Someone very wise once said, ‘Raising a kid is part joy and part guerrilla warfare’. And if your boy is just taking that turn into his teens, you will be leaning more toward the warfare.
Here are a few things that we can do to connect with our teen son better.
Observe More And Learn His Interests
As boys turn into teens, they will start talking lesser and withdraw. This is very normal. Observe the kind of things he is into. Sports, video games etc. If he is into a particular sport, ask him to explain it to you, his favourite player etc. Read a bit more about it and use that as a conversation starter. He will appreciate your interest and love that you people have something in common. But try not to freak him out by trying to teach him the game. The idea is to let him warm up to a conversation not to run away from it.
Give Them Their Space
Expect doors to be locked. Yes, you will encounter more privacy requests. There is no need to press the panic button the minute your boy locks his room, and expects you to knock before you enter.
As a mother, we are wired to think of the worst. One of the mother’s I spoke to said, she doesn’t let TV or the computer in his room. Keeping these out is a deterrent to a point.
Second, lay a few ground rules that are non-negotiable, and trade them off for his space. The most important asset we have is experience, use it.
Children with all their assumptions of growing up are still children; their innocence makes them fidget and get uncomfortable when they do something wrong. Observe for change in behaviour and if there is good reason, address it.
Be a Friend
As in, be fun and be easy to talk too. Share interests and make vacations, holidays around their interests while making in educational. But do not try to be cool. Kids do not like that.
My daughter’s friend’s mom tries to friend everyone on his Facebook page, and he detests it. It embarrasses him no end. This can work reversely by pushing him away, rather than get them to connect.
Be an Example
Not by talking, by doing. Teens observe a lot. The way you conduct yourself at home, in front of your guests, with work colleagues, and elders in the family, they are always looking to understand whether they can trust you to understand their perspective. Show them while you are the parent, you still have to maturity to give them the leeway they need, to learn stuff their own way.
Redefining Parental Responsibilities
I would like to paraphrase the best advice I got for all our benefit, ‘redefine your relationship with them’. You have to remember the teenager you were and offset it with the maturity of your age.
You will not know their every thought but that’s ok. It is not the times you spend with them, but the strength of your relationship that will make him grow into a fine young man.