How to Listen to Him – So He Will Want to Talk with You

“He just won’t talk to me.”

If you’ve ever uttered those words, you are not alone. Nearly every parent of boys has complained and/or worried about their sons’ silence. We know that there’s a lot going on in our boys’ lives and we want to help — but how can we help if they won’t even tell us what’s going on?

Psychogeography, Janet says, might be the answer. (Don’t know what that is? Don’t worry! Jen didn’t either.)

The term psychogeography refers to the influence of geographical environment on the mind or on behavior. In other words, WHERE you are can influence communication. Think about it: hollering through a door sets an entirely different tone than sitting side-by-side in the car.

As a parent, you can’t make your son talk — but there’s a lot you can do to set the stage. Your actions, body language and behavior tell your son a lot about whether or not it’s “safe” to talk to you. Phrases such as “My door is always open” and “You can tell me anything” are empty words to most boys. If you want your son to talk, you must first prove to your son — through you words and behavior — that you won’t make things worse and are physically and emotionally available.

Here’s an acronym you can use to set yourself up for success: :  T.A.L.K.

T –  The timing of your conversation. Be sensitive to your son’s signals.

A –  Incorporate action. Boys o best when they can do something physical during conversation.

L – Love. Boys need to know that they’re okay whatever is happening with them.

K – Keep it kid-friendly. Choose developmentally appropriate words, and engage in your boy’s world and interests.

In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss:
  • The importance of listening
  • Phrases that don’t work
  • How to set aside time for communication
  • Why side-by-side conversations are often the most productive
  • The T.A.L.K. approach to conversation
  • How to fix things if the conversation goes badly (Note: It is ALWAYS the adult’s responsibility to repair the relationship. Don’t expect your son to take the first step)
  • Why you must be vulnerable in conversation
  • How to set realistic expectations
  • Males’ tendency to process feelings via action & females’ tendency to process via words
  • Timing conversation (a.k.a, why it’s important to make yourself available when they want to talk)
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

How to Listen so Boys Will Talk — BuildingBoys blog post by Rob Brown

What Do Teenagers Want? Potted Plant Parents New York Times article mentioned at 6:14

How to Raise a Boy: The Power of Connection to Build Good Men — book by Michael C. Reichert, mentioned at about 10:30

Episode 129: Grief with Tom Golden — podcast episode mentioned at 16:41