When my son began to inch towards high school I became increasingly aware that our relationship was changing. He no longer followed me around or shared with me all the details of his day. I was lucky when I’d ask him a question if I got more than a grunt or a shrug. A common response, “I don’t know.” and “It’s fine.”
I day dreamed about when he was my little boy and we’d cuddled and read books together. Then I’d feel ashamed by the desperation I felt to get what we once had back. I knew in my heart that it was necessary for him to break away from me as he was morphing into a young man but, secretly, I didn’t want him to.
This whole growing up boy thing was a painful process for me. I had to learn new ways to connect.
I can’t tell you how often I hear from moms that are struggling with the same thing with their teen boys.
When they start pulling away it’s hard not to take it personally.
What are we to do?
Rather than focus on our hearts lying broken on the floor we can still find ways to connect with our sons.
Here are some great ideas on how to build connection and fun while giving them the space that they need.
Be With Him
Understand that this is a crazy time in his life. Give him space. He is in a struggle between needing you and pulling away because of his need for independence. Trust he’ll come back.
Listen way more than you talk (way, way, way more!)
Validate his feelings even when you completely disagree.
Give him choices so he feels like he gets to make his own decisions.
Let the little things slide and don’t engage in a fight.
Do Something Just For Him (it’s the little things that let him know he matters!)
Make his favorite meal (the best way to a teen boys heart is through his stomach!).
Have the pantry filled with his favorite snacks.
Be involved in his activities – snack mom, driving to and from practice and cheer him on.
Get To Know What Matters to Him
Ask questions but don’t pry.
A question that most boys usually love to answer is “What bugs you?”, What irritated you today or made you mad at school?”
Get to know his friends.
Play his favorite music and be curious about what he likes about it.
Ask him what he likes and what he doesn’t like.
When he shares something that you disagree with ask him a question, “Oh that’s interesting. Tell me how you see it that way so I understand.”
Ask him how you can help or make something easier for him.
Do Something Fun
Build and listen to a Spotify playlist together.
Play their favorite game, even if it’s a video game!
Text them funny quotes, memes or articles around something that interests them.
Text them funny pictures or videos of your dog (or cat or something that will make them smile).
Build Legos together – you might even want to buy your own set!
Bake cookies together.
Binge a Netflix series.
Hike or take the dog for a walk.
Play catch or shoot hoops (my son loved when we played “HORSE” and I actually won once!)
Work out together.
Go on a bike ride.
Get Something Done
Take him for a haircut (and keep your mouth shut).
Help him clean his room (without nagging or lecturing, just to help out. You might be surprised at some of the memories you’ll share).
Take him to the grocery store and let him help with the shopping.
Just Be Together
Go for a drive and turn everything off. No music. No tech.
Laugh at his ridiculous jokes, so he keeps telling them.
Go on special dates to dinner or coffee before school.
Take a 1:1 road trip together and let him choose the destination.
Get a crossword puzzle book (or some other puzzle book) and solve the puzzles together.
Let Them Make Choices and Be the Expert
Ask him for tech help.
Listen to a podcast together that he likes (even if they swear, or talk about topics you have no interest in.)
Ask for his advice on whatever he’s interested in and good at.
Watch his favorite movie.
Watch a game on TV and ask him to explain to you what is going on.
Sit with him while he plays Fortnite (or whatever). Learn the characters (You might actually realize why he loves it so much).
Watch his favorite YouTube videos.
Hopefully something on this list will resonate with you or your son.
Try a few of these ideas and feel him out but don’t force him.
Remind yourself that your son distancing himself from you right now is normal and necessary.
Remember teenagers are like cats. It’s on their terms. They come to you when you’re available, it’s safe, and they know they won’t be pelted with questions, criticized, nagged or chased down. What’s most important is that you’re present, you find ways to show him he matters, and you listen without judgement. When you can do these three things you will find your son will come around more and more often.
Take a deep breath, give him a little space and remind yourself that it’s not personal. He loves you mom very much. And even if he doesn’t show it, he does still need you, just a little differently.
Teenagers are like cats. It’s on their terms. They come to you when you're available, it’s safe, and they know they won’t be pelted with questions, criticized, nagged or chased down.Click To Tweet