One day, I asked my teenage son if he was getting along with his girlfriend. I thought I had heard him arguing on the phone with her, but I wasn’t sure. He responded to my inquiry with a grunt. I am pretty sure no actual words were uttered. It reminded me once again how frustrating it can be to try to talk to a teenage boy.
When my sons were little, a friend tried to warn me of what was ahead. “I find out everything about my teenage son from my teenage daughter. If it wasn’t for her, I would know nothing,” she exclaimed with a big sigh.
By high school, most teenagers – girls and boys- begin telling their friends a lot more than they tell you, the parent. But teen boys tend to tell their parents even less than teen girls do. They can easily make you feel like every question is invasive and like you’re the last person to know anything about your own child. It can be SO frustrating as a parent. My older son adopted “cave man talk” in high school. He answered my prying questions with such short answers that I had no idea what he was saying and often wondered if he was speaking another language.
So, as a parent what can you do? How do you talk to a teenage boy?
Here are 5 tips I can offer from my personal experience:
- The full stomach. Start important conversations when your son has a full stomach. You are much more likely to get the conversation flowing when your son has consumed something hearty.
- The relentless questions. Phrase your questions carefully. Make sure you don’t give your son the option to give you one word answers. Also, avoid asking the same question over and over when you don’t get a clear answer. Instead, come at it from a different angle.
- The timing. It’s normal for teen boys to say very little about what’s going on in school or with friends or with a love interest. Use an activity like bike riding or swimming to start a conversation. Boys tend to open up more when they don’t have to look you in the face during the conversation.
- The right language. Use the word “because.” When you tell your son why you want to know something, he is more likely to answer your question. I’m not sure they psychology behind this, I just know it works.
- The unsolicited advice. Let’s face it, teen boys know everything. They don’t want a parent’s advice, especially if they didn’t ask for it. So, you need to get crafty. During a conversation, slip some advice in but don’t let it come across as advice. (This may take a few times to master but don’t give up…it will be worth it!)
Readers, have I left any strategies out for talking to a teenage boy? If you have been successful getting a reluctant teenage boy to talk, or listen, please drop us a note in the comments section below to share your approach.