I’m Trying So Hard Not To Raise An A**hole

by Diana Park
Originally Published: 
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I walked in the door after spending an evening away from home because of a minor surgery I had. The first thing I saw was a pair of dirty socks sitting on a stool, next to several pairs of large shoes sitting in the kitchen.

I noticed the blender and air fryer were sitting on the countertop next to sticky puddles, and the dishes in the sink were overflowing.

I’d purposely cleaned, run the dishwasher, and caught up on all the laundry before heading to the hospital so I’d feel as prepared as possible to be down and out for a week or so.

I guess I was delusional to think my son would put the clean dishes away and stack the dirty ones in the dishwasher even though he knew I’d be in the hospital.

The throw pillows from the sofa were on the floor (I don’t want to know), and he left a small pile of his gym clothes on the dining room table.

When he came downstairs he barely said hello. He didn’t ask me how things went. Instead, he told me where he was going that day and what he was doing, grabbed his keys, and backed out of the driveway with the music blaring.

If I had it in me I would have chased him outside and yelled at him asking how he could be so completely inconsiderate. In fact, my boyfriend offered to do it for me — but I told him I’d talk to my son about it later.

My focus changed after my other two kids came home, greeted me, and asked what they could do to help.

I had a talk with my older son, and my ex-husband had a talk with him too. He apologized, doubled his efforts, and asked me how I was doing.

My point here is that he is 18 and I still have work to do — and so does he. He can be very self-absorbed, absentminded, and is so concerned with his priorities there hasn’t been a crack to let thoughts about anyone else come in since he went through puberty about six years ago.

He used to be a very thoughtful child, almost hyper aware of the feelings and personalities in the room. He was an empath on a different level, constantly asking people if they were mad or upset.

I’m not sure if it’s the hormones, or the fact that his empathic ways were too much for him so he decided to only pay attention to himself, but my guess is it’s both.

To many people (even me), he presents as an asshole. Like, a huge one. He’s quiet, short with people, moody, and says he “forgets” if someone is going through a rough patch. To say he doesn’t show compassion is an understatement.

One thing I’ve noticed, though, is shaming him for it hurts him deeply. His cheeks redden, he gets very quiet, and he tries hard to make up for it once it’s pointed out. For a while. But then the cycle continues, and he’s in his own land.

He’s almost reached adulthood and there are times when I want to give up. I watch him walk right past his brother who needs the door held open, he doesn’t say, “Happy Birthday” to his siblings, or he bumps into someone in a public place and doesn’t say “excuse me” or “sorry about that.”

I refuse to give up, though. It’s my job as his mother to keep him out of asshole territory the best I can. That means constant reminders, long talks, and trying with everything I have for him to see the world is so much bigger than him and what he has planned for the day.

This isn’t easy. I’m exhausted, I constantly wonder where I went wrong, and I tell myself it must be something I’ve done along the way to make him so selfish.

I certainly can’t control him and his every move, especially now that he’s nearly an adult — but I can certainly try to squeeze out the asshole tendencies as much as I can, and I’ll do it for the rest of my life if I have to.

I think most parents would agree that the ultimate goal in life, above where their kids go to school, or what they grow up to be, is to raise a kind child. So, to those of you out there who are struggling every day to get your child to not act like a douchebag, I see you. This is the hardest work I’ve ever done.

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