I have a 16 1/2 year old and a toddler. DS1 and I have mostly negotiated the murky waters of his adolescence and my parenting a little one again, but we have really lost touch. I know this is normal, but we used to be so close. I have really struggled with feeling positive and loving towards him, much to my dismay and heartbreak. His father and I are divorced but have had joint legal/physical custody since he was in pre-school, and the older my son gets, the more of his father I see in him. I am in counseling to help me be aware of the fact that I need to accept who he is and never hold his father's characteristics against him, so please don't flame me for being honest about that. It's just part of the picture. I am also an SA survivor and my abuser was a teenage boy, so I try to be very aware of any transference issues.
I tried a couple activities with him to help us "bond" again, but it felt forced and artificial and I honestly didn't look forward to seeing a movie with him, taking him for coffee (he'd just head to the bookstore part of the place to read), etc. I finally just decided to go out to eat with him once a week (or close to it) while DH watches our toddler. I make an effort to keep the discussions AWAY from anything unpleasant or controversial; he pretty much just talks the whole time and I listen and pay the bill. We are pretty broke, so this is an effort for me; however, so far, I feel like it's one of the only things I've done "right" with him for awhile.
Anybody else have experience with feeling like this? Anyone have suggestions on how to spend time with your teen?
I got tired of my signature, but I still love my children and husband and miss my little brother.
Going out to eat goes great for us. Shopping, too. But I agree it is more about you doing what they like. As for mutual activities. We've done geo-caching and zip-lining.
My toddler can't talk much ,so car rides are prime talking times for us.
We also stay up after dh and baby goes to sleep and watch cheesy tv, cooking contest and tlc junk.
Best of luck I fear the next couple of years
I make a point with my 15-year-old but I find that anything too formal doesn't really add much to the relationship. We seem to connect best when we are simultaneously doing something with our hands or bodies. For example, I was making a bunch of tutu's for a fundraiser and asked for a little help. We actually had a lot of fun and got more quality conversation during that time than we have in a long while. Your son probably doesn't want to make tutu's lol but you might try something with a physical element as it can bring down the defenses a little bit. Maybe a hike, maybe washing the car together... It's tough finding things that aren't so much "work" but it can help pull down both people's defenses and allow for free conversation.
I think it's pretty natural to reacte to qualities you see in your children whether positive or negative. I absolutely love my DH and DD has so many of his wonderful qualities. However, she also has some of his anxieties and his difficulty in explaining his emotions (he has them, he can't put them into words and neither can she... more likely to just shut down.) She also has qualities that I don't like in myself! Not much different with my 11-year-old. In times of frustration and emotional distance, it's easy to focus on those qualities that disappoint you. Sometimes, I think we get mad at negative qualities less because of our kids and more because we blame ourselves for them having them.
I agree that one-on-onetime works best when it's time spent doing something of interest to the kid. When my son was living at home, I made a point to listen to the music he liked and read the books he suggested as that gave us a common point to talk over a meal, or during a drive. Even if I didn't enjoy the aboce as much as he did, there was always something to talk about (as long as it wasn't "HOW could you enjoy that?!?!?!). He's a big reader, where his sister is not, so when she went on sleepovers or something, we'd often camp out in the FR reading - often the same book!
My daughter is more outdoorsy (altough she does love to shop!), so we'd occasionally leave the older one home and go hiking, or even camping for some time to ourselves. Or we'd grab some FH sticks and hit the ball around.
A lot of times, one or the other would help me in the kitchen, and that was also a good time to connect and chat.
I think it helps to try and keep those times for building the relationship, and not for "serious" conversations that are likely to lead to an argument or hurt feelings.
As for mannerisms of the other parent? LOL My son shares many of mine, and his Dad *hates* it. ALways has, and has made no effort to hide it. Knowing how this hurt my child, made me remember to not allow myself to ascribe their mannerisms any negativity. They arte a combination of us, and at one time, we loved one another enough to make them. Try to remember that part. No matter how his ex is towards you - he IS half your son. And that's both right and good.
I find that time spent in the car driving places can be quality time with my teens, but I'm wondering if that goes away once they are driving themselves.
My 15 year old and I have started going to the Y together, and it's the little bits of time on the way there, in the locker room, on the way home that we talk. It feels less forced because we don't actually work out together. We each do our own thing.
I find it hard to see my DH's negative traits in my kids, and he and I are happily married. I really can't grasp what it is like to see traits develop in a child that were part of the reason for a divorce. I think its great that you are in counseling to work on that, because it sounds really difficult to me.
Before I had kids, I thought that unconditional love would be easy. But instead, I sometimes find it a challenge. And I wish that weren't true.
When my kids first hit adolescence, I went through a phase when I felt angry about how things were going. I was the total APing mom -- I BF, only used GD, homeschooled in a relaxed way when they were younger, etc. I thought all of that meant that the adolescent/teen years would be easy. I thought that all that time and effort came with a money back guarantee. But instead, we've been through some seriously difficult stuff.
So I've no advice. I can only say that you aren't alone in how you feel.
I think it's great that he is talking non-stop when you go out to eat. That's a good sign.
but everything has pros and cons