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Late-Night Conversations With Teen Boys Are When They Open Up

I was traveling back to work after a routine doctor’s appointment, mentally rearranging my day in an effort to play a furious catch-up back in the office. My car blue tooth caught me off guard as I looked to see if I recognized the number. I didn’t.

‘Hello?’ I said.

“Hi, this is your son’s science teacher.” 

Oh dear, I thought, what now? She told me that my 13-year-old, seventh-grade son was not in trouble (thank goodness!). However, she was calling due to a concern. She appealed to my senses as a mother in saying, ‘I have noticed your son looks and seems unlike himself. He appears to be very tired in class. I overheard some of his friends talk about late-night gaming, and while he was not involved in the conversation, I wanted to reach out just in case. He really is a good kid, and, as one mother to another, I wanted to share my concerns with you.’

Relieved that my son wasn’t in trouble, yet now concerned about what was going on with him at school and beyond, I thanked her for reaching out to me and assured her I would delve into any issues we might need to correct at home. How thankful I am for teachers who are mothers who see problem areas and do not stay silent. It truly takes a village to raise our children, and moms need all the help we can get while parenting tweens and teens. Can I get an Amen?

I could not have that important conversation with my son until later that night, heading home from his out-of-town basketball game, where he had been since school let out earlier that day. It was nearly 9:30 p.m. when we finally got a chance to chat. No wonder he is so tired at school! (His mother is tired, too, by the way…) But late-night conversations with teen boys are when they open up, so I was hoping my son would share what’s going on.

I gently broached the subject with my son in the car while he was riding shotgun as we left the out-of-town game and headed home for the first time that day. He assured me he was not indulging in late-night gaming with his buddies or other online adventures (which would be difficult, given the time limit we have set on his phone and other devices). I typically go to bed earlier than both of my sons. I know all mothers are tired at the end of the day from juggling work, kids, furry pets, bills, shopping, cooking, blah, blah, all the blahs.

Try telling a teenager to go to bed at 9:00 p.m. Ain’t gonna happen! My son did confess that he stays up some nights and watches TV. I have discovered him, in the early morning hours, fast asleep on the sofa in the living room. So, I knew he was telling the truth. Simply vegging out in an effort to quiet his mind and let go of the chaos of each busy day. I, at times, do the exact same thing.

Adults are not the only ones dealing with ‘stuff.’ Our tweens and teens, especially this generation, are in over their heads. Social media holds our children captive in ways it didn’t with prior generations. Children are expected to dive into intense club sports in their early grade school years if they have any hopes of being competitive as they get older and enter middle school. Scholastic expectations are through the roof for young men and women who hope to get into college someday. And the pressure to fit in via social media is an absolute firestorm that I, as a parent, honestly struggle to handle. If it were not for social media, our kids would live in a world with very limited social interaction. It is sad, but it is an overwhelming reality our kids are growing up in.

During this late-night conversation, my son opened up to me about some areas in which he struggled. He mentioned the busyness of school, sports, and life in general. He indicated the pains (both physical and emotional) of growing up, experiencing unique and mysterious feelings, desires, pressures, and confusion. My son is nearing 14 years old. He is right, smack-dab, in the middle of transitioning from a little boy to a young man. This is hard business!

My heart melted in that single late-night car conversation. I was so glad he opened up to me about all he was struggling with. I wanted to take the hard from his life and his heart. But despite how much I want to make life easier for my firstborn, my baby, who is daily navigating the rough waters of growing up, I know that I  would not be doing him any favors. Try as I might to help him handle the magnitude of maturing into a young man. There are some battles he must face on his own. Some things he is not comfortable sharing with his mother. Some conversations he will seek from his friends, his dad, or hopefully, prayerfully, and with my ongoing faithful encouragement, His Lord.

So yes, my son was tired at school. How many kids are not? How many parents are not? How many teachers are not? I am thankful for that phone conversation with my son’s teacher. It gave me an important opportunity to have an open dialogue with my son, promote a slight reset, redefine some house rules, and talk about the importance of good rest for such a busy kid.

At first, I felt a bit embarrassed that his teacher reached out. I mean, I am his mother. Shouldn’t I have been the one to see this first? Raising kids is hard! It is hard and hurtful and scary….and exciting, adventurous, and absolutely the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I would not trade it for the world. But I do welcome all the help I can get!

Teachers, you are your student’s Day Moms. I know that is likely another responsibility among so many you already have, but it is true. Never hesitate to reach out to parents! Most (myself included) will be so thankful for the teamwork involved in raising our kids. Supportive involvement in raising our kids comes from school. It comes from sports and coaches. It comes from our kids’ friends’ parents, from church and home, and grandparents and stepparents; it comes from so many different places.  Moms need all the help they can get while parenting tweens and teens!

And when those places are all in sync, with the absolute best interests of our growing tweens and teens in mind, we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that our kids are getting all the attention, care, concern, and love they deserve.

I am grateful for my son’s teacher, who gave me a gift by sharing her concerns for my teenage
son. I will always welcome the opportunity to communicate about life’s daily issues with him.
How to manage stress, get more sleep, eat healthier foods, take a break from electronics, get
outside, and put some things down in order to pick up others with greater meaning. We all need
those reminders in life, and it seems we focus on self-care for adults, but are our children not
facing many of the same battles?

I have heard that the secret to good relationships is communication. I believe that tenant is true in
all relationships, not just marriage. Communication with teenagers can be tricky. It can be
difficult to get them to open up and share what they are feeling. I am grateful my son opened up
to me on this particular occasion. I truly believe he needed to release some of the pent-up
stress in his life. And I learned a very valuable lesson as well…I don’t have to wait for a problem
to arise before simply asking how he is doing. How he is really doing in life. As surprising as it
may be based on a teenager’s daily mood swings and often closed-off attitude, sometimes they
are simply waiting for an invitation to release the confusing minefield of emotions that is
adolescence. Be sure to give them plenty every single day!

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