Dealing with teenagers in general can be a tricky challenge. And when it comes to teenage sons, it can be even more confusing. But, one of the simplest and most effective strategies a parent can use on how to deal with a teenage son is by creating dialogue.
I’m talking about dialogue which is more in depth than … “What grade did you get on your test?” Or, “When are you getting your act together?”
A better approach for parents with teenage sons is to really get inside their world. To find out how they relate and connect beyond vague conversation. But attempting to talk with your son can be like climbing up a steep mountain at times. They either don’t want to talk, feeling they will be judged, or there is the boy code: “Everything is fine”.
“It can be difficult to detect what is really going on when they are suffering at school, when their friendships are not working out, when they are being bullied, becoming depressed, even dangerously so, to the point of feeling suicidal” – William Pollack, Ph.D. “Real Boys”
What have you talked about with your teenage son today?
Have you made time to go in-depth about his ideas, thoughts, emotions or what might be challenging in his life? Creating dialogue with your teenage son is very important because the teen years are a huge transition into adult hood with a lot of life changes. It is very likely he will have questions or uncertainties about his body, the opposite sex, his ideas and mixed messages from society’s expectations.
Also, some parents are fear-based, unsure or frightened at the fact their teenage son might be having sex, smoking marijuana, has bad grades, or is a victim of bulling. In this case, being sensitive is the first step to approaching these kinds of situations and creating dialogue. This means being empathetic, understanding what your teenage son is going through, helping him move forward, and love and feel comfortable with his true self.
The next step is to learn how to talk to your teenage son so they’re not afraid to share their true feelings.
How do you talk to your teenage son?
Well, from previous posts, we now know what parents shouldn’t say, and it’s as simple as accepting him for whom he is, understanding his way of thinking and how he feels. A few general questions to ask are …
“Tell me a few things you enjoyed today?” or “I’ve noticed things seem a little different for you lately. Let’s talk about it.”
I think these are good questions start with because they are open ended, offering your son an opportunity to open up about his life. Although, at first your son might not be very open. Building trust takes time and is why patience and being consistent with sincere curiosity about his life is key. If the son doesn’t want to talk with the parent at all, I recommend finding someone such as a mentor who he’ll feel comfortable with. Or accept your sons emotional schedule. A boy usually ignores or refuses opening up when approached for the first time. Its good idea to give space as well as learning words and actions your son shows when he’s ready to talk.
When your teenage son is ready, it’s a great idea to connect with him through doing something. Instead of pushing him to sit down and share his feelings, simply join him in an activity that he enjoys. Playing a game with your son, going out for dinner or going to the amusement park will help him to open up. During the game or when walking through the park, your son may feel safe and comfortable enough to share feelings. And if the parent feels comfortable enough, sharing personal stories which express times when scared, embarrassed, or sad, will help your teenage son feel less ashamed of his own vulnerable feelings.
When parents show empathy, create dialogue, love and respect, the real person in your teenage son comes out.