We focus a lot on girls and the father-daughter relationship in this blog. It’s not because we don’t think boys are going through some tough things themselves, it’s just that we have focused and zoned in on the girls growing up today and what girls look for in their dads.
My son just started high school this year and a mom and I were just talking yesterday about the chaos around teenage boys today. There is an article in the Dec 2 issue of Time magazine titled, “What Boys Want”, that did a great job talking about the effects of today’s culture on our boys. Boys too are torn in this crazy world they are growing up in and many do not have the ability to communicate their confusion, pain, and emotions to their friends or family.
There were 3 specific pieces of advice for parents in the article that I thought helpful for the parent of any teenager – boy or girl.
1) “If you’re a parent with real worries about your son’s emotional state, but he says he’s fine, tell him the reasons you’re asking….the key thing is to let him know that there’s no shame in feeling bad.” Time, p. 49
2) From a teenager ….“Be straight up, and don’t assume that we’re going through the same things you did. And if you want to know how it is now, ask.” Time, p. 49
3) “If you can get them to talk, what do you say? First, it is very important to let them know that you don’t assume anything about them or their friends. Whether you’re talking about alcohol, drugs, girls or bullying, you can begin by saying, “I don’t know if you are ever going to have this experience, but if you do, I want you to be prepared.” Time, p. 49
The key is communication. Communication tends to come when time and space is created for it. The article even pointed out that it typically comes in time alone in the car, when there are gaps in conversation, or in quiet moments. It may not always come after a barrage of questions. I am guilty of often thinking I am going to get good answers to “how was school?”, “how was your day?”, “how was practice?”, and on and on.
Please do not be discouraged if you aren’t always getting answers to your questioning. Keep being available. Take some time to just allow for some space for kids to talk, and be eager to listen when they do. And – let’s take the advice of a teenager boy “if you want to know how it is now, ask”. Hear from them what their struggles are, what’s really happening at their school, and what they see. They are our best teachers about the world they live in and we can help them navigate through it all if we know what may be coming.
Thanks for entering in!