I'm a single Dad who has had a very complicated relationship with my Son since he was born in 2002. His mother and I are now making changes to create a better relationship with him independently which so far has been going quite well.
During the summer I have the opportunity to go to a close friends lake house for the weekend with a few friends to relax and enjoy the summer and lake life. We are all getting older, most of my friends are married or engaged and with kids of their own. This time, we all decided that this trip to the lake would be a great one to bring the kids along with us and have fun as newly starting families together that will most definately be long term friends.
At the beginning of the week my son's mom was completely on board with having Connor go with me to the lake and thought it would be a great time for both of us to spend time together so I talked to Connor and he seemed excited to go. (Note: she is also friends with some of the people going)
The next day I get a text message from Connor saying he was sorry but he forgot that he was going to a different lake with his school friend and couldn't go with me. Little back story here is that he currently lives with his grandparents and neither his mom or I. His grandparents own the lake house they are going to and I'm sure have invited his friends parents along with them.
WIth this I mind, however, over the course of the last 12 years I've made plans to take Connor places that always seem to last minute get cancled for one reason or another. Something his mom and I have talked about reciently and both feel like as parents we would like to reduce the grandparents control over his life and make sure he has proper balance with his parents. This of course means that sometimes we need to make the final say over previous plans so we make the time for us to spend time with him.
The questionable parts of this come from the call I received from his mother today. She informed me that he didn't want to tell me but he seems to want to spend more one on one time with me and that it seems that when we do spend time together there are always others around. He is right we should definately spend more one on one time together however I am having a problem deciding if, because we haven't spent one on one time together is a reasonable excues for standing down and allowing him to go with his friends anyway.
When I was his age my parents told me what we were doing each day and that was that. They for sure let me spend time with friend but in a case like this where there are plans made, I didn't have much say. Even if at first I didn't like it for one reason or another I often found that it wasn't as bad as I ever though and usually had great fun with them.
So I ask all of you.. Would you put your foot down and take your child out of town with you and your friends because it means spending time together, even if other friends were around? Or would you accept that his view is that he wants more one on one time with me and that by forcing it, it may actually backfire in some way. I told him the things I wanted to do with just the two of us while we were there but I may have made a mistake by leaving the decision to him and that is exactly what I am questioning now.
He seemed excited that I wasn't forcing him to go but as a parent, I was taught by mine that sometimes parents know best when it comes to spending time together and that like it or not you are going.
PS. I also want to add that he has some influences in his life that are somewhat masters at manipulation which is also something that his mother and I do not want to see him do. He is a very quick learner and has already picked up on many tacktics in that area. For me that is just one more reason that this "wanting to spend more one on one time with you vs time with you and your friends" could potentially be just a smart 12 year olds way of not spending time with ole Dad.
Sounds like a tough situation. Personally, I would talk to the grandparents and mother and express that you would like to spend some summer lake house time with your son and that is that. If he was excited before, what changed? Maybe he is just nervous b/c there will be new people around and no kids his age. If that is the case, I can see how he might want to go where his friends will be. Why don't you go with him to that other lake house? That way you can meet the friends he already has, and their parents? If these are kids and people he has regular contact with through the school year, you should make an effort to get to know them. Nobody says you have to be best buds with the other parents, but at least you will know who they are. He is getting to age of possibly spending the night with these friends, you'll want know the people he is gonna be around.
That does sound tough and sounds like there is more going on "behind the scenes" which is probably super frustrating. Can you just have a conversation with him on the phone or in person without mom or grandparents around and try to find out what's going on? Even though you are going with a group of people it could still be a good time for you guys to bond, especially if others are bringing their kids. I really think you should first try to find out what HE is thinking and not what they are saying to him, hopefully he can tell you honestly without the fear of his mother or grandparents. Good luck, I hope things work out!