It’s no secret the teenage years are tough – and when it comes to
parent/child communication, talking with teenage boys can seem extra
Studio 5 Relationship Coach Matt Townsend shares five ways to get your
teenage boy to open up.
Every mother over the years has tried to get her teenage boy to open up
and share his feelings, usually with little to no success. After years of
trying the mothers turn the reigns of communication to their daughters in
law who then spend the rest of their lives trying to do the same thing. Here
are some simple rules to use to increase the likelihood that you might get
your son to talk.
Don’t Follow the Lead of the Most Relationally Challenged Partner
The only thing worse than a stressed out teenager who won’t talk, is the
reactive mother of the teen who is stressed out because her teenager won’t
talk. The simple rule for someone dealing with another person who
struggles to communicate or manage their relationships is not to become
just as ineffective as the relationally challenged one. Instead of getting
mad when your child seems mad, or ignoring your partner when they
ignore you, or begging them to talk when they don’t want to, just simply
lead the relationship by the rules of healthy relating. The problem with
letting the relationally challenged person lead the relationship is that in the
end, no one who has a clue is in charge. Most teenage boys could be
categorized as the relationally challenged. They don’t fully understand or
appreciate the importance of talking about their feelings so we don’t let
them lead in times of stress. Instead we should learn to lead our
relationships based on our deepest values and beliefs regardless of how
our children acts or behaves. Just as you wouldn’t expect your young
toddler to lead the family back to the car after a shopping trip at the mall,
you shouldn’t expect the person that is most relationally challenged to take
the lead on improving conditions in your family or home. If you know you
have higher needs and abilities relationally than your partner, than it is
time to start leading your partner using all of your relational talents and
Check Your Motives The interesting thing about a mother
who is trying to figure out how to get her son to talk is usually the fact that
the mother needs the talk much more than the teen might. Remember that
your need to talk does not necessitate the fact that he needs to talk any
more than his love for shooting baskets demands that you need to shoot
baskets. Instead of having a goal to get your son to “talk”, perhaps a
healthier goal would be to simply understand your son better. Isn’t that
really the goal of talking anyway? Wouldn’t you be more comforted when
your son answered you with a simple “fine” if you knew who his friends
were, what his struggles were, and if he had a good sense of self-worth?
Your son would probably be more willing to oblige your need to better
understand him than your need to “have talks” with him.. Pushing on a
young man to talk may be such a foreign concept to him that he may
naturally want to rebel against it. So check your motives. Are you really
concerned about him…Or concerned with controlling him? Are you deeply
worried about his health or worried that you’re losing power? And in the
end, is there a way to gather more understanding by not pushing talking?
Think Like A Teenage Boy Do you remember when you were
a teen? Do you remember how annoying you found your parents to be? Do
you remember how you used to think that they were way too into your
business? Do you remember being tired all of the time, onry and moody?
Did you run home to your parents and tell your parents everything that was
going on in your life? Or were you fairly private and reserved? Do you
remember talking more to your friends or your parents? Do you remember
sharing all of the personal, private details of going through puberty, your
first kiss or your bad grades with your parents? Would you rather have died
than to have talked with your parents about such personal stuff? Nothing
is more normal than a teenage boy who doesn’t want to open up and share
his feelings with his mother. It’s not that he doesn’t trust you and love
you, it’s just that boys are more private, their egos are engaged and he
doesn’t feel comfortable showing you where he feels vulnerable. The key is
not to take it personal. It’s not that he doesn’t want to talk with you, it’s
probably more like he doesn’t want to talk with very many people. Most
teenage boys just aren’t going to end up talking anyone’s ear off. In fact, if
you don’t believe me, just watch your teenager for a while and see how
much he and his friends really end up talking. If you think like a teen,
you’ll increase the chances eventually of talking with your teen. So
remember, he isn’t interested in being your next experiment, or in letting
you know more about his life so you can worry more about him. He’s
already seen how you over react or how you can’t let certain things go
because you just tend to worry too much, so maybe he really is just trying
to save you some trouble or pain. He also doesn’t want to hear a long
lecture or have your husband sent down to shake it out of him. Usually,
most teens just want to be left alone, while they figure out what the heck is
happening to them.
Distract with Action…A.K.A. Distraction! If your goal is to get
them talking, then the fastest way to do so is to not shine the light on the
talking. Boys tend to bond by action, not conversation, and nothing will
shut them down faster than telling them that you want to “talk”. The key is
to have the talking be the byproduct of the interaction and not the focus of
the interaction. Instead of having them face you on the couch and engage
in a face to face conversation, let them face the basketball hoop and have
them shoot free throws while you’re shagging the balls. Have them help
you in the garden or to paint the deck or to clean their room, and while
they’re cleaning with you, use that as a chance to carry on the
conversation. If there was ever a better opportunity to understand each
other, it is while your son is actively involved in something else. The
distraction will probably take his mind off of the conversation, allowing you
to truly get to know him and increase your understanding. They key
however is not to talk too much or seem too eager, or he’ll begin to notice
that the talking is more important to you than the action. The minute he
senses you care more about the talking, he’ll begin to wonder what you’re
Play By Our Rules!
In many ways, in the mind of a boy, the concept of talking is something
quite foreign to them. It is something that “girls do” and by their
experience it usually ends up only complicating simple things, taking more
time and energy, and leaving them feeling more confused. Because boys
think about communication differently moms do, then you must be willing
to play by their rules, not yours. Here are a few rules to remember to help
make them feel safe and more willing to participate.
· Don’t ask questions, we don’t want to be interrogated.
· Don’t act worried, or we’ll have to fix that too.
· Don’t make us look at you, it’s hard enough talking.
· Don’t cry, eye fluids only complicate the issue.
· Don’t talk about our issues with others, privacy really matters to us.
· Slow down a bit, my processors aren’t as fast as yours.
· Don’t make them hug you.
· Don’t bring up our discussion later, try to forget it is our usual motto!
· Be ok with the quiet, shhhhhhhh, be still!
· Let us know where we are still doing well, build us up before we go.
For more relationship advice, attend a special
Valentines Date Night
with Matt Townsend and Peter Breinholt
Date: February 14, 2012
To register: 801-747-2121