At My Wit’s End!

Being an only parent is really hard right now. My oldest is 13 years old and I’m dealing with a lot of teenage issues for the very first time in my own home. I say, “in my own home,” because I’ve been a middle school and high school counselor for over 9 years so teenage drama is not new to me. It’s a very different story to live with it though!

I’ve spent the past few days grounding, talking, yelling, and reasoning with my son who seems as if he’s gone crazy at times. I’m sure it doesn’t help that he has ADHD but combine that with his hormones, and I am losing my mind! The worst part of it, though, is not having another parent to take over when I am at my wit’s end. I spend my days issuing consequences and then second-guessing my decisions because there’s no one here to tell me that it’s the right thing to do. Am I being too hard on him? Are my expectations too high? Am I being too lenient? Am I letting him get away with too much?

I remember the very first time that I spanked my son on the hand. He was about 2 years old and he wouldn’t stay out of the dog’s water dish. I smacked his hand and firmly told him, “No.” Then, I went into the other room and cried! Steve was the one who told me that it was the right thing to do; that we didn’t want to raise our son without boundaries and that he had to learn to stay out of the dog’s water! The next day, I heard Steve say to him, “I’m going to spank your butt and I’m not going to feel bad about it!” That day has always stuck in my mind because it was striking how different we were when it came to discipline. I knew my son needed the discipline but it broke my heart when my child was hurting. His father, however, was not nearly as soft-hearted and issued discipline swiftly to correct behavior.

Now don’t get me wrong, we did not spank our child frequently. All of my children could probably count on one hand the number of times they’ve actually been spanked. In fact, I’m not a big proponent of spanking. Time out was implemented as soon as my children were old enough to comprehend it. As they’ve gotten older, I try to use discipline to actually teach them something. Just yesterday, the arguing between my son and daughter was ridiculous. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I took away their I-Pods and told them that in order to get them back, they each had to write down ten reasons why they loved the other one. They were so mad at me! They complained and said they couldn’t think of ten things but they did it. It’s times like these, though, that make me wonder what Steve would do if he were here. Am I being too lenient on them? Am I teaching them the skills they need to succeed in future relationships?

My son has always been a good student but school does not come easy to him. When he made the A-B Honor Roll in 6th grade for the first time EVER, he was thrilled! He continued to be on the Honor Roll that entire year. In 7th grade, he was moved into a more advanced Science class and struggled to pass it. He was really upset that he wasn’t making the Honor Roll because of that one class. This year (8th grade), however, his whole attitude toward school seems to have changed. Instead of striving for A’s and B’s, he’s content to just pass his classes. He’s doing the minimum amount of work needed instead of working hard and doing his best. I’ve issued consequences (by taking away video games, cell phone, etc), I’ve offered incentives as a way to motivate him (if he gets a project done, I’ll take him to get the video game he’s been saving his money to buy), I’ve reasoned with him (if you want to go to college, you have to do your work), and I’m at my wit’s end! Would he be acting this way if his dad were here?

I know that I’m a good mom and I’m doing the best I can do on my own. It’s just hard to stop second-guessing my decisions when there’s no one here to reassure me. In any case, I’ll keep on keeping on and hope these children that God has blessed me with turn out ok 🙂

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michelle
    Dec 05, 2011 @ 10:12:02

    Mary- I am in awe with what a wonderful job you are doing raising Cameron, Caitlin, and Connor. They could not ask for a better mother!

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  2. Christine Smith-Johnson
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 12:06:38

    You are a wonderful mother. I also have 3 children, the youngest is my 13 year old son. He is in 7th grade and only wants to do what is needed to get by. The previous years were full of striving and reaching achievements. This year is another story and it is a constant struggle. We talk daily until I cannot stomach the thought of discussing it, although I do. I explained to him that I would come up with an after school plan of action, unless he wanted to take part and help with the plan. He said no way and listened to my plan. I included something I knew he would not enjoy doing that pertained to school work. Within an hour, he came to me and gave me his plan of action, which I agreed to. He followed through on his plan and achieved his goal. Maybe you can try this with your son. He sounds like a great student. I am sure you already know, seventh grade is when the children who do not struggle, usually start having trouble. Sixth grade is about being new to the older kids and refreshing things they learned in elementary school. Once seventh grade starts, they are finding their role in society (smart, clown, band, athletic, etc.). I discuss my children’s friends and their goals with him every week after school. I try to use everything he tells me as an example and I allow him to give me his input on what he thinks about each situation. I pray he is learning not to follow the crowd, although this has been the hardest year.

    You are right, it can be so difficult without our back-up partner. We constantly question our mothering abilities. You are definitely on the right path. I have an article that shows a way to communicate with your children so they feel comfortable in the future bringing up touchy subjects and being honest with you. I have two older girls and keeping all three of my kids on the path to college, without my husband around, caused me to dig deep about the things I discussed with them before loosing him. I had to increase the effect of our conversations, since in our children’s eyes, we sometimes know nothing. The article shows having their friends involved helps reinforce our morals we have as a family. It also teaches them compassion towards others instead of focusing on themselves so much. It will also help you with your other two as they get older, to combat issues before they start. I wish you and your family the best!

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