Online Parent Support Chat

12.7.08

I have a son of 18 who now doesn't speak to his dad...

I have a son of 18 who now doesn't speak to his dad - they were very close when he was small, and stayed close even after we separated when he was three. However, other people used to complain about our son, and I fell out with another Mum who really scapegoated him - his dad went and observed at the school playground unseen to see what was actually going on, and thought all the kids were the same. His dad met someone else and they moved in together when my son was about 10. He was very upset and used to cry at their house, his stepmother has a reputation for being quite hard and tough, I haven't criticised her but this made me feel I wasn't supporting him, I felt in a bad position as I didn't want to undermine his dad. His Dad then altered his parenting style, and told me when A was 13, and seeing a mental health counsellor because he was depressed and hurting himself, that he previously hadn't set good boundaries and had always explained reasonably why things were right or wrong. I found parenting my son exhausting and awful at times as he wouldn't accept "No". I think that it seems as though Chris put his wife's kids before A; taking them places and going to their events (they were involved in events because they are the sort of kids who do things with others).

A stopped staying at his dad's when he was 14, and at some point his dad did give me money but he stopped this last summer at the same time that the child benefit stopped. He has never taken part in the taxi service kids like in their teens for instance, and hasn't been involved in the day to day rubbish, like being woken when he comes in at 7am or 3am, and worrying when he's not home. Now Chris (Dad) rings me very occasionally and moans about his son who doesn't return his calls, he is critical of him and of me, and it makes me see why his son (A) doesn't want to see him. A says that his dad leaves him sarcastic messages. A says he wishes his Dad would stop being such a prat, and he wishes he would stop too! I can't say A has been blameless and innocent though. He hasn't got a job, got excluded from school, has hung around for the last year, has told me he bullied kids at school, and has a complete disregard for other people's time and efforts, rarely meeting expectations. I think he's an unfathered child. Even when he's has positive feedback and encouragement (which he got while doing a music course at college) he let the teachers down, even one who offered him a job helping him to DJ (A wanted to be a DJ).
The whole thing is making me miserable. A hasn't broken anything in anger for about 9 months now, although he frightened me very much by thumping the kitchen side in anger right next to me (I have visual impairment). If I get angry he tells me to shut up, and if I try to raise issues tells me to get out of his room, or go away, or he walks away. He has cried twice recently, but it hasn't made any difference. He stays out at night, and treats his girlfriend really badly, his bedroom is the worst mess you can imagine and I kind of think that if he treats it like a 2 year old would, then I might treat it like that too, and go in and sort it out (in a way I could leave it but we want to move house and the estate agent has said that room is a real downer).

His grandparents have lost faith in him - my father always treated him badly (I think it's cos we were unmarried parents) but his paternal grandparents who used to be really sweet on him, have now had enough and when I last saw them they said I had been too soft on him, which my Mum says as well but all I remember is being on my own with a difficult child, and not wanting to tell anyone what he was like (because I knew my Dad didn't like him already and I didn't want them to know what it was like).

He's been one for staying away when he feels challenged. I come from a position where I pay the bills and the mortgage and it's my house, although it's our home, but sometimes, the constant disrespect, the filth in the kitchen, coming home from work to noise and mess just wears me out, and I feel that I've no energy. He sometimes wants to share things but it's at midnight or when I'm working, and I haven't got the health or energy then.

My Out-of-Control Teen

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