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My 19 year old son ignores me

Community Member

About 3 years ago my son started to shut down with me and often ignore me or treat me like I was stupid. This corresponded with a much closer relationship with my husband (his father). My son and I had always been very close, my daughter too. He wasn’t as close with my husband who was often emotionally and physically absent. I understand that children need to find their own path, seperate and move away and I spend time helping to build his confidence and resilience and encourage him to be his own person and take responsibility (which was often hard). Our personalities are similar - the good and the bad bits, so I get why he rejects me (I’m like a mirror) but it’s hard, a bit like a death and I’m really struggling- not just because I desperately miss him and feel lonely but because I don’t know what to do. The fact that he’s now so close to my husband and they both sort of gang up on me ( eye rolling and dismissing me). Now my daughter has started doing it (don’t think I’ll cope with both). I’m not chasing what we had before. I know boys have to establish themselves beyond their mums but I’m worried that this will last and we’ll never be close again. I’m also worried that the way he treats me may be how he treats women in his life. Also, if he does he will struggle in his relationships. I genuinely am lost and don’t have strategies. I try things all the time and pretty much make things worse - I give him space, I tell him I love him, I support him, I encourage him to make his own decisions, I don’t control him - nothing works and it’s getting worse, almost unbearable. Now when I walk in the room he walks out. With his dad, he’s the opposite. I suspect it’s grief, but I’m seriously not coping and feel that I’m ruining things with the things I’m trying. I suspect I appear needy and emotional. I’m worried I’m confusing him, and my daughter and husband. Also, I’m worried that I’m starting to feel they’d be better without me. Any tips on things to do that may help or things you’ve done would be good.

5 Replies 5


Hey Nic mum,

Welcome to the forums, we are so glad that you decided to join us here. We're really sorry to hear that you're feeling dismissed and ignored by your son. We can hear how much pain this must be causing you, especially when it feels as though you're being ganged up on by others in your family. It sounds like this is a really difficult time for you, but please know that you've come to a safe space to talk through these feelings and our community is here to help support you.

We'd also really encourage you to talk through these feelings with the friendly counsellors at our Support Service. They're available anytime, 24/7, on 1300 22 4636 or get in touch with us on Webchat 3pm-12am AEST here: www.beyondblue.org.au/getsupport They can offer you some short-term support but also provide you with advice and referrals to help you through this.

In addition to this, our friends at Lifeline are always there for you during your most difficult moments. You can get in touch any time by phone (13 11 14) or through their online chat (available 7pm-midnight) at https://www.lifeline.org.au/Get-Help/Online-Services/crisis-chat

We hope that you can find some comfort in the forums and feel free to keep us updated here on your thread throughout your journey.

Just Sara
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi and a warm welcome Nic; 😀

My heartfelt thoughts go out to you. Separation anxiety and grief although painful, are very normal responses so please don't go beating yourself up. Self blaming is pointless as this process is a 'rite of passage' in a young man's life to, as you say, mature and move forward. The important word to remember is 'PROCESS' because it's not an overnight success and can be hard work.

My son thankfully changed his attitude toward me around 21 which I understand is pretty text book. As a single mum of an only child it broke me in two to 'lose' him that way. I remember crying and grieving most of the time and trying to be super-mum while he was home.

This technique did nothing to bring us closer; he even 'shaped-upped' to me with his fists drawn one day from anger. Luckily I was brave enough to stand my ground and let him know in no uncertain terms it wouldn't be tolerated and really hurt my feelings. He burst into tears and hugged me.

It can be a very emotional ride for boys when hormones kick in. Your husband is ideally the one to call on for this reason. I would suggest spending time away from home to have a serious discussion with hubby to let him know how you've been feeling.

Talk about a plan to establish a workable approach to this situation 'as parents'. You're both after-all your son's most important role models. However, hubby's your main support and needs to step up as a husband first, then father to his son, not become his best friend - pragmatic parenting is the priority.

This provides a united front and will be hard on your husband too as he's probably enjoying time male-bonding with his son. Try to explain that his efforts need to be purposeful, not personal. Once this phase is over relationships will evolve to be much closer than now. Maybe you could take that advice on board as well. I say this with experience and due respect...

And yes, your emotions are real and important too. The only way to get through it is to just 'feel' and lean on friends/family until it lessens, and it will.

I hope my post's helped you feel heard/acknowledged.

Warm thoughts;

Sez x

Hi Sez. Thank you! Your reply has lifted me - it’s given me hope and made me feel that I’m not alone and my feelings are valid and OK. I!m truly happy that your relationship with your son is better! I will talk to my husband. That is good and clear advice. I have tried to do this several times but it’s hard because I see he gets something out of being his son’s best friend. You have helped give me confidence to keep trying with my husband. We have to be in this together. Thanks also for talking about trying to be super Mum. I hate that I do this and see it makes things worse. That really helped! You have helped me focus and sharing your story and insights has made me feel not so alone and desperate. Nic x

Hi again Nic;

What a beautiful response; thankyou! Your feedback made my day as it's not often people provide such detail in their follow-up posts. I'm so glad I could be of assistance.

And...you're most welcome. 😌

I do hope your situation improves soon as being a mum can be the highlight of one's life, even though it takes courage and patience at times. You are a valuable and vital part of 'their' lives; please remember that.

I don't know if you'll be back as it seems you just needed some encouragement to keep going. Unfortunately we don't have tags on the forum so if you do return later on I won't know unless I see this thread on my list. (I hope I do)

It was lovely meeting you Nic.

Take care;

Sez x

Hi, welcome

Agree with Sez, on all aspects.

The saying “familiarity breeds contempt” might be apt. Regardless this is not your fault.

Min addition to the advice given I’d suggest another way of distancing yourself be tried. I think you’ve raised your son admirably to date and your concerns in how he’ll treat a future partner is out of your hands now. His lessons he’ll have to learn the hard way from now on.

So take up an interest, hobby, follow a footy team or other local activity- basically expand your private interests as a way of distancing yourself from the toxic behaviour of your son (walking out of the room etc) and husbands displayed of disrespect.

The goal should be that one day in months to come attitudes change and your son asks for advice- eg he comes to you. But this might take a long time- be prepared.

Ive seen parents dedicate their whole lives to their children but it doesn’t necessarily work as they become adults.

A serious meeting with hubby alone is also needed....even some relationship counseling I say this because you are actually being bullied.

Good luck and I hope you’ll feel better soon