Fear my relationship with teenage son is ruined

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SomethingGreen
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29 Oct 2022, 10:32 am

I have shortened this as I felt original post was too long.

Since my son has gone to University he has barely replied to any messages I have sent, though he has got in touch a couple of times when he needed money, which I willingly gave. I have gone on antidepressants and go over and over things and trying to figure out what went wrong. I would do anything for my lovely son and feel I must have failed him. He grew distant in his teenage years and seemed angry and emotionally closed off, though he appeared fine in school, there were tempers at home, even when he was a bit younger, he would never accept instruction or help with his schoolwork for example.
Traits I now retrospectively see as possibly aspergers but I could be wrong, I just am at a loss.
Emotionally closed off, never willingly share anything personal, though he does have some friends I presume he may share things with.
Very stubborn - would never back down
Never admitting being in the wrong
Never saying sorry, always sticking to his side of things.
Poor handwriting
Breaking things, mostly when a bit younger teen, either deliberately when angry or accidentally, things like phones, even picking the keys off a laptop once.
Unable to use a tin opener.
General misunderstandings, frustrating interactions as I always need to be careful of what I say in case he takes it the wrong way.
Refusing to do chores, much resistance / arguing why he shouldn't have to.
Sabotaging games when younger, messing up the game so as to end it.
Taking things from his sister but then totally denying it.
I now . again in hindsight, see lots of similiar traits in his dad.

Thank you to anyone who could offer their opinion. I don't even know what I could do to help at this point, I would do anything to have a good relationship with him and for him to know I am there for him, which I have told him so many times.



Last edited by SomethingGreen on 29 Oct 2022, 3:06 pm, edited 5 times in total.

timf
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29 Oct 2022, 11:34 am

Having a child refuse to talk with you is heart breaking. Having one who does talk to you and tell you everything he hates about you is even more heartbreaking.

Mark Twain is supposed to have said that when he was 17 he couldn't believe how stupid his father was and when he was 21 he couldn't believe how much his father had learned in four years.

It sounds like you are going to have to play the long game. If you send him a note every couple of weeks and keep it light and inconsequential, you might be able to build a foundation for a future relationship. you might include a joke or something entertaining such that he begins to look forward to your notes.

Since he feels free to ask for money, he already understands that you are there for him if he needs any serious help. It sounds like he might view any perceived intrusion into his life by questions or even offers to help with resentment. In time he may be able to relax enough to respond occasionally with something also light and inconsequential.



SomethingGreen
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29 Oct 2022, 12:42 pm

Thank you, that is good advice.



IsabellaLinton
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29 Oct 2022, 1:29 pm

This sounds more serious than normal teenaged angst.
If the change was sudden I'd be concerned he might have PTSD or trauma.
He might not want to talk about what caused it.
Another possibility is severe Alexithymia or Selective Mutism from anxiety.

Most of the symptoms you list don't sound to me like ASD (in my opinion).
I wish you could have him evaluated for PTSD, ODD, PDA, or other mental health stressors.
A counsellor or family therapist might be able to help.

I have selective mutism and can barely speak to my mother, either.



calliaz
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29 Oct 2022, 7:44 pm

Is this a big change? Did your son text a lot before going to college? In the responses you do get, how are things going for him? My daughter and I have a great relationship (not perfect by any stretch). I teach college freshmen and many of them text and call their parents multiple times a day. I get random texts here and there and maybe a phone call every week or two. She is doing great and has her own life. While I miss talking with her, I know this is just how she communicates. I wonder if maybe this is just your son's preferred style of communication. If it isn't typical or if he has directly said why he isn't contacting you, I would be open in discussing it. I would say that you would like to communicate more and ask if he would be comfortable trying to talk more frequently (or texting more often). It doesn't sound to me that your relationship is ruined. All relationships need work and this transition time needs extra attention.



DW_a_mom
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31 Oct 2022, 4:59 pm

I don't know how often you communicate, but it is normal for youth to pull away from parents as they work on establishing their independent identities. My son got mad at me a few times as a teen for basically pushing in where he didn't think I belonged, so I learned to step back.

So, overall, I agree with the poster who talked about stepping back. They have to know you trust them to navigate life on their own, and that they will ask when they need help.

At my son's college orientation, a parent asked a student panel how often mom and dad should call. The consensus from the student panel was once a week. I took that to heart, and my son actually later went out of his way to tell me that I was allowed to call more often.

It does sound like you've had a communication barrier between the two of you for a long time. Communication is, of course, a two way street. Acknowledge that you are aware he doesn't seem to feel heard by you, and suggest brainstorming ways together to work on it. I can't tell you if he is ASD or not, but I can say that learning to communicate across different styles and starting points can be hard work. Make it clear to him that you want to do the hard work to cross the gap, on whatever time frame he feels comfortable with.

Finally, not all parents and kids are going to be close. Sometimes personalities and dispositions just don't work well together. If that turns out to be the case, you accept the situation and love him through it. Eventually he is likely to do the same. My dad and I were like that; just too different. But we did, as adults, find a few things to finally, truly connect over, and I am grateful we were able to have those moments.


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Mom to an amazing young adult AS son, plus an also amazing non-AS daughter. Most likely part of the "Broader Autism Phenotype" (some traits).


SomethingGreen
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31 Oct 2022, 5:12 pm

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and really sound advice, it's much appreciated.



Minuteman
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01 Nov 2022, 9:08 pm

Your son sounds a lot like me at that age. I did indeed come around, although I drove my parents nuts in the process.