My son devestated me today

I think i had mentioned my son was chosen to hold the Bishop’s crozier at our church’s Confirmation Mass . As we were getting ready, he tells me that he is so not sure if he wants me to go, but it is OK for DH to go.

A few minutes later, when DH was out of the shower, he told me that I was hovering and would make him nervous. He no longer wanted me to go. DH tried to explain we would be sitting in the back, so there was no worry of that.

I burst into tears. Because he has Aspergers, there is a degree of hovering I have to do in order to smooth out social situations for those who do not know he has it. Otherwise, he could really come off as rude and insensitive.

I am beyond hurt but not sure what kind of therapy or discipline we should inflict.

Thank you for reading.

Just apologize for making him feel that way…

Did you go? (I hope so!)

Remember that even though he has Asperger’s, he’s also a boy in junior high (I think). It’s pretty normal at that age for a boy to want to pull back from mom. So while I completely understand that you’d be hurt by what he said to you, and I completely understand why you’d feel the need to “hover” over a child with special needs, take encouragement! It’s not all that different from what his peers do.

What exactly is it that you want to discipline him about? You already know from his diagnosis that he’s prone to bluntness to the point of rudeness. He expressed to you his thoughts in a rude and disrespectful manner, yes. I suggest you talk this over with your husband and let your husband explain how he hurt his mom. Dad’s involvement at that age helps teach boys to respect mom (and women in general.) And I don’t know about your dh, but mine is good at keeping the words limited so that the main point isn’t lost amid all my “blah, blah, blah, ad naseum, blah, blah.” My husband’s much more to the point than I am, and he’d probably say something like, “Son. You hurt your mom’s feelings. Apologize.” That might be followed by assigning a chore.

I have Aspergers too. I don’t know what to say, and I am sorry that it happened like that. (you will find many aspies on CAF)

I don’t know why he would need therapy or discipline for being honest with you. He is trying to grow up. All kids do it. All kids can be awkward in expressing it. Every mother will hear something like this at some time.

Kids don’t need therapy when they are showing normal signs of natural rebellion necessary to become an adult. (Unless you are planning to put off death so you can explain his behavior on his 65th birthday to his first date who you will scare off.)

Parents who think kids need therapy for normal behavior probably need therapy themselves.

No, I respected his. opinion and did not go. I actually cancelled an important doctor’s appointment in order to attend. Even though my husband assured him we would be sitting way in the back and not hovering, he did not want me there.

He gets regular social skills training, and this is the last part he needs to work on. He has no friends, so he really needs to improve his theory of mind.

I’ll get over it, but it will be a long time.

Thank you for your replies.

He has Aspergers Syndrome. It is part of the autism spectrum. He has been on an IEP for social skill problems and for theory of mind practice. Please do not comment about what you don’t know, especially during Autism Awareness Month.

I read that. In my experience dealing with people with Aspergers, I was unaware that they shared no psychological or social characteristics of people who do not have Aspergers. His behavior was exactly like a typical run of the mill 6th to 9th grader. Obviously he needs therapy for having a normal reaction of a person his age.


I had a thing this past month where my oldest had to have five teeth extracted (impacted molar plus wisdom teeth). She was very anxious about it and wanted to have my husband go with her to the appointments. So, we did that. No biggie.

I think I wouldn’t make a big deal of his only wanting your husband, but I would come down like a load of bricks on him for the fact that you didn’t get more notice, and had to cancel an important appointment. Tell him that going forward, that won’t be acceptable.

I admit that I yelled at him because I felt used for rearranging his schedule to attend two special events and felt rather unappreciated for what I done. I also am in severe back pain so, I was suffering the better part of this week with cold weather. My fuse was short.

I apologized to son and DH for yelling at them but for not being rude and hurting my feelings. Right now, I feel like I want to move out for a while.

Yes they do. They lack theory of mind and the ability to generalize one situation to a new situation. Nearly each situation in new. I think the Autism Society of America explains all this. Google autistic characteristics and you may find more info.

Trust me, it is a tiring diagnosis.

Tell him that going forward, if you don’t get enough advance notice, you’re just going to go ahead with the plan.

That’s just it: He is commenting on what he DOES know, which is what a typical adolescent or young adult will do, how self-centered they can be, how thoughtless they can be towards the feelings of others, and–in their totally appropriate search for independence, mind you!–how inappropriate and even rebellious they can be before they hit on appropriate ways to exercise independence. He is only saying that the typical things that happen to everybody else can also happen to parents of adolescents on the autism spectrum, because you are still the parents of adolescents. Soon, you will be the parent of a young adult. Your son is going to need you to see him as typical in that way, not as a 100% special case. (If his condition were that profound, he wouldn’t have been chosen to serve the Mass he was chosen to serve, would he?)

I have been one of the parish organizers for altar servers for a very long time. Let me assure you that what your son asked of you was not something an altar server with typical social awareness and maturity would never do. Parents with a son or daughter in altar serving with no sign of autism might still have their server put them on the spot in a way very much like what you just experienced.

We see this in altar servers in the “typical” spectrum more frequently than you might imagine. They can have an easy-going personality, be very diligent and mature servers, then hit adolescence and BAM!–what person–what entity!!–has taken over this server’s body?!? It can show up in surliness, it can show up in sloppiness, it can show up in an inexplicable resistance to following directions, it can show up in an attitude that says, “I am the single person I know who is not an idiot,” and it can show up in an inexplicable loss of confidence, too, and a change in what does and does not feel “supportive.” It certainly shows up when what was once an unfailingly gracious young person telling Mom and Dad to butt out and back off in very ungracious ways. Sometimes it passes, sometimes, they retire before it does. Sometimes, it freaks the kid out as much as it freaks out Mom and Dad. They presumably grow out of it, eventually.

A single incident triggered by a big Mass like this? Not OK, but not a big surprise.

Your job as a parent was to listen to your altar server’s concerns and decide whether or not you were going to make the adjustment being requested. It was up to you to say, “Son, I know you might be nervous, but those who serve at the altar do not get to decide who comes to Mass and who doesn’t,” just as it has always been your place to inform your son that he wants something unrealistic that he cannot have. Then he’d be on the spot to decide what he was going to do about that. Life is lived within these boundaries.

Since your son rejected the compromise you offered, it was then it was up to you as his parent to decide if you were going to make him cope with your choice to come in spite of his wishes or if you were going to give in to what he wanted to for the sake of making himself more comfortable. It was up to you to decide how much weight to give to his emotional challenges, since you know him best. Surely you would not ask anyone outside the family (and probably not anyone other than yourself) to make the sacrifice he was asking for. You know your relationship with him, though, and you don’t have to treat it the same as your expectations for how he treats everyone else.

OK, you decided to give him his way. That was your gift. Give it, and don’t impose the price of resentment. Otherwise, you ought to have told him he was being rude to you, denied his request, and not given him what he was asking for. You can tell him that you regret giving in (if you do), you can let him know you won’t be giving in next time, but don’t take the gift back now. Tell him you are responsible for giving in, because you are.

Having said that, he hurt your feelings by making the request. How would you coach him if you found he had done that to someone else? Well, consider having your husband do that on your behalf.

Were your son on the typical spectrum, I think it would be a good idea for your husband to explain that it was a big disappointment for you not to go to the Mass, that you made a big sacrifice to give him what he wanted, and tell your son that he ought to do something *considerably nice *to show his appreciation that you were generous well beyond what your son was entitled to ask you to be.

You do that a lot. Yes, you do it out of love, you are his mom, but showing gratitude towards our benefactors and those we have harmed is something we need, too. If it weren’t, would God need our gratitude? No, we show gratitude to God a) because it is right and b) because it is good for us. Likewise, we do penance as much for ourselves as any other reason. We need to “make amends,” because we understand justice in our bones.

Your husband might want to guide your son to think of a way to show his appreciation. If he is willing to make a gesture to show his appreciation for what you did, I think that will help you to get past this and take it less personally, too. It also lets your son have a chance to make a relationship repair attempt instead of just getting stuck in regret for something he can’t undo. That would probably make him feel better, too.

Very good.

I don’t blame you for feeling that way. Still, remember the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the destroyers of relationships, include these:

  1. Personal attacks (you’re not doing that–good)
  2. Shows of Contempt (you’re not doing that–good)
  3. Defensiveness (meeting a complaint with a counter-complaint–you’re not doing that–good)
  4. Stonewalling/the Silent Treatment (you are being tempted to that)

When you need some space because you feel hurt, you don’t just “move out.” You can tell the person you’re upset with that you need some space in order to lick your wounds and avoid saying something you don’t mean. That’s OK. Do NOT silently make a show of how sad and emotionally injured you are. That is a relationship-damaging strategy for dealing with your emotional wound. It is an emotional counter-attack, it is not fair, and you should always avoid it.

Let us return to the autism factor: What if you give him the silent treatment and he doesn’t notice?!? What if you move out, come back seized with guilt over punishing him like that, and he says, “I knew you were gone, but you know, I was kind of busy. We’re out of frozen burritos, by the way.” Then you’re REALLY going to be hurt. Trust me, typical teen and pre-teen boys will maybe have a *vague awareness *that Mom is a bit “off” and yet not connect the dots that she’s doing this as an attention-getting measure. I’m quite sure that a kid with autism might easily make that same emotional mistake. Let’s not have that. You’ve been through enough.

:frowning: I’m sorry that you didn’t go. I know you were looking forward to this. We’re you afraid he’d have a break down if you were there? Or was her refusing to serve if you went? I don’t quite understand why you didn’t go anyway even if he didn’t want you there.:confused: It was a Mass. He doesn’t get to say who goes to Mass and who doesn’t.

He is entitled to his opinion, but you were entitled to go to Mass. His opinion didn’t deserve to be obliged, and you gave it more power than it deserved. Now I don’t know how bad the situation was before you decided not to go, so maybe it was a wise decision under the circumstances.

Okay, I’m coming at this as someone who suspects she may be somewhere on the spectrum, so be patient with me, but…

As a parent, a lot would depend on his attitude and tone of voice when he said what he said. To be honest, when I initially read the post, I thought, “Oh, wow, good for him! He said how he felt about a situation, and set a boundary; that’s a really hard skill for a lot of people, never mind Aspies, to learn.”

If he said all that in a rude or nasty tone of voice, then ignore the above. :wink:

Now, I do entirely agree about the insensitivity of having you cancel appointments, only to then not want you to attend the event for which you cancelled them. I also understand that this was a Really Big Event for you as well as him. In regards to that, I’d have responded by explaining how the expectation that you’ll cancel events in order to attend something, and then cancel on you in turn is rude and inconsiderate. I would suggest that in the future, once you’re both calmer, perhaps you and he could sit down and have a talk about what, exactly, about your “hovering” makes him nervous, and see if there’s a compromise you could reach.

I also heartily agree with the previous poster who said that he doesn’t get to decide who attends Mass or not. One of the things that gets stressed at our parish a lot is that Masses and sacraments are public, parish-wide events; with rare exceptions (preemies who shouldn’t be exposed to germs, for example), sacraments are not celebrated privately, and the parish/public is welcome. That’s understood when you sign up for the sacraments at our parish, or decide to attend Mass there. The same is true of any other church. An alter server simply doesn’t get to make those calls, especially if you’ve offered to sit far away from him, where he can’t possibly see you. A brief explanation of Mass as a public event which anyone may attend, and the rights of the baptized to the graces that come from it, may also be in order.

Time to stop hovering.

None, it’s time to look in the mirror and realize that hovering may have had some unintended consequences.

True, at least in a typical situation, but that inning has already been played. The question is what to do next. By no means should she dwell on the woulda, coulda, shoulda. She absolutely should not blame herself. She did the thing she thought was best at the time, and with the best of motives. She did what her son’s mom would do, and in retrospect, that’s the best thing.

So–how to be his mom today? That’s the question now. What happened to her hurt, but she can make the choices she needs to make so that it is a “clean” wound and heals up as well and as quickly as possible. She can take steps to avoid the same situation hitting her in the same way again. She and her husband can help their son understand (intellectually, at least) what the issue was and how to handle these things in the future. That’s the direction I’d suggest, anyway.

Even if her son were a typical teen, his idea of “stop hovering” might include making his life essentially life in a full-service hotel with a free rental car and a generous entertainment stipend. I’m going to assume what you mean is more like “seriously re-examine what even you would admit is ‘hovering,’ eliminate everything that is not essential, and then eliminate, oh, about 10-20% more than that.”

OK, maybe more like 50-75%.

I don’t know how much “hovering” she’s done, but sitting in the back of a church while your son is altar serving is not hovering. You and I both know that request was unreasonable. Typical of a teenager, but unreasonable.

A promise to not hover would be if Mom and Dad let their son off in the front of church, parked the car, came in and took a seat with no side-trips to the sacristy, no pictures with the bishop, nada, until the Mass was over, with a negotiated limit to getting pictures afterwards and a promise to do absolutely no blow-by-blow analysis of what any of the altar servers did or did not do whatsoever, period.

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