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Need advice from dads of teens

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dmari posted 9/7/2013 01:31 AM

Dear Friends,

Since dday, I have been an only parent. STBX did not want them (except for visitations ~ a few hours a week) but due to other issues, both children do not want anything to do with him at this time.

My DS14 started a new school and is a freshman. He has his first girlfriend. He and I are close and he normally talks openly with me. What he is struggling with is the complexities of being in a relationship and I am struggling with the right way to support him. He is always worrying if his girlfriend is happy; or sad; or does she want to sit with me; she needs space; etc.

He told me he felt bad for me because I had to be Mom/Dad and had to talk to him "man to man". I suggested that if he felt he needed to talk to a man, he could talk to his dad and he cut me off and said "I never want to talk to him again." I said that I understood and let him know of some male relatives he could talk to.

I've read books about fatherless boys and single moms to see if I could learn what it is I am supposed to teach my son since dad is not in the picture.

I feel so inadequate in this department. I feel like I am missing telling him something important. I want him to be himself in this relationship. I want him to not think about this girl so much. I want him to deal with the ups and downs of a relationship in a healthy manner.

What is realistic? What do boys feel when they are in a relationship in their early teens? Is it normal to worry about the girlfriend so much? Should I force him to break it off? Why or why not?

I sure could use some insight and book recommendations or anything. Thank you!!

kg201 posted 9/7/2013 07:11 AM

dmari, I have a 15 y.o. son, and I teach 14 and 15 years olds, and I used to be a 15 y.o boy, so here are my thoughts.

The feelings/thoughts you are describing are absolutely normal for that age group. These are the things they are thinking about everyone, not just their GF/BFs. The "why did he look at me that way?...He didn't sit with me at lunch today, why?" variety. The fact he is new to the school and this is his first girlfriend magnifies those feelings, because he doesn't know what to do. He likes the feelings, and is afraid of losing them if the GF breaks up with him.

My advice:
1. Validate his feelings. Put a name to them. Ask him whether he is feeling anxious that she might break it off? Does he feel awkward and doesn't want to seem uncool? Validate that those are normal feelings.

2. Don't force him to break it off. He has to learn how to interact with girls, and the fact that he is open with you about it is great. He is willing to listen for your guidance. It isn't about man to man, it is about a human experience. As long as you are human and have had these same feelings, then you are an expert to talk with your son. Let him know what you expect from him in regards to this relationship...(treat her with respect, you do not own her and do need to let her have her space when she asks for it, etc.)

3. Give him pointers about what girls like. "You know, your GF might like it if..." I was at the grocery store with my son one day just before dropping him off at his GFs house. I told him I would give him to the money to buy her some flowers. He was reluctant at first, because there was no occasion. I said, exactly! The look on the GFs mom's face when she opened the door and my son walked in with flowers was this smile of joy and relief that her GF had a thoughtful BF.

So those are some thoughts off the top of my head. Boys and feelings are probably the hardest part of raising boys. We don't know how to identify them. There is an older book called Real Boys, which I connected to quite a bit when I read it a while back. I would recommend it.

Good luck.

[This message edited by kg201 at 7:11 AM, September 7th (Saturday)]

dazdandconfuzed posted 9/7/2013 08:12 AM

I am the mom of a 13 year old DS with his first GF. I think the fact that he is talking to you at all is fantastic. I have to drag things out of my DS. And he doesn't talk to my H about that stuff at all. I think you are doing great, mom!

Phoenix1 posted 9/7/2013 12:14 PM

Dmari, I'm not a dad, but I went thru this with my DS, sort of. He would not openly talk to either me or his father about his first GF, but he fell hard for her. I KNEW she wasn't "the one" and he could do so much better, but I had to keep my mouth shut. He was always worried about the what its where his GF was concerned, but he was also worried about my acceptance of her as his choice. I supported him and gave the usual advice about birth control, respect, etc. He was so smitten, he thought it was really going somewhere. Then she dumped him. He was devastated and cried in my arms. Seeing him like that broke my heart, but he knew I was his safe place to land, not his father. It turned into a valuable learning experience and I had to let him go thru it on his own and watch the train wreck happen without interference. I just always let him know I was there for him (even though inside I did not like his GF).

dmari posted 9/8/2013 04:58 AM

kg101: Thank you so much for all your advice!! Especially your first paragraph! It really helped to hear that what he is feeling is normal and also explaining why he feels that way. I will be looking for that book.

dazdandconfuzed: Thanks for sharing! How long has your DS been dating? Do they go on dates? Yikes. I'm not ready for this!

Phoenix1: Thank you for sharing your story about DS! You handled the breakup well and I hope that I will remember to do the same (when the time comes).

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