View Full Version : Summertime blues
07-28-2010, 04:19 PM
I am a single mother of a 14 y.o. and until recently we have had a pretty decent summer. He has matured and mellowed out and can be great company.
However, lately he is bored to tears and wanting to pick a fight over everything. For instance, I took us out for lunch for a treat, and he complained about every aspect of the food - which is pretty decent - and then berated me for wasting 'our' money on a crappy restaurant like that.
The other piece is I've been unemployed for 19 months. I regularly have to choose between paying bills or feeding us (food always wins) and there is nothing extra for little outings or summer camps. I tried suggesting summer camps multiple times this spring, and would have budgeted for them but my son told me they were boring and he wasn't interested. I tried to find volunteer options for him but those all have a several month application/interview/waiting period. I suggested he earn some cash by dog walking, babysitting, mowing yards, and he turned up his nose. I tried getting him to go to teen sessions at the library, which are pretty good - anime, manga, video games, etc but no go.
I realize he's bored to tears and frustrated that we have no extra cash for anything fun. So am I but I make do. I read, watch tv and since we have a pool at our apt complex, swim. He has told me how boring swimming is, etc. Now it's going to personal attacks and what a lousy parent I am and so on. Is anyone else facing this? Also, there's no family I could send him to although that would probably be a good experience, but it's just me and him.
08-03-2010, 03:47 AM
I sympathize, singlemom, as my kids,13 and 16, complain about boredom often.
Some suggestions: put him to work building a project: a window box, a raised vegetable garden container, a treehouse (probably not an option if you rent). Mine do well when they spend time with friends, how about having a friend or two over for a movie night, popcorn, some kind of do-it-yourself pizza? Send him to ride his bike to the store for you. Make sure he's got plenty of chores to do.
Maybe do some volunteer work together: mow an elderly person's lawn, visit a nursing home, babysit a younger child.
Now I realize that your son is probably like mine, and will sneer at anything remotely resembling healthy, wholesome activity like those I've mentioned. So I try to put it matter of factly: today we're going to get your bike fixed, get in the car. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.
Wishing you luck.
08-05-2010, 01:15 PM
If he's both bored and frustrated by a lack of cash, I'd think it may be time for his first summer/after school job. It wouldn't have to be much...helping out at a grocery store, mowing lawns, walking dogs, washing dishes...just a thought
08-06-2010, 02:02 PM
Dear Single Mom,
Find someone who can moderate a few meetings with you and your son for free (community counselor, minister, relative) and tell him that you are very sorry that things turned out so badly for you guys, that you very much wish that you could afford to make his world better for him, but that you can not. And that as a 14-year-old young man, you are asking that he perhaps unfairly grow up a bit to suck this tough time up. Then the both of you should volunteer together at a place where people have it so much worse that you do (soup kitchen, food bank, shelter, and so on). When he comes home, I'll bet his "boring" home and swimming pool will suddenly look a lot nicer.
08-13-2010, 11:39 AM
Thanks for all the feedback. As far as the kid needing pocket money, he has over $500 in a personal account saved from allowance, birthday, Christmas, etc money. I suggested babysitting type jobs to him, pointing out that basically he would be paid to hang out and play with little ones but he was quite scornful of the suggestion. I tried to interest him in summer camps and sign him up...the Y in our area has a pretty decent teen program with daily outings to beaches, parks, arcades, etc...and he told me how boring it was. Tried to find him a volunteer gig since he's too young for a 'real' job and he told me he wasn't interested. At least he has some friends, and they usually get together on a weekly basis which gives both of us a break.
At this point, the issue is moot, as he returns to school in 20 days. We are trying to find something fun and reasonably inexpensive to do every few days, however, used to be I could pack a picnic lunch and take us to a park for hours and he'd be happy. No more!
Dr. Bradley, I would love to get him into counseling and have tried for a couple of years. I tried all the suggestions in your book, to no avail. He adamantly refuses to go. Also, I don't really feel the need to sit down and apologize. He has a decent home, good, healthy food, nice clothes, and toys, such as computer, internet, Netflix, a video game system with a few games, etc. Also, one of the reasons I am still unemployed is because I have not wanted to relocate and uproot him. He has an excellent school and good friends and I don't want to interfere with that. So I don't think I have a lot to say sorry for. The one thing he is missing out on is vacations but a lot of kids don't even have a home in this economy. Your idea to volunteer with him is a good one and I will follow through....however, my last job was at a school/social service agency for homeless families and he spent some time with me there, but his point was 'even those kids have cell phones, why don't I?'
Like I said in my first post he has matured quite a bit over the past year or two and can be a delightful companion. We have just had a little too much togetherness lately, without the funds to really enjoy the summer via sightseeing at home (and we live in a great area for that) or going on trips. Both of us are looking forward to school starting, although I'm dreading the sleep deprivation that comes with that...but that's a whole different topic!
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