Rarely do we talk about how painful it is as a mom when our sons begin to put some necessary distance between us and we realize that we need to begin to let go in order for our sons to become young men.
When my son began to inch towards high-school I became increasingly aware that our relationship was changing. Not only did I realize that our relationship was changing, I knew it needed to change and that was the brutal part.
When he was young I knew the dance steps. We’d cuddle and read books, go to the grocery store together, he’d follow me around, hang out with me in the kitchen and share all about his day. As he got older he began to pull away, he didn’t want to hang out with me and talk quite as much. Reading books and cuddling on the couch was no longer appropriate. It was painful (heartbreaking really).
Once in a while, he would admit that he didn’t want to grow up, he’d sit really close to me on the couch and we’d have a meaningful chat. I’d sigh with relief that we were still close and lie to myself, “See there, nothing is going to change.” Then the next day would come and the reality that he needed to separate from me would hit me like a two-by-four. Honestly, it was a grieving process.
I didn’t know these new dance steps. I didn’t know how to be. I hadn’t changed and I was no longer leading in this new dance. When he wanted to talk I’d find myself getting overly excited. I was afraid he’d smell my glee and retreat back into his teenage solitude, so I would attempt to shove my overwhelming happiness down when he opened up about himself or needed me in some way.
If you have a teen son, you know what I’m talking about. I needed to honor his growth process and learn new ways to connect with him.
Other moms ask me the same question, “How do I connect with my son now that our relationship is changing?” or “How do I get my teen boy to talk to me?”
I asked my twenty-four-year-old son to reflect on what he wanted and needed when he was a teenager.
Here are his answers.
9 Things a Son Wants His Mom to Know:
I’m worried about this new chapter of my life.
There are a lot of changes going on in my life. Secretly, I’m afraid to grow up. One the one hand I want to be independent and on the other hand, it’s scary when I think about being an adult and assuming so much responsibility. So when you ask me a bunch of questions, it can really stress me out. I still love you, it’s just I need some space to learn my own way.
I just need you to listen.
I know you care, but I don’t always need advice. It would feel really good to me if you asked me before you deliver it. Sometimes, I just need someone to listen and trust that I can figure it out.
Just back off a little bit.
I want more freedom and independence. It’s important that you let me make decisions on my own and let that be okay. I especially don’t like being pelted with questions or having you continually looking over my shoulder or reminding me.
Listen and show interest in the stuff I talk about.
Even if it’s not up your alley, (e.g. sports, hobbies, music, my favorite video game) understand what’s really important to me even if it isn’t to you. I like when you sit with me when I play my favorite video game and show an interest in my favorite YouTube channel. I know it’s not important to you but it means a lot to me when you show an interest.
Even if you’ve been there before, don’t tell me how to feel.
Instead of, “You shouldn’t feel stressed,” say things like, “It’s okay to feel stressed.” Or “I get that you would feel stressed.” Let me share my frustration over a matter and give me the space to sort it out without feeling like you have to fix it.
Be on my team.
If I’m down, empathize with me, even if you know something isn’t a big deal; it’s a big deal to me. If I’m happy about something, really be happy with me. I don’t want to feel like you’re out to get me; I want to feel like you’re my number one fan.
Notice what I’m doing well.
It means a lot to me when you notice what I am doing well day to day, rather than what I’m not doing or doing wrong. I won’t tell you to your face, but your affirmation means the world to me. It makes me want to do more of the things that please you.
Worry less and have fun with me more.
I really like it when you are happy to see me and laugh with me versus worry so much and ask me so many questions. Honestly, this means maybe more than anything when you and I have fun together.
Always be straight with me.
I need honest, constructive feedback sometimes. But, it’s how you deliver the truth to me that matters. I don’t need you to criticize me when you set me straight. I’m learning how I impact others and I have blind spots. I also don’t need you to praise me continually because you’re trying to pump me up to help me feel good about myself. That feels even worse. What I want is for you to be honest while being understanding that I’m learning.
Here’s a closing word that I believe your son would say to you, if he just had the words, “I know it isn’t easy for you now that I’m getting older and not your little boy anymore. Even though I push you away, I still love you just as much. I’m trying to figure out how to be a young man who doesn’t need his mom in the same way that I did when I was little. I want to be close to you and I still need you just as much as I did before, just differently. So don’t go away mom even though you might think that I want you to, keep believing in me and showing up because you are still the most important woman in my life.”
MOMS you don’t have to do this alone, click this link to find your tribe!