What Bothers You About Me?

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This was the question that I asked my 11 year old a couple of months ago. What bothers you about me? It was a confronting thing to do and it wasn’t a question that I wanted him to answer lightly. I asked him to think hard about this question and write down what are the things that I do that bother him the most. I decided to ask this question as I could sense a level of frustration with me and we had begun bickering more that I would have liked.

Last week I wrote about how I am beginning to change my parenting style with my 11 year old son, as he begins his journey into adolescence and this was one of my first steps to try and change some of my behaviour.

My son did think about this question for a couple of days and then came to me with his written list. I asked to have some time to look at it before we discussed it and he was okay with that. The time to look at it was really important for me, so that the discussion we had could be a positive one. His list had 10 items on it and some of them surprised me. I didn’t want the discussion to be me defending myself and excusing my behaviour, but to be a real discussion where we could find solutions to these issues.

I asked my son’s permission before I wrote this post, to make sure he was okay for me to blog about it. He was fine, but there were some points that he didn’t want me to publish, so we agreed on that I could discuss the one’s below:

Issue Resolution
Taking Sides in Fights.
He felt that too often I was taking in sides in arguments with his brother with out knowing all the facts. I did have to agree with him on this and it also fitted in with something I learnt from Kathy Walker’s new book “Parenting” that I needed to stop making myself the referee.
I agreed that I would within the reasons of safety, I will stay out of these arguments and if the younger children come to me and try to involve me in the incident, that I will encourage them to resolve the problem themselves.
Untidy Bedroom.
He felt that it wasn’t necessary to have to tidy up the room every. single. day.
This was a tough one for me as I like to have the doors of the rooms open and see a tidy room. We agreed that he would give the room a thorough tidy on Sundays before bed and Wednesdays before school and that I would not mention the state of the room in between times. I could however ask him to remove any fruit scraps that he might have left in his room though.
Getting Dressed.
He didn’t understand why I would insist on him getting dressed straight after breakfast on school holidays and weekends.
We agreed that he could stay in his p.j’s until 10.30am unless we had somewhere to go or visitors coming over.
Getting Me To Play Board Games.
I had started a family games night on Friday night, where we would all play a board or card game. While he said he would like to play sometimes, he said he didn’t want to “have” to play.
We discussed the idea of family time and he pointed out, our evening meals, family meetings, walking to school as all points were we do things together. I agreed, that he should only play if he wants to.

These changes along with some others that we made have significantly improved our relationship. I no longer feel that I am asking him to do things all the time and he feels more in control of these areas of his life. This will be a process that I think I will continue to use through out his adolescence. It is important for him to know that I will listen to him and I want him to think not just in terms of issues but solutions.

Have you asked your kids what bothers them about you?