"The alien living in my house" or "what happened to my sweet, considerate son?"

<p>My son, who is turning 14 next month, has become over the last year and a half a hypersensitive, hypercritical alien. Until middle school he was sweet, considerate, polite, funny, a general pleasure to be around. Lately, I cringe when I have to pick him up at school. He used to discuss school with me on the car ride home. Now, If I ask how was your day I get a one word answer...good or fine. No more details. If I ask for details he turns nasty. "Why do you care so much?" and "I can't wait until I can drive so I don't have to be interogated every day in the car" are just some examples of the nasty retorts that I get from him lately. When I tell him that he doesn't need to be mean he quietly apologizes but he really is doing a number on me. He is a really good kid otherwise(good crowd of friends, lot of integrity, excellent grades) and is not having any "problems" so to speak other than puberty (the signs are everywhere).
I already went through puberty with his two older sisters. When faced with annoyances or hardships they would get weepy and emotional. My son, when faced with the same annoyances (my type A personality I guess) or hardships (school pressures) gets angry. Is this a boy thing? Will I get my sweet guy back in a few years (that is what happened with the girls around 18ish) or is this the new him? I should also tell you that I am one of four daughters so I have NO experience with teenage boy moods at all. Anything I should do to help him come through this positively? I am not sure if I should be dragging him to a therapist or maybe, teen boys just go through this "separating from mom" thing (he has no issues with my husband...but then, my husband only talks about sports and superficial things with him). Let me assure you that I do not let his "abusive language" go unnoticed. I always call him on it and he retracts but this seems to be a daily thing. So many more issues here but this is the one that "gets me" (and boy, this kids seems to really know how to push my button).</p>

<p>As the mother of three sons, let me assure you that this is perfectly normal. My advice is give him some space. That doesn't mean you should tolerate rudeness, but he's growing up and needs some room to do it. </p>

<p>When my boys were that age, all my questions were met with one word answers. One actually said to me when asked a yes/no question "whichever answer will make you stop asking questions." So I stopped asking, interrogating and badgering. They seemed to appreciate it enough that when they were in the mood, they talked. Sometimes this was at 11 pm as I was on my way to bed. So I stopped and LISTENED. It was so rare I wasn't going to miss it.</p>

<p>I have one of each and D was not very emotional but much more verbal. Count yourself lucky that you have words and not grunts -- they are very common, too. I will second the observation and experience of 3bm103. It's very important to listen when THEY are in the mood to share -- it's not frequent and often in the evening, in my experience. S is almost 17 and some of the irritabilty and bravado is subsiding but there is still less communication than I would like. S summed it up last year while on vacation when I saw a friend at the airport and stopped to chat (very briefly). As we walked away, S said, "talking is waaaay overrated...). There you have it from his perspective... Hang in there. I teach college students and the males at that age are more verbal and more comfortable in their skin.</p>

<p>Thank you so much for the affirmation.
"whichever answer will make you stop asking questions." 3bm103, this sounds like my son said it!<br>
I am not fond of this new phase at all. The irritability (and bravado) can really dent my usually happy disposition. It is easier to deal with if I can believe that it is temporary.</p>

<p>My oldest is now 25 and he's a joy, sometimes can't shut him up. But at 14, and most of hs come to think of it, I thought he might be mute. Still....it's much better when HE calls ME. Still sometimes get the grunts if I initiate the call.</p>

<p>Here's the hard thing to do---stop asking questions. At least not so many, and nothing "gossipy". My mother's 78 and I STILL hate it when I think she asks too many questions (I'm a guy and I love her dearly).</p>

<p>Ditto. Ditto. Ditto.</p>

<p>I detest rudeness. I had to reconsider where I drew the line. Overt disrespect and insults = not permitted. I decided to put up with barely civil behavior ;) and wait.</p>

<p>My dry, funny, sweet boy is back :) Hang in there!</p>

<p>They outgrow it.</p>

<p>Regrettably, though, they tend not to outgrow it before the time comes when you have to spend vast amounts of time in the car while they do their practice driving to fulfill the requirements for a driver's license. The situation can be a very difficult one.</p>

<p>If your son has fewer issues about dealing with his father, it might be better if the two of them tackled the practice driving sessions together. Interpersonal angst and gasoline do not mix well.</p>

<p>Wow--sounds like my 14 year old too. Thankfully I haved a 19 year old son who went through this as well so it does end and they become human again
They are simply struggling with separation and independence issues---but it can be so frustrating</p>

<p>Timing is key when trying to get information from boys this age--If I can I wait till he is well rested and fed. That will get me my best chance of an answer that is not a grunt or rude!</p>

<p>seiclan, I have one son, now 18, and I must agree with the other posters that this seems pretty normal; young men want to put some emotional distance between themselves and their moms.</p>

<p>I completely agree with mafool, though. No disrespectful language, no putdowns, no harangues were allowed, ever. </p>

<p>My husband and I thought it was amusing that other adults would tell us how polite and even outgoing our son was with them. Also, he had a few male friends who would hang around our kitchen and make small talk, tell us amusing stories about their adventures with our son (things we never heard about from him!), and we wondered if they were just as outgoing and talkative with their own parents. </p>

<p>I suggest that you keep trying, but be good humored about it, and be patient.</p>

<p>seiclan - your 14 year old S sounds just like my 15 year old D (it started when she was 14 too). Every once in awhile, she is her old happy, chatty self - but those moments are few and far between. So, it is not just sons who can be that way.</p>

<p>"Dave Barry's The Complete Book of Guys" is a short fun read that explains guys behavior pretty well. Glance through it at the bookstore (comic section)or better yet buy a copy and pass it around. You'll see your son in a whole new light :).</p>

<p>I started talking and watching more sports when my son was that age and we were able to have actual conversations about these things. It was nice and we were able to connect on some level. </p>

<p>His problem solving skills were in high gear when he suddenly began "reading" the minute he got into the car when I had to take him anywhere alone. I slowly got the hint.</p>

<p>I learned more about him when he was in the car w/friends and I quietly listened in on their conversations.</p>

<p>Good luck. He is nicely trying to tell you to stop asking questions that never enter his mind. Quit asking (I know, it's really, really hard) and you will be ahead of the game. He will eventually get a gf and she might keep you informed :) but until then turn on ESPN and hang out.</p>

<p>Sorry....</p>

<p>Just this AM my H was dropping him off at the bus and said "oh, your mom gave me a list of questions she wanted me to ask you" They both had a good laugh. Guys.</p>

<p>Ah yes. The moment when our previously adorable loving boy children suddenly wake up one morning as the Gods of Mute. When you hunt frantically for an online dictionary that translates grunts to words. When you realize that your teenage daughter's eye-rolling is nothing compared to the glare of scorn from your teenage son.</p>

<p>I finally came to the conclusion that it's testosterone poisoning. And think about it. Little girls are soft, smooth-skinned, generally ovoid. Big girls are soft, smooth-skinned, generally ovoid. Little boys are soft, smooth-skinned, generally ovoid. Big boys are bony and muscular, covered in hair, and angular. Their adolesence is kind of like the Hulk bursting out of Bill Bixby. Once they have finished growing 10 inches in 2 years and otherwise transmogrifying it appears that for the most part they remember how to talk again.</p>

<p>And, with any luck, that they love their mothers just as much as when they used to put their little soft smooth hands in ours and call us Mommy.</p>

<p>While I would agree that some 14-year-old anger is common in boys, I would ask yourself these questions:
Is your son so angry that it's getting in the way of other things? Are his grades slipping? Are old friends of his avoiding him? Is his anger general or limited to his communications with you? </p>

<p>I know you said things were otherwise good. Are they really? If his anger is getting to be too much for him to manage by himself--and that's common too--he may benefit from talking to a psychologist or another adult he trusts about ways to manage it. </p>

<p>As for communications: don't ask general questions--too easy to blow off the question with a "fine" or "okay". Ask easy stuff as a warmup: what was on the menu for lunch today? What did you do in PE? Did your math teacher make an arithmetic mistake? What book are you reading in English? What do you think of Lincoln anyway? </p>

<p>Bring food and hand it to him the second he gets in the car. Seriously. Nothing like a cookie or a granola bar to ease communications.</p>

<p>Use dog-training principles: reward good stuff and ignore stuff you don't like. So when your son gets in the car, smile and say "how was your day?" and then talk a bit about yours if he doesn't want to talk about his. If you stop for gas and he pumps it without complaining, thank him and mean it. Don't say you wish he'd talk more, respond nicely to the bit he does say. Pretend he's a socially awkward alien being and you're a diplomat.</p>

<p>I will definitely pick up Dave Barry's book. Love the dog training ideas. I also second the feed first, talk later approach. I do remember that this particular child never did do well during blood sugar crashes. </p>

<p>DMD - no this (irritability and anger) just seems to be directed at me. He is a bright kid but not cutting edge brilliant, and this very well may frustrate him a bit since he is so competitive (he is in the Gifted track with so many brilliant minds). His grades are terrific though (straight A's first semester, including honors geometry and high school Spanish 2). I have been told that he is very talkative with other parents and his peers. He is just an "intense" kid when with me. Boarding school anyone? Kidding, I could not send my baby away for such a long stretch. The three and a half weeks in the summer that he spends at overnight camp is long enough.</p>

<p>I think it's pretty normal. Remember that he's going through an incredibly difficult time (boys have it almost harder than us girls do...they can't cry or basically show any emotion without being weak or a wuss), and he probably just needs some space. Feel free to call him on his attitude, but recognize that he's changing.</p>

<p>When my brother was a teenager, I remember lots of fighting and yelling...eventually, it culminated in my brother leaving our house and moving out late one night. If I recall correctly, the conversation was something like:</p>

<p>Brother: "I'm just going to leave and go to _________'s house". (keep in mind this was in the middle of a very heated argument.)
Mom: "That's fine, but if you leave, don't come back."</p>

<p>So he left. And didn't come back for quite some time.</p>

<p>Now, we all laugh at that story. My sister and I have great relationships with my brother and our sister-in-law, not to mention our beautiful 6-month-old nephew!</p>

<p>I'm not trying to scare you or predict things to come...just letting you know that it could be worse. ^_^</p>

<p>My son was actually an easier teenager than he had been a child. My daughter now - she was a great kid - awful teenager - especially to me. At 16 she went to a residential math/science school (totally her choice - we did not want her to go). I could not ask her about anything about without it being the wrong thing to say. I got where I would actually dread seeing her. Now she is 18 at college and human again.</p>

<p>what I found works with my teens was going out to breakfast or brunch or something like that...with no "agenda" or planned things I wanted to say...just being together, and the more we did it the easier the conversations would flow, and to be honest, there is something about being out in public where most kids will not be as snippy or rude as they can be in the safety of the home</p>

<p>My older D would just talk as soon as she got home about things, my younger takes longer to share, so i needed to not be as impatient to get the status reports</p>

<p>I can handle silence and such, but the there stuff just shouldn't be tolerated</p>

<p>We often had great conversations on IM while I was upstairs and they were downstairs</p>

<p>What is funny is, now that my D is driving more, we have less of those in the car chances to talk, but lately, she has asked me to go to breakfast with her or if she can meet me downtown for dinner....bliss</p>

<p>^I'm that way with my mom too. :) We IM all the time (our house is only one story but it's pretty large and we're at opposite ends most of the time), and I definitely talk to her more since I started driving.</p>

<p>My mom is my best friend. ^_^ I think I'll miss her most when I go to college.</p>

<p>Maybe you should consider trying to talk with him about the weather, his favorite sports team, a t.v. show you both enjoy, or any other subject besides school. I know you're curious and need to know about his school activities, but it may not be something he wants to talk about on the car ride home after just spending 8 hours there.</p>

<p>And as for your 2nd question, its DEFINITELY a boy thing. My sister and I grew up with a single mom. She would always cry when something when wrong, and I'd always grunt or shout, etc. I would always challenge my mom, arguing that she was engaging in gender bias. When my sister cried, my mom would always assume something terrible had happened, and that my sister was visibly and justifiably upset. When I'd angrily shout that something had gone wrong, she'd say something to the effect of "take your mind off it and chill out". I think she had an easier time relating to my sister's reactions since they more closely mirror her own.</p>

<p>I wouldn't try and suppress his anger; short bursts of anger commensurate with one's frustration are healthy, and are preferable to the alternative. Don't allow him to say anything wildly inappropriate or to physically intimidate you, but don't expect him to get weepy either. Most guys I know confine their tears to life changing events like a death in the family, the end of a relationship, or the achievement of some sort of important goal. Crying about day to day frustrations is extremely uncommon.</p>

<p>seiclan
he's trying to separate from you emotionally..its hormonal,tied to puberty,probably to allow other "girls" in....don't worry,eventually he'll be back (somewhere around 18 1/2-19). Same thing happened here.and it was confusing, b/c he'd talk to the other boys Mom's and they would talk to me but not their Mom's..it's all about separating from the pyschological apron strings.
ditto the advice on the Dad's and practice driving.Much less angst.
Something that sort of worked for me and my S was ,he enjoys cooking and was eager to learn, H doesn't cook so he had to invest time and energy with me in the kitchen.Sharing the tasks/lessons allowed talk time.
You'll have to breathe deep and muddle through.
It's still easier on the other end (S now 19) when he initiates the call/the discussion/the questions.</p>