Originally Posted by whatsnextmom
Like you recognize, it is a normal phase but I wouldn't see it as how things will be until he moves out. My eldest pulled away from the family around 13. Yes, she wanted to be with friends but she also would just hole up in her room as opposed to hang out in public rooms with us. By 15, that started to turn around and she was better at balancing family, friend and alone time. My current 13-year-old is starting to pull away a bit... spending more time with friends and alone. However, I have faith he'll work his way back too. Personally, I had/have no problem requiring some family time. The kids have dinner with us each night. I put family activities on the master schedule so they know not to schedule on top of it. Giving them fair warning makes the times together less frustrating for all. It's important to include some fun family activities... not just visits to elderly aunts and house cleaning. Keep to family traditions or even make some of your own.
I know it's hard but try not to take it personally.
I agree with whatsnextmom -- it ebbs and flows depending on all sorts of things. When things are super busy for my very social child, I do make plans for required "family fun" and mark them on the calendar - never more than once a week. Last Saturday we ate together, went to see a movie, and then got ice cream. It was lovely. There's really nothing to be gained by requiring the teens are here Friday night, all day Saturday, all day Sunday, etc. I think it is important to find ways to have fun with your kids with the stage they are currently in.
I also think that accepting that you are moving into a new stage of family life will help. You envisioned what it would be like to have children, you did not envision what it would be like to have teens. No one does. I think getting more clear on what this stage is and how to successful navigate it will. For me, this stage is all about independence and life skills. I feel like how well I help them navigate the separation stage will impact not only the relationship they have with me as an adult, but their over all adjustment.
Also, I suggest making your home teen friendly and letting him know that his friends are ALWAYS welcome. We were TV free when the kids were small, but now have a giant TV and a gaming system. We used to eat only whole foods, and while I still eat Paleo, I keep the my kids' friends favorite sodas on hand and have things set up so they can easily order pizza and have it delivered. What I get in exchange is that *some* of that time my super social child wants to spend with friends, she spends here.
One last thing, your sons are going through an adjustment that may work it self out naturally over the next couple of years as they both transition to being teens. In the meantime, you can require politeness from your older son and project to your younger son that he is responsible for his own social connections. Your feeling that big brother is in the wrong for being gone is most likely making the situation between them worse.