Your Teen recently got a chance to interview Rosalind Wiseman about her latest book (all about boys), Masters & Wingmen, so we asked her this question. Here’s what the author—mom to two boys herself—told us about getting teens to talk.
Dear Your Teen:
My teenage son does not like to talk. In fact, he’s a master of the one-word answer. “How was your day? Fine. Do you have homework? Yes. How was practice? Good.” I think he really is okay, but I would feel better if he talked to us more. What can we do to encourage him?
I wrote Masters & Wingmen with the input of more than 200 middle school and high school boys and what most of them said to me was, “You have to tell my parents to stop barraging me with questions when they see me after school.” So, a constant stream of questions when your teenage son walks in the door or gets in the car is not the way to go. Boys (and girls by the way) need to decompress at the end of the day. Let them be when you first see them. Just a simple, “Hey, what’s up” is enough.
Talking With Teenagers: too much or too little
But at the same time, we do get to express interest in their lives and they do need to talk to us. So one of the things I’ve realized is that there are small moments during the day which can be more effective when it comes to talking with teenage boys. For example, at bedtime, you can sit on the foot of the bed and say, “Hey, is there anything you want to tell me? I just want to check in.” Those moments are actually the way boys will talk to you, especially if there is a problem. The other thing I want parents to do is to stay calm. If your son thinks you are freaking out about something, then he will not talk to you when there is a problem—or tell you anything at all. So it’s important to stay calm.
Rosalind Wiseman (@RosalindWiseman) is the author of Masters & Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with School Yard Power, Locker Room Tests, Girl Friends, and the New Reality of Guy World. She’s also the author of Queen Bees and Wannabes and Kingpin Dads and Queen Bee Moms. Read more at rosalindwiseman.com.