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raising sons

Dear boy moms, you are blessed and this is why…

(Inside: If you are raising sons, your life is so very blessed. Here is why…)

I was positive that when I started having babies, I would have a daughter. Absolutely positive.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I gave birth to one son, then a second son, then a third.

Three boys.

I’ve found, in being a boy mom, I get similar comments. For example, someone will see me with my sons and say:

  •  “So – are you going to try for your girl?”
  • “Three boys… whoa… you must be tired.” (Which, let’s be clear – I am.)
  • “All boys. Man, I feel sorry for you.”
  • Or that awful saying: A son is your son until he takes him a wife. A daughter is your daughter for the rest of your life.
Bring your beloved family of boys closer together in 30 days with the Family Prayer Journal. Read more here…

What raising sons looks like…

A few years ago, my family and I were eating breakfast at my grandmother’s senior living center. It was normal family mayhem. My husband and I helped our kids through the buffet. (“No, you cannot pile only doughnuts on your plate.”) We were up and down during the meal. Orange juice spilled; syrup dripped. Then our chaos was interrupted.

A resident came over to our table and said to me, “You have such beautiful boys.” She hesitated as if trying to decide if she should say more…

I waited for the BUT…

But, I saw those boys wrestling…

I thought the woman might comment with eyebrows raised, “I watched those boys dogpile each other in the lobby.” Yes, they do that. At retirement centers, at target, and in our church foyer. I was not prepared for my sons’ need to daily put each other in a headlock.

But that’s okay because I can get their dad to help. “Husband,” I say, please make these boys stop wrestling. So, his solution? To simultaneously put all three in the full nelson hold. (“Thanks, honey – effective, really effective.”)

Grandpas aren’t any help either…

But, I heard about their schoolwork…

Or maybe the lady would shake her head and say, “But, your grandma told me about the story your son wrote.” You see, I love writing – so I couldn’t wait to read the beautiful words my sons would weave together for school assignments. When my 1st grader brought home his first book, I held it in my hands with great anticipation.

However, the title made me have some doubts. It said, “The Day I Kicked Down a Snowman.” I began reading.

One day my friend and I made a snowman.
The snowman was little.​
We played battle when we were done.​
I kicked the snowman down.​
No more snowman.​
The End.

Then on the last page was a note from the teacher that said: “Sounds exciting! See me!”

But, that bathroom situation…

Or maybe the woman would sigh, “But, I used the family bathroom after your boys.” Oh please don’t let that be the case. I had no idea the toilet would be such an issue in raising little boys. One day, about 5 minutes after I bleached the bathroom (again), I saw that “faithful puddle” at the base of the toilet. It’s so confusing. I know my kids have aim because they always seem to hit the back rim of the oval, so the pee slides down the sides to the floor – that back rim is like a 1-inch by 4-inch rectangle, if they can hit that, surely, they can get to the wide oval center.

At that moment, I was so frustrated, I went all math-teacher-mom on them –  I grabbed a tape measure, measured the diameter of the oval compared to the rectangular back rim, did a little geometric probability, and found that there’s about a 98% chance of the boys getting their streams in the toilet. 

I told my young boys: The. Odds. Are. In. Your. Favor!

I’m a boy mom too…

However, none of those “buts” is what the lady from the retirement home said. Instead, she explained, 

“I have three sons, too, and I love it. They take such good care of me.” She said it with such joy and pride, and went on to give me examples of how her sons loved her well. The wisdom of her 90-something years and the passion in her voice stirred my emotions. She ended our conversation by firmly stating, “My sons take better care of me than…”

(Ready for this?)

“any daughter ever could. I am so happy I have three sons.”

This is also what raising sons look like…

Over the years, I’ve thought about her words – and I’d say they’re true…

My boys have given me a million snuggles and hugs and kisses.

My kids have written “I love you, mom” and drawn pictures of me on cards for holidays.

They’ve scribbled kind thank you notes: “Thank you for helping us with homework, cooking us food, and letting us get a dog.”

At their musical, band concerts, and games they look into the crowd to make sure I’m there.

When we’re walking into buildings, they open the door for me. 

When I pull into the garage with my van full of groceries, they get on their shoes and help me carry the bags in.  

They’ll be chatty with me describing in detail all aspects of their day, but then clam up around other people.

They love when I’m home and tell me so.

In their own unique ways, with their given personalities – every day, my kids show me that they love me.

If you’re raising sons, you are blessed…

So, that morning at the retirement home, I let the sweet lady’s words soak in as she turned to walk away. She took a few steps away and I found myself calling out to her, “Thank you… Thank you for saying that to me.”

She turned back around and our eyes met. We exchanged a knowing look that only two mothers of all boys would understand, connecting us across two generational gaps.

Mother of all boys. I am so very blessed.

Shopping for your family?

Best Booklist for High School Teenagers

Best Booklist for Middle School Tweens

Inspirational Books Moms Will Love to Read

Gift Ideas for Moms of Tweens and Teens

Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys

Gift Ideas for Teenage Girls

45+ Inexpensive Stocking Stuffers for Tweens and Teens

Easter Baskets Stuffer Ideas for Big Kids

And so many more great lists of must-haves built just for families of big kids on Empowered Moms and Kid’s specialized Amazon Affiliate Storefront…

Do you want to raise men of faith?

Me too.

I hope my sons believe that God is working in their lives and is always near. I desire for my sons to daily talk to God and ask for his guidance and help.

But there are practices and homework and orthodontist appointments and all the things. How do you teach daily faith in a tangible way?

Growing up my family prayed together as much as our busy schedule allowed in a very imperfect way before bed, and it’s left a lasting impact on me. It’s one of my best teen-years memories. It was short, yet powerful.

Family prayer is a daily routine that gives our kids a chance to be heard, unpack their day, and then point them back to the source of our strength. 

It can take 30 seconds or 30 minutes, depending on what’s going on that evening for your family. Read more about the 7 powerful reasons to pray as a family, then I hope you enjoy the prayer journal as much as my family has. 


Join our community of moms raising older kids…

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below.

Author’s note: When I published the original version of this story on The Huffington Post, it went viral. I had an opportunity recently to audition for a mom-story-telling show. When I thought about the story I wanted to share, I kept going back to this near-and-dear-to-my-heart moment. I love how the power of one person’s words can be so uplifting. So, I combined the Huffington Post piece with a talk I had done at MOPS on raising sons. This was the result. So, here’s an updated version from the perspective of a mom now raising older sons. I hope you enjoy it. 

best podcasts for teenage boys

15+ Best Podcasts to Inspire and Motivate Our Teen Boys

(Inside: Best podcasts for teenage boys. Inspire and motivate our teen boys with these awesome podcasts.)

I stepped out of my car and visually took in his house.

Wow. This is more than I could ever afford.

I knew this man (a friend of a friend) had barely graduated from high school. He certainly didn’t have a 4-year degree. Or a 2-year degree. Or maybe not even a certificate of anything. I was there to tutor his high school son in math. As I entered his home, I was equally impressed with the beauty and show of wealth.

Week after week, I came into this family’s home and helped the son get his grade up. Finally, I couldn’t even stand it anymore. I ask the dad, “Tell me your journey to success.”

And the door was open…

He explained that he was working, not making the money he needed, depressed, and overwhelmed with his lack of knowing what he wanted to do with his life. So, he started listening to motivational podcasts. (Back when they were cassette tapes.) He listened over and over to inspirational words until he believed he could achieve his dreams, which was to start his own business…

And that’s what kicked off his drive to build his empire: encouraging words.

Inspirational and Motivational Men for Our Boys to Look Up To

I understand his story. Podcasts to me are life-changing. I listen to them while I walk/jog. I listen to them on my way to work. I soak them in as I create images for this blog. The positive messages they convey are inspiring. 

Except, there seems to be an amazing amount of women cheering each other on, but I’ve had more trouble finding male influences that speak to the soul of a young man the same way my women podcasters uniquely speak to my heart. (Of course I think women’s voices are vital in raising our sons, but it was bubbling from inside of me to find strong, motivational men of integrity for my tween/teenage sons to learn from.) So, I asked my students, friends, The Google and listened to a bazillion podcasts…

I wasn’t disappointed – I found some great podcasts and I’m sharing them with you…  (As always, I don’t agree with everything everyone says. And not every podcast is right for every listener. But this is a great place to start when you’re trying to find that motivational person who will inspire your family.)


Related article: Frustrated Mom – Your Teen Will Find Success

Photo by Reynier Carl on Unsplash

Best Podcasts for Teenage Boys for Inspiration to Grow into Awesome Human Beings

Eric Thomas, The Secret to Success Podcast

A student recommended this Eric Thomas’ motivational podcast. I’ve seen such growth and maturity in my student over the years, I had to take a listen and it’s good!

Listen to the podcast here: The Secret to Success Podcast

Tim Williams, Inspirational Speaker

Tim started a Thrivehood podcast specifically to mentor and inspire young men through the teen years.  With wisdome and humor, he talks about a varietly of topics that help teens thrive through the growth and maturity process. 

Check out the podcast here: Thrivehood Podcast

Miles Adcox, Inspirational Speaker

Because this post is about finding strong men of integrity for our boys to learn from, I’m only going to focus on Miles. (Ruthie, you’re awesome though!) Miles Adcox is the “owner and CEO of Onsite, an internationally acclaimed emotional health retreat center that delivers life-changing personal growth workshops, inspiring content, leadership retreats, and emotional health intensives.” Miles hosts a podcast called Unspoken with Ruthie Lindsey. They have meaningful conversations with their diverse guests. They have a unique way of getting people to open up and share with moves them. 

I listened to this interview with John Batiste and thought it was great. This is the type of man I want my sons to learn from. Jon Batiste work has included being the Musical Director of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Artistic Director At Large of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, and Musical Director for The Atlantic. His first solo album, Hollywood Africans, was nominated for a GRAMMY.  

Find Miles at his podcast here: Unspoken

Michael Hyatt, Expert on Leadership

Michale Hyatt specializes in motivating people to lead. No matter where our sons are in their lives, we want them to be leaders. Meaning, they lead themselves in striving for excellence, they lead in our homes by being motivated to help clean and contribute to the family, they lead in their peer circles by encouraging others to be “includers” and make good choices, and I could forever go on. Michael speaks to men with soul, passion, and faith. He’s one to listen to. 

Here’s Michael’s regular podcast: Lead to Win

Do you want to connect with your teens over great conversations? Read more here.

Alex and Brett Harris, Motivational Speakers

These twin brothers took the internet by storm as “they challenged their peers to rebel against low expectations and do hard things.” So, here’s the bummer – as engaging and inspirational as these young men are – they don’t have a podcast. (And all the moms of teens cry oceans of tears.) But they’re worth a mention because they speak specifically to motivate and inspire teens out of laziness and apathy. (It should be noted here that in all my years of teaching high school, I’ve found that all teenagers want to find their purpose and learn how to use their gifts. Every. Single. Teen.) So, I tracked down this interview to inspire teens.

Here’s the brothers’ website: The Rebelution

best podcasts for teenage boys

Dream Big Podcast with Bob Goff and Friends, Personal Growth

When I started searching for podcasts for my tween/teenage sons to be inspired by, Bob Goff’s was exactly what I was looking for. His website describes his podcast best: 

“This podcast is all about guiding you to discover, declare, and take action on the big ambitions you have for your life. Each month we’ll focus on one of the foundational principles of the Dream Big Framework.

Every episode you’ll be hearing from one of Bob’s friends, who’s been learning how to chase their big ambitions, despite the bumps and turns life can throw at all of us.”

Listen to the podcast here: Dream Big Podcast with Bob Goff and Friends

Dr. Phil, Psychologist/Therapist

Parents of tweens/teens fell in love with Dr. Phil’s matter-of-fact, common-sense advice through first seeing him on Oprah. But, our kids don’t know Dr. Phil. So, let me tell you, I was thrilled to see that he hosts a podcast. He’s still at it. Listening to people’s problems and with kindness but firmness, sheds practical and inspiring light onto everyone’s situations.  

Listen to the podcast here: Dr. Phil in the Blanks

Richard Nicholls – Motivate Yourself Podcast 

Richard Nicholls is a psychotherapist who does these popular 15-minute podcasts to help you get inspired and motivated. (He’s massively popular in the UK.) I liked this podcast on “How to Feel Alive.” After listening – I felt walked with a little more spring in my step.

Listen to the podcast here: Richard Nicolls – Motivate Yourself Podcast

Trent Shelton – Straight Up with Trent Shelton Podcast 

My son and I listen to this as we drive to and/or from soccer practice. He just speaks a lot of common sense with passion and conviction. I liked Episode 63: Stop Wasting Time on the 99%. Focus on the 1% who Care. He encourages people to think about the people in their lives who really matter, telling a touching and eye-opening story about the people who showed up when his mom was sick.

Listen to the podcast here: Straight Up with Trent Shelton

Photo by Joel De Vera on Unsplash

Best Podcasts for Teenage Boys for Learning About Money

Dave Ramsey

You might be wondering why I am recommending a financial guru, but I have a high school student who loves him. There are tweens/teens out there who are super interested in money. (I have a middle-schooler at home who is planning out already how to make his fortune. I have another elementary-age son who worked really hard in his school fundraiser because he thought he got to keep the money himself. I laughed so hard when he told me this – but I also beamed at his work ethic. *Now if only he’d apply that work ethic to keeping his room clean.*) Not only does Dave know his stuff, but I’m super impressed with his character. He is a strong man for teens to learn from. 

Listen to Dave’s podcast here: The Dave Ramsey Show

Best Podcasts for Teenage Boys for Growing Faith

Tim Mackie & Jon Collins

Tim and Jon dive deep into biblical theology in a way that is profound and thought-provoking. They capture the young minds of our worlds and help them to see Jesus all around them. Their podcasts are something else – in the very best way.

Listen to their podcast here: The Bible Project

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce spoke at our church about faith and culture and life – I just can’t really describe what an impact he had on our family. He makes you think in the best of ways, and we talked about his message for days. So, I was thrilled to see that he had a podcast. If you’re looking for a faith-based podcast geared specifically toward teens and young adults, he’s a great one to check out.

Listen to Ben and his team’s podcast here: Provoke & Inspire Pocast

Joshua Dubois

Joshua Debois gained notability as The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships in President Obama’s first term. He sent President Obama daily devotions, which he later turned into a book. Joshua then started his own successful consulting company. He is an amazing voice in our world. He speaks wisely and inspirationally regarding faith, issues specifically impacting African Americans, and living life well. He doesn’t have his own podcast, but he is featured in the below podcast. Joshua is a strong, hard-working, faith-filled, ambitious man for our young men to follow. 

Best Podcasts for Teenage Boys for Creating Life-Long Learners

Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad. Radio Lab Podcasts (Science)

This podcast captured my attention because it’s an engaging and interesting way to get our teens thinking about science and the world around them.  The podcast moves through exploring the “big questions” in science, philosophy, and mankind with curious questions, interesting dialogue, and a hold-your-attention speed.

For example, this episode questions where animals go in the winter.  The hosts  (with an 11-year-old) visit a Bavarian farm where they “follow warblers and wildebeests around the world, and get a totally new kind of view of the pulsing flow of animals across the globe.”

Side note: Naturally in science evolution is discussed. Being a Christian who teaches math at a large public high school, I’m okay with all of the discussions. I firmly believe in creation, but bring on the other theories. Let’s talk about it all!

Listen to the podcast here: Radiolab

Chris Anderson – Ted Interview

One of my most valuable teaching strategies in trying to educate my high school students is storytelling. There’s something about the lesson you learn through a story and how it reaches deep into our hearts and finds a place to connect and stays.

The Ted Talk podcast is storytelling. Their website says, “Head of TED Chris Anderson speaks with some of the world’s most interesting people to dig into the provocative and powerful ideas of our time.”

Listen to the podcast here: TED Interview Podcasts


Dear Hank & John Podcast

Okay, here’s why I like these two. They talk about the things you notice in life like:

  • Why does my brain release endorphins for things that are bad for me?
  • How do you interject in conversations smoothly?
  • How do we know no two snowflakes are alike?

They discuss these thoughts in an engaging, smart, and fun manner. When I think about one of my parenting goals of creating lifelong learners and listening to men who ask smart questions –  I like the idea of my sons listening to a podcast like this. 

Listen to the Podcast here: Dear Hank & John

How to! With Charles Duhigg Podcast

I first hear Charles Duhigg talk about his podcast here and I was fascinated. He takes smart topics, odd issues, random problems – it all – and helps us all peel back the layers and wonder what is really happening. It encourages us to think analytically and wisely as we solve each other’s problems. There’s a topic that for sure will engage your teen’s brain.

Listen to the podcast here: How to! With Charles Duhigg Podcast

Related article: 146+ Best Chapter Books for Tweens that will also Build Character


Shopping for your family?

Best Booklist for High School Teenagers

Best Booklist for Middle School Tweens

Inspirational Books Moms Will Love to Read

Gift Ideas for Moms of Tweens and Teens

Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys

Gift Ideas for Teenage Girls

45+ Inexpensive Stocking Stuffers for Tweens and Teens

Easter Baskets Stuffer Ideas for Big Kids

And so many more great lists of must-haves built just for families of big kids on Empowered Moms and Kid’s specialized Amazon Affiliate Storefront…

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below. 

get your sons to talk and open up

How to Get Your Quiet Tween/Teenage Son to Open Up to You

(Inside: Do you want your quiet child middle to talk to you more? 5 tips for parents on how to get your tween or younger teenage son to open up to you.)

“Emma came home from your house and spent 30 minutes telling me every single detail of what happened,” my friend gave me the wide-eyed-so-many-words-from-a-tiny-human look.

I howled. Emma was at our house for only 20 minutes. I could just imagine her describing to her mom every intricate deal with animated hand gestures, dramatic pauses, and a wide range of octaves. Thirty minutes worth. Oh goodness. Sweet bubbly Emma.

Then a stab of jealousy cut through me…

My boys don’t share like that. They just don’t. Other parents say that a chatty child can be a bit much at times BUT I DON’T HEAR YOU, YOU LUCKY DOGS. I can’t even understand your life. I better connect with the mom who told me she would bribe her school-age son with chips to share about his day with her. He’d have to tell her something *anything* about his day to get his after-school snack: 1 fact = 1 chip. Brilliant.

Tween and Teenage Boys Want to Be Heard

However, even though my middle school boys are quiet, I know they want to be heard. A Harvard study was done over 268+ men’s entire adult life span to determine what made them the happiest. Do you know what the results were? Men were happier when they held strong relationships. Men need people to connect with. And one needs words to build relationships.

So, momma with a quiet son, let’s let this fact empower us. We raise happier boys to become happier men when we teach them to connect through their words.

And we can do this. We’re women, after all, and we invented talking. We can teach our boys to find and use their voices in a natural, healthy way that fits their personalities.

I did a ton of reading on this topic and came up with six powerful tools to help your quiet tween or teenage son open up and talk to you. These ideas will validate what you’re already doing – yeah, strong momma! – and hopefully, give you a few good ideas to unlock the heart of your child.

quiet child
Connect with your quiet son over these conversation starters.

Tool #1: Narrow Down Your Parenting Focus

I’ve heard it said, “If you try and get everything done, you won’t get anything done.” This is true for parenting. We are trying to teach our kids so much:  to be kind, to give, to be leaders, to be happy, to thrive in school, and more… But, we can’t effectively focus on everything at once – that’s intake overload for our children.

Pick one important lesson and focus on that for a week, a month, six months…  Right now, my focus is on getting my three sons to share on a deeper level than, “everything’s fine.”

Tool #2: Persist

Y’all, persistence is our secret weapon. (I’m pretty sure moms invented that too.) If you want to build a good relationship with your kids – persist. They are teenagers, of course, they will sometimes resist, but don’t take it personally.

Think about all the changes they are going through: How come their body just grew 6 inches? Why does their elementary school bestie ignore them now at middle school? What is this test with an actual grade? How did I just get cut from the team? You mean my mom can’t just sign me up for the play, I have to audition?… They’re life just got FOR REALZ.

But in almost two decades of teaching high school, I’ve learned with absolute certainty that all students want their parents to pay attention to them. Yes, even the apathetic ones. And especially the ones with attitude.

So, keep trying different ways to connect with your child. Things won’t change overnight, but still – go after your kids’ hearts with gusto. Let them see this isn’t a passing fad; you’re serious about connecting with them.

“Anything worthwhile takes time and effort, and that’s true when it comes to establishing communication with your kids. If communication hasn’t been good, chances are that they will not decide, all of a sudden to start opening up with you and carrying on a deep dialogue. You must continuously work at keeping the lines of communication open and demonstrate that your willingness to listen and discuss things calmly and rationally is not a passing fad.” Dr. Kevin Leman, Child Psychologist 

A Priceless Bonus to Your Persistence

If parents can connect with their kids every day, they’ll lay out a strong safety net for their kids in times of crisis.

“When tensions are high, your child is not going to be in a position to open up to you. Engage early and often, before there is a problem. This way you will develop a rapport with your child that will be very important when an actual crisis arise” Valle Dwight

Some of the best things in life only come after epic amounts of persistence. So keep going. With confidence. And expect to see sparks of hope.

quiet child
Connect with your quiet son over these conversation starters.

Tool #3: Make Daily Space for Conversation with Your Quiet Child

When I was pregnant with my first child, I taught high school, tutored students, coached, chaperoned dances, and more. I loved it all. However, I started to question my workaholic tendencies. 

I talked to one of our administrators about quitting coaching. She said the opposite of what I predicted, “It’s a good idea. When you put something new on your plate, you have to take something off.” This successful and admired career woman gave me permission to not try and “have it all.” {Sigh of relief.}

Parents – if we want to get our kids to talk to us, we must make space for it in our lives – even if that means taking something off of our plates. Make space to promote talking through two avenues:

Promote Conversation through Daily Family Time

Growing up, I remember family vacations, Christmas celebrations, and birthday parties. But do you know what I remember with greater fondness?

When my parents gathered us before bed in the living room to pray. (In which my sister and I giggled inappropriately through these prayer sessions.)

And when my sister turned her daily mundane into hilarious stories she told around the dinner table.

Or when my mom lined up the bowls and boxes of cereal in the morning for us to eat breakfast together.

I remember the daily moments of being together. In the daily moments is when we really lived. It’s when we shared and laughed and got to know each other. Mommas, let’s…

  • Reclaim the dinner table
  • Share a morning hot drink with our kids
  • Linger at “tuck-ins”
  • Create evening connecting time
  • Teen boys talk more when you are doing something as a family like chores, shopping, fishing, walking, driving to practices…etc. They often open up more shoulder-to-shoulder over face-to-face.
  • Text often
  • Tak when you have a minute here, a second there. (My sister gave the whole birds and the bees speech during car rides, switching the laundry, making her teen a snack – only small moments, no big talk!)
  • And more

Let’s create consistent times for our families to connect. Our kids will find comfort in the routine and will even look forward to it. That’s when they’ll learn to unpack their thoughts. Mommas let’s never underestimate the power of creating daily space.

Promote Conversation Through One-On-One Time

This has happened a million times in the high school classroom. The hard-to-love student stays after for help. When peers vanish and he is receiving 100% of my attention as I tutor him, a completely different side of him emerges. Often, I learn not just what he’s not understanding in math, but how he’s feeling, and what’s going on in his life.

Kids crave one-on-one adult attention. They thrive under it. If your child is acting too-cool for it, don’t buy into it. Create “special time” with your child.

  • Take a walk
  • Go to a movie
  • Grocery shop
  • Hike
  • Buy new school clothes
  • Sit at a cafe.
  • Drive them to weekly tutoring, even if he has his license. (I know a mom who did this – the 20-minute drive was their “talk time.” They both loved it.)
  • Find out what your kid wants to do and do it! (Again, a teen being able to focus on doing something often helps them feel more comfortable with opening up.)

Ask your child what they want to do and spend an hour, an evening, or a day with your child. There are things your child will tell you only when you are alone. You might not even have to ask the question – you have already set the stage for your child to open up to you.  Go get those spoken words.

quiet child
Connect with your quiet son over these conversation starters.

Tool #4: Share What’s Exciting and Interesting About Your Daily Life

Yes, we like to talk about that big promotion or the epic trip to Florida – but happiness comes from seeing the ordinary as fun. Every day there are vast opportunities to engage, share our gifts, and learn. All of life is exciting. I loved this quote:

“Most families tend to rush through dinner, especially the kids. They can’t wait to get back to their computers and cell phones and iPods. But they’ll stick around if the conversation is interesting. And the biggest determinant is YOU. If you see yourself and your life as a crashing bore, your kids will see the same thing. But if you see your life as an endless succession of miraculous and fascinating events, your kids will be transformed by it.” -Shmuley Boteach

Find ways to share your heart with your kids. I’m not asking you to be best friends with your kids, you still are THE PARENT, but share what makes you tick.

Your vulnerability will invite your child to open up. So, tell that antidote about your day. They’re listening, I promise – even if you think they aren’t.

Related Article: When You Doubt Your Sons Learn Your Life Lessons

Tool #5:  Ask Your Quiet Child Intentional Questions

My job as a high school teacher shifted within the school a few years back, and I found myself with a desk between the school counselor and the AP psychology teacher. Life. Changing. They taught me to better ask questions to help really get to know our students.

1. Find the types of questions your kid responds to.

Sometimes kids need warm-up questions before they’ll open up and share. Start the conversation about what your kid is passionate about and easily talks about. Even if that’s…ugh, the mindless, boring topic of video games. Ask about sports, art, friends, family…just get them to talk. Once kids get going talking, they’ll often more easily transition into deeper conversation.

For example, I found that if I ask my quiet child specific questions about their school-day routine, doing my best to not sound like I’m “grilling” him, I often stumble across gold.

This happened the other day when I asked him questions like,  Where is your locker located? How often do you go to it? After which class period? Do you talk to anyone at your locker? He shared that he felt like a friend who invites him over all the time and ignores him at school. Jackpot!

Keep asking questions. Be creative. You know your kid. What makes him talk? Start there and work yourself to the hard stuff (“How does that make you feel that your friend ignores you?”)

There are gems tucked in your kid’s words – be creative with your questions until you find them.

family at dinner table

2. Look for areas in the conversation where you can dive deeper.

Look for patterns in the conversation with your quiet child.

Once my son mentioned several times how “he forgot to send himself a valentines candy at school.” The school sold those candies you bought and sent to friends. Of course, the middle school boys either sent them to themselves or didn’t participate. I found out he thought it’d be nice to get one. I was surprised – I didn’t think he’d care. What are your kids repeating? What do you think that means? Ask them about it.

Look for the deeper life lessons and places for self-reflection tucked in the conversation

A friend told me her son only wants to talk about football. But there is a whole slew of life lessons in that sport. You could ask:

  • How are you a leader in football?
  • Which of your friends is the best at football? What makes them the best?
  • Does hard work matter?
  • How do you feel when the team loses?
  • How do you feel when you get knocked down?
  • What makes you angry about football?
  • Tell me about the aspects of football do you love the most?

Moms, what do you want to learn about your sons? How he thinks, feels, and connects with people? What makes him tick? Ask him those things, just tuck it into what he likes to talk about anyway.

quiet child
Connect with your quiet son over these conversation starters.

Tool #6: Listening to your quiet child

1. Practice Holding Your Tongue

The other night my son was upset with me and so he told me all the reasons. I thought he was being ridiculous, but instead of jumping into all the I-am-right-you-are-wrong-son, I held my tongue. I’d lecture him enough over the span of his life; he knows what I think. Instead, I thanked him for sharing his thoughts and tucked him into bed.

Just like we don’t always want people to “fix our problems,” our kids just sometimes want to be heard.  (Source)

2. Pay Attention to Body Language/Actions Telling You He Needs You to Listen

One son won’t ever say, “Mom, I want to talk.” But he’ll just hang around me. He’ll grab a book and read it in the same room. If I move, he’ll follow. I’ve learned when he sticks close to stop, if I look ready to listen, and ask, “What’s on your mind,” often, he actually tells me!

3. Listen Even When It’s Inconvenient

I had a cleaning schedule, I was so close to the end goal and right then and there one of my boys decided to open up. When I’m on a roll, it’s so darn hard to stop – but I did. And I learned some good stuff about my kid through his words. Our boys will open up at the most inconvenient times, but if communication is a goal, and if our task isn’t pressing, we should stop and listen.

Tool #7: Persist Again with your quiet child

You might be experiencing success and you might not  – either way, keep persisting. Show our sons that getting to know them through words isn’t a passing fad.

How do I Connect with Tween/Teenage Quiet Child More?

My sons will probably never come home for a 20-minute “play date” and tell me 30 minutes of details about what happened. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a need to communicate.

They need to be heard.

They need to build relationships by using words.

And who better to work with this on this than their moms – people who know words and like to use them. Persist. Pause to see your small progress. Keep moving forward. Go after your sons’ hearts with fervor.

Be encouraged not just in connecting with your quiet child, but also in all areas of parenting by reading the full series…

My oldest son started high school last week and I’m still in a coma because of it. Even though I’ve taught high school for over two decades, I’m confused as to how I’m actually old enough to be a parent of a high schooler. 

Teaching high schoolers has always been a passion of mine, but now parenting them is as well. I could research, write, and talk about this topic until eternity. I hope you are encouraged by some of my articles.

Parenting Tweens and Teens Series

A Simple and Effective Way to Encourage Your Teen

How to Get Your Teen/Teen to Their “Aha Moment”

Parenting is Hard: This One Thought Can Help You Better Thrive
7 Reasons Why Raising Tweens & Teens is the Best

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