Teen Not Speaking to Parents
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Teen Not Speaking to Parents
My older daughter attends boarding school in New England, following a nasty divorce and
her father's remarriage. She took sides with her dad during the divorce, and is hostile
and occasionally violent toward me and her younger sister (who lives w me) as well. As a
result, we never meet with her except in public places. Her dad has badmouthed me
extensively, which I believe accounts for much of this.
She's doing very well academically at prep school, but shows no interest in seeing me or
her sister, and is almost impossible to talk w on the phone. She kills off the
conversation and the last time I met w her I realized her main motivation was to get me
to buy her a shirt she wanted.
Can anyone here suggest a way to reconnect w an alienated and angry teenager ? (I won't
ask the judge to force visitation).
Mom misses her kid
dear mom with alienated teen, i am sorry to hear about what you and your eldest daughter
have been through. i think it sounds like time to make nice. your ex has put your
daughter in a very tough situation. can you (and maybe your younger daughter) fly back
east to take her out of school for the weekend? if you take your 2 girls out to a nice
dinner i presume everyone will behave. if you take them out for a spa treatment it will
be a bonding time. even a shopping trip, buying her another shirt, may help to repair
the hurt. i know if may feel like you're the ATM, but it sounds like you need to do
some repairing to turn things around. make the visit short and sweet and hopefully
things can progress from there. being a loving mom, even when your daughter does
nothing to appreciate it, will pay off in the end. we can never give up. (my oldest
daughter was so challenging as a teen, but is becoming a very admirable young woman.) i
sincerely believe it will get better for you. best, j
I have three daughters and my heart goes out to you. I would write to her. Email is
convinient, but in addition, send her notecards. Don't try to speak to her on the phone
just yet. I would call her when you know she is in class and leave messages on her phone
a few times a week. Nothing too long, just letting her know you are thinking of her. I
would tell her how much you love her and want to have her in your life when you write to
her. Speak from the heart and I believe it will have an impact on her. Kids like to
act all tough, but inside your comunication will touch her (especially handwritten
notes). At times, you can get really sappy, don't patronize her, just tell her your
feelings. Keep this up. It may take a long time. But eventually she will see that you
are sincere. Don't ever say anything bad about her father. She will see the truth.
There is a local therapist, Joshua Coleman, who deals with these kind of situations. I
don't know anything about how he is as a face to face therapist but he has written a
book called, ''When Parents Hurt, Compassionate Strategies..'' and has a lot of great
info, suggestions, forums on his website: http://www.drjoshuacoleman.com/ There are
also webinars on the kind of estrangement you are experiencing and some videos on his
I think he has a fresh, honest and kind approach to estrangement and alienation and I
found his suggestions to be helpful.
Our 14 year old girl loves to be alone in her room. She has always
been shy, not outgoing, and quiet (in public). She loves to write,
and spends loads of time in her room writing-- stories, poems,
essays.... She also reads quite a bit. But, with school around the
corner, I am worried that she has basically sat on her bed all summer,
reading or writing. She did not want to do any camps this year, and
does not like to go out alone (we work, and she sits at home. She
will not go out walking or anything alone during the day). Her
friends have been busy this summer traveling or visiting family,
though she has seen several friends during the break (sleep overs, or
I guess my concern is that she is so content to be alone. She does
not want to talk to us at all (I have no idea of what she is feeling
inside). She will not confide anything about things that happen at
school, especially the behavior of her school mates (even when she is
not involved. For example, drinking at school, cutting class, and so
on. I find out about everything from other sources, not from her). I
ask her why she does not tell me these things, and she either says,
''I don't know,'' or ''AHHH, you are so annoying!'' She does not seem
unhappy, though she does not seem happy, either.
How do I tell if she is okay? How much of this is normal teen
behavior? I know as she starts high school she will encounter things
at school and such that she should process with us, or talk about, but
she is so silent. I am not worried about her scholastically, but
emotionally. Why don't teenagers talk???
Well, do you talk? Do you tell her about your problems and successes?
I think you are going to have to start first. Read what she is reading
and comment on it in a positive way. Or ask if you can read her stuff
and compliment her on it. Ask her for help or suggestions with
something you have to write, then thank her profusely. Positive
interactions will lead to more trust, and when she trusts you more she
may be willing to reveal more. Or alternatively, you could pay for a
therapist, who will take months building trust before they can
actually make some progress.
Help! My soon-to-be 14-year-old son has major attitude with
me. I am a single mom.
His older sister is not living at home. He sees his dad on
the weekends. Everything I say to him, he seems either
irritated or indifferent about. He seems like he's always in
a bad mood, but only when he's with me. When with friends,
at school, etc... he's happy, talkative, etc. The second he
gets in the car with me, his mood turns somber.
Please tell me this is normal and that he will outgrow it
soon. Any advice? My daughter was very different, verbally
let me know how she was feeling and talked about her life
with me. It hurts my feelings because he was always my
sweet, affectionate boy.
You need to sit your son down for a heart-to-heart talk.
Prepare yourself beforehand by vowing (and then sticking to
it) to not bring up anything displeasing that he has done.
It's not about his behavior, it's about breaking the spell
of teen moodiness.
Tell him lovingly and frankly that the two of you have to
make it through the next five or more years, and that you
want to make those years a time that both of you can look
back on and laugh about. Tell him that you need his
cooperation to keep your home a happy place for you both to
spend time. Tell him that you know the two of you will not
always agree, but that even when there are conflicts, you
should both remember that you love each other and that
you'll be in each other's lives forever.
Ask him if he needs you to change something in your own
behavior. Forget tit-for-tat here and do not bring up
something that you want HIM to change. The goal here is to
make him feel that he can trust you and can talk to you
freely without getting jumped on. Listen without reacting if
possible, and see if you can come up with a creative
compromise that will show him that you are willing to work
Tell him that you love him and are proud of how he's growing
up. Find a specific way that he is maturing that you can cite.
Wise advice I once got is that at this age, you are no
longer your kids' manager, but should work hard to be
''hired'' by them as a consultant.
Good Luck --
Mom of 14-yr-old boy
I was reading exactly about what you are describing, in the
book with humorous title ''Get Out of my Life, but first
could you drive me and Cheryl to the mall?'' by Anthony Wolf,
PhD. He says it is ''normal'' for teens to act like this (a
kind of regression) at home, but pull themselves together
into a more acceptable responsible version with others. You
might take a look at the book if you are interested. He
describes this phenomenon in the first chapter.
Fourteen year-old boys are rotten and evil! (I think my parents
wished that I had been ONLY rotten and evil at 14.)
Having once been a VERY troublesome 14 year-old, and having
raised a stepson (with some pretty awful baggage that still
persists) from 14 through 21, I can easily say that it is a tough
time for parents - and for kids. He is discovering new things,
new tastes and interests, some of which don't include parents
(girls, for one); he wants his freedom; he wants to be in charge;
he wants to be treated like an adult. He wants to expand his
boundaries, so he is testing them and pushing them. Some of his
friends don't have to do the dishes and others don't have to mow
the lawn, others have parents who don't make them do homework -
so he doesn't want to do ANY of that stuff either.
He has hit that age where he is beginning to realize that he
knows everything and you don't. You stupid, ignorant, and cruel
just as my parents were when I was 14 - hey, what kind of rotten
parent would make their son do his homework or help clean up the
His behavior is also an attempt to begin preparing you for his
eventual departure from home. As he feels on the verge of
manhood, he doesn't know how else to do that. Even though it is
far off, the changes he is going through make it feel almost
imminent to him. By creating tension, when he does move out, he
won't feel as though he's hurting you.
My parents dragged me to counselors which just made me resent
them more. As my behavior continued to deteriorate, my mother
began to truly believe that she would be visiting me in prison
for the rest of her life. Joining the Navy gave her some relief
(maybe she thought a military prison would be better?), then
becoming a engineer with advanced degrees relieved those fears
and eventually filled her with pride.
Luckily, your son will eventually discover that you're not as
dumb as he believed, not as mean and insensitive and irrational
as he thought. Unfortunately, this often doesn't doesn't happen
until he moves out for the first time - then he'll be amazed at
how much YOU learn over those next few months. And eventually he'll come
understand that what you do, you do for him.
What to do in the meantime? Well, I am not a psychologist, but I
think that by giving him space and treating him like an adult,
you'll gain some ground. He also wants to - needs to - respect
you, so you also have to establish rules, make sure they are
clear and achievable, and flexible where possible, and have
consequences when they are broken - because they will be. Give
him responsibilities - even though he might not want them he
wants a sense of accomplishment. Give him praise, but don't
patronize. Let him know you love him, but don't appear weak.
Negotiate, be willing to trade; reward when things are done well
or when he exceeds expectations - especially when he unexpectedly
does something great on his own without being asked. He wants
love and respect and a sense of belonging.
Don't despair, it will be fine!
I wish I could help you but I am in exactly the same boat
as you. I hope someone can guide us!
mom of a formerly sweet teen boy
This can be typical for a teenage son. It also needs to be
fixed, because it's miserable. We've gone in and out of
phases like this. There can be several issues and you may
need to find several strategies. Firstly, it's likely he's
angry/guilty/worried about something and may or may not be
telling you what. You need to ask him. Preferably ask him
at a good moment, when you're not in a hurry. Take him out
for pizza if you have to, to get his attention. Don't let
him fob you off. Secondly, he may just be angry with you for
'always nagging'. It may be true - and like me you need to
find ways to have other conversations, for example, ask (and
be interested) about what he's learning in school, rather
than about the homework. Make sure you sit down for dinner
together, or breakfast, or have some time in the day where
you can talk every day. For some people, that's in the car.
He's likely to resist, but you are the grownup and you need
to be persistent and firm. It's not something to get upset
about, just something that needs to be dealt with.
Thirdly, make sure you get moments where you are doing
things together - that can be chores or entertainment, or
even his irritating video game. Go outdoors with him -
grumpiness can be much reduced by fresh air. You'll both
get through it sooner or later, but sooner is better than
Get Family Therapy, preferably a therapist with experience in family
Communication is ''give and take''. There are ways to manage better
communication almost instantly by making some specific changes in timing,
approach and expectations. Find respectful neutral times and a place in
home when you are least stressed, not when you are most stressed.
To continue to make a change it takes persistence, commitment and
willingness to be coached by a professional and make good use of what
works. Changing yourself may be even harder than for changes to occur in
The one thing that is for certain, the way to continue to be the same, and
more of the same is to continue doing exactly what you've been doing.
Children grow out of clothes faster than habits. Children grow up and move
out faster than adults change theirs.
helped by Family Therapist
I sometimes think it's a good parent's job to make the
child eager to move out at 18. I've got one high-
maintenance boy in college now (tremendous relief all
round) and a high school freshman who is so eager to
establish her competence and independence that I get my
head snapped off if I offer any help or comment, unless
she asks first. And it's worse when she's hormonal, hungry
or tired, which is most of the time.
So this is not likely to be a time of your lives when
parent and child can be buddies. That said, here's what I
1. The parent have a right to demand civility. I will not
tolerate being called names. I don't have to listen to
swear words in my own house or car. I don't have to do
favors for someone who's unpleasant.
2. I get to be the adult. I set reasonable expectations
and allow natural consequences. I don't have to tolerate
illegal activities or support life-changing bad decisions.
I get to verify. I have to keep my own temper. I may need
to examine my own prejudices. I should pick my fights.
3. The parent has a right to demand that the teen be a
good roommate. In our case, that means keeping her own
room and pet clean, doing her own laundry, and doing
weekly & daily chores. If that were going better, I would
also ask her to cook at least one night a week.
4. The parent should be available as a consultant. If your
child comes into the room and wants to talk or tell you
something, drop everything. Treat everything not dangerous
as confidential. Affirm the emotion behind the statement
(''That sounds really disappointing.'') If you have any
suggestions, frame them as tactfully as possible (''What
would happen if you....?''). Better still, ask questions
that make the kid think: ''What do you want to happen?''
and ''What can you do about it?'' and ''Is that going to get
you what you want?''
5. This too shall pass. Teens need to practice being
independent in order to become grown ups.
My 16 year old son has been in a mentoring program run by
Casey McCarroll, who works with teen boys to help them
transition into adulthood. My son started just this past
fall and is already much less moody, happier, and kinder. I
can see that he is developing positive life skills that I,
as his parent, would have a much more difficult, if not
impossible, time teaching him. I feel like my son is back on
track. Our relationship, ability to communicate, and overall
family dynamic has improved greatly. I feel so lucky to
have found this wonderful resource. Casey's web site is:
I'm having a horrible time with my 16 year old daughter.
She has done nothing but glare, snarl and refuse to speak to
me for over a month now.
This started with an increase number of unexcussed absences
at school. I responded by cutting off her cell phone (I
thought just until she started going back to classes
regularly). She responded with even worse attendance (she's
missed at least one class a day for almost six weeks now and
is failing at least two classes as a result) and has refused
to talk to me at all. I'm just gritting my teeth and trying
to cope with living with a continuous stream of hatred.
There have been a number of substantial stresses at home, so
this problem is not 100% out of the blue. I've suggested
counseling, but she became enraged at that idea and took
off. I ultimately called the police to help find her that
Your daughter may be having more serious problems than just
cutting school. My daughter was also cutting class a lot and
it turned out that she was drinking, smoking and doing
drugs. In our case it got so bad that she spent a week at
Herrick and then 6 weeks in a wilderness program before
things started to turn around. We now have her in a small
private school that she loves (and that we can't afford) and
she is attending NA meetings almost daily. She goes to
therapy once a week as well. There are still issues, but
things are better. Family therapy could be very helpful if
she would go
That sounds hard! You might suggest going to family therapy.
If you say that there are other things going on at home it
might be a good thing all around. You might say to her ''it's
not that SHE'S the problem, but that you ALL have some
things to work out and need to find better ways of
communicating with each other. Sounds like she's really
unhappy about something and it would sure be great if she
could get it off her chest to feel better.'' You could try
someone who does art therapy also. It will take the
spotlight off her. I can recommend Ava Charney-Danesh in El
ever-hopeful mom of teen
Family therapy would be a primary recommendation, both for
the situation and because family therapy is one of the most
effective forms of treatment. If you can find a good
therapist he or she will take the pressure off your daughter
by involving the whole family. You can talk with the
therapist on the phone about any worries you might have in
trying to get her to participate in therapy. And if - as
you said - there are stresses at home those could (and
should) be addressed as well.
My heart goes out to you! Your daughter is definitely
rebellious and pushing her/your boundaries.
I ask you this: 1) take a step back - what is your
relationship with her, she is obviously in need of
attention and help but does she have an outlet for that
(if not you, an aunt or someone)?
2) are the only/most interactions between you two hostile
My suggestion is this - Discipline w/out ANGER. Give her
consequences for her actions, set the expectations clearly
(no missing class, or no new clothes or cell, allowance
for a SET amount of time, take away again if she re-
offends). Tell her when she is capable of making her own
decisions she will be allowed to do so, but right now she
is not showing that ability.
The part kids hate is the unexpectedness we often impose
in our punishments and the LASHING out and BERATING we end
up doing out of FEAR and WORRY - they don't see fear and
worry as love, they just see/hear the ANGER and ''you don't
understand me'' parts.
Then you have to grin and bear her negative behavior and
show her you are not affected by it and her escalating
that will not affect you either (so it's not beneficial to
her to continue it). Your ''matter of fact'' attitude will
yield shock and dividends in terms of her NOT knowing how
to react. Even the title of your post shows us she is
pushing your buttons well - Don't focus on her NOT talking
to YOU, Focus on your child having a bad time at making
the right decisions.
also, don't let your fear run you ragged - we can drive
ourselves nuts sometimes and the kids always think we are
Then at all possible times, give her encouragement, point
out what she is doing well.
Good luck to you - try meditation, reading good books on
meditation and some ''you'' time as well
let your love shine thru
My 14 yo son has really pulled away from me in the past
year. He doesn't tell me anything that's going on with him.
From my view we have a good relationship. He's loving, we
have conversations, he's somewhat helpful around the house
etc. He and my husband talk. My thoughts were ''I'm glad
he's talking to someone. It doesn't have to be me''.
Well, last night I realized that what bothered me is not so
much that he doesn't talk to me but that my husband doesn't
tell me anything. When I asked he said ''It's between me and
Is this right? OF course my son should have his right to
privacy and should also know that he can trust his dad with
confidentiality. On the other hand, I'm his mother and I
feel like I should know what's up with him. This came up
when an old teacher of my sons asked us if our son liked
girls yet. My answer and my husbands answer were very
different. Then my husband said ''He talks to me''. I felt so
excluded and annoyed that no info was shared with me.
So, what's the right thing? Do I have to just accept that
my son chooses to talk to dad and be happy that he is
talking to someone he trusts (and I trust)? I never talked
to either of my parents so I don't really have any good
examples to fall back on. Thanks for any advice on this.
feeling left out mom
We have the same dynamic with my 14-year old stepson and it
is made even worse by his living in two homes. He lives
with us 1/2 time and with his mother the other 1/2. It
goes back and forth who he's most comfortable talking with,
but the short of it is that even if something is told in
cofidence, we will sometimes make the judgement call to
share it with each other. But it's with the strict
understanding that under no circumstances are the other
adults to let him know that we know. This has worked for
several reasons - it helps to have someone to talk it over
with and hash out what to do or how to handle a situation.
Also, it helps to make sure that he's not manipulating an
issue to pit one parent against the other for whatever
reason. And finally, it helps to know what's going on in
his life when dealing with the usual teenage mood swings
(did he just break up with his girlfriend? Is a friend
moving away?). There's so much going on at this age that I
think it's important for both parents to what's going on.
So maybe it'll help your husband share if you put it in
this light and promise not to mention anything to your son
that was told in cofidence.
i think probably most of us experience this at some
points along the adolescence journey. it's happened to me
with both my daughter and my son. [she is 16, he is 18 now.]
one interesting thing is that during the hard times,
communication seems better with one parent or the other [as
you said, at least they are talking to someone] -- but those
allegiences can switch quickly, too. you might be the ''in''
parent one day, and the ''out'' parent the next.
the whole experience is somewhat disorienting, but know
you are not alone, and that whatever is happening [or not
happening] now is likely to change, probably without a lot
of warning. it may be hurtful and disorienting to your
husband, too, when he and your son go through some more
conflicted times -- which will almost certainly happen at
parenting a teen is definitely a team effort, and
because of the rocky spots, it helps a lot to take a long
view. [this, too, will pass!]
trust and confidentiality are huge issues for teens --
but they are also important for parents. it helps for
parents to let each other in on the kinds of things their
kids are facing, even if they are not necessarily relating
every last detail of what the kids say.
i wish there was some magic roadmap for all of this. i
think the truth is that most families struggle with their
teens separating, and that finding decent coping strategies
as a parent is hard. we had so much responsibility when they
were smaller, but also so much control -- those teen years
require us to change, sometimes in ways we would rather not.
i loved being the center of my kids' universe, when they
were littler! i don't like being left out, and i hate being
''cop-mom,'' even when i know that's necessary. i felt VERY
supported as the mom of young kids, and feel far less
connected as they are growing into whoever they will be as
adults. but it seems important to stay steady when they are
going through so much. thankless job, but somebody's got to
I'm a mother of an almost 15 yo son. We've always been close and been
able to talk.
Now he barely talks to me at home; he's usually elsewhere in the house
and I have little sense of what's really going on at school.
He does talk to me when we go out together, just the 2 of us.. In the
car, we have wonderful conversations, but getting him there is
difficult/infrequent. He's a kinesthetic kind of guy and wants to go
out when I suggest that we do.Then, we struggle to come up with what to
do or where to go. I make suggestions. He doesn't want to do them,
though the suggestions are things he likes. He never comes up with
something he'd like to do. We're stuck, ready and eager but without a
"destination." I know his separation and not wanting to hang out with
mom is normal, but I also get the feeling that he's feels abandoned or
ignored. Suggestions, comments, experience?
To the Mom of a 15 year old: I have a 16 year old son and truly
empathize with the feelings of loss when they begin to distance
themselves. I am assuming that your son is just going through normal
adolescence and does not have some underlying problem. With this
assumption, here are my coping strategies: First, I did some reading
on the subject and I keep going back when the gap becomes wider as new
issues emerge. One book I have found very helpful is Mike Riera's
Uncommon Sense for Parent of Teens. This gave me an intellectual
understanding of the adolescent process thus depersonalizing it to
some degree. Also, I talk with other parents who are experiencing the
same stuff. Second, there are things that I still do with my son that
are just for fun and that we enjoy: Clothes shopping, food shopping,
movies, and going out to a restaurant or coffee place for breakfast,
lunch, or after school snack. At these times we do have some
talking time but it is lightened up by the activities we are engaged
in so it doesn't feel like "a talk." Three, I have had to really
adjust my expectations and realize that right now, I am in the role of
"consultant" and supportive staff person. I still ask him questions
about his day, etc., but only occasionally get complete sentences
back. I do insist on knowing about issues that affect his health and
safety. Also, if there is a major issue, we will sit down and talk it
out. Fourth, I have made an effort to begin expanding my own life
with interests and activities that do not involve him. It is painful
to let go, but when my son sees that I am taking care of myself and
moving ahead with my life, I believe he feels that he can do so also.
And in a paradoxical way, it brings us closer because he doesn't have
to do all the work of creating distance. M! or! eover, it is the other
side of the coin: as my son becomes more independent, he doesn't need
me in the same ways and that means I can do more things that I want to
do without worrying about constantly being available. I believe that
this is a natural progression. Also, I am realizing that is it pretty
much fun to pursue my own interests again. I hope this helps with
this difficult time.
Signed anonymous to protect son's privacy.
In response to mom who has 15-year old son who doesn't speak to her
these days: I have received a great deal of help from Parents
Leadership Institute 650-322-5323. Also, my daughter and I, who have
been very close, started doing the same thing as your son. She
started seeing a therapist, Michele Ku, who has been wonderful and has
helped us all connect better. Michele is very very respectful and
honoring of my daughter and of us. Our daughter agreed to TRY
Michele. She said she did not want to talk about it afterwards. She
really wanted to make up her own mind by herself--without input from
either of us parents. Our daughter's description of Michele is, "She
rocks!" Michele has a wonderful way of both offering tools and
encouraging emotional stuff to surface. She is familiar with the
techniques from Parents Leadership Insitute (made the difference
between day and night in my relationship with my daughter) as well as
having the professional knowledge. If you are interested, I'll be
happy to give you her phone number. Even if your son doesn't want to
see her, you might get some help from her yourself in dealing with
Take care. Clearly you are a great mom--and just need some support
and some help. I hope you get what you need easily and soon.
We have not had a meaningful conversation with our 16 year old son (only
child) in at least a year. Most of his replies to attempts to converse are
annoyed grunts. The words that come out loud and clear are the ones
asking for something. And I know that he is capable of talking and
laughing out loud because he has extensive rowdy conversations with his
friends over the phone. We took him and a friend on a short trip recently
and it was the same thing, but from both of them, except between
themselves!! He used to be a goofy clown who made us laugh hysterically.
Now, at least with us, there's not a sign of that goofiness. I'm not looking
for advice here, more just wondering whether this is that "typical teen
behavior" and if and when he's going to get over it!! It's draining trying to
be loving and supportive when that's the response you get. Responses from
parents of boys close to 16 (or those who have been through this and seen it
end) would be greatly appreciated.
Nope, mine doesn't, and I don't think that our sons are abnormal. In
talking with other parents of teen sons, we are lucky if we get a sentence
of more than 5 words. I heard my son is the life of the party (and party he
likes to do!). Don't feel alone. I hear it gets better but we have to wait
for about 5 more years!
Been there, done that! 16 is the classical age for boys to separate
particularly from their mothers and you will survive it! My son (now 21) and
I had several knock down drag out fights about boundaries and rules and many,
many lesser squabbles about everything from chores to cheerios. He wanted
freedom with a capital F and I insisted on letting him know that it only
comes with responsibility. Luckily he was dating a girl at the time who was
a bigger control freak than me, so that lightened the burden but it truly was
a hard, hard time and I missed him horribly. He started coming back around
his senior year and we have a new relationship now based on respect, trust
and talking things over. A great book which allowed me to see things from
his point of view is Positive Discipline for Teenagers (available from Amazon
etc.) It's actually less about disciplinng in the usual sense and more about
calming down and realizing that the mistakes and problems kids have at this
age are just as important for their growth as the shaky steps of a one-year
old and the tantrums and nos of a two-year old. They are navigating their
way into adulthood and it is a full-time job for both of you. I think it's
important to keep communicating with your son and letting him know you love
him and care what's happening in his life even if it seems like you're
talking to a blank wall. They do know you're there! It's also a good time
to relive your own teen years and try to see how it relates. Good luck and
remember this too shall pass.
Just a quick response to the mother writing about her l6 year old son who no
longer talks...My l6 year old, good student, "good boy", family-oriented
son also no longer talks much to us, which is a huge change from even just
six months ago. His response to questions is - if we're lucky - a sort of
grunt, or else nothing at all so that I wonder if he is even hearing. And,
in a way, I think often he is not hearing (not not listening, just not
hearing) - not necessarily because he's being "rude" or because he thinks
we're not worth hearing - but because he is over-run by hormones and just
can't help it. In fact, I think that is what this about - a combination of
hormones and a very intense, compelling inner life and interior monologue,
because every once in a while the old, talkative boy emerges as though days
of silence never happened. Anyway, I certainly don't KNOW that this is the
case, but I just wanted to sympathize (because it IS distressing and
depressing and worrisome) and to let you know that there is at least one
other one out there.
My 15 year old son and his friends also grunt a lot. Strategies that have
worked for me include: noticing which friends actually talk to adults and
making conversation with the group when some of the talkers are present;
having dinner with slightly older teens (18, 19) who are old family friends
and who have resumed talking to adults and who are still young enough to be
cool to the younger teens. I often find out about incidents or concerns my
son has at these events. The older teen will ask him direct questions about
school, etc, which he'll willingingly answer. My son also is interested in
the older teen's stories about college etc. Finally, I try to ask about
movies and other safe topics that he's interested in.
Parent of BHS sophomore
To the Parents with the Uncommunicative Son,
Read "Get Out of My Life! But First Can You Take Me and Cheryl to the
Mall?" by Anthony Wolfe. According to this author and psychologist,
your son sounds right on target for teenage boy behavior. Plus, the
book is a great read!
Just hang in there. My son is 16 yrs. 8 months and recently has
become very sweet. I'm not saying he doesn't relapse and still have
the need to put me down so he can distance himself from me. But it is
much more positive than negative. This change seemed to come about as
he gained more independence. I'm not saying he confides in me much, I
think most teenagers really need their peers for confidants. But he
talks and engages with us about ideas, like poliitcs, sports, colleges
stuff like that. And once in a great while might produce one sentence
about his personal life. He does not yet have an active social dating
life, so we don't talk much about sex but more about drugs. Also I
find as a parent providiing guidelines but not being extremely strict
works better. So for me the best advice is hang in there, keep being
supportive like you are and he will mature and change. Good luck!
Definitely don't print my e-mail address as my kids would me very
angry with me. -- Anonymous
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