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I know my kid LOVES me, but lately, he doesn’t seem to LIKE me. I’m not the one who gets picked to sit next to him on rides. When it’s just he and I at home, it’s not nearly as exciting as when it’s just him and my wife. When I ask him questions about school, I get frozen out, but when others ask, he regales them with stories. He’s 12 so it’s natural this is starting to happen since I’m the at home disciplinarian, but still. I’m not strict and I’m fair when it comes to rules but due to the push-back I’m getting from hime, I feel like I’m getting more annoyed which is leading to more bickering. I just feel like we’re going through a phase and I want to pull out of it better friends on the other side, but how do I do it?
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What a reflective dad you are. This is wonderful.
Finding ways to connect with your son is definitely a great idea. Have you worked out what your son's love language is? There is a free quiz you can do online and I have found it so helpful for learning how to connect with each of my kiddos in a way that is meaningful to them.
Also, since he is 12, have you tried having a chat with him about this? You could tell him that you really want to have some more fun with him and ask for some suggestions of things you could do together.
You sound much more involved than many dads. Your son will come around and appreciate all you do for him and as a steady part of his life.
You should take a small step back and give both yourself and your son space. By decreasing the pressure on you both, he will come around naturally in time.
Teen years are tough, and a parent and child rarely get through it without hurt feelings and friction. If you are the one that is home the most and the disciplinarian, then it is natural that he is pulling away a bit.
It may sting somewhat to be given the cold shoulder, but I assure you, it will pass. The groundwork you are laying will pay off big time in the end. Your boy is lucky to have a dad like you.
Good thing is you know that your young man LOVES you. It is just a temporary phase, your son is transitioning from dady’s boy to an independent young man.
I can relate to it because I experienced this a couple of years ago. We as parents make our children the center of our universe. Their needs, success, failures, feelings, smiles and tears mean a world for us. It takes time to adjust to the fact that now they need to learn to take the leap by themselves and explore the world on their own.
I think when our children begin to get independent, we parents experience something similar to separation anxiety. We just need to understand that they LOVE us and they need our Support in this phase as well.
Assure your son that he will always get unconditional positive regard from you and that you will always be there for him.
Trust me he will be needing a super dad and a best friend countless times in future.
First, thank you so much for being there for your son! For showing up as a dad, as a man he can look up to and admire, even if he doesn't want to hang out with you right now!
Your son is 12? And you're the dad? Nope, he's not going to like you for a while. :-) But, I don't think it's personally an affront to you, it's more of an underdeveloped teen boy's brain which is willing to take risks and see how much he can get away with doing.
He's testing his independence, trying to figure out what is means to be who he really is, to shape his identity apart from yours. There is a quote by Mark Twain I absolutely love: "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."
I only have daughters, so I don't understand the relationship between a son and a father, but I do understand teenagers, having worked with many, many of them through the years. They need their space to grow into who they are trying to become. I wouldn't see it so much as your son "picking a favorite parent." It seems like he is just distancing himself from you, so he can see who "he" is apart from you.
Relax and release him to be himself, to make his own choices (and yes, to deal with the consequences.) Ask him, maybe once a week if there is something he needs your help with, or is there something around the house you could teach him about? Is there an activity you think you and he could do together, maybe an adventure course, or carpet golf, or go off on a weekend guys-only camping trip?
You could also corner him, like in the car going somewhere, and ask him what he thinks you could do to be a better dad to him. You're not admitting to him that you're not a good dad, but you're being open with him, letting him see you can be vulnerable and willing to listen to what his thoughts are. If he actually tells you one or two things, write them down, then ask him again in a month how you've been doing on those things. Another idea is to write him a very short note, once in a while, just letting him hear you care, but not having to immediately respond to you.
There is a book I heard about, but I cannot remember who wrote it, just that it was a father and son author team, something called "How to Get Your Son Back"(?) A father and son had struggled with their relationship for years, and when they healed from the pain, together they wrote about it. It may be worth looking into.