Help, my teenager doesn't want to be seen in public with me

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock 

QUESTION:  My 14-year-old son doesn't want me around him in public.

I know lots of kids of this age get a bit embarrassed by their parents, but my son's attitude is more extreme. I look fine and I wear reasonably trendy clothes, I have a good job in a surf shop, so I'm not that uncool, but he won't give me a chance to go on school camp, or be on the roster for sports runs.

There's only the two of us in the house and he's not like that with his father when he goes to stay with him. He's even said he likes his father better, once when we argued. It seems really unfair.

ANSWER: Yes, it does seem unfair. There's a whole raft of possible explanations for this situation, but possibly only one simple solution. 

Your son could be going "through a stage" that he'll grow out of and it may be that he doesn't understand his own behaviour any more than you do.

It could be that you're not actually that cool, or that you're trying too hard.

Perhaps your son resents something about your failed relationship with his father and blames you for the breakup? 

Maybe the situation is a bit imagined? He might be a belligerent and uncommunicative and you've decided his attitude is about you whereas it may be nothing to do with you.

Whatever the real situation (one of the above, or one I haven't even thought of), the only solution is to be yourself. The best possible version. 

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You're only the mother of a 14-year-old boy for a very short time, but you are yourself forever. At the risk of sounding like a fridge magnet, you should listen to the music you want to listen to, wear the clothes you want to wear and so on. Tell your son you love him and be the best mother you can be, but don't be needy for his approval.

Being the best mother doesn't mean giving in to his every whim, or letting him dictate which sports games or events you are allowed to attend. Being the best mother, or person you can be, is about having good self-esteem, being content and being patient.

Your son will learn so much about being comfortable in his own skin if he has a mother that sets that sort of example.

* Mary-anne Scott has raised four boys and written three novels for young adults, all of which have been shortlisted for the NZ Book Awards for children and young adults. As one of seven sisters, there aren't many parenting problems she hasn't talked over.

* Please note that Mary-anne is not a trained counsellor. Her advice is not intended to replace that of professional counsellor or psychologist.

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