My son started Middle School last week. He's got major attitude, acts disrespectful to me, wants me to leave him alone and only wants to be with his friends. I don't understand what happened to my little bundle of joy! How do I get my son back?!?
Lonely in Decatur
First of all, I understand that there is a lot of anxiety for many mothers when their children start middle school. But it doesn't have to be anything to fear. This is a time for celebration! Your son is growing up! It is his job to move out of the nest and it is your job to let him.
Let me put it to you another way: John Rosemond speaks (and writes) about the Three Seasons of Parenting. They are Season of Service (from newborn to about 2), The Decade of Discipline (3-12) and Season of Emancipation (teen years). Your son is exiting Season 2 and preparing to enter Season 3. This is good news. But this transition does not permit disrespectful behavior. But before I give a suggestion for handling his misbehavior, I need to tell you something that you might not like.
I think you need better boundaries between your son and you. The way you signed your question, "Lonely in Decatur" makes me question the level of involvement you have in your son's life. I suggest you step back and take stock of YOUR life. YOUR interests. YOUR plans for YOU. Take advantage of your son's independence and consider joining a book club, begin training for a 5K, or find a new hobby. In other words, if your son has been the center of your life, let him go and focus your attention on your marriage or, if single, on your friendships.
Now to address your son's behavior. First, determind what is actual misbehavior and what is just "static." When you give directions to your son and he huffs and puffs or he rolls his eyes, ignore it. As long as he is in compliance with the family rules and continues to honor his family commitments, I think you need to let the little stuff go.
However, if he is defiant, rude, etc. then I recommend you nip it in the bud! Misbehavior can be eleminated through using "Tickets," a system that John Rosemond recommends. I've outlined the details in blog post. But for you son's age, you might not need tickets, just call misbehaviors "strikes." On the third "strike" your son is "out." Follow through on a consequence but remember that a small "crime" means a large consequence in order to impress upon your tween that defiance and disrespectful behavior is unacceptable.
Good luck and let me know how things go!
Susan is a Master Leadership Parenting Coach and the owner of Parent Coach Atlanta, a parenting firm dedicated to helping parents achieve harmony in their homes and ENJOY parenting!