How to be more relaxed around my 10-year old son?

I got divorced a year ago, and most things couldn’t be better.

For those who want an update: My ex and I haven’t had a fight since the divorce talks started. We had a quick , easy and cheap divorce; shared mediator, everything arranged in 6 weeks, total procedure cost of 1500 euro’s. Neither of us asked for, or pays the other money or alimony. No fights about stuff, on the contrary we both liked the fresh start and the chance to declutter the house. No fights about custody.

Ex and I are on friendly terms; we feel more like family then exes. It is almost shocking how little we miss each other; the worst of that was over in a month. We co-parent, each of us half the week, and kiddo has settled in nicely. Fortunately, I could afford to stay in the house ( it was mine), and ex bought a pleasant little house withing biking range of the kid’s school.
Ex got a new lady friend soon after the divorce. I took my sweet time dating for 11 months or so. And I got lucky, with a guy I already knew from a nerdy hobby we shared twenty years ago, and who had kept in contact via Facebook. All of the new partners have kids in the same age bracket.

And yes, money is tight, very tight, I had to work more, and most of the luxury is gone. But so is much of the stress and mutual annoyance. Overall our divorce has been a good thing for all concerned.

So… Now that I can contrast my child free weekends with the ones where I have my ten-year old son over, I find that I’m relapsing into old patterns around my son. I see three things I’m doing wrong:

[li]I still try to arrange much of his time for him, with activities. I fear that if I don’t, he just going to be glued to a screen. [/li]
[li]I also try to concentrate on stuff I want to do, only to have him barge in with nonsense trivia, as he is quite the chatterbox. I gently remind him to consider if his remark will be interesting to his audience, several times a day. [/li]
[li]I find I’m too impatient, to teach him to do chores around the house. I should do that, but it is just easier and quicker to do it myself, even if that makes me resent the kid just a little. We fall into old patterns too easily.[/li][/ul]

So: anyone have any insight on how to reset the relationship with my son so that I can be more relaxed around him?

I find your first two points contradictory. On one hand, you want him to not be glued to a screen, which includes interacting more with people. On the other, you only want to hear him talk about things you’re otherwise interested in. Remember this contradiction the next time he wants to tell you about something you couldn’t care less about. If I only talked with The Niece about the things we both care about, we wouldn’t go beyond “good morning” and a bit of music!

And as for the third, yep, that’s how we end up with 40yo people who can’t figure out how to buy the makings of a ham sandwich: doing it yourself is easier, quicker, and produces better results in the short term. If you want him to be able to take care of his own grown-up butt someday, you’ll need to load up on patience and accept that the path to learning goes through beds with ugly corners.

Your first of three items: You said you’re arranging activities because of your fear. He’s not stupid - he will be aware of your fear. And it will show, in the way you do things. Can you change the situation so that fear is replaced with something better?

Your second item: I’m not convinced that he should consider whether his remark will be interesting; rather, maybe he should know whether it’s a good TIME for his remark. Can you tell him which parts of your time are free?

Your third item: Well, it’s your choice. :slight_smile: Slow and frustrating now, or no results later? IMO, teaching him so that he knows how to do it is valuable, even if he doesn’t do it on his own yet. I don’t think there’s a right and wrong answer, other than don’t let anyone’s emotions become the crux of the situation. I mean, as far as possible, let chores be just chores, not an emotional minefield for either of you.

Depending on how annoying 2# is, I would recommend that you just put up with his bringing up trivia talk that is interesting to him, because at that age, maybe he lacks peers or friends who would want to listen to something he has to say or what is on his mind. It is possible that you are the only person who’d listen to him. If he is put in a situation where he has to bottle up all of his inner thoughts because nobody wants to hear them, that can lead him down an inner mental echo chamber or make him clam up socially in a bad way long-term - possibly morose, unable to express himself and socially inhibited for decades. He’s still in a developmental stage and it’s important for him to have an audience.

Now if it’s unbearably annoying, then that’s one thing, but otherwise it is important for a kid that age to be able to express himself and give-and-take conversation.

Does he have friends? What kind of friends?

Also, Maastricht, I don’t mean to make this a personal slight, but there is a consistent “domineering” theme in your posts about family matters - whether it is your son or the threads you used to write about your husband/now-ex-husband - a theme of “I want things done my way, now how can I get other people to accommodate me?”

My son, now 24, just got married a few weeks ago. Reminiscing, he asked me if I remembered when he was 10 or 11 and I took him out to a bar. I did all sorts of activities with him, but he has a crystal clear memory of this one event.

A blues band from Canada (Anthony Gomes)was in town, playing at a friend’s bar. I’d given my son a few of his CDs and he wanted to hear them live. I got the bar owner’s blessing, then convinced his mom. It was a pretty cool night. The band played from 9 to 11:30 on a Friday night. After the bar closed down, the band hung out drinking and chatting, everyone going out of their way to interact with my son.

So, I guess my advice would be to take him out to a bar.:confused:

As a Mom of 3 adults I have listened to way more pokemon, minecraft, various movies and other kid shit than I could ever tell. Now I am on to grandkids. My grandkids like me because I get down on the floor with them and LISTEN. I have heard about barbies, my little pony and candy crush til I turned blue. You don’t have to be interested in the subject matter to make the kid feel cared for and heard. It will only help him in the future if you do. If you don’t, I assure you he will find someone to talk to. You may not approve of who he’s talking to. I have seen many teens who are free agents and are bad news. It’s not pretty.
So, get in there and do the heavy lifting of parenting, it’s your most important job, ever.

Listen to the “uninteresting” chatter from your son. If he can’t speak to you about unimportant things now, he won’t speak to you about important things later. Also, in the not too distant future, he’ll likely find that you are the uninteresting one and you’ll wonder “why doesn’t he want to talk to me anymore”.

I’m not sure this board is the best place to ask for advice on how to stop someone barging in with nonsense trivia… :wink:

When I was a kid, I actually remember the person who taught me to wash up dishes after eating wasn’t either of my parents, it was, weirdly, my Great Uncle, when staying at his house. We started doing it there because he asked nicely and was the Fun Uncle, then carried on when we got home, to my parents’ total confusion. It doesn’t always have to be you that teaches him basic stuff like chores, and sometimes kids listen more to adults they don’t see so much.

This is so true.

You are also teaching him that other people’s value in what he has to say is more important than his value on what he has to say. The idea of him finding a good “time” to interrupt rather than if it’s worth enough to you to interrupt is a better guideline.

But be generous with your time with him- it’s probably what he’ll remember most about his childhood.

Thirded. Your son has never been an adult, how could he possibly know what an adult may or may not find interesting? He is still discovering “new” things at an astonishing rate and wants to share that with someone. Feel fortunate that person is you. It won’t always be this way. You, OTOH, have presumably been a 10 year old, don’t you remember the sense of wonder and wanting to share?

I have 3 kids, all grown. One has a husband and kids of her own. My wife and I are most humbled by the fact that our kids still like to hang out with, talk to and ask advice from us. I hope they always do, and I hope many of our conversations continue to revolve around “nonsense trivia”.

Forgive me for saying this and I dont mean to be rude, but kids sometimes need to just talk. And be damn glad it is with you. Learn to like or at least tolerate what he is talking about. And dont be judgemental or throw out your own dislikes. I remember my mother couldnt understand my love of skateboarding and football.

And again, I dont mean to be rude, but could the patterns you are talking about such as not wanting to listen to your son, also be something you were doing to your ex which helped to drive a wedge between you? Did you ever tell your ex to “consider your audience” about the things he wanted to talk you about or were upset if he didnt want to talk about things you wanted. Did you get impatient with how he did chores?

This isnt meant to be rude. My wife and I often have trouble finding common subjects to talk about. We are all human and have our negatives.

Maybe if you took up an interest in parenting and child development, his novice attempts at conversation and chores would be less annoying. Read up a little and maybe they will start to be interesting personal examples of what the process is rather than annoyances.

Go for walks with him, and let him talk about whatever he wants to talk about during those times, at least.

These are very true and very important observations. The chiding you mention, it is a damaging and bad habit.

I have a son of the same age, and yes he is a chatter box and talking about things which I do not find interesting myself. They are little boy things which he finds interesting, so I pay attention and try to learn what is the thing he finds interesting and ask him the questions about it. I learn about aspects of his life besides me that I would not know and it is also the teaching of the communication as a two way flow.

Barge in with nonsense trivia is a phrase that carries a heavy judgement on a ten year old.

I’d like to focus on one point.
Be grateful your son wants to talk to you and don’t discourage him with relentless criticism.

The reason I say that is because I’m autistic (Asperger’s Syndrome;not diagnosed until I was 55) and so I didn’t talk at all when I came home from School.
I was totally absorbed in chess (which neither of my parents played) and reading science fiction (which they weren’t interested in.)
I find it incredible that my parents put up with all this and still gave me a loving and secure home.
I am so grateful to them.

Nth-ing the suggestion to listen to your son, no matter how uninteresting and nonsensical you consider what he’s saying.

I have a ten year old niece right now who is much like your son - she will talk relentlessly about what she’s into, and nothing makes her happier than someone taking the time to listen and engage with her about those interests (I spent literally five days discussing Minecraft with her and watching her play. She was thrilled. I am now the Fun Uncle.) Her mum, my sister, finds her to be a “difficult” child - she’s really not - and I see some of the intolerant, annoyed behaviors she tends to aim towards my niece in your post.

Engage with your son. Listen to him. Pretend you’re interested (even if you’re not). He’s at a very important age for that sort of thing - he needs to know he can talk to you and you’ll hear him.

It never ceases to amaze me when parents think parenting is all about themselves.

For crying out loud, would you ask your new honey not to bother you with nonsense trivia, and to consider whether you would find what he has to say interesting? No, of course not, because that would be cutting and rude, and enough of that kind of talk would make him dump you.

And you may just find your kid dumping you when he grows up, just when you need him most, with that kind of behavior.

Christ, my parents did a lot of things wrong, but at least they never told me to not talk to them because I was boring them. Unbelievable!

Just try to remember… it’s not nonsense to him.

Teaching your child that their thoughts and opinions have value is one of the most important things a parent can do.

If you teach him that his interests and topics he’s excited about are boring and stupid, he learns that he is boring and stupid.

It’s nice that you’ve found a new man, but if you treat spending time with and teaching your son how to be a reasonable person, like a monumental chore, I expect that soon he will just choose to spend more time at his dad’s house.