As teenage boys fumble their way through puberty, they are likely to be uncomfortable with themselves and struggling to find their identify. Add to that the fact that they're navigating a mine field when it comes to social interactions, and you may find your teen just wants to be left alone when he comes home. Taking deliberate care about how you reach out to him will ease the interaction and cultivate a deeper, more meaningful connection.
Relate to Him
Find a point of interest or some common ground that you two share. Initiating a conversation about football when you've never even touched one will not be as effective as a discussion about a topic you both love. Engage in said activity with him, if possible. Focusing on an action or task can take away the awkwardness he might be feeling, encouraging a more open conversation.
Learn to Listen
Pay close attention to what your teen is -- and isn't -- saying. He may rarely speak, and when he does, it may be a series of grunts: "Uh-huhs" and "Oks." But his tone may convey what he's feeling, such as frustration, anger, shyness, boredom. Perhaps he never says "I love you," but does he give hugs and smile? His attitude and body language may provide as much conversation as is possible with words.
Use Careful Language and Delivery
Refrain from lectures, demands or persistent criticisms. They will likely encourage your son to check out of the conversation. Teen boys appreciate politeness and consideration as much as anyone. Facilitate a connection with him by making eye contact, avoiding a rigid posture and refraining from interrupting him. Convey to him your own feelings and boundaries so he has a clear idea of your wishes and expectations.
Let Him Offer Insight
Ask questions, and be willing to learn from him. Uriah Guilford, a marriage and family therapist in Santa Rosa, California, specializes in counseling boys, and he advocates the use of open-ended questions, which allow for the expression of opinions and feelings. Your teen has likely accumulated some wisdom as a result of life experience and may appreciate your open-mindedness about and respect for what he has to offer.
- Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images