How do I keep my son anchored and close to family as he grows?
I see this challenge everyday in my office. Parents view their growing sons as changing and losing touch with their family. But interestingly, their sons see it quite differently. They talk about their parents drifting from them – not the other way around. They talk about their parents becoming more and more serious about homework and grades. They tell me their parents are busy and stressed and worried about jobs. They tell me that the only times their moms and dads interact with them is when something is going wrong. They tend to only recall the critical and unhappy side of their parents.
One boy recently broke down in the office telling me his parents don’t engage with him on the things they used to enjoy and talk about, like getting outside to play one-on-one basketball in the driveway or talk about a cool new video game. Many parents admit to me that they are revved up, are more serious, as their boys grow older. Mainly because teachers and coaches and other parents seem to be on a treadmill of pushing for higher results. So, remember… lower the stress. Also, remember that boys connect with us not through words or tasks, but typically though physical activities. One mom told me how she’d had an epiphany. One day she heard herself nagging and complaining about chores and homework, and told me she didn’t like being that kind of mom. Instead, she decided to take a walk with her son around the block. Get out of the house and leave the tension behind that was causing a rift between them. This grew into taking hikes with her son on free afternoons and weekends (without his young sibling tagging along) to explore cool wooded areas and trails near their home. They bonded without words, but with each step they took, each interesting rock they collected, the relationship solidified. Boys share experiences – often without words – and mainly when outdoors. They also don’t like to share our attention. They deserve this one-on-one time no matter how old they get.