Single Mothers With Difficult Teenagers

Do you feel like the father is to blame?

Do you feel like you're losing touch with your teen? Is it too late to reestablish a relationship?

Has your teenager ever told you that you just don't understand?

Have you had trouble communicating with your teen where they either talked back to you or became completely unresponsive?

Perhaps your teenager became dramatically rebellious or maybe even threatened you with going to live with his/her father?

Be sure you are not the first mother who has experienced this.

Teen years are for the most part emotionally tough years (for the teenagers AND their parents). For one, there is confusion with no real a cutoff date for when an adolescent becomes a full-fledged adult. Now you might argue with me referring to the 18 year old legal status. However, not all 18 year olds are prepared to take on the role as independent, self-sufficient adults. Others have become "parents" and "spouses" in their very early teens. It's an "age" as opposed to experience, knowledge, capability and acceptance of responsibility.

Secondly, children mature at different rates making it difficult to know when they are "ready" for adulthood.

Maybe growth is different because of their attitudes.

Some might look forward to what they can do as an adult.

Others may have a desire to escape what they feel they have to put up with as a child, or possibly they don't want to leave the comfort of their childhood.

Maybe they are afraid of responsibilities as an adult.

Still others are forced into adult roles at a very young age.

You have got to admit, clear-cut guidelines for teenagers to follow are absent. They might still want to "play" as a child, yet they also want to be treated and talked to like an adult. They may want to drive, date, and do things without their parents or even "asking" their parents. They want more "private" time. Teenage boys particularly seem to "pull away" from their mothers more at this time in their lives (at least in the presence of their peers). Most mothers have a desire to cling a little tighter when they feel that tug.

What do you do? Some of us handle teenagers with much better results than others. In my case, I had more undesirable consequences, or I should say they were difficult for me to live with at the time. One instance took place when my son was fourteen. He had a moped and I will admit he was responsible when he rode it. We lived in a rural area and he grew up operating farm machinery, riding snowmobiles and dirt bikes, and he even drove trucks in the fields to pull wagons. At this particular time, I was a single mom and my son was working for his father. He wanted to spend time with his dad and was needed to help on the farm.

All was well and fine in the summer time because my kids could stay with their dad if they were working late and come home when the work slowed down or the weather forced them out of the fields. As a farmer's wife for more than a decade, I understood the work, the hours and weather all too well. The problem arose when school started toward the end of the summer and farm work was more labor-intensive. It became a big pain for my former husband to stop what he was doing to pick up my son after school, and to stop work again to bring him home early enough to get some sleep before school the next morning.

In his genius, he mentioned to my son that it would be great if he could ride his bike the twelve miles to work after school so he wouldn't have to make the back and forth trip twice daily. He approached me with their plan when he brought our son home.

I reacted spontaneously and explosively. I was already angry with him because I felt he was taking advantage of our son to get free labor (a mindset that I had as his wife). And to top it off he was suggesting that his son was to ride his motorcycle to his house without a permit. After a long and heated argument, he left. It appeared that I won that battle. But did I really?

My son thought I was completely unreasonable and totally insane. It didn't occur to me to discuss it with my son. This was between his father and me. I was "protecting" my son. His father was "talking" to him. His father was rational and sensible. I was impractical and unconcerned about the farm. What did I create? Distance between my son and me. And there was more to follow.

The lesson for me that followed was a harsh one.

What I learned was that teenagers need to be included in the decisions that pertain to them. Have you ever moved your child to another room, chair, home, or school district without discussing it with your children first only to find them distraught and angry about the move?

It's not easy for adults to make some decisions, especially when it comes to things like jobs, relationships and homes when we have offspring to consider. Can you imagine what it must be like for your kids to have it "done to them" without their input?

When they are teenagers, they are learning to become adults and need the opportunity to be part of these important discussions in order to learn the process decision-making. When I didn't allow my son to say anything, he felt he wasn't heard and why would he want to hear what I have to say if I am not going to listen to him? At least his dad listened.

Do you listen to your child? Do you open yourself to conversation when your teen speaks? Sometimes it's difficult for a teen to begin more mature conversation. They may "test the water" a few times before they decide to really talk.

You can help the matter by elaborating on the importance and how it will affect your child and how important it is to you to hear their opinion before you make a decision. We expect them to respect our decisions even when they don't understand them. What would it be like if we respected them enough to hear what they have to say? Just maybe we would have a deeper more meaningful relationship with our teenagers. Just maybe they would have more to say to us if we listened more opening the lines of communication.

Could I have handled that situation differently? Would it have made a difference? One of the things I learned was about inclusivity. If you want to make a difference in your relationship with someone, include them, particularly your children.

If you want them to listen to you, you must teach by listening to them. If you don't open the lines of communication, your chances of establishing a close relationship are greatly reduced. For me this lesson fell on me like a brick to the head. How do I know that? Well for one, I ended up losing custody of my children by "their" choice. Secondly, I was fortunate enough to learn that lesson a short time later and ultimately establish a very close relationship with my children. And I am certain that it was possible because of losing them that I saw how much I was taking our relationship and my responsibilities as a mother for granted.

Why am I bringing this up in this blog? I am hoping that if you are relating to my story and possibly feel you are having difficulty "getting through" to your teenager, that you might reconsider your focus on being right. Instead of expecting or forcing communication with your teen, try "allowing" it.

Make every effort to really listen to what your young adult has their opinions and alternative ideas. I can only hope you are blessed with a wakeup call that turns things around for you so you can avoid the trauma of losing your children, whether physical custody or in communication. "Tune in" for the next report.

Mary's 20 years of experience in dealing with trauma dedicated her to become one of the leading experts in transforming pain to pleasure in women's lives. Mary is a loving mom and after the loss of custody of her own children, has created a company that stands as the voice for mothers who have lost custody of their children. Grab a copy of her free eBook, "8 Critical Steps to Transforming Your Life after Losing Custody!" at

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