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Sad Dad, Distancing Teen

By Jodie Lynn


My teenage son just started eighth grade this year and lives with his mom and her new husband. He usually enjoys coming over and spending at least every other week with me. However, he is beginning to pull away from our time together just to spend time with his friends. I realize that they are getting more important by the day, but to be honest, it's pretty upsetting to me. How can I snap out of this pity party mood?


I went through this with my own son and it is hard to all of a sudden not to be their favorite person. It is just a part of their growing up stage and wanting to do things with their friends. If you can remember back when you were your son's age, you might recall that kids in the eighth grade became very important. This may help you to see that what he is doing is not a bad thing and is no fault of your own. - Joey Miller in Dallas, TX


There's certainly something special between little boys and their dads. You are sort of the superhero and the one they can come to for the answers to many of their questions. However, once kids get to be a certain age, regardless of gender, they just need to be with kids of their own age. It can be very difficult for the parent or parents to accept this without feeling sad, shocked, left out, perplexed or perhaps even guilty, thinking that maybe it's their own fault. Becoming independent, growing up and going one's own way is a normal part of every child's life. These facts do not make accepting or understanding the process any less confusing or painful, but I'm sure it's an extra sensitive subject for you since he does not live with you. At this age, it's not going to work if you make him feel guilty for not wanting to spend time with you or for picking his friends over you. And he will automatically know if you try to change your ways and all of a sudden start trying to act like a cool dad or a new best friend instead of being yourself. Maybe in your situation, for the times he does come over, every once in a while let him bring one of his friends. Take them fishing, riding go-carts, golf, putt-putt, etc. Yes, you will be sharing your time with him with someone else, but at least it's better than not seeing him at all. Besides, this way you may learn some things about him that you maybe didn't know if you listen and just be who you are and enjoy the experience.

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Summer is quickly approaching and I'm looking for ways to keep my four kids, two girls and two boys, ages three to nine, busy this summer. We live in a neighborhood with tons of kids and just about everyone plays at each other's house as well. I'm going to try to encourage them to be creative and have fun. What are some ideas that could keep the interest of this age group?

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© Jodie Lynn
Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/health columnist and radio personality. Her syndicated column Parent to Parent has been successful for over 10 years and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. She is a regular contributor to several sites including,,,,, and Lynn has written four books and contributed to three others, one of which was on Oprah and has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment. Her latest books are "Mom CEO (Chief Everything Officer) - Having, Doing and Surviving It All!" (June 2006) and "Syndication Secrets - What No One Will Tell You!" (March 2006).
Please visit for details on her new radio talk show, Inside Parenting Success.


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