I am the mom of two teenage sons. While they are quick to have emotional outbursts as teens often do, I am not usually privy to what is going on inside their heads and hearts. Sometimes it feels like they are hidden deep in some kind of parent proof vault. So how do I crack the code to get inside?
While I wish it was as easy as just sitting down for family dinner it often takes more thought and intention. At my dinner table after the requisite review of our day, the conversation inevitably leads to the boys sharing the latest antics of their favorite You Tube streamers or their most recent performance in Valorant. I always joke that when they are done we are going to talk about our “feelings”. They know I am kidding (sort of) but after uproarious laughter and some eye rolling, they go back to THEIR favorite subjects. So I have learned that the dinner table isn’t where I am going to reach them at that deeper level.
Nevertheless, I want into that vault! But I know that it has to be on their terms, not mine. I want them to know that they can come to me when they are in need of emotional support. And that’s no joke.
Since my teens aren’t naturally emotive, how do I crack the code to get inside?
The answer is CONNECTION, CONNECTION, CONNECTION.
So with my sons, I make sure to find time with them one on one each day, even if it’s just for 5 minutes.
How? Sometimes I watch them play a video game, we walk the dog together or connect in the car. Usually it IS still about video games, YouTube, school and friends but that’s ok, because I know that’s how to build the bridge to their hearts and minds, especially at this age and stage of development.
What is NOT helpful is prying or nagging to be let in. Nothing will instigate the eye roll and shut the emotional vault quicker than that.
I trust that if I am present and make myself available, they’ll come to me when they need me.
And when they do, the REAL work begins.
I show up for them by:
Click to learn more about Active Listening and how to ask Open Ended Questions.
Jenny Michaelson is a PCI,
Writing Contributor at: