it has been that way for many years, so not the best environment for our son to live under. Secondly, my wife tends to dominate our son, and without a doubt he feels intimidated and smothered. He seldom answers back, and is often reduced to tears, but here is the part which really worries me, because If ever I intervene, even if it is to defend him if I feel it is justified, he turns on me instantly and violently, slamming doors, shouting, throwing things about etc. He never does this to my wife, only me, so understandably, I tend to stay out as getting involved only makes things much worse. Is he letting off steam at the person he feels less threatened by, me in other words, or is there something else going on? I am at a loss to know what to do, if anything. Your advice would be much appreciated.

    1. Hey Tim, thank you for the honest message…I am so sorry for the challenging situation you are! I highly recommend counseling. For your marriage and then for your relationship with your son. It sounds complicated but there is absolutely HOPE!! Do not give up. Pray, ask forgiveness for anything you know you’ve done to cause hurt (including carrying on a poor relationship with your wife) and get help> Show your son (and your wife) that you can lead your family..be strong and courageous. Do the hard work of being a servant leader. Be firm but loving. A counselor can help you do all of this and can help you and your wife find healing. I really suggest you find a Christian counselor who can help you apply God’s Word to your situation — only God can heal the deep hurts. Blessings to all of you!

  33. James Dunn says:

    I have been divorced quite sometime now. I live in a small apartment and they live at home with their mother. They are in there teens now and seem not to want to spend any time with me. Not even a text. Will this ever change?

    1. Hi James. I’m so sorry, I can imagine that is so painful. 🙁 I don’t know enough about your situation to offer a lot, but I would highly encourage you to reach out and genuinely ask them for time. Show interest in what interests them, ask them questions, and be consistently available. There could be some hurt or built up feelings, but if you show them you will stay there for them, in time they are likely to be open to you in time. Be patient and pray. Kids will naturally want a relationship with their dad so the more humble and loving you can be the better. They need you so do not give up. But be the best person you can be to earn their trust. I’m praying for you!

  34. Our daughter wants to listen to what my spouse considers offensive misogynist music. I don’t like it but don’t feel the need to censor it as long as she listens w her headphones. He stopped paying for Spotify and she is never home. Her friends are allowed to listen so she goes there. She says she will hang w friends here when she can have her music back. Both of them are stubborn

  35. Brandi Tegland says:

    Wish you could me i have a 17 girl who want to move in with her 21 boy freind and is parents she just started her senior year she lies to us and has had mental issues and is on med how can we keep her home till she graduates

    1. Hi Brandi, I’m so sorry. This is a tough one. She’s at that “almost-adult-but-not-quite” age…I am not sure how the laws work where you are, but I would seek counsel to find out what you can. I would encourage you to ask your daughter if she’d be willing to talk at a peaceful moment– maybe with a counselor…? Otherwise just pray for her and do your best to stay steady and faithful and not pulled into the drama. Sometimes these things take time but God hears every prayer!

  36. Hello I have a 12 year old son who will be 13 in October he is a very good child never asks for alit always respectful but he really loves to be alone in his room where he has a phone to call friends and an Xbox to play with them on. He is no longer interested in doing anything with me should I be concerned should I force him to go out with me sometimes

    1. Great question, Lan! I do think it is absolutely reasonable to set boundaries for your son’s time in his room. My book, Boy Mom, has a lot of practical help in that area if you haven’t read it — you might want to check it out. But there is no reason for a 12 year old to have unlimited time on phones, X-box, or alone in his room. I know it’s hard once you’ve already allowed something but it is completely fair and reasonable to say “I regret not handling this sooner…for the sake of our family and your growth, I am going to set new limits on your time…” It may be hard at first but trust me — it is for his best!! Praying for you now! 🙂

      1. Yes I agree with your advice and my therapist was helping me set snd follow thru with my son snd on paper it sounds so easy and it makes sense but when u have a teen who is used to unlimited time and you try to change it, it doesn’t go as easy as you would hope. My son would ask “please turn the internet back on” over & over 100s of times for hours, he did it until 2am. I waited it out but he also was threatening to run away or jump out of his window to escape, live homeless because it’d be better than living with me. He’s a good kid, gets good grades, doesn’t do drugs or smoke or even go anywhere so in the end my therapist said let him play the game. But it seems like sn obsession.

  37. I am a single mom, separated from my children’s father 3 years ago. He has seen them twice since, as he struggles with addiction. We have since relocated to another state – I was hoping for a fresh start. Within 1 week of our move, my 15 year old son (then 14) was caught smoking weed. He seems to be obsessed with all of the things I have tried desperately to protect him from…drugs, drinking, sex, which in my opinion has been fueled by his idolization of rappers who talk about the same in their lyrics. I am highly critical of the music he listens to. I am 100% guilty of # 1, 2 and 4 on the list above. Due to a series of poor decisions he has made, including sneaking out at night, I have become increasingly critical, and tend to question his every move because trust has been destroyed so many times. I have tried to communicate that his choices have consequences, and try to be consistent with holding him accountable. A couple of nights ago, he sneaked out and of course, was caught. It was different this time. He seemed to have no regard for the fact that he had broken the rules yet again – he used to at least say he was sorry. He wasn’t sorry. He was aloof and sarcastic, and suggested that I should just mind my own business and not care so much, after all, it’s his life. Of course, he lost privileges, cell phone, freedom to go out with friends, etc. Yesterday, when I told him he couldn’t go out, he blatantly said I can’t keep him here – he was leaving anyway (this following a full blown temper tantrum in his room). As he was walking out, I told him that if he left, not to come back. Huge mistake. My friend, who has been a father figure to him over the last 3 years was able to get a hold of him through one of his friends. He was drunk. It broke my heart and made me sick to my stomach. It feels like I’ve been holding on to the edge of a cliff for my life and finally lost my grip. In that moment, I felt like I’d lost him. He is still not home. It feels like things will never be the same whenever he does come home. What was I thinking? I don’t even know what my specific question is as I write this. I just need help.

    1. I am so so sorry. I am praying for you right now. I encourage you to pray also, to ask God for specific direction. Perhaps there is a church that you can go to and find some counsel– a youth Pastor or someone to help you communicate with your son. I do believe things can turn around. Do not give up. God has done bigger miracles and this isn’t over yet. Sending love.

  38. I am a 13 yr old kid and my house is everything from point 5 to 7.

    1. Hey 13 year old…I’m so glad you found this post and i hope it helps you see that no parents are perfect and many parents struggle to figure these things out. I’m sure you are loved, and I”m sorry you are having a rough time in your relationship with your folks. I would encourage you to share this article with your parents. Just send them an email if you can, and tell them you love them but that this is really how you feel. Perhaps it will open up a conversation…? I’ll pray for you! Stay in touch here and know that you are special and important and even if your parents fully blow it, you can still have an amazing future. Most of all know that God loves you and has a plan for your life.

  39. Katherine says:

    My son is 13. I have absolutely no issues with him. However, when he’s away (specially when he’s spending time with his father), he won’t reach out to me at all. No texts, no calls, no sharing pics, nothing. I don’t want to make him or guilt him into reaching out. He is not a big phone-using kid. He’s not the type to be texting all the time with friends. And, he really is a good kid. So, am I making a big deal out of this? Should I set a rule that he needs to call me every few days? He goes completely silent when he’s away. But, we spend A LOT of time together, a good 85% of the entire year. He won’t call his father when he’s with me either, or his grandparents. He simply doesn’t do anything like that. With anyone. But, I thought (I realize it could be that this is hurting my ego) that I would he the exception. That he would find the time, encouragement and will to reach out to this mother. Is this me being vain and needy?

    1. Hey Katherine,
      Sounds like you have a very sweet boy, and I’m so glad you are so close to him. The way I see things, kids need to learn appropriate manners and respect and part of that is communicating with the people in his life. Asking him to check in with you while he is away — in a reasonable fashion, would make absolute sense, and it would be teaching him to do that with other people in his life in the future (friends, spouse, co-workers, etc…) When he is with you I think it would be appropriate for you to suggest he kindly check in with his father as well. this is just teaching him life skills that will carry on into adulthood. No, you shouldn’t take it personally, but you do have the responsibility to train your son to behave well in life and I do think that staying in touch with those who love him is reasonable! 🙂 Hope that helps.

      1. Katherine says:

        I agree with you. 100%. I have to treat this as a life-long lesson. Thank you SO much for your help!

    2. Just my opinion, but as parents, we need to lead by example. Show love by calling them first. My ex gripes that my son doesn’t call, but my son gripes that his dad would call if he loved him. We need to put our feelings aside and be the parent.

  40. Do you have suggestions on how to rebuild the relationship if too much freedom has been given? 🙁 Think we’ve allowed too much friend and alone time and I am afraid that requests for time together will meet much resistance. As another response below said, it is so hard to watch them make choices you’d rather them not make. Thank you for your writing!

    1. I think the best approach is an honest, humble one. Just asking to talk and communicating that you have realized recently that you’ve made some mistakes and it is not the best for your son (or daughter.) In love tell him/her that you care enough to set some new boundaries, even if it is hard! Your goal is them growing up well, not being their best friend now. You can offer plenty of encouragement and kindness but You can still make choices based on wisdom not on emotions. You won’t regret these hard choices! Bless you as you parent with intention and love.

  41. Thank you for this post…it is exactly what I need right now. My 15 soon to be 16 year old son and I are at odds all the time. So challenging when you see them making unhealthy choices, yet you want to trust and give them more space.

    1. Yes, I agree…Thank you for commenting. Be strong and love hard!

  42. Hi, I have no words to explain my pain and situation. For 10 year I raised my son all alone, his father saw him once a year only. My son and I were very closer until his 12 years old. At age 12 he wanted to leave with his dad and I let, thinking that wasn’t gonna be for to long. Many, many things happened in this 3 years, but my son is so distant from me now, he barely answer my phone calls, and also I saw one of the text messages he had with his dad and he call me by my name, not by mom! My heart is crushed and I have no idea what to do. Now, he is leaving with his dad and stepmother 1300 miles away from me, has been 3 Christmas, birthdays, new years, mothers day and much more that I haven’t spend with him. My heart hurts.

    1. I’m so sorry…This is of course very complicated. I encourage you to pray and keep as steady and consistent in your love and reasonableness as you can. There is not always a lot you can do but in time if you stay steady kids are likely to be drawn back to the security they see you in. Hang in there. Stay busy doing positive things to build your own life up and drawn near to God. He has all of the answers!

  43. Heather E Dunn says:

    Hi Monica ~ I’m struggling. My 17-year-old son doesn’t talk to me. He gets irritated when I ask questions about what’s going on with him. His father and I divorced 13 years ago and he doesn’t remember much from that time. We have shared custody and his father and I get along fine. I’ve been in a relationship for several years with another man. At first, things were fine. Then, the relationship turned and there was a lot of arguing and sometimes violence. I tried to keep my boys safe and away from it but there were times they were witness to it. I promised my boys that if anything happened again, I’d have him and his children leave. Well, something happened again and I didn’t keep my promise. I gave him a 2nd (and probably 3rd) chance. I don’t want to make excuses, but my partner was diagnosed with PTSD (and was treated) only a couple of years ago. He also stopped drinking. Now that my son is older and I’ve explained the PTSD diagnosis, it doesn’t matter. I understand… he saw me get hurt. It was probably more traumatizing for him than it was me. Now, he has decided he wants to stay permanently at his father’s house. He hasn’t been to “our” house for 8 months. He only calls or texts me when he wants something. Otherwise, I don’t hear from him. I’m the one who buys his clothes, takes him practice driving for his license (when he feels like going, that is), takes him for haircuts, drop what I’m doing to give him a ride to a friend’s house when his father isn’t around and buys him things that he’s afraid to ask his father for. I cook meals and send them to his father’s house with my other son. I miss my boy. I don’t know how to talk to him. It’s as though I’m afraid to approach him because he gets so irritated with me when I try talking to him.

    I’m at a loss. I don’t know how much of this is normal 17-year-old behavior or resentment.

    Any advice you or others can offer would be appreciated. I’m not going to be here forever. I don’t think he realizes that.

    1. Heather, this is a very complicated situation and I’m sorry for all of you and what you’ve been through. I highly recommend you find a good, Christian counselor for all of your sakes’. Your son has been traumatized by what he has seen, and and that is unfortunate. His choices now reflect that, and you need to understand. Of course I feel awful for you as well, but you are the adult and now you have set in motion a lot of dysfunction. I hope you can get professional help and begin to set boundaries for yourself and those in your life. This is just not a place where I can offer the kind of advice you need to move forward. I’m glad you love your son and want to improve your relationship, but you need more than a blog comment can give you. Seek out a good, Christian church and ask if they have someone you might talk to. Meanwhile read the Bible and pray for wisdom. God loves all of you so much and He has all of the answers to give you a better relationship and life.

  44. I am the dad to a wonderful 15 year old daughter. Her mom and I are in the middle of a relocation dispute, and there is already a documented history of her mom, whether intentionally or not, engaging in parental alienation. A lot of work was done to repair the relationship between my daughter and I, but now she seems to be growing distant again in the midst of this dispute.

    What can I do, in addition to attending family therapy, to mitigate any potential harm that might be happening?

  45. Hi, I am the teen here. When I was younger, verbal abuse was a constant thing I got from my dad. That pushed me away and made me start to share every aspect of my life with my mum and become very close to her. Years later, my dad’s noticing the bond between my mum and I, he envies it, but just says so in a jocular manner. Now, I’m in college but the relationship isn’t there. Anytime I’m home for the holidays, I’m always with my phone or talking to my mum but never to him because I find it awkward to talk to him since we weren’t close when I was younger. Now, he seems to want a relationship between us but he blames me for the wall between us. I want him to admit that he’s at fault before I open up to him but if I say it, he’ll read another meaning into it call me disrespectful.
    How do I go about building our relationship?

  46. I am the teen here and I want to talk to my mom about my elf diagnosed BPD or Bipolar disorder but I’m afraid she will think it’s just a phase or something and that I just want attention I feel really lost and depressed.

    Any advice?

    1. Hi Claira– Sorry you feel afraid to talk to your mom…I think you should definitely talk to her anyways. If you need a third party there with you, maybe go to a school counselor or trusted adult. Ask if you can simply get a doctor’s apt to see what is going on. That would be a good place to start. I am so sorry that you are struggling but there is help out there so I pray you can find the help you need. Hugs to you.

      1. Thank you for you support. But I don’t know if we have the money for a the therapist or something like that. I also have 3 other siblings and she has a lot on her plate already with 3 part time jobs. Should I talk to my dad instead?

        PS I wasn’t really expecting you to respond to this, thank you, it means a lot😊

        1. Of course, I wish I could be more help. But definitely, talk to somebody! And in your teenage years there are a lot of emotions and sometimes you feel so up and down…that is not unusual and the good news is, things will get better. But if you feel like it is more extreme and you need help, be sure to talk to an adult who will listen. School counselors or someone at a local church should help you for no cost. Also, take time to read your Bible and pray. God hears every prayer! 🙂

        2. Alyssa Morgan says:

          Just talk to her. If its important to you its important to her

  47. Hi!! Well honestly I have to say that reading this as a 20 year old daughter, I have to say its nice to know that some parents do realize these things. I wish my mother did. Im grateful for all the effort and all the obstacles she has overcome to be where we are but I wish our relationship was a lot better. Im at the point where Im a couple days away from moving out from the place that has been my home for many years. The one major thing I wish my mom would not do ( im saying this just to give advice to some parents out there) is criticize me so much. I rather be at work or school than at home, ( I tend to ask my manager if I can stay past my shift for that reason) because I know that as soon as I come home, I come to her screaming and yelling at me, making me feel like I’m not good enough. I try to do my best helping her with chores I go to school and work, but she just complains saying I don’t do nothing. It honestly hurts because while everyone else says I’m kind and caring and hardworking my mom makes me feel like I’m not worth anything, that I’m just a problem (you may say this is just a phase but its been like this for the past 11 years). My point is that for parents out there, be careful what you say to your kids it hurts more than what you could possibly imagine as we would want our parents to support us and be positive with us instead of throwing over a cloud full of negativity. ***If anyone has any comments on this please reply as maybe im wrong

    1. Wow! I have been going through the same treatment for over twenty years and that behavior—the endless criticism—never ceases. My mother seems to enjoy finding new ways to control me or modify my behavior to her liking, no matter my thoughts on the matter. Essentially, she treats me like a common criminal when I have never been in trouble with the law, school I attended (perfect, straight-A student), company for which I work(ed) (perfect employee), anyone, or any institution. When I am outside the home, I am a confident, diligent, hard-working, intelligent, focused, thoughtful, generous, and kind individual. When I am inside her home, I become unsure of myself and turn into a highly defensive, distant, and walking-on-eggshells wreck because I have no idea what I can do or say in her house, and no matter what I do or say that would bring any normal or rational parent instant happiness and tremendous pride only brings her annoyance, always inciting a snarky comment as to why it was not good enough in her mind. I understand that her seemingly unhappiness with me more-so reflects her own unhappiness with herself, that it stems from insecurities that have nothing to do with me, but it is difficult to live and have lived with such a spiteful and resentful person for so long without it seeping into my consciousness ans impacting my present and future well-being. I understand and empathize with the the depth of the burden your mother has forced you to endure; I hope that you realize that your feelings of unworthiness are unwarranted—they have no actual basis in reality—in that they only exist because your mother put them there. I wish you all the best and I hope that you find genuine happiness in your life despite the negative force-field that is your mother (and mine). Much love and stay strong, darling!

  48. Mohni Khan says:

    Your writing is very helpful. Thanks for taking a time to do that.

  49. I am a father to a great daughter. She is 21 in college. My wife is a stay at home mom while I worked long hours and commuted. My wife helped with their homework, helped with college applications and general stuff while I worked. I always felt I had a good relationship with my daughter but feel that my wife and daughter are closer now and talk more while my daughter is away at college. She and I do talk and text but not as much as she does with my wife. I feel that it really hurts. I feel my relationship with my daughter is not as close as with my wife now.

    1. Hi! I am an adult now but I had the same kinda family situation going on as you. My mom was a stay at home mom and my dad worked (but we did see him often still). So I was with my mom more of the time. I do feel like because I was with my mom more I do naturally talk to her more but the amount of respect and appreciation for my dad that I have is through the roof. I know he has always taken good care of my mom, siblings, and me. And I’m sure your daughter feels the same way with you. Don’t let it hurt you, I think most kids have an easier time talking to their mom but that doesn’t mean they love their dad’s any less.☺️

  50. Jacqueline Dunn says:

    OMG… I have been doing it ALL WRONG! No wonder my kids don’t like me. 🙁 Thank you for this insightful post!

  51. My wonderful 13 year old straight A boy, is pulling away from me, he’s not doing anything bad or disrespectful but I’m having a terrible time dealing with it. My only child who was and is my world wants to be in his room talking to friends, it’s normal do you have tools for me? How do I deal, I understand your points when he needs me but how do I react now

    1. Hey Laura! Thank you for commenting and yes…this is normal at 13. “Normal” though does not mean you have to accept it or let it turn into a wall between you. I encourage you to find a good time to chat with him honestly about how you feel. Let him know that you hope to maintain a great and healthy relationship with him as he grows up. Ask him if there’s anything you can do better to nurture that now (who knows if something little you do embarrasses him or makes him feel like a little kid…etc) Keep the door open and tell him that even if his friends do not feel close to their mom you hope to always be a good friend to him…It will change as he grows up, but you will always be there for him> See how that conversation goes! Hopefully it will move you in the right direction. Then maybe you can brainstorm together ways to stay connected– through doing things together or connecting in some way that he feels most comfortable! 🙂 Sometimes they just go through a stage, so try not to worry too much!

      1. Thank you, I will try your suggestions..I always feel like I’m trying to hard with him anymore, wow you spoke to me! Let me say everything I want to in this 30 seconds, and he glazes over..
        It makes me feel guilty for every second when he was little that I may have been to busy…
        Thanks for responding

        Laura

      2. My son is 13 as well and he’s always in his room with the door closed now and I feel so confused as to why won’t he ever talk to me like when he was growing up pre-teen. Granted there were a few rough years which were beyond my control as me and his dad divorced when both our children were pretty young I believe 3 and 5. During and after the divorce I had the primary residence. Then some hardships took place and I had to short sale the home and it devastated him more so then our daughter who was 8. They had to move to their dads and girlfriends and her two daughters are there as well . So the past three years have been extremely difficult for me and for the kids but I know my son suffered more so. There were other things with their dad that I can’t get into that was not very pleasant to handle and when one parent won’t co-parent ever it makes the everyone suffer .. so for 5 years while I had the Primary residence I was utterly exhausted trying to deal with my ex as he never worked with me for the best Interest of our kids and I know it was damaging for both kids as he was spiteful towards me and used the kids as pawns so to speak to get to me and he really wasn’t nice at all saying horrible things that weren’t true to our kids trying to make them hate me . I just remember several times the kids would just tell me things that he did or said to them while visiting him., he always denied this stating the kids are trying to cause problems between me and my girlfriend or something like that . I was beyond drained and both kids I had in therapy for this specific reason . To also give them a save place to talk and know they aren’t in the middle of both parents feeling bad. If all hurt me beyond imagination as I’m watching our children constantly struggle because of him wanting to ruin my life .. so when I had to short sale the home my son and daughter were so sad and didn’t want to leave especially my son and ever since then, I now have the kids 2 nights during the weekdays and every other weekend . This all has completely broken my heart as I’ve always strived to be open loving and respect my children but I must say I am guilty of treating my son like he was younger and I’ll stop doing that .. it’s just been extremely difficult to deal with their dad he’s so different as a parent than I and it just is so much more that I’m just concerned about my son . He stays behind closed doors always when they come over I don’t know what to do and I wonder if he experienced trauma with all the bad things that took place and the changes . Idk he gets so irritated with me and just talking to him briefly he’ll say can I have alone time ? So i tell him of course you can . He never receives this at his dads so he Makes it up while with me . Thanks for your article

  52. I have more of a question than a comment. I have a 14 yr old son and he stays trapped in his room alot on his phone or Xbox and he doesn’t like going anywhere at all. He doesn’t even wanna shop for nothing for school I try to bond with him I try to come up with suggestions to do but it’s like he’s got so much anger toward me and his attitude is awful. Just like I was in his room earlier akin to him he was laughing at youtube and all of a sudden he wants metro get out of his room I said hold on then he comes to shove me out well I slapped him but that makes it worse them got on to him about pushing me so I took his phone away and he just goes to bed when I do. He’s got a bad attitude problem and anxiety what do i do?????

    1. My son just turned 14 too and he started going down this road when he was 12 or 13. I thought we would be at complete loggerheads. He was angry and disrespectful, and also struggled in school with learning disabilities. However, I recently learned his father has Celiac Disease and can’t metabolize gluten. So I took my son (and myself) off of gluten too, about four months ago. He’s now a different child and lovely to be around! His brain is functioning much better, and he’s HAPPY! His joints have stopped aching as well! I am getting him tested for Celiac Disease as well, but even if he doesn’t have it, I will keep our home gluten-free, because when he eats it, it makes him angry and frustrated all over again. He enjoys feeling that his brain is working much better as well. Maybe your son is also gluten sensitive or has food allergies. Check into the GAPS diet, you could be saving him from a lifetime of pain.

  53. MaryJo Colemancoleman says:

    Great suggestions! I would love to pray with you…

  54. I have a 15 year old son who is always wanting to be around me I’m a part time father weekends and any time I can get my kids I try but my 14 year old son is very active and has almost completely pulled away from me and isn’t wanting to see me also my ten year old daughter is doing the same I was so close to all of them and now puberty hit my son and daughter with my oldest son it brought us closer but my other two kids have pulled away and it’s confusing me I have tried everything I call them or text almost everyday I try to give them freedom but not enough to be unknowing what’s going on in their lives my 10 year old girl has always been a lone wolf I put myself in her life and try not to force my presence on her but am constantly trying to get into her presence but my 14 year old son has always been close to me the last six months he has been pulling away further and further and I’m afraid he is embarrassed by me because I have chrones disease and can’t be as active in his or any of those lives as I want I just feel like I’m losing the respect and love for me idk what to do but I’m the best father I can possibly be and will continue to keep trying this helped me out but it’s very complicated when my children blame me for leaving their mother but I can’t be open with them about their mothers transgressions because I don’t want them to feel like I’m trying to turn them against their mother or them developing angst for their mother for the reasons I left life is complicated and I won’t down their mom but she does me so I’m really at the losing end of a fight where I’m just taking blows and not defending myself I just hope me trying anything I can to be a good father and maybe they see I’m not putting their mother down or trying to turn them against their mother or stepfather I think the high road may pay off in the long run

    1. Joey–Thank you for your comment and I’m so sorry for your discouraging situation. I don’t want you to lose hope! The kids are still young enough that you have lots of time to get through this. 🙂 Have you tried counseling with them? I think that might really help you communicate your love and commitment to them, while being in a safe place where they might be able to communicate any confusion, hurt, or anything else they are going through. Divorce is so hard on kids, and the more open, loving communication you can foster, the better. I think talking to them, and not being needy or pushy is your best route, and letting them lead in the things you do and time together. But counseling can be a great help, so I hope you’ll consider that. Pray for God’s wisdom and don’t give up. Your kids need you!! Please keep me posted and keep smiling…the kids need a happy, and healthy father. Blessings

    2. When you have your kids at your home and are talking to them. I’d say something like this. “Hey, I wanted to talk to you about something. You both know I love you with all my heart, right. I’d be there for you any time I possibly could. Lately, I’ve felt kind of shut out and that makes me feel ___(sad, lonely, worried). I want you to know that what happened between mom and I was just because of mom and I, not anything to do with you. I will always be here for you. I will always be your dad. It seems things have gotten kind of quiet between us and I need you to help me understand. You’re ever thing to me. I love both of you so much. ” or something like that, And if there are tears, kids get that. Then just let it sink in…. when kids see sincere vulnerability they will pour out usually. If not, explain what experience has made you feel this way. I’m not sure I could have the same restraint you have had about why the breakup happened and you may have to have something prepared to say as your children get older because it’s Going to come up and you can’t deceive them. I pray for your families success!

      1. SUCH good advice, Judi. Well said and thank you for taking the time to write that. Joey–Please do this, and then let us know how it goes. 😉 Blessings.

  55. craig alexander webb says:

    My son live 1 week with his mum and 1 week with me.I have pushed him away, I have made a rule that he text me on a “semi regular basis when he is with his MUM, he doesnt, I bought him his phone, I think it is not too much to ask, I have been pushing this for a year now and it is not working, he now has started staying with his More, I am so upset, I do everything and anything for him,
    Do i submit and let him ignore my rule, do I try soften, I have no idea what to do, we have 2 rules in my home, honesty and communication, since he is now 14.5 the last year has been hell.I have now sadly threatened to take him out of the nice little private school and send him to a rough state school, I am pulling my hair out between sobs, He is not with me tonight but should be. PLEASE HLP

    1. craig alexander webb says:

      woops, meant to say started staying with his Mum more

    2. I’m so sorry Craig. I hear your heart and you clearly care about your son a lot. It must be so painful to go through this. You said you have “pushed him away”, what do you mean by that? Do you see where you have made mistakes in pushing him away? Could you invite him to sit down so that you can humbly own up to your mistakes and ask for a “restart” on your relationship? Let him know that you recognize he is a teenager now and you need to earn his respect and you sincerely want to grow your relationship, but it takes two…and that he also must give a little, show respect, and work with you. This may be best done with a counselor, I’m not sure but I definitely encourage you to communicate openly and lovingly before doing things that will further upset him and push him away. You would also be wise to include his mother in the conversations, the two of you ought to both want healthy relationships all the way around, so it would make sense for you to be on the same page. Keep working, do not give up!

      1. craig alexander webb says:

        Hello and Thank you for your reply
        I think I have pushed him away as I have been so firm on my belief that he text me , especialy when he is at his mums, or goes to soccer.
        He is a good,,, no great young man, we have been soooo close, I have taken him on 3 overseas trips of adventure, lats being 2 years ago, it is this phone issue that has cause the problem and i have constantly pushed him to text, it is the only thing that causes issues really.
        If I say ok dont worry about texting then I have submitted and he gets away with not following my basic rule.or should i just back off and see what happens.I bought the phone, I pay the bill, should i take it off him AGAIN? I dont think that helps, it hasnt last 3 tims i did it, maybe i just smash it, I cant stop thinking about him and wish so desperately that we were close again..
        I would be able to sit down with him and his mum if needed,but even then the question will be asked, Why cant you simply text?
        seems so bloody easy to me
        thank you and I look forward to your reply very much
        Craig

        1. Craig, it’s very apparent you love your son very much and are concerned. I would guess he’s feeling a bit smothered or feels a betrayal to his mums family if he gives too much detail about the goings on in their life. If making sure he’s OK is what you need assured of, I would just text him and say, “hey, just checking in, everything good with you? Love ya dad” Any attempt at this age to be mean spirited or aggressive will Not promote a good relationship. If he’s introverted and you get a reply “doing good” you hit a homerun 🙂

    3. I do think you’re pushing a little too hard. Some boys just aren’t that communicative, especially using devices. My son isn’t. FaceTime works better. I’d just keep it light and fun if I were you.

  56. My son is years old and to be quite honest, a handful. I realize that I am partly to blame for this. He is so very intelligent. when he was in kindergarten I had him tested for the gifted program. he was in the top five of over three hundred children whose ages range from preschool to high school. Here is the problem, since his very early years he has been talked to by everyone as if he were an adult. He has also been given choices too early of an age. So with that little bit of background, I will explain the problem at hand.
    I left my sons father when my son was only months old. He has never met his father because his father , well, he was a deadbeat . He just recently tried to communicate with my son, to which my son is having none of it.
    My son has always wanted to be a Marine like his Grandpa, and because of this, has a fascination with guns and knives and such. It has become something close to scary for me as a Mom. But that is only one part of the problems. He has a girlfriend that he has been dating for two years without my knowledge that he actually got pregnant at thirteen… OMG horrible…. well she , along with her parents decided an abortion was the only option. I am not a supporter of abortion unless it was a violent crime or something along those lines. However I am not completely against it either, depending on the circumstances. Anyway….. My sons girlfriends mother had to take her two hours away to get the abortion done because they do not offer it in our area. My son and I were going to support her and her mother. My son decided that he did not want me to go because he is the one who messed up and he wanted to take responsibility for his own actions. so I stayed home to give him the chance to do so. That was over a year ago… his grades are all failing but the young lady is getting excellent grades. he has turned to being s slob, he will not clean his room or help around the house at all without dire consequences. he doesnt want to be home ever. I recently found paraphenalia in his room for smoking pot, but it did not smell like pot, it smelled like tobacco. I am at a loss I do not know what to do and he balks at any consequences or discipline. He smart mouths me every chance he gets, and he started yelling at me just recently. I have always tried to be there for him when he needed me. I have tried to instill faith and good manners in him but it seems like he is very lost. I was taking him to see a counselor until the counselor told him that because he was over thirteen he , by law, could sign himself out of the program and not have to participate any longer. So of course that is what he did. I have no real resources to help me and I am really afraid of losing him all together to drugs, alcohol or gangs. I am a Christian and have Biblestudy in home every week because of health issues that I have I cannot go out to the church. He has been at home for the Bible study and would sit in but not participate. I really am at a loss. ANY help or resources that you could point me in the direction of would be so greatly appreciated. I dont know where to turn. the state could have helped but now that he knows by law he doesnt have to participate and can sign himself out of any program, I’m left with no options. Please help

    1. sorry my son is fourteen years old.

    2. Paula, your son sounds to me as if he is trying to grow up and you are stiffling the things in him that appeal to him as a male. My son is 14 too. We live in the mountains out West. He loves hunting and fishing and hiking and cutting up firewood, using the chainsaw, his shotgun to kill the racoons constantly trying to eat our chickens and ducks, and his hunting knives for turning the coon skins into fur pelts. Recently he became interested in building an HHO generator and I purchased the parts to help him make it. I’m helping him do the things he loves and he appreciates me and loves his life as a result. Let your boy pursue the things he is interested in (other than sex with his girlfriend) as well as the manly arts (hunting, fishing, etc) and your relationship should greatly improve! Good luck!

    3. Oh your poor boy. Abortion causes psychological harm to both parents (how could it not? It violates the instinct to protect our offspring) and it sounds like he really needs some help healing from this. I’ve seen this before in post-abortive women and men. Don’t be fooled by the narrative that abortion primarily brings relief; we’re not monsters and we can’t kill our own kids without psychological repercussions to ourselves.

      Here is a way i hope you can find help for him:

      https://www.abortionchangesyou.com/find-help

      Some counselors offer Skype or Face-time sessions, so if you can’t find anyone near you, select “any distance” and those types of sessions and you’ll find some help.

      A counselor who denies that abortion causes grief will NOT help him.

      Project Rachel is also a great resource:

      https://www.noparh.org

    4. Paula, what a difficult situation. Here are some resources:

      Giftedness: Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted:
      https://www.sengifted.org
      Gifted people often feel things VERY intensely and such kids may have trouble processing it all. I’ve found this site helpful, though fyi, it isn’t a Christian worldview, so you just sift through and see what seems sensible to you.

      Secondly, abortion healing resources. Men are often very impacted by the abortion of their child, whether or not they supported that decision. Here are some resources to help your son heal:

      https://www.rachelsvineyard.org/men/

      https://silentnomoreawareness.org/resources/support-and-recovery-groups.aspx

      Hang in there, God bless you and your son.

  57. When I go in to my teens room to kiss him goodnight, he screams for me to get out!! What do I do??? Leave like an abused woman?

    1. Anna, it sounds like you need to find some help. This is not ok and should not be tolerated, but if he has such anger, I would suggest you finding support to help you sort through things. Obviously without knowing your background or relationship, it is hard for me to say much, but if you are trying to figure out if this is normal or ok, then no: it is not. I pray you find some good counsel and have a much better year ahead.

  58. Maybelline says:

    Look at Toby Robins and other people who overcome bad memories of their early life. He and I had similarities except I’m a lot younger than him with a different background, culture, and nationality.

    I ran away at age 12 and never go back Yes, I struggled to finish school because I had to fend for myself when I should study or read my favorite genre at night, not at work. I had no luxury for socialization, sleepover, and many others that many of my peers enjoyed. I can tell you that many teenagers were ridiculous in my own eyes. They complained a lot about stupidest things or random things that didn’t make sense on my Earth. They made me wonder why I was born to my parents while they were born to parents who did their best for them. I wish that my problem was being grounded due to bad behaviors. I wish that I had their lifestyles. I might be more sympathetic to people who have parents that love them, but all they do is complaining about petty things that I don’t find worth of arguing for.

    In short, it boils down to what kind of persons you’re dealing with. Your child development class might help. Some people are just better thinkers than the others. Look around your environment. There are people who are nice while others aren’t so nice. They’d rather make others miserable.

    Yes, if you don’t straighten out your children, they might be criminals than you have imagined them to be; however, it doesn’t mean that they are going to be genuinely nice. They play different games later in their lives. Look around you.

    What do most people complain about their coworkers, friends, and families? Those are minor things, but they become annoying.

    Look at your in-laws or families. Why others are very nice while others appear to have bipolar disorders?

  59. It would be good to give one example of every “abstract” advice is given i.e. “overlook what you can, extend grace”….or “giving too much freedom”. I find this vague and can not disypher what is too much and what average understanding of freedom let alone what type of freedom is meant.

    I prefer statements and advises to follow with one described example.

  60. I need help please my 14yr old tells me he needs freedom hes in football right now but i found out hes lied to me saying he was at a basketball game in school but was actually with a girl . Social media isnt allowed but i find him on snapchat and instagram also find out while doing his chores walking the dog he has a girl friend and they were kissing. Now what do i do what am i doing wrong ? Im so scared of him going down the wrong path so i dont let him hang out . But his dad is his friend so when hes at his house theres no rules and its kool to have girls etc.
    What do i do

  61. Your post hit many spots for me and we’ve tried it all to no avail. We’ve tried to pull in the reigns, but our daughter (who turns 18 in a couple weeks) completely disregards them and us. She is disrespectful and believes she should call her own shots and won’t answer her phone and/or texts sometimes (often times) claiming her phone died. We pay for her phone, and I’ve even suspended her service, but I worry that she won’t be able to reach me if she’s in trouble or won’t be able to receive a call from a perspective employer. She’s looking for a job and will be starting college in a little over a week. I’ve decided to have her live on campus because I hope she will flourish in that environment AND that it will help us both and our relationship. Please share your thoughts! I am so lost and afraid!

  62. Hema in Austin says:

    Thank you so much for this! I have a 16 year old son and I have felt him pulling him away as he has been forming a tighter relationship with his father, something I adore but I miss him very much. I seem to be making all of the mistakes you listed out in this article and it’s good to hear this from another mom of sons.

    1. Oh bless you Hema! I hope these help and I hope through the letting go process you find an even better relationship emerge with your son. Thank you for commenting! aloha-

  63. Ann Kasley says:

    My son is 12 and is about to enter 7th grade. He used to be responsible and get straight A’s. Now his grades are falling and he’s acting more immature and sometimes mean. He is also having trouble forming friendships. How do we get our son back on track again.

  64. I have 2 boys, 19&17 and 2 girls, 15&13 … all but my 17yr old has lived with me the majority of their life so far. For some reason I gave my 15 yr old daughter way too much freedom and needed to be that friend mom so bad that at the moment I have lost her. She won’t even speak to me because of a misunderstanding and moved to her dads 300 miles away. This summer my youngest and I are moving back as now everyone is there but if anyone has any advice on how to approach this with ny daughter i would appreciate it, her father will let her decide if she has anything to do with me. She will have to see me for my sons graduation the end of May! I don’t even know how to approach that! Thanks inbadvance on any help. My kids are my life and I have always had a good relationship with them so this is hard!

  65. Naomi Salazar says:

    Am an aunt and guardian of male 15yrs old. I lost my sister to cancer, his mom, last year in 2016. My sister was a single parent to two kids. She was a christian. But she was strict. I understand she had to play two roles. Am sure it was tough. I helped by being her caregiver for her kids . By helping out by picking them up from school etc. Enailing her to work fulltime, to provide for her kids. I helped a lot, but the discipline was hers, I call and tell her situation or ask the kids to call mom for permission. Now I find myself in a aunt-parent situation that I now have to lay down rules,boundaries and he fights me on it. He thought I was going to be the same aunt as always, but I tell him I must now be a parent too. He tells me I talk to much. He yells at me to get out of his room. He has issue if don’t let him do what he wants. I believe he has girlfriend, but he won’t admitt to me. I get so many advices, I have gone from loving him, trying to be patient, to tough love. I feel one moment like we are one foot forward, then back again. He acts like hes that adult, and am the child. Am 54years old woman.He told me he wants freedom. But how much freedom can u give a young man of 15yrs. He lies to me , so needless to say, am beside myself what to do, besides prayer. He doesn’t want counseling. I don’t want to force him. He goes school, we go church, no he not involved in youth ministry, no has tried to reach to him. It is a big church, i suggest going to different church. No this where he came with his mom . Doesn’t want to. I tried.

    1. Carol Meagher says:

      Sounds like your nephew is venting the loss of his mom, onto you. He feels close to you enough to be able to be mad at you, when he is really mad that his mom is gone. You are in a tough place. If i were you, i would go to counseling to get ideas on how to help him through the loss, and also to help you parent him. Good luck. He will be loving you in his 20’s saying thanks for being there for me, sorry i was such a shit.

      1. Great advice Carol, thank you for taking the time. I agree with you 100%. Blessings-

  66. I have made many mistakes with my teenage daughter ( turned 14 in January ). Her father and I are no longer together and still argue in front of her. I know it’s terrible – I am repeating my own teenage experiences onto her. However, she has a mouth on her that would make a truck drivers eye lashes curl ! I find it unacceptable and voice that to her. I need her to know that there will be consequences for say I horrible things to me. I turned her phone off for a week. Her father had no boundaries and us the ” yes ” man. She moved out of my hone to live him because of my rules. Maybe I am intruding on her privacy at times but I worry.
    She is either spending weekends at her friends house ( when her father has her ) or her father let’s her friends sleep over during the week and on his weekends . They hangout in the basement and he has no idea what they do , what time they are in bed ( after 4 am when I see an Instagram post ), and what she is posting on a spam account that she won’t give me access to. I called Instagram and they said that their policy is that if she is 13 ( yes ! 13 or older ) she can lock me out of account. I am at my wits end.

    1. Liz–i am so sorry, it sounds like you are in a really tough situation. I would definitely recommend you find a good counselor to talk through all of this with. Obviously there are some things that you cannot control a this time (how her father parents) but as for your relationship and how you deal with things I think a counselor would be helpful. Don’t give up, but keep seeking solutions. Wishing you the best–

  67. I appreciate your comments and advice. I’m currently struggling with rules/boundaries for my 18 year old senior. He would like to be able to spend time with his girlfriend hanging out at our house after school between activities some nights when no adults are home. At first I was adamantly opposed to it. I explained that I could not be a party to providing a place where unacceptable behavior could occur. When we talked he said that I should trust him to make good decisions and reminded me that he is going off to college in a few months. Although he agreed to follow my rules he thinks that because we live right next to the high school it would just be nice to hang out there after school until practice starts. He reminded me that if he really did want to “do something” he could go elsewhere. I don’t have concerns about his grades, activities, etc and he reminded me that his values are that he would not be sexually active. However, he is still an 18 year old guy (and in high school) with raging hormones. I am really struggling with finding a balance here – any advice? I did relent last night about allowing the girlfriend to come over and made it clear that should they decide to become intimate our house would be off limits. I feel as though I want to trust him but don’t want to be stupid, either.

    1. Jodi–Thank you so much for sharing your situation. Your heart is absolutely in the right place and it sounds like you have done your best to honor God and be reasonable and wise…This is indeed a sticky situation.
      I don’t know where you or your son are at spiritually, but for our family this would be a situation I would defer to my son’s mentor who is his youth pastor. He keeps him in line with super good values and is someone outside of mom and dad so that helps. Also, my son has his own spiritual convictions which make him not want to be in compromising situations because he knows his own weaknesses. These things really only apply though if your son ascribes to the same spiritual or moral convictions that you do. IF he doesn’t then it’s just a matter of respecting you and like he said, it’s only a matter of time until he is in college any ways. (Such a tough season when they’re adults but still in our home and in high school!) I think you sound very level headed and it sounds like you’re handling it well. Without knowing more about where your son is morally/spiritually it is hard of rme to say much more, and also I don’t know the nature of your relationship (though it sounds like a good one! :)) Try not to let this become a fighting matter, but one where you remain firm in your own convictions but loving and reasonable. I think he will respect that even if he does not agree with you. Keep me posted, ok? Much love and blessings–

      1. I (mom of 5) defer to “house rules” when I don’t want them to feel it’s personal mistrust. Boys and girls aren’t allow alone together at our house when we’re not home, a rule I won’t bend. Even the most moral kids can be tempted beyond control and I don’t want to contribute to that even inadvertently.. Let her over anytime you’re home and don’t check on them, show as much trust as you are realistically able, but your house, your rules.

  68. Hi,
    My son is 15 and we had a great relationship pre-teen. We still have a good relationship except the fact like other kids, he stays in his room playing videos, talking to his friends online, and playing his guitar. It was making my heart sad that he wasn’t hanging out with me any more. I know so many people deal with this since all the technology has taken over, and Internet came into play. But one thing I’ve started doing is making sure we have dinner together at the kitchen table. it’s giving us time to talk about the day or whatever is on our minds. And even if it’s for 20 minutes, 20 minutes of quality time with your teen is good and they will remember dinner time together with their family or single parent, like myself. I don’t have a lot of time, but I do make time for dinner together and talk 🙂

    1. Connie–Thanks so much for commenting. Having dinner together is a fabulous way to connect — well done. I am actually preparing a post for next week which has just that as a major suggestion for families. 😉 But may I ask you: Have you ever set boundaries for how much time your son spends in his room? I often hear parents say that their teen spends so much time in their room and I wonder if parents think they have no say over that? If you think your son is spending too much time (esp. on devices or playing video games) there is no reason you cannot set a time limit and then ask him to be out with the rest of the family for certain times…he can read or talk to you or help around the house. I would love to hear from you on this because I am asking all parents who have this complaint the same question and I am genuinely curious if you have already tried that and it backfired or if you simply do not feel you have the “right” to tell your son not to be in his room for so long. Thanks for sharing!! Aloha-

      1. Hi, Connie and Monica.

        Great post, Monica (love your site! just found it!), and great question, Connie. I love the dinner-together rule, and think it’s important to have even limited regular time together whenever possible.

        We have a somewhat firm no-tech-in-the-bedrooms policy** for our kids. It’s hard to stick to when they are older teens, but we have set up spaces in our dining room and living room where they can be online/on computers to do homework, and to have some unstructured tech time. Expecting 13-17-year-olds to respect boundaries around technology when they are in their bedrooms isn’t actually fair to them (or even developmentally appropriate).

        Limiting their tech use in their bedroom will limit how much time they spend in there. And if they do want to shut their door and read (or do something else that’s not tech-dependent), we feel that it’s because they need that time to themselves.

        **Note that we make occasional exceptions to no-tech-in-bedroom: when we have company over and our kids need to be on their computers to do homework, etc. And very occasionally we’ll let them watch a movie or play video games in their room, but this is the exception and not the rule.

        Best,
        Kelly(ak), Secondary English teacher, and parent of two

        1. I forgot to say: not everyone has a household that will work for the no-tech-in-bedroom rule: smaller kids running around during homework time, for example, or a small house (ours isn’t big, but it’s pretty quiet) might make this unworkable for kids who need computers for homework.

          If that’s the case, I suggest setting tech-hours rules, and limiting it to no more than a few a day. At the very least, I would ask my kids that all tech (including phones) be out of the bedrooms by, say, 9 or 10pm. I’d actually like it to be earlier for my students and others who have tech in their rooms, but that’s not always doable when kids have sports practice, music rehearsals, and other activities that sometimes keep them out of the house until later in the evening, and then they need to start homework…

          None of this is easy!

  69. You always have great suggestions. I have one more – don’t encourage your kids to run off and hide in their rooms by making them an appealing playground of electronics. You’re never going to get the phone out of their hand, but I’ve never allowed TV’s or computers in bedrooms and even my adult sons still maintain this policy. It’s subtle, but if the family TV is the best one and the only one set up with cable and Netflix, plus some appealing snacks around, it encourages them to come and hang out with the family a little more often. And we set pretty strict limits on game time, so that helps too. These electronics are making our job as parents a LOT harder, I’m not a huge fan.

    1. Such great thoughts there Adrian! Thank you for adding that. Love it all. Much aloha–

    2. Hi AdrianG! I just wrote a similar reply, but should have read yours first!

      Best,
      Kellyak

  70. Thank you so much for this post! I am a HS Special Education teacher and my students are doing that ever so difficult MS to HS transition. The parents have a rough time and this is a really great article that I will have for them as a resource. I love that you talked about teens so respectfully. They are a WONDERFUL group to work with and it is nice to read articles that build them up and help them to become better adults! Thanks!!!

  71. I have a 15 and 17 year old son followed by an adorable energetic 2 year old. The hardest part for me … LOL.. All of it! I’m sooo lost and feel so out of control with lack of knowledge on connecting with my two older kids. The toddler, NOT a problem .. I can fix anything with the wheels on the bus song 🤗.. My teenagers though.. Whew boy. They are both introverts and hard to read. They barely have friends( that I know of ..) they don’t leave the house (they don’t want to, it’s been encouraged and suggested almost every weekend) , I don’t see them talking on the phone.. I even went as far as to encourage my 15 year old to open a Facebook account (I know, mother of the year award) . My 17 year old is high functioning autistic.. So he is a story all on his own but I feel that we have a decent relationship.. My 15year old , not so much. We just moved about 2 months ago.. So I know that is a struggle. But I’m at a loss and feel that I am making it worse for him. He is failing four classes, not making friends, he is on the smaller side so he is being picked on. I recommend things to him but can’t do it for him. Tonight was tough. We talked about his continuous lack of maturity in being responsible for himself (grades) and how this will affect his future ( he has an ongoing struggle to turn in assignments and there fore gets zeros and never figured out how to bring up his grades) my final question tonight was .. “What do you think the problem is?” His reply: “Me” … 😓 What!? He isn’t the problem ! He is so perfect and I feel like I just kick him while he is down when I respond with.. “No, you are not to become a victim, you have to find out how to follow through with your one and only responsibility which is school” HELP!! The face he gave me and the way he looked at me broke my heart. I just want to help him.. Thanks for listening… I can’t sleep and I needed to tell someone.

    1. Oh Janet, you sweet thing. Thank you so much for sharing your heart here, and I wish I could reach right through the computer and hug you. You are not alone. Obviously there is so much I do not know about your situation, but from what I do know, you are saying the right things to your boys, and your heart is obviously tender. I encourage you to really trust God with this, and keep believing for those boys even when/if they don’t believe for themselves. Have you talked to a counselor about all of this? I really recommend doing that. Someone outside of your situation might be able to give you a fresh perspective and tools. Ideally your boys (at least the 15 yr old, assuming the 17 yr. old has some support for his autism?) could also talk to a counselor. In addition I would require them to get outdoors. Nature and fresh air can do wonders. Perhaps you can make it a required part of their day. Again, I don’t know your whole scenario–is there a dad in the picture, do you have a church to connect to or spiritual beliefs to turn to? No matter what I promise you God is there and He loves all of you. I want your boys to believe that God has a plan for their life and I want you to know that God sees your heart and ALL of the efforts you put in is NOT in vain. I believe things will get better and one day you’ll look back on these days and be so glad you put in all you did, but also so glad it’s over! 🙂 Bless you and please do keep me posted. Wish I could help more but from a distance there is only so much I can do..Aloha-

      1. Wow! You responded ! It’s 2:34AM here and I’m reading articles on how to help your teenage son. 😱 Thank you for your kind words. I spoke with his school counselor and she did meet with him this afternoon. He has a stepfather (marine) who has been involved in his life since age 4. His dad just started coming back in the picture since about 5 months ago.. Even with that going on, which is a lot. I don’t feel he has a hard life. We have created a solid foundation for him to feel secure in. I just need to up my mommy game and figure out how to get through without making him feel worthless (this is my fear, I know how terribly it feels when someone doesn’t believe in you) I feel like tonight I brushed his REAL concerns (dad, move, school ) to the side and told him to grow up in so many words. Church.. Not so much but coencidently we are starting a series at a church up the street on the 18th! This is exciting to us all. For me.. I am on Pinterest and Google trying to find resources to help me find the right words/path to take with him. 😳 My 17 year old is actually adapting nicely. I’m excited for his new chapter at this new school (better environment and program/resources) and with this church series we will be attending I have high hopes!
        Thank you for responding!
        **question** what would you do? His dad has a family reunion coming up on Sept. 16th ( a 3 day weekend trip to the mountains) he wants to pull him out of school that Friday. –after today, I was thinking of telling my son that he isn’t allowed to go but now I’m second guessing that. Any thoughts? Xoxo, Janet

  72. I needed this! Number 6 is so hard for me, and this was a great reminder. I have 4 kiddos, ages 15, 13, 10, and 7. And I’m pretty sure I have some “parent onset ADD”. I really need to work on slowing down and really listening to the small stuff. Especially with my 15 year old. Thanks!

    1. I think we all need to work on that one! 🙂 With four kids especially we are so stretched…If the intention is there the rest will fall into place. 😉 Thanks for commenting!

  73. I am def guilty of them trying to talk to me and me talking over them and pointing out things. They usually want to talk when it’s bedtime and mama is all done or when they need to be getting ready to go. Sigh. A breath and some attention is probably the best answer. We are raising them and God is raising us.

    1. Well said, Paige! 🙂 Thanks for stopping in…aloha-

  74. Thank you so much. This really really helps me out. I have a 16-years old stepson, a 9-years old daughter, with their super-traditional Chinese father (who still believes that he is the only and unchallenged authority at home). He sets rules and I asks (too many) questions that made our son felt smothered that he wanted to quit school and left home (in last October). Then we communicated with him, so he came back home and went back to school, but we found that we gave him too much freedom that the whole family feel uncertain all the time (and I feel worried all the time if my son didn’t came home after 10pm). It also affected our 9-years old daughter who once cried to me saying that “Mommy, please don’t ignore me….” I didn’t realize that she felt that way (and I will never ignore her) as our attentions all goes to our son….

    Thanks for the clear instructions from this post the earlier “What a Teenage Boy Needs most from his Mom.” You calm me a lot. Much appreciated.

    1. Thank you Sonia! So happy you have enjoyed the posts. Sounds like you are doing your very best in your situation. I hope you can communicate with your husband in a way that he can understand so that you have a voice as well…I’m sure your daughter feels loved and you’ll find the right balance with your step-son. Meanwhile, keep up the great parenting and bless you. Much Aloha–

  75. These are really good points! Thanks for re-posting this. Great reminders. I now have a 21 yr old son and a 12 year old son. I remember when my 21 yr old was 16 and played football. My husband would pick him up and it seemed like every day more and more boys would pile in the car. My husband would tell jokes, talk to the boys, lift them up, listen to them and many of them told my son that their parents didn’t talk honestly with them about anything. We decided instead of ‘telling’ our kids what to do all them time, we would ‘ask them the right questions’ that would logically bring them to the ‘best’ solution on their own. Even with that, the influences with friends sometimes lead them down roads we didn’t agree with, but we kept conversation going, tried not to ridicule when they told us an issue or mistake, but really talked through solutions. Now my 21 year old has become a man I am proud of. We are still working with our 12 yr old, but having an older brother to echo our beliefs and give him another perspective has been a great gift to him.

    1. Awesome, thank you Nita! Love hearing your story and it sounds like you and your husband are very tuned in to kids’ needs and doing a great job. It is always encouraging to hear from those whose kids have grown and worked through tricky times to be in a good place. Yay! Keep up the great work with your 12 year old, and I’m sure he’ll too make you proud down the road. Much aloha-and thanks for taking the time to comment. 🙂