Friday, November 13, 2009

Parenting Struggles

Neither Jamie nor I are happy campers right now. In public, he's still the sweet, respectful kid, treating all elders with respect (for the most part). At church, I've been thanked on several occassions for bringing such a "jewel" to Sunday School/church/Wednesday night Bible study, etc. I am glad that he's behaving himself and being a (mostly) good kid and helper.

BUT - at home, OH! at home, he's defiant, obstinate, unhelpful, cantankerous, and every other unpleasant word I can think of! We go round and round on a daily basis about homework, chores, his tone of voice when he speaks to me, his bedtime, his eating. Basically, we argue about everything ALL THE TIME!!!! And I gotta tell ya, I'm sick of it. There are days when I don't even want to speak to him because I know it will just lead to an argument.

Don't get me wrong. I love Jamie. I wouldn't have done half the things I've done to make sure he's fed, clothed, and has a roof over his head if I didn't love him to pieces. I've taken jobs I've hated, I've done things I strenously did not like to do (don't worry, it was legal), I've compromised my principles on more than one occassion, just to make sure he's healthy and provided for. All to be treated like dog poo on his shoe on more than one occassion. What really irks me is that I can't tell him half the things I've done, because I don't want him to know. I don't want him to know the lengths I've gone to keep us from having to live in our car, the things I've done so he would have something to eat, the low paying, degrading jobs I've kept just to be sure I could (barely) afford his medications. I do and have done all those things - for him to act like a snot-nosed brat.

The most insidious thing about it is that he isn't that way all the time. He can go from one moment of absolute sweetness and helpfulness to complete and total sh!thead in 30 seconds flat. It's stunning how he can flip-flop back and forth. And when I call him out on it, I get his standard reply of "well, I'm sorry, but (insert half-brained excuse here)" said in a snotty voice. It drives me up a wall!

Is 11 the new age for parents to dread? When my older sister was little, my mom was warned to watch out for hormones and mulish behavior at 16; based on a popular movie several years ago, "Thirteen" was the age to watch out for. Is 11 the new start of the snot-nosed brat phase?

I'm going to pray about this.... a lot. All this arguing isn't doing either one of us any good. But I need it to stop, because I need him to help me out more around the house. And I need him to go to bed on time and eat when he's supposed to. I also need him to do his homework when he's supposed to. Luckily, he did get a big warning from one of his teachers yesterday. She reminded him that he CAN be kicked out of his clubs and even the magnet program if he doesn't shape up. He worked all night last night getting his homework caught up, and is supposed to turn everything in today. We'll see how that improves his grades.

I'm sorry for this long rant, but I had to pour it out. It felt like it was eating me from the inside. He isn't always horrible. He's still mostly a good kid. It's just that the snottiness is really getting to me. I'll just keep reminding myself that "this too shall pass." It has to, or it will kill me!


Suze said...

I can offer no advice, since I don't have an 11yo myself (yet), but I am thinking of you and wish I could help. I have heard that boys are (typically) more difficult in the younger teen/preteen years, while girls are more difficult later in high school. Let's hope this is just a rough patch. You can certainly take heart in knowing that he is polite and mature to other adults. It sucks that he is taking everything out on you, but that's probably how it should be.

BTW, Daniel and I had one of those days yesterday. When I told him he had to go pee before we went to the park it turned into a yelling match that lasted at least 5 minutes - all while our friends were waiting outside for us! And that was only the beginning.

AnnaMarie said...

I have found great comfort in Dr. Spock. He doesn't give parenting advice so much as he gives insight into the WHY behind the behavior. Why does a 3 year old (or an 11 year old) act this way? I find it of great comfort.

Jessi said...

I think the whole age thing varies by kid. My little brother got truly, heinously, unbearable at about 11, but he was done with it quick, too, being a person you wanted to be around again at about 14. Many of his friends didn't get annoying until 13 or so, but are still unbearable now at 18. So, it's a crapshoot.

On the other hand, a guy on my board gave me a nice piece of advice this weekend. He said that kids are constantly feeling for their limits and then trying to push them, so if you aren't constantly butting heads about something, then you're not doing it right.

It made me feel better and I hope it makes you feel better, too.

This is why moms deserve sainthood.

ann said...

Spank him!

Again, not a mother.

(and I know that's controversial.)

Jenn-Jenn, the Mother Hen said...

I have spanked him on numerous occassions. Doesn't help one bit. On top of being spanked several times this week, he's lost his TV privileges and I've taken away his Nintendo DS. The only reason why he gets to go to the corn maze tonight is 1) it's already paid for; 2) it's with his youth group (and therefore, hopefully, the followship will rub off on him); and 3) again, with the youth group, and there are some great kids in there who are good influences. Tomorrow, he's spending all stinkin' day helping me work on the house. Maybe hard work and a good night's sleep will put him in a better, more respectful frame of mind.

Lydia said...

your situation with Jamie sounds so much like my friend, Holly, and her son Bryan. I reccomend you check out her blog or email her. She could offer you some Godly encouragement and suggestions for discipline. Bryan is also a jewel for everyone else, or was from my experience with him. He seemed to drive his family nuts, though. Email me and I'll give you Holly's info if you're interested.

Jamie Roberts said...

i have been going through the same stuff with todd (he's 12) we have fought the homework war since 3rd grade. i spanked, i grounded, i prayed, i yelled, i cussed, i threatened, i bought a paddle, you name it-i tried it. one day i sat down with him and i cried. i just cried right there with him watching. i hated it. i told him i was done. i was done with the fighting, i was done with trying to beg him to do what was expected of him. but i told him that i wasn't done being his mom and i wasn't done loving him and hoping for the best. i was open and honest and told him about how late i would stay up crying and praying that he would do better. how i emailed his teachers trying to come up with something, anything that would work to keep him from failing. i fought with his dad trying to keep todd of medicine that i knew deep down he didn't need. roy wanted to put him on all kinds of meds, when it really came down to discipline. and i don't mean spanking, i mean todd had to make the decision that it was time to change. it's the old, "lead a horse to water but can't make him drink" idea. i just sat him down and told him that i was done. that when all his friends were graduating high school and he still had one more year, it was on him. when the girl that he really really really liked didn't want anything to do with him because he was now a year behind-it was on him. i told him that i couldn't do it for him, and that i was done. it may sound cold, but this child brought home a report card this year with only A's and B's on it. and i cried. and he did too. he told me he was so sorry for putting me through so much.
it's hard when you are on your own. but i think the best thing for them to understand is that we are human. we goof up just like they do, we get mad, we get upset, and there are times that we don't know what to do. i honestly think the best thing i've ever done for them is to show them that i'm human. mama can fix just about everything, but there are some things that mama can't do.
only you know what you've had to do in order to make things work for you guys...but sometimes i think they should know some of the hardships of being a parent. mine know of the times that i had to work 3 jobs so we could have a home. erin knows how much her medicine costs. it makes them appreciate what they are able to have and what they are allowed to do more. they don't have to know everything, but just a glimpse sometimes can make them open their eyes.
good luck. i hope this has been somewhat helpful...and i'll be praying for you both.

ps..raising hormonal boys makes you realize why some species eat their young...LOL