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Just a Guy Feeling Left Out

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Why am I the last to know about my son's social life?

sad looking father

Bruce Sallan: My son is almost 16 and he now has a girlfriend. Evidently it's "official," as both have declared they're "In a Relationship" on their Facebook pages. My wife and younger son say it's none of my business. I can't help it; I'm curious. Is this so wrong? I also want to be sure he's handling "things" appropriately.

He has gone from being the quintessential guy's guy -- only hanging out with his male buddies -- to having a posse of female friends, one "special" one now. His male friends seem to have bit the dust, except for his bandmates.

Some of his get-togethers at our house will be with three or four of these girls and JUST HIM! Now, maybe I'm jealous, but this is a pretty big change. I know my son is smart, talented, tall, confident, and good-looking (I am his dad, after all), so this is really no surprise.

I suppose it's the sort of passage we want for our kids, versus watching them struggle for friends and a date to the prom. It goes hand-in-hand with his emerging independence, though he still does seem to tolerate me, and I apparently don't embarrass him too much in front of his friends.

But I still want details! My wife tells me in no uncertain terms to "Butt Out!" -- I don't care. I'm dying. What's he doing? Apparently, among his friends, girls and boys are having group sleepovers, which we are not allowing, with or without other kids and parents present.

I suppose it's like all the rest of life that I'm still trying to figure out. I'm just a guy; what do I know?


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18 comments so far | Post a comment now
Linda Sherman September 19, 2009, 1:52 PM

Well at least both of your sons are letting you be their Facebook friend.
That certainly gives you access to information.

My husband, Ray says,”you have to let them know that you trust them. Let them understand that you give them your advice which is the benefit of your experience but it is up to them to accept it or not. If they feel you trust them they are more likely to share information. They have to feel like it is their decision”

Bruce Sallan September 19, 2009, 3:58 PM

Linda;

It’s a balancing act between trust and rope (giving them too much). I agree with Ray and I really do trust my son and, in this arena so far, he’s not given me any reason not to. I’m very happy for him. And, I’m mostly keeping my mouth SHUT (not an easy task for me…lol).

denise September 19, 2009, 8:22 PM

It sounds like you’ve got a good situation and a very mature boy. Much easier with boys. I hope you realize that, Bruce. My friend’s son is going with a 12-year-old girl; now what’s with that?

Jeff September 20, 2009, 9:24 AM

Bruce, I’m not there yet. Not sure how I’ll react but as one guy to another, I’d say the best strategy is to back off, be sure you’ve taught your son well about the birds and bees (and condoms), and it will take care of yourself. You’re probably better off putting any energy you have on this towards your own marriage and making that the best it can be.

A friend September 20, 2009, 3:50 PM

Your wife and son are right IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS -anymore than you felt it was your parents’ business when you were his age. Let him have his privacy and independence. He’ll let you know what’s going on when he wants to and since you have no reason for concern, spend your time working on or getting your own life and let him get his.

Marty September 21, 2009, 10:43 AM

You’re son is growing up — congratulations on him achieving another life milestone. If you have done your parenting all along (which apparently you have), then there is little need to worry about “handling ‘things’ appropriately”. HOWEVER, your desire for “details” is really inappropriate and should be suppressed. You also say you might be “jealous”. Of what?! Being 16 again? Dating? Clearly you don’t remember those days that well! If you are indeed jealous, this would be a topic for you and a therapist…

Anonymous September 21, 2009, 3:57 PM

When did it become none of the parents business what are children are doing?? Sure it is none of our business until they come home with a pregnancy or a STD!! Set a coffee date or whatever HE likes to do and spend time with him. Don’t stop setting the boundries NOW. Everything in moderation…including privacy!!

Luis September 22, 2009, 8:12 AM

Well Bruce, there you go…. now you have a bunch of comments to figure out what`s the best way to handle this new situation with your older son… I agree with “anonymus” that ir`s still your business to take care of your teenager specuially at this stage when emotions are so intense and he is not so experienced handling these new emotional landscapes; but also I agree that he needs some privacy and intimacy. Good luck on finding your way and thanks for opening these kind of topics to public discussion!

Luis

Loren September 23, 2009, 9:13 AM

When I say “butt out” I mean that you should not be concerned with every single little detail of his budding relationship. Give him some privacy and let him go at his own pace. We have a very trustworthy son and I can’t think of a time when he hasn’t come to one of us when he really needed advice or guidance. Trust that you’ve done a good job with him because you have.

Bob September 23, 2009, 10:51 AM

Bruce. These are the joys of parenthood, chuckling at the “important others” your kids bring home that “pass inspection” so to speak. It’s the ones who don’t pass inspection that grind you. Piercings, “tats,” drugs, and sexual promiscuity are rampant. Beware of the “sleepover!” Generally it occurs at homes where the parents don’t parent, that’s why the kids gravitate to sleepovers at certain homes, NOT including yours. What goes on there is often not allowed at your home. Notwithstanding the downside, I toast your son.

Bruce Sallan September 23, 2009, 11:47 AM

Thanks Bob - I agree and I also toast my son. The sleepover thing ain’t gonna happen at our house or another house. They’ll just have to be more creative if they want to “do it.” Also, thank you honey (aka Loren) for your second comment. I love you, too! Don’t forget, tonight is “date night!”

Ted G September 23, 2009, 9:13 PM

I understand the desire to want to know. But then, I think back to what I was doing at 16 - or better yet - wished I was doing…and ultimately, now as a father I think i dont want to know! ;-)

PostalDad September 24, 2009, 9:28 AM

So Bruce, what’cha gonna do with Loren on date night? Huh? Huh? Huh? You gonna hold her hand? You gonna kiss her? You want any pointers? You wanna know what she’s thinking? Do you know how to use a condom? Well, do you!? Let me tell what to say. Let me tell you what not to say. Let me give you all the information I think I should give you, no matter if you want it or not. And you reciprocate. LOL Ok, ok, this is all in jest, but I think you get my point. Whenever I start fretting like that, I always (TRY) to turn the situation around on myself. My kids aren’t even there yet, but your article has given me ideas for later on. Thanks, Bruce. and sorry to bring you up, Loren. ; )

Jenn September 24, 2009, 11:24 AM

Build a strong base, and they will grow. When they get into a difficult situation, or new choices, you’ve done your job as a parent when they stop and think of the ramifications of their actions. It’s hard not to interefere too much, as my daughter calls it “nagging” her, but when they prove to you that they can handle it, just be there for them, keep a watchful eye for intervention if need be, but carefully allow them to spread their wings. It is what teaches them how to be on their own in the later years. But then if in doubt, install hidden cams and GPS monitoring devices. Ha ha.

MOM...aka motherofmany September 26, 2009, 11:54 AM

First let me say…girls travel in packs that’s why the sons girl comes with her own posse. You being allowed to see his FB…big plus. Most information about his life can be seen here as well as his friends. I’ve also found the cell phone texts to be a great source of information. I wouldn’t say back off. Don’t grill him but skirt around on the outside…this is the time when you need to know what they are doing. I was the naive MOM who thought my kids would do as I say. Then I found out a few little somethings and no more. Now I have them all believing they should wear bracelets WWMD (what would Mom do). Don’t smother him but make sure he knows you are at the top of your game so he’ll be nervouse to make the wrong moves. As far as privacy…that’s something they’ll get when they pay their own mortgage or rent. In my house I simply let them use the room!LOL

BigLittleWolf September 30, 2009, 2:36 PM

You’re allowed to see what’s going on with your kids on FB? Consider yourself lucky. Want details? Ain’t gonna happen. Want SOME information? Enough to know your boys are being responsible and safe, physically and emotionally? You’ve got every right to butt in enough to be sure of that - it’s your job. Even when it gets embarrassing. But it’s a fine line - enough information to know that good judgment is exercised, but LOTS OF RESPECT for privacy and space… I’m going through this very thing with my 16-year old. Everything all of a sudden. Including the first girlfriend. OMG OMG OMG. And she’s a hot blonde, to boot!

One more remark: some kids talk, but others require that you patiently drag bits of info out of them. Depending on which kind of kid you have (I have one of each) - just put on the coffee and plan for more sleepless nights, exotic and funny ways to get them to provide a bit of data, and search around for those great links in the blogosphere that deal with talking (realistically) to teens about both emotional and physical safety. Frankly, I had plenty of talks with my sons over the years, and I still emailed them some links just a month or so ago… Just-a-thought-or-six, just-a-guy…

Sw

Rachael October 8, 2009, 10:06 AM

I have a 2 year old. He’s never growing up. Ever. No girlfriends!

Mark Carthew December 2, 2010, 8:01 PM

The old saying goes, inside of the specialist’s head there aren’t many choices, however for someone with a rookie’s mind, the entire world is wide open.


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