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My husband and I have been married 19 years. We have 2 sons, 14 and 16 years old. The 16yo has become very disrespectful to me, and I have lost my parenting way somewhere along the line and it continues to get worse. I'm sure it is because the boys are both like a "man-child", but at least I would think I could have them contribute to our family's household needs. I don't ask for much, and they are "golden boys" with needs AND wants met. My husband, unfortunately, is not helpful as he is non-confrontational, passive-aggressive, and has his own family of origin issues. Yes, I've created my own monster. I don't want to "bide my time until they get outta the house" as my husband suggests, because I love them and want to enjoy the few years we have left with them at home full time. They are great kids, but need to be full members of our family while allowing them to learn independence. My husband and I have gone to 3 or 4 marriage counselors, but anything we discuss is amazingly "my" problem and we never have focused on his portion of the responsibility. I grew up with significant molestation/abuse, but have had a lot of individual therapy that has allowed me to become the strong woman I am today. I am on Adderall (ADHD) and also go to my therapist on a regular basis to unload day-to-day stresses. I need to change what I am doing so my family responds differently to me, but I don't know what. I don't know where my power is, IF I ever had it! HELP?!?!
First of all, congratulations on being married for 19 years, on raising your two sons and for directly addressing challenges both past and present.
There are two issues here. One is how to handle your son's disrespectful behavior. The other is wanting your husband to do things differently. Your power is with you, and we will look at what you can do around the issue of respect.
The teenage years can be a roller coaster ride for both the parents and the teenagers themselves. Developing added empathy for the physical and emotional changes that your son is experiencing may help you detach so that you feel more peaceful. Understanding that disrespectful behavior is typical of this developmental stage - not acceptable behavior AND it is typical - can help you remove the charge. Taking good care of yourself -- doing things daily to nurture YOU - can help you remain composed. Whenever we are stressed, we trigger much more easily and our reaction is usually ineffective.
With this said, here are four suggestions for handling disrespectful behavior:
1. Request respect in a calm, detached and firm way using an "I-statement." For example, "I feel upset when people respond to me sarcastically. I would like you to respond to me like this." Then use the tone of voice you would like your son to use.
2. Model respect in your tone of voice and words when talking with others. This is very powerful because our children do what they see.
3. Make your expectations clear. Talk to your son at a calm moment, and let him know in a very clear way what respectful behavior is. Ask for his help in creating peace at home.
4. Daily, think of the things that you love about your son. Remind yourself and him of the qualities that you enjoy.
Posted On 2008-05-17 08:51:41
Firstly you should be very proud and commended for dealing with your own issues and being brave enough to share and seek help. They will never go away but it seems as if you have them in their appropriate place in your life now. The "typical" narcisicm that exists in teenage boys can indeed be amplified by parents who do not have clearly defined boundaries and expectations. It is hard for another to set boundaries in anothers home but you are correct, a reasonable level of "family" help and cooperation is more than appropriate for any household. Having family meetings to discuss EVERYONES (including yours) needs is a start. having a loose agenda with some "fun" stuff and some more difficult topics is a good way to start. One or two points each meeting is great. Encourage family dinners where favorite parts of the day are discussed and enforce that EVERYONE clears the table and cleans up. This is typically where teeenagers race away and go their rooms but it is a small step and start on the road to family cooperation! My most strongly advised suggestion is to go to family counseling where all four of you sit down and discuss the fabric and make up of the family. There is no shame in this and the "boys" (and I include their dad) will need to be assured that it is to help, not to analyze. Too many parents want to be thier childrens friend first. We must be our childrens friend but we must also parent and teach. A fundemental part of "mums" teaching for young men is how to treat their future wives! how they treat you and the house will in some way contribute to their future relationships. You have first hand knowledge of the good and bad so remember as painful as it is to have rules and values you must stay the course as your young men will one day be husbands and dads. Good family councilors can be found in most towns so check it out.
Posted On 2008-05-01 07:02:49