My son walks in the door from work, and I reach out to him, hugging him as tightly as long as he’ll let me. It’s not long before he breaks loose and opens the fridge. I ask him how his day was, and I get a grunt. I tell him what’s for dinner, and I get, “Okay.”
I ask him what’s new in his life, and he says nothing and shrugs as he opens a bottle of Boost and looks down at his phone.
I pick my daughter up from work, and she doesn’t say much on the drive home. She is seventeen and has a vast world outside me, including friends, young men, a job, and hobbies. We are looking at colleges and institutions for her to attend when she graduates, and it’s hard for me to get a read on what she’s thinking.
My questions annoy my teens
Just like my son, my daughter takes a lot of priming before she will talk about herself, her life, and what’s going on in her world. If I ask too many questions, my kids get annoyed. If I don’t say the right thing, they get annoyed. They get annoyed if I ask them the same thing on the same day.
But as a mom, I can’t not ask my kids questions about their day or how they are feeling, or if everything is okay. I want to know if they are physically and mentally all right. I need to remind them that they can ask me anything. I want to hear about friends and relationship problems. I want to know if something happened at work or if they are worried about someone.
I just want to know how my teens are doing
Moms of teens want to get in on their kids’ lives. Communication with our teens is one of the few ways we can gauge how they are doing since we are rarely with them but cracking the code that will let us in is challenging. They are young adults, but they will always be our kids, and we want to protect them from the world.
How can we do that if we can’t get them to talk to us?
Like me, you’ve pressed your teen about something until they’ve stormed off and wholly ignored your texts. You’ve reached out to another family member or one of their friends to see if they know what’s going on. And you’ve wondered what you are doing something wrong. You try only to ask them the most crucial questions because you don’t want to annoy them to the point where they stop communicating altogether.
I used to know every detail of my kids’ lives
You used to hear every detail of their lives. There were days when they didn’t even have a bowel movement or blink funny without you hearing about it. And now you are proceeding with caution because you know if you try to get them to talk by pressing too hard, you will get exactly nothing.
When our kids stop talking, it is heartbreaking — not talking to your child as much as you used to leave a vacuum with plenty of space for your mind to wander and worry. It’s a loss that you are expected to go along with and act as if all is well even though it’s painful.
I thought I would get used to the silence
I have three pretty quiet teens, especially regarding what’s happening with them. In time, I thought I’d get used to this silence, or one of them would crack and fill me in on everything. That’s not how it worked out.
So, if your teen is quiet and you feel left out of their lives and like your heart is a bit beat up, please know that you aren’t alone. You are allowed to mourn what was, which doesn’t make you a helicopter mom. It simply makes you human.
All I can offer is this: Keep asking the questions. Yes, they will get annoyed, and sometimes they’ll leave or tell you to stop being so nosy but be nosy anyway. They may never tell you this, but I think they want you to ask them about their lives, and maybe someday, they will let you in again.
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