My son is as bashful as they come when the topic of girls is brought up. I know he trusts me with other things. He tells me about video games and friendships and has no problem talking to me about his dreams and plans for the future. But for some reason, when girls come up, he shuts down.
I can’t really blame him. The topic isn’t new but the feelings that come with it are. It’s uncomfortable. And I’m sure my grinning face staring back at him doesn’t help. I’ve tried humor, but it hasn’t helped him feel more comfortable. So, Mom, what do you do to communicate better with your son? Here are five don’ts when asking your son about girls.
Your son admits it: He has a crush. If you take that sensitive information and run through the house announcing it, (Cue Michael Scott’s overreaction in the Fire Drill episode of The Office: “OK, it’s happening! Everybody, stay calm!”) your son will probably never open up to you again. To communicate better with your son about girls, keep your cool and act like it’s no big deal. Your son may be exercising a lot of courage to open up to you. Show him you can handle whatever he has to say without running him over with intense emotions.
Don’t give advice unless asked.
When you’re on the receiving end of advice you didn’t ask for, it leaves you feeling misunderstood and frustrated. While you might have some good advice to give your son, make listening your only motive as he opens up. Wait until he pauses to ask clarifying questions. Seek to understand what he is telling you rather than trying to impose your thoughts and ideas about the situation. If you must, ask if he is open to listening to advice before giving it to him.
Don’t bypass trust.
If you pressure your son to talk to you about girls before you’ve established trust with him, he won’t feel comfortable being open and honest with you. Try spending time with him doing things he loves and sharing some of your own stories with him. You also can help your son feel comfortable by talking to him about other important topics so that when the time comes to ask him about girls, he will know you’re a safe person to talk to. It will take time to establish trust with your son, but your patience and consistency will pay off.
If you pressure your son to talk to you about girls before you’ve established trust with him, he won’t feel comfortable being open and honest with you.
It’s hard not to think it’s the cutest thing that my son might be crushing on a girl. But his worst nightmare would be telling me about a girl he likes just to be met with a bunch of teasing: “Oooh! You like a girrrrl!” He knows his sweetness makes me melt on the inside, but in big-kid conversations, he doesn’t want me thinking he is cute. Kids at this age want to be taken seriously just like we would treat anyone else opening up to us. To communicate better with your son, let him know you respect him by keeping the playful teasing out of serious conversations.
Don’t do most of the talking.
When I ask my son about girls, I tend to go on and on about why he can trust me, why it’s OK to think girls are pretty, and so on. I end up doing most of the talking! In this case, when he’s already embarrassed, my talking just creates another obstacle. But when I zip it and push through some awkward silence, he has an easier time opening up. To communicate better with your son, allow enough time for him to think through what he wants to say and how he wants to say it. Don’t pry it out of him. Let him know you are available to listen any time he wants to talk. Knowing you have his back will mean a lot when he is ready.
How do you foster good communication with your son?