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opinions wanted on parenting issue
August 6, 2008
2:38 pm
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soofoo
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My 10 year old son is a uniquely sensitive and kind child. If he sees someone upset about something, he wants to know what's wrong, how he can help, and shares some similar experience he's had. He does this with a skill that is totally beyond his years. I am proud of him for this, and it amazes me, but I don't know how to handle it when he tries to take care of me.

His perception of other people's emotions is exquisite. If I am sad or troubled, he knows. I am not able to hide it from him. I appreciate his desire to help me and to comfort me, I don't want to shame him for his efforts, yet I want him to know that it's not his job to take care of me. So what to do?

For example, last night a very rude neighbor came and knocked on the door to complain that my four year old was making too much noise and to make him shut up. I told her to go home. She threatened to call the police. I said, "Go ahead. The phone's at your house, so I guess you'll be leaving." She raised her hand as if to hit me. I stepped up and ordered her off my property with a warning to never set foot on it again. Then I followed her back to the street, to make sure she left.

When I came back in the house, my son said "That lady has an anger problem." I agreed. He said, "I know how it feels when someone tries to bully you. It's hard to deal with bullies. Are you okay?" I assured him that I was okay. Then he told me that he thought I did the right thing, that you can't let a bully think you are afraid of them or else they'll just keep bullying you. You have to assert yourself, etc., etc. He hugged me, did I want to talk about it, it's okay to cry. Then I did start crying because it touched me to hear him say the things I have said to him right back to me and it was so sweet. I see him modeling the best of me. He has my best qualities and has somehow managed not to imitate my mistakes. I am lucky. Also, I was starting to process the emotions that I was having as a result of this woman raising her hand to me.

So here I am, a grown woman with my 10 year old hugging me and I'm the one crying. It seems wrong. I don't want him growing up feeling he had to take care of me. He doesn't.

Here is what I have done in the past.

1. Let him comfort me. Feel guilty about it.
2. Tell him it's not his job to solve this problem and very sternly order him to leave the situation. Mostly when it involves an argument between me and his father or me and my boyfriend. He usually becomes very upset at this and cries and begs for me to listen to him. Sometimes I try to talk to him later about it. He gets too involved. He tries to be the mediator. He'll say, "everyone makes mistakes. You can forgive him. Let's try to get things back to normal. I love you both." It is very painful for me when he goes through this. I don't want my son feeling like he has to be an adult. If that is what has happened then I have failed him.

I would like to hear opinions on this. I am quite certain that my child has exceptionally high emotional intelligence. I want this to be his gift and not his curse.

August 6, 2008
3:03 pm
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on my way
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wow, well I don't have an answer, but I can make suggestions.

Because he has such a high emotional intelligence, I agree it is a gift, an exceptional one, that he may grow up to be an adult who has the gifted ability to help people through counseling, etc. What does he want to be when he grows up, has he said?

Sons have the natural tendency to protect their moms. I have three sons, am divorced after many years, and while they allow me to live my own life, they, overall are very verbal and protective.

Don't assume that this gift is a burden for him. I guess I would ask him if he is aware that he has a natural ability to comfort people and what does he think about that ability in himself?

Encourage him to do 10 year old activiites, have a good friend over.

Make sure your lifestyle is not too stressful for him. He worries about you. Perhaps ask him if he is concerned or worried?

I do understand your concerns. My youngest son has exceptionally high emotional intelligence. Many of his friends go to him, rather then him going to them. He is 20 yrs old, but at times it can be a bit lonely in that place.

August 6, 2008
3:39 pm
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soofoo
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Thank you OMW,

My son wants to be a fiction writer (he loves to read) and also a scientist (he loves to do experiments). He talks about how much better it would be if there was no money and if we all just shared what God has given us, because there is plenty to go around. He is gifted in math, science and writing also. His weakness is his organizational skills.

I have always worried and assumed that it is a burden to him. It is refreshing to think that it might not be. Mainly, I want to be sure that he does not take on the burdens that belong to me. I have never asked him what he thinks about this ability in himself, although I have told him that I am proud of him for being so kind and big-hearted. I will ask him what he thinks of his ability, I think this is a great idea. Thank you OMW.

August 6, 2008
3:52 pm
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Tiger Trainer
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I think you should take what he has to give when he offers it. You didn't seek his comfort he offered it too. YOu. It seems like he is not feeling like that he must take care of you, he just likes doing it.

August 6, 2008
4:08 pm
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I have a book recommendation for you: The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron.

Lots of very good info, and I think you would find it helpful. Best wishes with nurturing the new generation!

August 6, 2008
4:10 pm
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alicenwonderland
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Soofoo,

OMG, Are you my sister, because your sons sounds amazingly like my nephew (who I have helped to raise after my sister's death). They sound like twins right down to the fiction writing and scientist combination... My nephew finished his first novel last year and it is in the process of being cleaned up to hopefully be published. Sorry just a bit of proud aunt syndrome there...

My nephew is 14 now and is also extremely sensitive and protective especially of me and my mother. I share your concerns about him trying too hard to "take care of me".

I have worried myself to death over this taking both the pro and con side of the coin about his sensitivity. I often worry that his "overprotectiveness" is his own form of codependence which stems from the loss of his mother and at other times, I see it as the most precious and rare gift that you describe.

Right now, I am combating my worry by just trying to set good examples for him in those situations. I always try to let him know that I am truly touched by his care and concern, yet I also make sure that I am proactive to the situation so that he doesn't feel like he has to be. My best weapon in calming "my" fears is to keep an open and honest line of communication with my nephew. We usually talk about the situation and talk about the positives and negatives of the situation. I also talk to him about his own situations and how he reacted to them to reinforce the good behaviors.

I have no idea if I am doing all the right things, but I do sincerely hope that these talks are teaching him good coping skills and helping him to react positively when a similar situation presents itself to him. I just keep telling myself that maybe this is just a way for us to both develop good people skills and that maybe these things will help him to be a healthy and fulfilled person in his adulthood.

I try to isolate my nephew from my own disputes with his father and usually schedule at time to address issues when he is away from the house or spending time with friends. Sharing custody is difficult even if you were never married to the person and my nephew feels the need for me and his dad to be "friends". I am sure this is much worse with your little one who has the emotional ties to you both.

Thanks for sharing this. I never dreamed that anyone shares my concerns.

August 6, 2008
4:10 pm
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soofoo
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Thanks TT.

I'm realizing that I'm more concerned about my son when he tries to mediate arguments than when he tries to offer his emotional support.

August 6, 2008
4:24 pm
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soofoo
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Wow Alice!

Oh my gosh! Yes, yes, yes!

I have the chills from reading about your nephew. I worry that the trauma of my divorce has caused this in my son who was four years old at the time. More specifically, the trauma of the custody battle that his father waged against me. I think my son worried that I was weak when all of that was going on, that his father would somehow defeat me.

I want to be a source of strength and support for my son. I want him to come to me for comfort. I want him to feel safe.

August 6, 2008
4:32 pm
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soofoo
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Alice,

What was the subject matter of your nephew's novel? I am so totally impressed!

August 6, 2008
4:39 pm
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Honolulugal
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Soofoo, your son sounds like a very old and good soul. I'm so very impressed. Seems to me like you must be doing something very, very right!

H-gal

August 6, 2008
4:45 pm
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soofoo
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H-gal,
Thank you! He is a good egg!

August 6, 2008
6:07 pm
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on my way
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soofoo,

I'm going to take a guess that when you say 'organizational skills' that he isn't very neat?

If so, my son was not. It was a constant encouragement to get him to 'organize' his room. He knew where everything was but for the life of me I couldn't see why!
Since then I learned that a lot of very intelligent children are not very neat, although, my oldest is a neat freak. They are not concerned about their surroundings so much as they are what is going on in their head 24/7.

August 6, 2008
8:07 pm
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soofoo
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OMW,
He's very messy. At school his desk has things sticking out of it. He used to lose things all the time, but he has actually gotten much better at this in the last year. He'll put his sock on over his pant leg and not notice. Stuff like that. His teacher called him "the little Einstein" because of his mixture of intelligence, odd habits, and kindness and also his wild hair!

August 6, 2008
8:33 pm
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on my way
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soofoo,

Sounds VERY familiar, and your son sounds wonderful.

My son had trouble sleeping, his mind went constantly...still does.

I hope everyone's posts have helped you some. When it comes to our children we always want to make the best decisions! Best to you and your son,

omw

August 6, 2008
8:38 pm
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soofoo
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Thank you, I feel much better about his after reading the posts here.

August 7, 2008
11:17 am
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alicenwonderland
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Soofoo,

You are stonger than you realize. Kids are amazingly adapatable and as long as you give him love, understanding, and acceptance the rest will work itself out. We worry about them because we love them so much. Being a good role model is the best gift we can give them. Showing them it is normal to love, hurt, laugh, cry, make mistakes, achieve our goals, communicate well, etc. And the desk thing...I swear my nephew must be living in your house...hehehehe

His novel is centered around the main character who is a wizard plagued by the desire for power and the destruction it causes in his own life. The wizard stuggles to be the most powerful being in the world, but finds that absolute power corrupts absolutely. It a classic "jolly band of heros" story and if full of my nephew's unique sense of humor-which of course, I adore. It really amazes me with its dicotimy of good versus evil within the main character and even the subcharacters. I know I am a gushing aunt, but it's good. Real good in fact. I have a couple of Publishing Houses interested in viewing the completed manuscript when it is finished. Right now it is in the proofing/editing phase. My nephew wants it to be perfect before it goes. He calls it his magnum opus. He was only 12 when he started it and I am just amazed at his grasp of these concepts.

Sorry, I can go on for hours when it comes to my nephew and how talented I think he is...

Your son sounds like an absolutely beautiful human being and lord knows we can use so many more of them in this world. 🙂

Hang in there!

August 7, 2008
4:12 pm
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alice,

I for one would love to read his book when published. Please keep us informed please?

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