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Thread: Do other people's child (age 10) drive them crazy?

  1. #1
    Senior Member pcooley's Avatar
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    Does your child (age 10) drive you crazy?

    I tried to change the title of this thread, because it looks as though I'm asking about other people's children rather than your own, but the forum will neither let me change the title nor delete the thread and start over. (And I usually regret it when I've just used the forum for venting. Oh well.)

    I'm mostly looking for stories and commiseration. I can give myself advice all day long.

    Our son drives us crazy. We love him dearly, but I think my blood pressure goes up whenever I'm around him.

    He is very self-centered. I keep reminding myself that I am too, and I'm 46 not 10.

    If you ask him to do anything at all, nine times out of ten, he sneers like he's 16 instead of 10, and he has a horribly disdainful tone to his backtalk. (Why in my day, I'd get switched for that, though of course, we don't switch people in this household).

    He whistles very loudly and very shrilly much of the time he is home.

    He is obsessed with purchasing things. His sister saved up her allowance and finally bought the American Girl doll that she has always wanted and I refused to buy for her because I think they're an expensive rip-off. As soon as it arrived, my son started pouring through the catalogue. He wants to buy several hundred dollars of accessories "for his sister," which is nice, but he also wants to use that as leverage to play with her. He also plans to buy a boy and girl doll set that look like him and his sister. Again, sweet, but why? Hasn't any of my frugality rubbed off on my children? The need to purchase something seems to make up about 75% of his conversation. I just don't get it, and I spend most of my time saying "no, we're not going to do that. We're not buying dry ice. We're not driving all the way to Albuquerque to go to the Natural History Museum so you can hang around the gift shop and announce what you want." He can spend literally hours in a gift shop. When he has money with him, he will pick things up, put them back, look at other things, go back around, ad infinitum. I always swear that I will never, ever go into a store with him. Then I forget and take him with me on a quick errand that ends up taking all afternoon because he's obsessed with buying things. He doesn't understand the guy code of run into the store, grab the item, pay and run out.

    He is ALWAYS bored. At least he seems to look that way.

    I'll put on some music and start dancing, or I'll be doing something else that makes me happy, and I'll try to get him involved and he just scowls. He's the big dark cloud in the family at times.

    When I buy him something, instead of being grateful, it always seems to be a gateway to wanting something else. He needed new goggles for summer camp. (I, of course, made it through most of my childhood without goggles of any kind. For him, it's a necessity of life). He did say "thank you" which I guess is unusual these days, but as soon as we walked out of REI, he said, "now, all I need is a snorkel."

    I know all of this seems terribly normal and pedestrian. It's par for the course for much of parenting, but he's been going on in the same vein for his entire childhood. Sometimes I just want to scream. All sorts of obscenities crowd my head when he opens his mouth to declare what he's going to buy, or what he needs, or how yucky the dinner I've been making is. I'm very, very careful to keep my frustrations to myself when there isn't anything constructive I can say. I let him know how pleased I am to be his father, and I really am, but I wish I could redirect him into more positive, (and frugal) activities.

    Luckily, he also has an extremely sweet side, (that's him asleep in my arms in my member photo). He may be self-centered, but he can also be very empathic and demonstrates his caring for other people. His main difficulty, I think, is that he lives in a family of introverts and readers, and he is an extreme extrovert. I think we all have a tendency to flee from him. I work very hard to include him and play with him and spend time with him, even though it drains me, but it still can be difficult.
    Last edited by pcooley; 6-24-12 at 12:29pm. Reason: Change title.

  2. #2
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    I'm afraid I can't help you. I was the introvert daughter of an extreme extrovert mother. Your son knows he's not what you wanted, believe me. With luck, he'll find kindred spirits later in life.

    And as far as the shopping goes? Maybe getting "stuff" is a way to compensate. I don't know for sure, but I do know that I was constantly being told why I couldn't have what I wanted as a child, and I guarantee you I've got plenty of it now.

  3. #3
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    Yes, one's kids can most definitely drive one crazy! Based on your description, I bet he is also über smart. He sounds like a classic A type, and will take lots and lots of stimulation to keep him happy.

    I too am a high extrovert, and am always looking towards the next thing. Plus, he's 10, and his brain is changing daily. He's his own person, with his own perceptions. Your frugality will not 'rub off' till he has a full understanding of the context within which frugality lives, and even then, he will choose his path.

    The best one can do as a parent is set clear boundaries & expectations, and love whoever shows up. Unconditional loving goes a long way towards happy, well-adjusted kids who will find their own way. And they do grow up!

    PS-Jane, I would like to respectfully disagree that her son knows he's not what his mother wanted. That may have been your experience; as someone who parented 2 introverts, it is not a given that the rejection you named happens. I am sorry it did for you.

  4. #4
    rodeosweetheart
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    I know you did not want advice, but as someone with three adult children, and some memories that I wish I could change, around things I wish I had done differently, I wonder if you might consider talking to a therapist about your own life, and what are reasonable expectations of your children and what are not. I can remember times of being irritated by some childish behavior, and now, looking back, I wish I could have been more easy-going, less anxious about their behaviors (which were all in the normal range), less prescriptive about what kind of behaviors I expected, and a lot happier. Because I miss those years tremendously, especially my whistler!

    I really think you might have some tensions and irritations and/or depression going on, which can make you irritable, that are manifesting in your inability to roll with his behaviors. Can you try to see things from his point of view? I still suffer, at the age of 56, from my father's criticism of how I am, my basic personality, what I was not (the perfect son--heck, I'm female, for starters!) and it is making the end of life issues with him extremely, extremely painful. So if you can't bring yourself to look at what you are experiencing for your own sake, do it for his sake. Because feeling like you make someone's blood pressure rise by your very presence is how I have felt most of my life, and it is extremely painful. You love him, and you do not wish to perpetuate that kind of pain on him.

    When I did feel some of the ways you described, it was a sign to me that I needed to see a therapist. What I discovered was that I needed to make radical changes in our lives, as I was not enjoying parenting at all, and my anxieties had gotten the best of me.

    Anyway, food for thought, and maybe you and your wife could go together to discuss parenting? It breaks my heart to hear you say the family "flees from him"--think about how that must feel. You do not want to create a situation where your son is made into the family scapegoat, you know? Good for you for thinking through what is happening.

  5. #5
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redfox View Post
    ...
    PS-Jane, I would like to respectfully disagree that her son knows he's not what his mother wanted. That may have been your experience; as someone who parented 2 introverts, it is not a given that the rejection you named happens. I am sorry it did for you.
    Of course it's not a given; I bet there are lots of parents who are delighted with their children despite of or because of their differences. And maybe Paul's son is oblivious, but I doubt it. I was never overtly rejected or abused, but it was clear to me as I grew up that I wasn't the perky cheerleader type my mother would have preferred.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Miss Cellane's Avatar
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    Your son sounds a lot like my 11 year old niece. She's very extroverted, in a family of mainly introverts. She craves attention from everyone in her life. Her parents, my brother and SIL, have flat-out told me that no matter how much attention they give her, it's not enough. There are two other kids in the family, and both her parents make sure to give her hours of one-on-one time weekly, but it's just never, ever, enough.

    The focus on buying things or getting things may be a part of this, as well. You spend money on things that are important to you. Getting a parent to spend money on you could be, to your son and to my niece, to be a sign that your parents really do care about you. Taking forever in the store? Well, if he's one-on-one with you, he might just being prolonging the time he has you to himself. You've heard of kids where "any attention is good attention?" Even if you get upset with his dilly-dallying, he's still getting your attention.

    What my brother and SIL have done is to try and provide Niece with as many opportunities to be with other people as they can*. She's in swim club, she's in Girl Scouts, she takes dance lessons, she's on a soccer team, she goes to a couple of weeks of sleep away camp every summer. She stays with me for a week in the summer. She goes away with various other aunts and uncles over summer vacation and winter break. She spends weekends with one aunt who lives close to them. She gets more attention, and her parents get a break. When she was really little, they hired a "mother's helper" just to come and play with her, so that SIL could take care of the baby and cook and deal with the house.

    I love her to pieces, but she is a physically, mentally and emotionally draining kid.


    *Their situation is a bit complicated by the fact that they 1) live in a very rural area and 2) have a child with disabilities which prevents them from doing many activities outside the home as a family.

  7. #7
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    I agree on the unconditional love. No one's kids turn out to be exactly what they hope for. A child is his or her own person before he or she is your child. All you can do is give them lots of love and gentle guidance to find their own path. I'd love it if my son had gotten the artistic and gardening genes from me. But he didn't and I'm okay with that. He is who he is, and I love him that way.

    I'm sure your child does sense your frustration with him. Put yourself in his shoes and see the frustration he feels at being in a family where he doesn't really fit in. It's a very lonely feeling. I was that child, at 10. I acted out in many ways because my parents couldn't totally accept me for who I was. They liked that I was studious and made good grades. Beyond that - often not so much. They loved me but didn't really understand me. They certainly didn't want a child who thought for herself or who wanted to dig up part of our suburban yard for a vegetable garden. Or who wanted to go to Ag school after high school instead of majoring in husband-hunting at some liberal arts college.

    One thing that struck me in your post was when you said you would be doing something that made you happy, and you tried to involve him, he wouldn't join in. Of course you want to share your joy in an activity with him, but you may need to accept that what makes you happy may not make him happy. Finding out what makes him happy, and doing that with him, might help him not be so disdainful when you ask for his help around the house.

    I know you didn't ask for advice. And I'm not trying to criticize you or come down on you for this - it's hard to strike just the right tone in a post. I know I certainly drove my parents crazy, particularly my mother (We were pretty much polar opposites.). She was probably exhausted by the time I left home. I do know that she openly showed preference for my sister, who is almost exactly like her in temperament. Which is very hurtful to a child, by the way. If prefer your daughter, because she is more like you in temperament, and your son senses that, part of his behavior (the disdainfulness, the always wanting to buy things or have things bought for him) could be a reaction to the hurt he feels from that.

    My own kid was enough like me that I knew not to push him if he wasn't interested in things I thought he should be interested in. I could influence him, but pushing him would just make him go in the opposite direction. It sounds like your son might be somewhat the same.

    Good luck to you and to your son. They really grow up so fast. In a few short years he'll be grown. As an introvert, I know how hard it can sometimes be to deal with an extrovert on a daily basis. But after he's grown and out of the house, you'll have the rest of your life to live your life as an introvert. It might be worth it to meet him more than halfway now.

  8. #8
    Senior Member awakenedsoul's Avatar
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    I know what you mean. I volunteered at the local elementary school's garden. I was shocked at the behavior of the kids and the frustration level of the teachers. There seemed to be so much anger and depression. I taught dance for over 30 years and it does seem like the young kids have the teenage attitude very early. Personally, I feel it's a lack of discipline at home. Growing up, I was always given chores and spent time helping my mom with housework and my two younger brothers. A lot of this built my confidence and self esteem. I could have cooked the Thanksgiving dinner myself by the time I was eleven. I see so many parents ignoring rudeness from children now. They don't name the behavior, and correct the rudeness at the time. There are no consequences. I always did this when I was teaching, and if I do it now, the kids seem shocked. There are no boundaries anymore. I also feel that c
    hildren need heavy physical activity, every day. They need to play with friends, help out with the household, learn how to take turns, how to be quiet and listen, and to follow a routine. It really helps to develop their talents and gifts. They will look forward to that time and those lessons. I also think that computers are making children agitated and anxious. Technology can have a really negative effect on people. Most of the kids I see now have no social skills. Many of them seem depressed and dark to me. I don't mean to be judgemental, but I really am shocked at the difference compared to what I saw in my classes 25 years ago. Most of those kids came in with smiles, excitement, and an eagerness to please. I don't teach anymore. I couldn't deal with the poor parenting and disrespect for teachers. (I did have some wonderful students and teachers, but only about 35%.) Now I spend my time farming and caring for my home and animals. It also sounds like maybe he's trying to annoy you. Does he get punished for these behaviors? It's not as fun for them if there's a consequence. My nephew carries around a safe with him and 6 play money dollar bills. I think it gives him a feeling of security. He's only five. We're in a very materialistic society, and the children are absorbing that. I hope you can find ways to tire him out, develop his inner talents, and stop the backtalk. I know as a teacher I really got tired of that. When I was a kid, if we said anything disrespectful, my mother would wash our mouths out with soap. She did it once with me, and never had to again. Also, if I didn't do what she said in a store she would whisper, (in a very angry hiss,) "If you don't stop that right now I'm going to pull your pants down and spank your bare bottom in front of everyone, is that what you want?" And she would have, too. That always shut me up really quick. Parent don't threaten children anymore with something severe. She never had to do it, but I knew I better shape up. I think it's gone too far the other way now. The kids have a sense of power over the parents. I don't mean everyone. For example, I'm very impressed with the Amish. But I do notice that a lot of American kids are really mouthy these days.

  9. #9
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    Re: the need to purchase things, I don't know if your son is this way, but I have known very up close and personal people who are what I would call "collectors". It's manifest in childhood (they need to buy not just a toy but the whole collection). It's seems almost inborn, it's like an innate drive or some perversion of it (sure media encourages materialism but this runs deeper, you could ban all t.v. and they'd still be collecting ...). I see potential though not easy sucessful life paths for those people. I think they are the people you'll see on Antiques Roadshow that know everything about a objects in their particular field. They found a way to use it well and make a living off it to boot.
    Trees don't grow on money

  10. #10
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    I tend to see everything as genetic, and collecting seems to run in one side of my family (I did take after you, after all! ).

    I see frugality as a tool for reaching goals and a means to get the most for one's money; penny pinching for its own sake certainly isn't my default setting. At any rate, there's a fine line between frugal and tight, IMO.

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