talking to son tips
  • | October 5, 2016
Talking to women, whether to your wife or to your girlfriend, is a hard enough challenge for most men, but it’s far from being the only one. As a father, there's a conversation even harder to navigate : talking to your son.

But why is that? After all, men are just overgrown boys, right? Well, that’s part of the problem. The connection between boys and their fathers can often be much stronger than that of fathers and daughters, precisely because both sides see themselves in the other. It’s common that the father will reflect on his own childhood when trying to talk about an important issue with his son; similarly, boys are told from a very young age they will one day become a man, a husband, and a father. All of this can put quite a strain on the relationship, especially when it’s time for a conversation.

So what can you do to make sure that conversation is a positive, helpful, and informative exchange on both ends?

  1. Don’t lecture him. This is the time to be his friend. It's true that a boy should admire his father, even viewing this man as the greatest man who ever lived. At the same time, however, he needs to view his father as a friend, as well; if not, there will be too big of a distance between father and son, and an actual, honest conversation will not be possible.

  2. Take a walk. Sitting and talking can be awkward for boys (and fathers, as well). The whole ritual of, “Son, sit down, we’ve got some talking to do,” puts a pointless amount of pressure on the whole conversation that can prevent your son from being open to what you have to say. Go on a walk. Choose somewhere you would otherwise go just for fun. If talking a walk doesn't feel like the best approach, consider doing something manual, like fixing a bike or working together on a similar project.

  3. Minimize eye contact. This relates to the previous point, but it’s important to mention on its own. There’s no need to engage in a staring contest while talking with your son. In fact, your son may view this as a sign of anger, putting him on edge before the conversation even starts. Keep both your speech and your body language casual. Arrange the time and place of the conversation in such a way that you have other things to look at while talking.

  4. Give examples. Teenage boys are not the biggest fans of abstract thought, so giving them concrete examples will help them understand the point you are trying to get across. A lack of examples will require some extra thinking on his part, and if he can't make practical connections to what you're saying, he can easily get irritated and lose interest. Make sure whatever you’re saying is obvious to him and the intended outcomes of the conversation are clear. Of course, you don’t want to be patronizing. That’ll ruin the conversation quicker than anything else. Recognize your son's intelligence, and do your best to get on his level.

  5. Don’t get too emotional. This applies to any part of the emotional spectrum, be it anger or love. Remain calm when talking with your son. A teenage boy is a boiling cocktail of hormones and emotion, ready to catch fire at any time. Make sure the talk doesn't get out of hand. Keep a light tone, throw in a joke here and there, and keep a cool head about the topic of conversation.

  6. Give him time and space. After the conversation, your son will need to come to terms with what you've discussed. Boys can be even more stubborn than men sometimes, so be patient. If given the time to reflect on and process your chat, he'll be more receptive to what you've said.Follow these basic rules, plan the main points of the conversation ahead of time, try to be empathic, and things should go quite well.

Good luck!