Dear Dr. Meg,
I am a mother of 4 kids. My two eldest are 16-year-old twins (girl/boy) and my twin son has essentially abandoned me. I am divorced from my children’s father (3 years) and my 16-year-old son has been living with his father for 6-months now. He will not see me, always forgets dinner plans, etc. He has told me that I am crazy and all of his friends think so too. He has been involved with abusing marijuana and alcohol. My other children remain with me and do not feel the same as he does.
Their father is not the best influence for a teen boy in respect to relationships with women and is a bully and manipulator (hence why we are divorced!)…and has alienated me from our oldest son. I have almost accepted that my son will never return and have said goodbye to him, but it’s killing me. What do I do?
Mother Missing Her Son
The situation that you are in is not uncommon for many divorced mothers. The teen years are a time when young boys need their fathers and many will do whatever they can to be with them. Boys feel that they need their father’s approval, guidance and acceptance and this is true. So, the fact that your son is alienating himself from you doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like you. He may feel that at this point in his life that he needs to choose you or his father. Neither of you may tell him this, but he may feel this way.
You need to realize that he is only 16! He is still a young boy and has a lot of maturing to do. In fact, I always tell parents that their job isn’t fully complete until their child is 25 because by this age, parents can be sure that a child has full brain development. So, you must get this thinking that “he will never return to you” out of your head. The full story of your relationship with him hasn’t been written and there is a lot more ahead.
I encourage you to be patient and to pray for him. Ask God to protect him and to keep his heart open to you and his father. Make sure that you always take the high road with him too. This means that there is no criticizing of his father (this will make him turn away from you) and show him that you are steady, will always love him and that you are always there for him. Write me in a couple of years and let me know how things are. I guarantee they will be quite different than they are now.