Teenage years means an appropriation of space – emotional, intellectual and physically – from an adult. Whilst parents of boarders have accepted (but may not have overcome) the physical separation, it is often the emotional and intellectual separation that can be the hardest to manage.
As a sister of a younger brother, with a very close relationship with my parents, I have witnessed and experienced firsthand what it is like to not have a teenage boy communicate. It’s hard to remember the exact moment when he turned from being a talkative family member, full of excitement, adventure stories and love, to a 6.3ft, “top banana” whose music, fashion, friends were, as he was concerned, far cooler than mine. In fact, we are now in our late twenties and not much has changed. He doesn’t phone (only when he wants something), takes days to respond to SMS, and emails go through the keeper, which made me realise that as parents of young men, you may need advanced warning, or advice to keep you going. Note, he is totally charming when we invite him for a meal (so, take hope).
Now there has been extensive research into this common phenomenon. For example Dr John Coleman wrote a book “Why won’t my teenager talk to me?”. But as commentators have stated, it is likely to be because “they think you are boring” – Tim Lott. But, you’re definitely not.
So here our are top 8 tips in changing the way your teenage views you, so that you can get more than just a grunt out of them.
- Find ways to praise their appearance, which is growing and developing. You may get a “whatever” or an eye-roll but everyone like receiving compliments.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff – how long their hair is, their scuffed shoes etc. Let the teachers, boarding masters / mistresses deal with those.
- If your communication with them isn’t working stop using that channel. Try a new one.
- Enjoy the small moments of connection – it might be a taunt, lingering at the dinner table, an offer to help clean up, an update by sms
- Find ways to laugh together
- Get back to living your amazing life – rediscover passions, go on new adventures your children will be inspired
- Regularly review and redefine boundaries with your partner – make sure you are aligned on parenting as they grow up e.g curfews
- Pick your battles and the times when you want to have them – late at night, before a test (even when they are the ones stressed and angry for not being organised)
We’d love to hear what works for you. Please share your thoughts below; you never know whom they might help.