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Husband and teenage son fighting. Please help.


Mandolyn June 9, 2010

My ADD/LD son who is 19 butt heads with his father and I'm concerned it will go too far.

Over this past year, our son has graduated high school and finished his first year at the local community college. He has changed a lot too, some good ways and some bad. My concern, of course, is about the bad ways. For example, he now comes home with out a word and goes straight to his room and shuts the door. He only comes out for meals and then heads right back. He is argumentative and not as respectful either.

He is our only child, so this is especially difficult for my husband me. More so for my husband since they were always very close buddies. Now, they butt heads and fight while I play mediator.

I tell my husband that I think our son's behavior is normal teenage behavior and we should not take it too personally. I'm not saying that disrespect should be tolerated though and we don't. I tell him this is a time in DS's life when he is internally conflicted with feeling the desire to be free of us, but still needing us and that it will end in time. It has taken this long to show up because he has the usual delay in maturity of about 3 - 4 years that we have learned is typical of people with ADD.

However my husband disagrees with me and still feels very hurt and does take it personally. He gets moody, lonely, and depressed. He thinks we went wrong somewhere as parents... that perhaps we have spoiled him. I won't rule that out. Our son certainly could show some more appreciation for all the help we give him. My husband feels the need to control and fix this behavior. Last night they had a fight and he said (to me behind closed doors) sometimes he wants to give up on him and kick him out. So he made a list of gives and takes that he plans to enforce.

Example: Each time your door is left open = a ride to work.
(Our son does not drive yet due to his ADD, but that is for
another discussion.)

I think that by doing this, he will only get begrudged compliance, instead of a change of heart which is what he really wants.

So, my questions are: Am I being to soft, and is my husband right? What should I/we do?

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cultureclub June 10, 2010

It sounds like it might be time to sit down as a family and talk about boundaries while your son continues to live under your roof. He's 19 years old so I don't think it's fair to require him to leave his door open. I wouldn't be surprised if privacy is a real issue for him. But you can require that on the nights that he eats meals with you that he contributes in some way. Whether it's helping you with the shopping or the cooking or the clean up.

He needs to understand that you will ask him about his day but you also need to respect his space. Sitting down together will give all three of you the chance to talk about your personal boundaries. I think it's very normal for teenagers to want to spend less time with their parents and to confide in them less.


Mandolyn June 10, 2010

Dear Culture,
Thanks for your kind reply. I like your ideas especially about contributing in some way. I also agree with you about keeping his door open. That is another thing my husband and I disagree on. I feel he should be aloud to keep it closed. Part of the problem is that my husband grew up raising himself due to neglectful parents. So he never experienced a normal teenhood.

Since writing this initial post, I have spoken to my son and told him about his dad's feelings of sadness and missing him. I suggested that he just do some little things like saying, "Good morning and "Hello" when he comes home or telling him about his day at meal times. This morning he made and effort and my husband noticed and smiled. So, I'm cautiously optimistic.


cultureclub June 14, 2010

That's great that your son is making some effort with his dad. I think it's hard for teenagers to remember that their parents have feelings. I hate to admit it but I never considered my parent's feelings when I was busy being a moody teenager. I hope they continue to make progress. Good luck!


shtrbug9 June 22, 2010

I know it is hard. I felt like it was a death of the former child I knew and now this new one who I dont get is in their place. Very hard for me and my husband also to deal with. I found a web site it had so much valuable information for parents with situations from little ones up to adult children living at home.. I followed the suggestions it had for teens and I have seen alot of improvement at our house, hope it helps you too..

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