Teen troubles

Yesterday, I gave up on my son for the first time in his life. I honestly felt that I was not equipped to help him in the present or the future. He was also making it very clear that I was being stupid, not listening and not helping one bit. I ended up concluding that he should rely on his father from now on rather than myself.

Let me explain the situation. We moved to France just over a year ago basically because we felt we were working for nothing in the UK with high rents and so on. I had always fancied living in France anyway but not pursued it as my husband is not the most adventurous. When I saw an advert for a rented house in France I raised the issue which my husband poo-poo-ed as he does with most of my ideas. He came round to the idea when I explained how much better off we would be.

We remained in the UK long enough for my son to do his GCSES. He was disappointed with his results. If am perfectly honest so was I particularly when I thought about how I had encouraged him to revise and perhaps put school work over video games from time to time. That said he was also ill with time off school last year and he struggles with what I think is dyspraxia. We negotiated for special extra time in his exams so he could get things down on paper in the time slot. He did have some incredibly good grades in Mathematics, English Literature and RS. He had wanted to do History and Domestic Science but the places were full for those courses. Politics which is one of his passions was not even on offer.

My son is like me in sometimes really lacking self-belief. I am having to go back and remember just how rotten that is when you are young. The good thing with getting older is even when the negative self-talk hits, you do actually know you can overcome challenges.

I talk to him a lot and explain how people we know including in the family have done amazingly well in life with no or poor exam results. I also point out that despite my degree in Law from Cambridge University, I have never managed to get wealthy or even reasonably well off. I explain that sometimes you meet people that turn your life around in unpredictable ways. He looks at me and I can see what I am saying is not really registering. I remember being the same at his age feeling the older generation really did not get the traumas of the younger one.

It all started yesterday when I was having a really positive home education session with my younger son and daughter. We were looking into various aspects of World War Two. When Anderson shelters were mentioned in a video we were watching we decided to find out why they were named that. Then I came up with the idea we could build one on the land here over the weekend to get us working together as a family outdoors. My husband’s response to this from the other room was that I was being over-ambitious. My teen son followed this up by saying yes his dad was right and it was totally impractical. I lost it. I have asked both of them over the years to help me with home education and they don’t. I think that is fair enough for my teen but really resent that my husband does not help and resents my requests for him to get involved. He has delivered around 5 lessons in 4 years so you get the idea. This from the man who promised he would cover science and maths subjects leaving me to focus on the arts.

My take is that those who do bugger all should not expect perfection from those who are at least making an attempt to get it right!

Anyway, I lost my temper and then cried. We are in France. My teen son wants to return to the UK. He wants a life of his own but does not really know where to start.

Last night when we had calmed down a bit, we chatted. He thinks an apprenticeship would be his best option ideally related to theatre, film, history or politics. He would like to live with a friend but his friends are not in their own places yet and still living with parents. To his credit, he knows I love it here so does not want to drag me back to the UK. I of course want to support him so would happily return to the UK to get him on his feet. We have worked out we need another year to work it all out and in the meantime he can learn French. He says he has tried so I have said we can sit down every day and do a French lesson. We did this today and he made no mistakes at all so that’s a step in the right direction.

I guess this is a triumphant tale in that both of us felt ready to give up on the other yesterday but resolved it positively. I honestly though I was doing the right thing bringing us all here and we have all had a good year but I now need to realise my son has his own dreams that might not quite match with my own and that is OK. We are in this together

Cuddle Fairy
Mum Muddling Through

Reflections from me


Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

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Award-winning writer, blogger, social media consultant and charity campaigner. Social Media Manager for BritMums, the UK's largest parent blogging network Freelance clients include Firefly Communications and Save the Children UK. Works with brands on marketing projects. Examples include Visit Orlando, Give As You Live, Coca-Cola and Kodak. Cambridge Law graduate with many years experience working across three sectors in advice, media relations, events, training and project management. Available for hire at affordable rates.


  • Sarah Howe

    I’m glad you could talk it through and make some decisions together. I always think a blow up can help and then you calm and talk. Good luck. Thanks for sharing with #bloggersbest x

  • motherhoodtherealdeal

    Ahhh Kate it sounds like you are giving your all you have so many difficult dynamics to get through but you really sound like you are doing a great job – it’s hard to feel you are doing the right thing all of the time so don’t beat yourself up and I’m pleased you managed to resolves things amicably in the end. Thanks for sharing with #coolmumclub x

  • endardoo

    It’s a tough one … when do our ambitions for our kids override what is best for them? Hard to know, sometimes. Especially hard dealing with a young man still working things out. Sounds like he is a good lad, with solid parents, and it will come good. #ThatFridayLinky

  • Millie

    I can feel your frustration with lack of support when you sound to be givng your all for educating and raising your family.
    It is great your son now has clear goals and together you will work out how to get hme where he needs to head. Mayve he will get a lucky break too, you never knnow… #BlogCrush

  • Nige

    I have felt this so many times but thankfully have talked the issues through having being given up on myself as a teenager I have always gone above and beyond to sort problems not easy but a must do Thank you for linking to #Thatfridaylinky please come back next week

  • leannelc

    Parenting teens is really hard – especially when you’ve made decisions that impact on them – then feel guilty for making those decisions. Everything tends to work out in the end if you can keep the communication channels open – and if he waits another year and is that little bit older, I’m sure he’d do well on his own (living with a friend or two) in the UK – as long as he has an apprenticeship secured before he leaves you. Good luck!

  • aliduke79hotmailcom

    Bringing up teens is not easy no matter where you are. I am glad that you and your son resolved the issue at hand, you are doing an amazing job x

  • JakiJellz

    Kate you are brave. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to know you have to let your son go. I admire your positivity, he’s very lucky to have a Mum like you. Thanks for sharing with #TriumphantTales.

  • mackenzieglanville

    gosh this parenthood thing is tough isn’t it, trying to decide what is right for us and them, especially when we have more than one child to consider. It sounds like you are being really open minded and I think it is an awesome experience you’re giving them! Also thanks for joining in with #ABloggingGoodTime

  • sensationallearning

    A very honest and reflective post, Kate, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us all. It really isn’t easy at all to know what’s best for your kids… finding that balance between being supportive yet not adding too much pressure, and so on. Sounds like you had a really good talk, and I hope your son can find a way forward which he (as well as you and the rest of your family, hopefully) can feel happy with xx

  • Lucy At Home

    Oh Kate – my heart went out to you on this! It must be so difficult to finally see your children building dreams that are theirs and theirs alone (even though we’ve known this day would come since the very day they were born). It sounds like you’ve had a good family talk and I hope that you can find a solution that works for all of you #blogcrush

  • arosetintedworld

    This is such a tough situation. I will be 60 when my child is 16 so I cannot even begin to think about how I would react to the teen years. I’m glad you had a good talk and cleared the air. It’s hard, and I hope you find a way through it that everyone is happy with. #anythinggoes

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