Posted by Anonymous.
I wonder if my entire relationship with my son has been based on my saying yes to everything.
He's 17, a high school senior, successful student and generally a good guy, except I learned he's not so nice and we're not so close when I say no. When he was 9, he was diagnosed as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger's, but was "highly functioning" which meant that he was intelligent, oppositional, argumentative, sweet, loving and exhausting to raise. We sought all kinds of social and occupational therapy for him in order to help him develop the social skills he did not intuitively have. We indulged him when he found an interest in the video arcade game, Dance Dance Revolution, and we drove him to tournaments up and down the East Coast just like other parents drive their kids all over the place when they are on travelling soccer teams. He formed friendships, built confidence, and figured out how to deal with his quirks. He became popular. His dad and I indulged him by taking him on these trips to visit his friends and to participate in DDR tournaments. We permitted him to sleep over at friends' houses in the city where the tournament was held. We hung out in the town and got a hotel room, so we could be close by.
This started when he was 13. As he got older, he told us there was drinking sometimes but he did not participate. Then last New Year's we let him go to North Carolina with a friend, without us, to visit friends. Yes, there was drinking and yes, he drank. He concluded that because we allowed him to go, we approved of his drinking. Then over the summer while his father and I were on vacation, he begged us to stay home and we let him. His response was to have his friends over for a party, with alcohol, purchased with the spending money we left for him.
Since then we have had many conversations about drinking. He tells us that we're punishing him for being honest. We tell him that we worry about him making bad choices. Now, he asked to go away with friends to a New Year's party this year out of state, and we said no. He's angry and is acting out. He says that he's much more honest with us than his friends are, and that we need to trust him to make good decisions, since he is going to college next year and will be on his own. We tell him that there are so many bad things that could happen, like getting into a car accident or having a run in with the police and getting charged with underage drinking. We won't be anywhere nearby to help him if there is a problem. He said he's not handling his anger better because we have modeled bad behavior when we're angry. He says we're being inconsistent and arbitrary. He's saying whatever comes to mind.
He's being so unkind and so impolite that I don't recognize this rude person. Or rather, I see him clearly for the first time. I've been far too worried about being his friend and not being his parent. I did not think that is what I was doing but now I see it all more clearly. And it's too late to change it. He's leaving home in less than a year. He's 17 -- a know it all and barely listens to me. He's grown up thinking that we'll always say yes and he's hardly ever heard us say no. I thought I was teaching him and I see that by indulging him, I failed him. It feels like our relationship is a sham. We are not close because he loves me; we're close because I always said yes.