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Relating to Teen Sons

A magical thing happened one evening; my 14-year-old son smiled and laughed. He was at one time the happiest, go-lucky kid that adored me and showered me with hugs and cuddles. Then, he turned 13. I’ve heard the same story from several other moms. Although I know he loves me and still randomly gives me hugs, he is no longer a boy but a mini man. I feel like this happened overnight. My other two children are eager to spend time with me and chat endlessly. I realize I don’t have much in common with this mystery of teenage boy, so relating to him takes more thought and energy. I made it part of my New Year’s resolution to figure out how a mother relates to a teen son? Here’s what I discovered.

He still needs his mom to be his mom. He wants me there to reach out for a hug and occasionally some of his childhood traditions that belong to just the two of us. I’m not going to disclose those because embarrassing him does not create a closer bond. He won’t tell me, but he still thrives on hearing I love you and I’m proud of you, although now many of those are sent through text.

If you want your teen son to take action on something or respond, send a text. This also works if you want him to stop picking on his little brother or empty the dishwasher. I can speak these words a dozen times or send one text, and there is no nagging or complaining.

Feed him. Better yet, buy his favorite foods and hang out in the kitchen a couple of hours after dinner. Don’t offer to make it for him! The magical part is that he has to stay in the kitchen, and you can chat while preparing his second dinner. In the summer and during a pandemic, this same routine happens at about midnight.

Watch what they watch. Even better, take the time to sit with your son while they are watching. This was advice from a good friend, and it’s true. So now we have a show that we watch together every week, and my son is always delighted to show me the latest YouTuber he is obsessed with or a fantastic world he found in Minecraft. It may not be something I would be interested in on my own; however, I find myself getting hooked and asking questions.

Go to a trivia night and be on a team together. I discovered this accidentally when we went out to eat one night. I somehow impressed him with my knowledge of hockey and current events, and I was so impressed when he guessed James Patterson as an answer just because it’s his favorite author, and it was right! Who knew he co-authored a book with Bill Clinton? We still laugh about that.

My best advice is to hug them every chance they reach out to you. They are stuck between kids and adults and still want to know their mom is there when they need you. Hang in there. I hear that they won’t be so alien-like in a few years and will return to the sweet boy you once knew. I’ll be holding onto hope that that is true!

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