San Francisco, CA
Number of kids: 1
Ages of kids: 13
Problem: My son is 13 years old and in the 8th grade. I am a single parent raising a son without his father since birth. Typically, my son is a very happy boy. Was a Boy Scout and martial arts member for 6 years and decided last year to quit. Plays basketball in a community organized league and is doing very well with that. He was on the track team for his school until his GPA dropped and he was not eligible to stay on. Upon entering middle school he has had a very negative view of himself and doesn't seem to care what happens to him. We as a family went into therapy last year for about 4 months, but all he did in these sessions was to take a nap. The therapist said that it was ok for him to act like this and it would take time for him to open up and talk. To me 4 months was long enough considering it was a weekly session and my son was not improving at all. We would always fight before going to these sessions. I finally told the therapist we would not be coming anymore. In the past year, my son is making a slow descent into failure. His grades are very poor, his attitude is "I don't care" or "whatever" and whatever anger he has kept inside is now starting to come out, not towards me yet, but I can see it coming. What do mothers do with teenage boys coming of age and the anger that comes with it? His father is completely out of the picture. Any suggestions?
Solution submitted by Steve from CA: What I see is an adjustment problem. I am a child psychologist, and the main thing you must remember is that low self-esteem effects about 75% of children between the ages of 11-15. There are many reasons for this. One could just be puberty. Try to remember the physical and emotional changes you were going through around that age. It's a tough time for kids. If that's it he should come around. Another could be a change in schools. In elementary he had some status. Going into junior high he's just another face in the crowd. He might have a problem making new friends. This will happen again in high school, college, and so on. But most importantly, it could be depression. Since puberty changes every part of the body, he could have a chemical imbalance. You should ask your doctor about this.
No matter what he is going through, just be supportive. The worst thing to do is to come down on him. He has enough on his mind as it is.
Another solution submitted by Myra from Providence, RI: My 18 year old child went through the same thing. All I have to say is don't rob him of any privileges such as seeing his friends or using the phone. His privileges will play a big role in raising his self-esteem.
Another solution submitted by "Flower": I have a 13 year old also, and boy do they get moody. A big part is raging hormones. It also could be partly due to your son needing a male role model. Where I live, they have something called Big Brothers, where men volunteer time to spend with children. Maybe they have this where you live? Maybe he didn't bond well with the counselor, sometimes you have to shop around for a counselor. Perhaps letting him have the control over picking one out that he likes would help. Good luck.