As a regular contributor, offering the dad's perspective on the USAMomsLikeMe.com site I found this call for advice:
I’m a single mother of a thirteen year old boy. My son is going through a tough stage in his life right now. My son is in a good school and is down because his school has no diversity and other kids make fun of his ethnicity. The other issue my son is going through, is not having his dad around and he is craving male attention. My son’s dad comes around when he wants to. I try to do my best raising my son. I have him in sports, online tutoring, and tell him I love him about one hundred times a day. Some how all the attention and everything I buy and do for my son is not enough. My son wants to stay home and lock him self in his room. He doesn’t want to tell me about his days anymore. He is keeping himself isolated from me.
I will make a make dinner for us after a long day of work and son will say “I’m not hungry mom, sorry”. We have game night on Sunday, my son will say, he’s getting to big for Monopoly!
Is this normal? I’m I doing something wrong? What can I do to make my son be positive and happy?
And my response:
Parenting a 13-year-old is tough enough when there are two parents in the picture. Kudos to you for showing up everyday with a smile and 100% support of your boy. He may not thank you now, but in the years to come he will think of you as the parent who really stepped up when he needed you.
Boys can be challenging at this age. Typical characteristics include: frustration followed by bouts of general dislike for anything a parent has to say. Time with friends trumpts what a parent can offer unless, you're offering money or a ride to the mall.
Consider asking your son what he would like to do this coming weekend. Staying at home isn't an option. Asking the question means you are open to whatever he suggests even if that means that he doesn't want to spend time with you. He will, but it may take some time. Focus on building the relationship that stems from trust and respect. He needs to know that you value what's important in his life.
LaraPiu suggested volunteering. Brilliant idea. Consider your son's interest and then start the hunt for local organizations that could use him. Pets=The Humane Society. They're always looking for dog walkers. Who knows, this may be something you can do together or he may make a connection with a mentor. Avid Reader=The Local Library. Don't rule out local businesses either; many of which are looking for summer interns where your son could learn about business and find a new mentor.
Although the Scouts can offer kids a fantastic foundation, by the time a boy is 13 he's either been a scout or he is headed in a different direction. Most kids start scouts around age 8. Big Brothers is another wonderful organization that could connect your son with a mentor. Why one question here is, "Does your son choose the mentor or does the mentor choose your son?" At 13, kids want choice. The mentor-mentee relationship can be brilliant when your son finds someone who he really connects with.
A few additional resources for you: A short (11-page) ebook titled, "Saying Goodbye to Sundaes" with ideas on what to do when your child no longer wants to hold your hand or go to get ice cream. www.middleschoolyears.com/pdfs/Saying_Goodbye_To_Sundaes.pdf
Annie Fox is a colleague that has also been working with teens and parents for decades. Here's a link to her question page: www.anniefox.com/parents/ask.html
Best to you Luanna! Your son is counting on you!