Now that I have two teenagers in the house, I was dreading the descent into grunts and various other noises that teen boys apparently make, instead of conversation. Admittedly I have amazingly vocal children, with extensive and rich vocabularies (wonder where they got that from?) and they don’t have an addiction to peppering their sentences with swear words either. Certainly a marvellous change compared to what I hear when I venture into fast food restaurants or the school grounds.
However, there is still this reticence inside them. I think it has to do with the dramatic changes that are happening, both internally and externally. They are busy finding out who they are, and where they are going, and that requires a lot of introspection. However, it is a journey much better shared, when possible, with those that love them, namely their father and I.
So, even though I have been struggling healthwise, I have been making a special effort to actively BE with these marvellous boys. To take them individually normally, on errands with me, to have one in the kitchen working with me, or watching a movie together in the evening. I don’t nag. I don’t harass. I just listen. It’s amazing how easily they open up and I find out what is happening in their lives, their schools, and most importantly, what is happening in those amazing heads of theirs.
I think the key to this is definitely in the “doing something else”. If I sat them down, and instructed them to talk, I would get nowhere. You know the old classic, “what did you do at school today?” “Nothing”. Patently not true, but all some children ever volunteer! However, the freedom in concentrating on something else entirely, be it the trip we are making to the shops, the dishes we are washing and drying, or the music we are listening to… and things just start to bubble out of them. They have no idea it’s happening, which is most important, but now that I’m conscious of it, I am making more efforts to create these opportunities. DH is being roped in as well, he took DS1 to a movie last weekend, just the two of them. As a bonus, the only cinema showing it was nearly an hour away, so they had lots of time to just casually be together. These are the best memories I have of time with my Dad, and I want our boys to know these moments too.
I think this is a specific boy thing, most girls have no problem talking. On and on and on in fact. But I’m sure for the quieter girls, this trick would work too.
What other techniques do you have for opening up your children?