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My Solution To Father-Son Conflict? Work It Out… ALONE!

 Before I go into this, there are a few things you need to know about me.

  • I am not perfect. Okay, so maybe you knew that already. Just puting it out there again.
  • You come here for the unvarnished truth and I take my responsibility seriously. It’s my job to give it to you, warts, wrinkles and all.
  • Writing is a form of therapy for me: It’s also cheaper than real therapy.
  • If you are in my life you run the risk of being written about. Please see above.

Because of that, the subject of today’s post will be about the men in my life, who, due to too much bluster, testosterone or both, drove Casey and me right on out of the house yesterday. And you know what? We had a great time.

A little back story. You know Buff. You know Cole. What you might not know is that there’s regular butting of heads going on there, as one tries to bend the other to his will and the other tries to exercise his. And you know what else? I’m friggin’ tired of breaking up fights over it. Especially when the answer is so easy.

Listen up parents, this is nothing new, in fact I talked about it on Anderson, and then was roundly criticized on The Internet. But I’ve said it before and will say it again. As a parent, sometimes you just have to MAN UP! There is no arguing, cajoling, pleading, begging, coercing, none of it. You simply go in and take their sh*t. Yeah I said it.

One of my universal truths, what I like to call GEMstones is that people don’t change unless they are motivated to do so. That motivation can come in the form of money or pain but it has to happen. In the case of my son, Buff and I pay for several things that boy holds dear, including but not limited to, an XBOX, cell phone and bedroom door. Any one of those things magically disappearing will do wonders when it comes to getting his attention. How do I know? Because I’ve done it before. And I’ll do it’ll do it again in a minute.

The other thing is I can’t take the fighting anymore. The screeching of two stallions (do stallions screech?) makes my chest tight and my heart hurt. So the last time this happened (and it’s happening more frequently) I told them I would scoop up the other innocent party (Casey) and leave. That’s just what happened last night.

Another of my GEMstones (and it’s not one I came up with; mothers have been saying this for centuries) is, “work it out.” I say it when Casey and Cole argue and I’m adopting the same strategy for those two. They need to come to some sort of mutual understanding, some way to handle their problems on their own. I don’t care if these two sit around in their boxers, scratching their butts and eating chicken wings or pound their chests and yell at each other, they will do it alone. Casey and I aren’t gonna hang around the battlefield, ducking shrapnel.

So when they started in, we headed out. Casey and I drove into the city where we had a lovely lunch, then played what Casey called “Hotel Roulette”, where you blind book a room on a travel website. We checked in, took a nap, and then found a little sushi restaurant, after an impromptu shopping spree. Post sushi, we walked around the city, searching for dessert before holing up for the night.

I don’t know what Buff and Cole did for the night nor do I care. Obviously the hope is that they took the time to figure out a workable solution between the two of them and how they’ll implement it going forward. I’ve spent too many years trying to help them and what did it get me? Chest pains and tear stains on my pillow. I’m done; it’s on them now.

I have to go now; I’m going to spend the rest of a lovely day with my daughter before heading back to the battle zone. But I would LOVE to hear from you how you would handle that situation. Would you have done the same? Do you agree that it’s time to let the “big boys” work it out? Suggestions are most welcome.

More on Family and Home Life

Single Mom Slice of Life: All Alone and I LIKE it

Our Story Begins: Meet Me At The Dinner Table

Ask Rene: How Do I Escape My Family



  1. Sandra Sharp

    February 5, 2012 at 11:19 am

    hehe. I used to take the boys Xbox controller, hide them and lose them. The thought of losing another controller put enough fear in my boys that all I had to do is mention hiding a controller and I got an immediate change of attitude!
    The father son fighter enters into another level of complexity in a divorced family. When my son is declaring to me that his dad is dead to him part of me wants to celebrate. However, I love my boys and their relationship with their dad is too too important. Men frequently cannot mend fences on their own….they need a mom to come in and sit ’em down and explain how much they love each other, how important they are to each other….and what idots each of them is acting like. Sorry, no spell check available here….so posting this all roughed up….but that is good enough!

  2. Rene Syler

    February 5, 2012 at 11:27 am

    @Sandra: Yep.. great advice. And I will do that. But not in the heat of battle and I will NOT have a heart attack over this nonsense. THX 🙂

  3. Katy

    February 5, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Hey Rene,

    I think you handled it so, so well! Removing yourself from the situation is certainly what I preach to my kids, so practicing what we preach is even more of a lesson to our kids. I think you sent two clear messages…not throwing on the referee shirt is one, but you also demonstrated firsthand how to walk away from a problem that is not you own…kudos to you! I know how hard that is…If I have to, I will do the same without a doubt. I do believe you will see changes…you might have to make another Mommy-Daughter day, but eventually I think they’ll figure it out.

  4. Sandra Sharp

    February 5, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Oh Rene….I didn’t mean that as judgement!!!!! Not at all!!!! You did great ….leaving… Katy said……not in the heat of the battle. Also….the battles are so different at different ages. My oldest is 19, and in Florida for college. The battles a 19 year old has with dad can result in decades of being closed off to each other….very different to the battles of a young teen.

  5. pattyrowland

    February 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    does your bedroom door have a lock? that would be my solution since not everyone has the means to leave the house and spend the night out…it’s good though that you can do that and take casey with you if she’s available…mother/daughter time bonding kills 2 birds with 1 stone…it’s good that you’re not out numbered by the testoterone in the house…at least you have a fighting chance! xoxoxox

  6. Sandra Sharp

    February 5, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Oh the days! I fell with economy… I make less than $30,000 (that includes some unemployment!) however….back in the day it was different. I remember hopping on a plane to Spain o leave three boys at home to duke it out!

  7. m.e. johnson

    February 5, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Rene I am so proud of you! That was more than “good enough”. What you did was perfectamundo. I bet Casey is hoping them two have at it again (and again…) 🙂

  8. Rene Syler

    February 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    @me: THX! I hope we do too!
    @patty: A lock on the bedroom door doesn’t shield the noise and more importantly the toxicity for the other household members (Casey and me)who cannot help but be adversely affected. The place we go is really secondary to the fact that we (and by we, I mean ME) are not going to be held hostage while the elk butt horns. We won’t be running into the city each time but I refuse to let these two make me (and Casey) a nervous wreck. (tho perhaps the threat of going to the city and spending money on a hotel room would act as a deterrent.
    @Sandra no I didn’t think you were being critical at all. I love both of those guys but hate when they act like this. I made a decision for my physical health and my daughter’s mental well-being. 🙂

  9. Will Jones

    February 6, 2012 at 8:43 am

    This whole thing doesn’t compute for me. Cole is a strong willed child, but none the less, he’s still a child. The first real argument I had with my father was when I was 21, married, living on my own, and paying my own bills… and I STILL argued over the phone! A child says what he’s allowed to say, and that’s all.

    Here are is medley of some of my father’s best line on this:

    “Oh, I’m sorry. You must have thought I asked you a question.”

    “Nothing that I just said required an answer from you. Why are you talking?”

    To argue requires your own opinion, and to have an opinion, you have to have your own address.”

    “Democracy ends at the curb outside of MY house and, if you want the right to argue, you need to go out to that curb. Lock the door behind you when you go.”

    “Inside of this house, I pay the cost to be the boss.”

    “The next thing that comes out of your mouth is going to mean either we agree or that you want my foot in your ass, so speak clearly.”

    “A hard head makes a soft ass.”

    “Look into my eyes. Do you see any GIVE-A-DAMN in there?”

    “I don’t argue with anybody that I pay to feed, and I don’t feed anybody I have to argue with.”


    “You’ve got ONE MORE DAMN TIME TO_________” (Fill in the blank with what over I had just done wrong.)

    Tell Buff I’m on his side… even if he’s dead wrong!!!

  10. m.e. johnson

    February 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Haha. Right on, Will. I used to tell mine, “In this house I am the boss. You can be the boss in your house.” And when a son got his first apt. and invited me for lunch, he had a white carpet and I was required to remove my shoes upon entering. I also used to say, “I see your lips moving but I don’t hear….”

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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