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Old Yesterday, 08:38 AM
 
581 posts, read 287,488 times
Reputation: 492

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Hi-
I swear all I feel like at times is the person that pays the bills. No one really listens to me on advice, or really even comes to me for advice. My wife said that's not true but it feels like it. Our kids are good kids but they would rather be on their phones or playing video games, etc. My 17 year old son, who is going to be a pilot spends all of his time learning the ins and outs of that profession. The ironic thing is he didn't get that from me. He got it from my wife's side. I actually hate flying and am generally not a thrill seeker.

To be more specific, on the careers angle, I guess I just wish one of them would be interested in the engineering/computers/math route. I've been encouraging it for years and it seems all the kids hate math...lol. As I mentioned the 17 year old chose a career I have no interest in at all.

I don't know, its not really what I envisioned as what it was going to be like as a father. I know teenage years are rough years and I'm feeling that. I try to stay positive with whatever they are doing, just feels like whenever I'm needed is when its time to pay the bills and if someone needs something. Is this normal?

Thanks for thoughts and advice.
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Old Yesterday, 08:59 AM
 
Location: USA
1,115 posts, read 301,716 times
Reputation: 2944
Don't overthink this.
Every teenager thinks their parents are idiots. They don't listen, they have the attention span of a gnat, and they're self-absorbed.
Grit your teeth, assign them their chores, dole out consequences if they don't live by the house rules, have "the talk", inform them that school is their full-time job, model good behavior for them, have expectations, discipline, consistency in your home.
Let them choose their careers; however, make it clear that college is not a career choice; it's an end to a means. Foster independence and the importance of an education, be it a trade school or four year college.
Love them in spite of them; they'll test your patience beyond what you thought was possible.
Whatever you do, don't be a pushover, and present a united front with your wife.
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Old Yesterday, 12:04 PM
 
Location: Portal to the Pacific
7,044 posts, read 6,353,281 times
Reputation: 9531
You can take the horse to water, but you can't make him drink....

We have kids in the same age bracket so I can understand in real time what you're experiencing. We are experiencing it too. It helps to read this, which comes from a book I read as a teenager myself, but it's something that my teenagers would NEVER read on their own

On Children
Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
But seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
As living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
And He bends you with His might
That His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
So He loves also the bow that is stable.

Not sure about the last part, but the first ten lines are pretty good, right?

The best we can do is to treat our children with love and respect and to be supportive in the limited ways we were given. For me as a mom this means to keep nourishing them properly, giving them a stable environment and building resources for their future (college education and inheritance). My husband engages with them daily, saying good mornings, good evenings, asking about their classes, their friends... with my younger son he tries to stay on top of the soccer world because that's what my son is heavily into. Unfortunately I don't have a mind for the sport or the professional players, but I do my part by showing up to practices and games. Recently I made it my "job" to take lots of photos at games as I can't read the plays very well and I don't like to socialize much with the other parents. Turns out my son LOVES the photos I take of him and he doesn't care anymore that I'm ignorant about the sport itself.

With my older son it's very challenging because he's autistic (high functioning) and has more... less... odder.. different.. experiences in the world. Like, he's academically very strong, but he still interacts with his LEGOs... a lot... My husband had suggested a few years ago to get rid of them and I put my foot down saying, "you can't do that. They are important to him and you get rid of them and you leave him with very little to enjoy." It sorta goes back to the Kahlil Gibran writing.. you can't force kids to be something they aren't...

With this son I figured out that I don't have to do much... he's content if we go out for coffee. We are both on our phones the whole time and I'm sure we look dysfunctional as a family, but since we go to the same couple places everyday I'm pretty sure the staff and other regulars have sort of figured out the situation and are used to it too.

I hate flying. I'm an anxious flyer. But I like planes and love watching them go up and down. If my son was inclined I would happily go hang out near the airport and try to identify the planes as they come and go. My dad and sister used to do this together.
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Old Yesterday, 02:50 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
87,953 posts, read 81,826,364 times
Reputation: 91919
Oh, flying saucer mom beat me to the Khalil Gibran poem on children! I'll repost a key part of it here:
Quote:
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
But seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
OP, many parents assume their kids will grow up to be copies of themselves to some extent, following in their footsteps. Some take it so far, that they make one of the kids feel like the black sheep, just for following his/her own interests, creative as they may be. That's a sad thing to do to a bright child, whose only crime is to be fascinated by, say, environmental science instead of law, medicine or engineering.

The best thing you can do for your kids, is to allow them to be their own people, once you're instilled basic values of kindness, honesty, discipline and so forth.

They will have their own interests based on their unique talents. Your gift to them would be to foster those interests and talents, that they can later use to make their mark on the world, and to fortify them with healthy self-esteem.

What do your kids do on the weekends? What did you and your wife do with them on weekends, when they were younger? Many teens enjoy getting out in nature for hiking or other activities. It can be a good time to bond. Kids also enjoy science exploratoriums. At 17 it might be a little late to re-introduce family activities, unless you can find something geared to your boy's interests, like an aviation museum, a trip to the Boeing factory (if you live near Seattle) or similar..

If you made the investment of your personal time when your kids were younger, you should be able to salvage something even at this seemingly late date. If you tended more to be an absent dad when they were. younger, trying to bond with them now would seem like something coming from way out in left field.

Have you done the tour of colleges with your oldest? Maybe that's a topic you could explore with him and find some common ground.
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Old Today, 03:52 AM
Status: "Only the most loved have a place on my cap" (set 20 days ago)
 
1,028 posts, read 301,770 times
Reputation: 1079
I know many disengaged fathers. Starts at birth. Let's mom make all the calls with caregiving and discipline. Just provides a paycheck. Usually married to a dominant woman. If that sounds like you OP, then that is the role you chose for the past 17 years. If not, then you are just overthinking it.
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Old Today, 04:11 AM
 
Location: Scottsdale
1,866 posts, read 976,925 times
Reputation: 3437
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeminoleTom View Post
Hi-
I swear all I feel like at times is the person that pays the bills. No one really listens to me on advice, or really even comes to me for advice. My wife said that's not true but it feels like it. Our kids are good kids but they would rather be on their phones or playing video games, etc. My 17 year old son, who is going to be a pilot spends all of his time learning the ins and outs of that profession. The ironic thing is he didn't get that from me. He got it from my wife's side. I actually hate flying and am generally not a thrill seeker.

To be more specific, on the careers angle, I guess I just wish one of them would be interested in the engineering/computers/math route. I've been encouraging it for years and it seems all the kids hate math...lol. As I mentioned the 17 year old chose a career I have no interest in at all.

I don't know, its not really what I envisioned as what it was going to be like as a father. I know teenage years are rough years and I'm feeling that. I try to stay positive with whatever they are doing, just feels like whenever I'm needed is when its time to pay the bills and if someone needs something. Is this normal?

Thanks for thoughts and advice.
First of all, I want to congratulate you for being very active as a dad in your children's lives. I hope they don't take it for granted. There are many deadbeat dads out there who ignore their children. There are more single moms than married moms under the age of 30 these days. A lot of kids are without a dad. So, you are doing great as far as I am concerned.

The teen years seem challenging for a parent. My opinion is that it could be much worse if they were involved in drugs, teen pregnancies (unplanned), violent bullying, or cheating their way through school. In general, as long as they have some viable career goals (albeit not in line with your interests) and a general adherence to the school rules, then it is not to be taken for granted.

Someone needs to let them know that there are dads who totally ignore their children and just ghost them and the bills. By contrast, you stick around and pay a tremendous amount of bills to give them food, shelter, a safe environment, etc. Perhaps some family group counseling would help.

I had one friend in childhood who was born to a young teen mom. His biological father didn't even sign the birth certificate. This song reminds me of him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkcbxjWG9Mc
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Old Today, 07:27 AM
 
Location: Vermont
2,934 posts, read 1,014,278 times
Reputation: 4390
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOldPuss View Post
Don't overthink this.
Every teenager thinks their parents are idiots. They don't listen, they have the attention span of a gnat, and they're self-absorbed.
Grit your teeth, assign them their chores, dole out consequences if they don't live by the house rules, have "the talk", inform them that school is their full-time job, model good behavior for them, have expectations, discipline, consistency in your home.
Let them choose their careers; however, make it clear that college is not a career choice; it's an end to a means. Foster independence and the importance of an education, be it a trade school or four year college.
Love them in spite of them; they'll test your patience beyond what you thought was possible.
Whatever you do, don't be a pushover, and present a united front with your wife.
This is such fantastic advice!
I might only add one thing: have some type of regular 'family' event....be it a 'beach day' or a great hike, or simply a barbeque in the back yard. I wish my family had done that.
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Old Today, 07:35 AM
 
Location: Fayetteville NC
6,133 posts, read 6,020,700 times
Reputation: 15553
My exhusband could have written your post. He has 4 kids (2 ours, and 2 step kids whose father is dead) and he feels the same way. They are all spoiled and entitled to some degree and it makes him crazy.

You seem to view your role as a father to be one of imparting your wisdom onto your children. If they aren't receptive, what is your purpose? I think you need to expand your view of parenting. HOw about 'Provider of unconditional love and acceptance"?

So what if your son chose a profession that you don't relate to? So what if none of them are interested in math/engineering? that doesn't mean they won't appreciate you. Doesn't mean you can't be close. My father in law was an engineer with 3 sons who went into unrelated professions and they were as close as close could be. He was interested and engaged in their interests and shared his engineering expertise when it was time to do home improvements. He could engineer the heck out of a deck addition and we loved him for it.

You need to shift your thinking and open your heart. And start some conversations about gratitude, starting with expressing your own gratitude that you can provide all that you do...so they have a true role model for how to feel.
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Old Today, 08:09 AM
 
Location: colorado springs, CO
8,010 posts, read 3,719,330 times
Reputation: 23217
What do you mean that's ALL you do? That's huge, you're a freaking hero. You are in the home supporting a wife & kids?! That's more than a lot of kids get.

Just show up to their stuff, you don't have to be "into" it. When you have the time off work, go to the lessons, the band stuff, the games; whatever it is they are into, be there with them when you can be. That's what matters now. When they are older & supporting a household themselves, they will start to understand how important your role in the household was & their appreciation & respect for you will grow.

Delayed gratification. Teenagers can be very invalidating humans to parent. Do it anyway to the best of your abilities. Again; that's more than a lot of kids get.
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Old Today, 08:13 AM
 
2,887 posts, read 1,095,239 times
Reputation: 6373
When my kids were younger - teenagers, they hardly noticed when I came home. They were like "oh, it's only you." Then, it was "what's for dinner, Mom". or "stop nagging me already."

The advice I was given and worked was . . get a dog! Dogs are always happy to see you! They give unconditional love. My family was united around how wonderful our dog was. The only downsize is a dog is a lifetime commitment - fifteen years. It's for the long haul.

My kids are in their twenties and have come around. It does get better!

Quote:
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

― Mark Twain
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