“Dear Diedre” is a new column on Radio Free Richmond. With life coach experience and an intimate knowledge of Richmond, Diedre Goree offers her advice to members of the community. Do you have a question for Diedre? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m a 42 year-old mother of a 15 year-old boy. After 8 years in a bad marriage, my husband and I agreed to divorce, with him taking full custody of our son. I travel a lot with my job, so I must admit that I’ve missed a lot of activities over the years.
Last year, my marriage to a wealthy man allowed me to retire from my job of 17 years. I love being at home, and I now have time to spend with my son. The trouble is that I’m not sure how to get involved in his life after being gone for so long. He’s a little standoffish, but I’m not sure if it’s because of his age, or our relationship. What can I do to make things better between us?
El Cerrito Resident
Dear Concerned Mother,
There are a couple of ways to address this issue:
1. Talk with his dad (depending on the level of communication you two have), and let him know your intentions. If you and him are cordial, having him in your corner to encourage this relationship will be GREAT!! He may be able to tell you some of your son’s favorite things to do to help you break the ice. If this relationship is shaky, then make this a courtesy call, he’s still entitled to know what’s going on in your son’s life.
2. Be prepared to have the talk…the one explaining your absences, your life without him, and any questions he may have. This conversation needs to be addressed as often as your son feels necessary. Toughen up if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Recognize his feelings, listen, and apologize. I would encourage you not to give a litany of explanations — at first it may come across as excuses and possibly make him feel slighted.
3. It may be at this time that the relationship may come to a standstill. If it does I encourage you to write back so we can continue working on repairing the relationship.
But if things turn out good and your son accepts your return with open arms, then utilize some local activities and have a ball.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
1. This is not about you. Your intentions should be 100% on repairing this estranged relationship. Growing up without a mother can cause some boys to be less affectionate because moms usually supply more physical affection than dads. Let him mull through his feelings.
2. Don’t expect him to be a chatter box in the beginning — Men communicate differently.
3. Don’t take his behaviors and actions too personally if they don’t seem to be readable. After all, he is a 15 year-old boy…puberty plus the reconciliation of this relationship is a lot to handle.
4. Move at his pace…don’t crowd him.
5. Be consistent. Your word is your bond now.
6. Start learning about the things he likes…i.e. if he likes sports, cars, music, etc. Know enough to have a conversation.
7. Don't add anybody else into the mix until your son is ready. Concentrate on you two and keep the new hubby at home. You may extend an invitation out to your son's friends though.
8. Be patient…everything takes time. If you stop trying he'll think everything is going to go back to the old way. Even if he says no in the beginning...keep calling.
Keep making positive changes,