“How was your day?” gets a response of “Fine” with no additional detail or expression. “What did you do?” gets “Nothing”. This is pretty a common conversation with a teen boy. As a parent, it can be frustrating and as a mom it is even more confusing. I used to come home and tell my mom stories of my friends and school. Obviously, there were many things I didn’t discuss, but we did talk. Now I have to find new and creative ways to get information about my boys’ lives.
I have realized that boys do like to talk but it doesn’t come as easily as with girls. I find that direct questions don’t work as well as indirect ones. Face to face interrogation isn’t popular. We do have some good chats during car rides but only if he is in the front seat and only if he is not using his phone or headphones. It’s also best not to say too much back to him. Just let him speak and give only a few comments. The attention span is also short, and with a teen, so is the fuse. Best not to sound like a lecture or a lesson.
Another lesson I have learned is the need to disarm my boys. When one of them is annoyed about being asked questions, he can get very defensive and shut down. It sometimes turns into an argument. Then it is tough to not take it personally or feel disrespected but if I do it will only get worse. Best to disarm by staying calm and try to agree with him. Slowly, acknowledge what he’s feeling and try to let him calm his defenses. He’ll eventually realize that you’re on the same side.
I’ve also seen that the best conversations happen at the most unusual or inconvenient times. Sometimes my kids are wired and chatty late at night when I’m very sleepy and wish they were too. Instead they can be talkative and I force myself awake just to hear their thoughts and get insight into their minds and hearts. Maybe the sleeplessness is like being drunk and they open up more?
It would be much easier if my boys would just come home, tell me all about their lives and open up about their feelings. However, they aren’t built like that so I have to find ways to be available for them and let them know it’s safe to talk. I think we have a close relationship but I’m not so naive to think they’ll tell me everything. It’s a constant effort. Though, it doesn’t hurt to hear things from parents of girls in their class or check social media occasionally too.