I Struggle Because My Teens Don’t Want to Do Anything with Me

There was a snowstorm yesterday and we were buttoned up inside for most of the day. By the time the plows cleared the roads and the snow stopped, I was crawling up the walls. I yelled up from the bottom of the stairs that I was going to take a work break and asked my kids if they wanted to go into town to get hot cocoa. I was met with deafening silence.

hot chocolate
I have forgotten what it feels like to have my teens want to spend time with me. (Twenty20 @shannonfieldsphoto)

My teens don’t want to spend time with me

I knew this was going to happen since it’s been my life for the past few years, but I’m a gambling woman. I figure the more often I try to get my teens to do something with me, even if it’s for a hot second, the better the chances are of them saying yes.

There was a time when my kids would have died for a ride into town to get a cup of melted chocolate topped with whipped dairy.

In fact, they would have been breathing down my neck all day and they would have jumped at the chance to spend some time at our favorite coffee shop with me, sitting by the fireplace, and bugging me to throw in a candy cane while I was at it.

A trip to the movies? They never would have dreamed of saying no and if we went to a basketball game together, they would have automatically sat next to me. Willingly.

I haven’t forgotten what that feels like, not even a little bit.

As parents of teens, we joke about how our kids mutter at us instead of talking to us. We laugh with our friends about how our kids don’t care (or notice) if we’re home or not. We talk to ourselves on the regular simply because our kids don’t listen and we are lonely. We tell each other that it feels like freedom to go to the grocery store alone and sit in the parking lot shoving our faces with a mess of fiery Cheetos. But, then we see a little girl holding her mother’s hand in the parking lot and we would gladly trade this alone time for some child bonding.

And what we might not admit to over a casual cup of coffee with a friend is just how devastating our children rejecting us is.

I want to be close to my kids

After all, we were home all day together. It’s hard to be sitting in the same room as someone and miss them, but that’s what happened.

I wanted to hear their laughter and excitement when I asked if they wanted to take a ride with me.

I wanted to hear footsteps flooding the house.

I wanted to see coats being zipped in a hurry and hear them say, “I’m in, let’s go!” or “I hope our seat by the fireplace is empty, and can I get extra whipped cream?”

I want my teens to spend time with me, but that’s not all I want. I want them to want to spend time with me.

It seems like all the activities I suggest repel them. Even if it’s something they used to love like going to the movies and smuggling their favorite candy into the theater. These days, they have no interest in an activity if it involves me.

I present ideas to them like pretty little packages hoping they’ll be tempted and enthusiastic. Time and again, they could take them or leave them and mostly they choose the latter.

And it hurts my heart.

Listen, I know my teens are growing up. This phase of not wanting to do anything with me is normal and they are not intending to split my soul in two.

But they are.

My youngest ended up going with me yesterday. Maybe it was guilt or knowing if he came along he’d get a little something extra-sugary out of the deal. I really don’t care what his reasoning was. We sat by the fireplace. He asked for extra whipped cream. He wasn’t overly excited, but he was there, with me.

I brought two hot cocoas home to my two kids who couldn’t be bothered to pull away from their very important teenage life. They greeted me at the door, took the candy canes that I’d grabbed by the register on my way out, hugged me, and said, “Thanks, mom.”

It wasn’t with the same intensity they had when they were younger, but somehow, it was enough. These days, it’s going to have to be.

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About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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