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Old 09-17-2004, 10:46 AM   #1
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Letter to my 12 yo son

What is your opinion of this letter? Is it useful to you, as a parent? Is it useful to the son?

"Okay [insert name], maybe if you read this you will see how much trouble you are in. Do you want to have your friend over this weekend? Do you want to go to Darien Lake? Do you want to go outside after school? And don’t say... “I’m never home.” Because on the days you are home, you won’t be going out. It’s summer time - do you want that to happen? Oh, how about this one, DO YOU WANT ME TO TELL YOUR FATHER?

Your art teacher called me at work today. AT WORK! I am very busy at work and I talked to her for 15 minutes or more. Well, what if she called at home and dad answered? What would be happening right now? Do you want the opportunity to correct this problem on your own or do you need some fatherly advice?

You have not been behaving in art class. IN FACT, you have been downright disrespectful to me, the teacher, and yes, the whole class. Do you believe you are the funny man? Do you want to be the center of attention? Do you think there’s nothing the teacher can teach you? Awwwwww, are you bored?! Too bad! Pay attention, bring your folder, bring a pencil, be prepared, sit in your chair, do not talk when the teacher is talking, DO NOT YELL ‘SHUT UP!’ How old are you [insert name]? Really? 12 you say?!

Your teacher told me you said that this was nothing like last year’s art. Well, hello! You are not a baby any more! There is more expected of you as you get older. Art class is not just about coloring, painting, and making things any more. You will learn history of art and you will be tested on what you’ve learned! You have a test tomorrow. We WILL study together tonight.

From now on, at the end of art class you will give your art teacher your agenda to have her write down how you were in class that day. I will read and sign it.

Oh, did I forget to mention that you are one step away from being put on the Darien Lake referral watch list????!!!! Shape up [insert name]. You have more ability than you are willing to put forward. Stop hanging around kids that are problems. I know that [another student] was suspended for the REST OF THE SCHOOL YEAR! Is that cool? Is that funny? Do you think he’ll make it on a sports team in the older grades?

Consequences. Oh what a scary word. It should be scary to you. You know better. You’ve been through this in 5th grade art. Have you learned nothing about your behavior? Oh, guess what?! Your art teacher invited me to sit in on a class! Wouldn’t that be fun - have your mother come to make sure you behave. Won’t you be the center of attention then!

One more thing. I could say that the one more thing was that I love you. But you know that. My one more thing is that you are cheating yourself. Cheating yourself in that you will not reach your full potential in the talent that you show. Yes, your art teacher also told me that out of all the students, talent-wise, you are in the top 10. What does that mean? You could be the most awesome student because you’re you. However, you are not chosing to be you. You are chosing to entertain a bunch of kids that really don’t want to see you do well. They don’t care - just look at where they are now - suspended!"
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Last edited by sawbuck44; 09-17-2004 at 10:46 AM.

 
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Old 09-17-2004, 10:19 PM   #2
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Re: Letter to my 12 yo son

warning--- i am way tired and my spelling is horrible right now. so here goes...

wow--- there is no way i would use that letter.

in your question you asked if you thought it would work, or useful rather. i think that this is the exact opposite thing that you should do. first of all he is at the age where he is seeing the world in a different light. he wants to act like this because he gets the praise and the attention that makes him feel special from these friends. i would say that he would read that letter, be pretty cold and angry, think of you as typical "they don't understand" parents and then show his friends so they can verbally, if not physically rip it apart to vindicate his actions in the first place. please don't think i am being rude, i am just trying to give the most honest answer possible.

secondly, why do you need to write a letter? what happened to talking? if you were able to talk more, perhaps he would get a revived sense of belonging in your family and be less likely to seek negative attention else where.

thrid, have you taken a step back and read that letter? your son is in grade 5. he has 7 more grades through high school, what kind of letter will you have to write him then if this one is so extreme now?

i know i do not know the dynamics of your family. so forgive me if i am WAY off. i think that shoving consequences down his throat that mean nothing to him except that he gets attention from you is not working, nor will it. take him to an art show, by some new supplies. spend a day going to the cool bookstore in town and sit down at a hip coffee shop and discuss impressionism with him. show him a relatable side to you and i trust you will be amazed with the results!!! he is still a little boy being thrown into an adult world. guide his path so that it is easier to chose the right path as opposed to the righteous and his opinions will be molded from wisdom rather than rebellion. (i sound like dr phil or something )
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Old 09-18-2004, 01:31 AM   #3
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Re: Letter to my 12 yo son

I wouldn't use the letter either. I would talk to him. But another thing does concern me and that is the way you talk about his father. If you're upset with him, you should be upset in your own right and not use the "what would your father think" or "what would your father do" approach. It puts his father in a negative light and it dimishes your authority. If you feel you need to bring his dad into your discussion with him, at least make it that that two of you are acting together on this. For instance, I would change it to "your father and I are unhappy with this behavior."

 
Old 09-18-2004, 11:44 AM   #4
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Re: Letter to my 12 yo son

thanks, it is very understandable that you would react this way to that letter. It opened my eyes to a few things. the relationship between my son and husband is strained at best right now. I know I need to help son respect father more. my son and I talk every day and so this letter was another way to get his attention.
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Old 09-18-2004, 12:17 PM   #5
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Re: Letter to my 12 yo son

At this point, the father is going to have to earn that respect back. He does not seem to have much emotional attachment to his son. You might try the book "Boy Talk" by Mary Polce-Lynch. It would be great it dad would read it. There are a few things in it I disagree with, but the bulk of it is great. It looks like dad is trying to inforce the "Pack Rules," as she call them, on your son. Many of these pack rules are harmful for everyone involved.

 
Old 09-19-2004, 05:18 PM   #6
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Re: Letter to my 12 yo son

Unfortunately, we have read a few books and articles on this topic to no avail. You are right Mr. Owl, my husband is very emotionally detached. He basically thinks it's my son that's the problem and vice versa. It is becoming very difficult to get through daily life with this situation. We've even talked about separating. I think a lot of the problems my son is experiencing is a direct result from the way he is treated by his dad. There are good times but they are few and far between most often.
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If you open the door even a little bit - the devil will fling it open. Keep it closed with prayer.

 
Old 09-19-2004, 05:39 PM   #7
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Re: Letter to my 12 yo son

You are right, men to be the kind of fathers that their fathers were to them. It takes a conscious break with that bad heritage to make a change. However, do not give up. You and your son see the problem so here will seek to avoid copying his father's wrong behaviors. In the Bible, many good kings came from the worst of fathers. About you can do if dad does not see the problem is to marginalize him as far as in influence in your son's life. Your tag line makes me think you are church people. So, have you talked with the pastor about this situation? If the pastor cannot help or is being ineffective, then talk with the other church leaders. It would be great if some of the men from church could come alongside both of them, and help both of them.

 
Old 09-20-2004, 06:16 AM   #8
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Re: Letter to my 12 yo son

Mr. Owl you give me hope. Trouble is, my husband will not lean that much on church. He doesn't think our problems are anyone's business. I may seek counseling (as I might have mentioned before) for myself and son. It is very mentally challenging to live like this. I don't like how I am when I'm around my husband anymore. He wakes up the next day like nothings wrong and then, whammo, something happens to set it off and we're back in the gutter again. I appreciate your support and listening.
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If you open the door even a little bit - the devil will fling it open. Keep it closed with prayer.

 
Old 09-20-2004, 09:27 AM   #9
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Re: Letter to my 12 yo son

I do not have a 12 year old son. But I was a very rebelious preteen/teenager. I know that a letter would never have worked on me. It gives the child no chance to respond. I know that writing letters makes you feel better (I write them and never give them) because you can get your thoughts in line and present an arguement. Being in the heat of a fight you tend to get things jumbled and forget the points that you need to make. I'm proud of you for thinking about seeking help, but I would add that you need to make your husband go. Sounds like things are worse between your son and him than you and your son. If your hubby doesn't want to go, or refuses to go that tells you something...maybe he's not in this family with his whole heart. He has to be willing to do ANYTHING to help keep your son on the right path as do you. I can tell you truely care, or you would be here asking for help. Keep it up mom! Stick with it and things will get better. It may take years, but we all know this is what we get into when we have kids. Good luck. Keep reminding your son that you love him. He does hear it, even if he doesn't act like it sometimes

 
Old 09-20-2004, 09:39 AM   #10
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Re: Letter to my 12 yo son

He may not lean on the church, but you can sure have very confidential conservations with a few folks there. This will help relieve your tension and may help you find some possible options. Keep you son involved in school and church activates were he can do well, and develop a healthy feeling about himself.

 
Old 09-21-2004, 05:46 AM   #11
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Re: Letter to my 12 yo son

You are so right. I can only do so much but one of the important things is to keep my son's feelings about himself healthy. I don't know. I feel like the walls is going to break some day and then I'll see which way it will fall - stay or go. I don't like watching for that but it is what I need to do to try and live a decent life. I wish there wasn't conflict between the two of them. Now when my young son sees his older brother messing and having fun with his dad, he gets jealous, but more importantly - he gets angry at the relationship they have. I can't deprive my older son a good relationship so of course I don't try and stop their messing. I just talk to my younger son and tell him that some day he will be able to joke like that with his dad. Right now it's tense and we are trying to live day by day.

We do have a church but haven't been there lately. I need to say that we're going and stick to it (no lounging in bed!). Maybe as we ease back into church, I can direct the two of them to an activity that will help.
thanks again Mr. Owl.
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If you open the door even a little bit - the devil will fling it open. Keep it closed with prayer.

 
Old 09-21-2004, 10:49 PM   #12
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Re: Letter to my 12 yo son

I'm not 100% certain of your situation, but don't you think that your son is acting out because of his relationship, or lack of, with his father??? His father should really be just as concerned of his sons well being as you are! He needs to get directly involved. Maybe he should consider some counseling as well.

If you want to get through to your son......the letter is not the way to go. A letter does not show emotion! Talking to your son will show him your expressions and your concerns just by looking at your face.

I think the true key to all of this is his father! He needs to be more involved!

 
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