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High School Graduate Pushes Mom Away

Dear Harlan: My son is graduating from high school this week. He has become increasingly distant. He’s impatient and downright rude. I have asked him what’s wrong, and then he’ll ask me what’s wrong with me. When I talk to him about anything happening in his life, it turns into an argument. He ignores me and gives me one-word answers. It’s gotten to the point that I don’t enjoy being around him. Is this normal? Is this what seniors leaving for college do to torment parents who want to enjoy the last few months with their child? Any help would be appreciated.

— Frustrated Mom

Dear Frustrated Mom:  Yes – this is completely normal. Welcome to the neglected senior parent club. In a twisted way, it’s a compliment. The more your son pushes away, the more he loves you. It’s common for people getting ready to leave to pull away from the people they love the most. In a way, it’s practice for what’s coming. Instead of trying to control him or his feelings, give him permission to feel what he’s feeling. If he’s rude, you can explain that it hurts your feelings. Of course, he can’t be disrespectful. Just make sure he still is socializing with friends and doing the things he loves to do. If his behavior becomes erratic or his routines change (sleeping, eating, socializing, etc.), get a mental-health professional involved. In the meantime, have lots of family dinners together and see if you can plan a trip together – even a weekend getaway. Make it trip where you can do something he loves doing. But yes, unfortunately, this is normal.

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