Your son will invite you into his world if he believes you are genuinely interested in him. When you are talking with your son, ask him specific questions about his – accomplishments, struggles, goals, fears, relationships, and dreams.
Developing ways to know your son:
DREAM WITH HIM
Men tend to talk about their dreams as if they will attempt to carry them out. So you would be wise to allow your son to speak about his dreams without shooting “reality” into his plans.
Dream with your son. Enjoy your son as he shares his ambitions. There is plenty of time to talk to him about the dangers or challenges of specific opportunities–if he ever actually pursues them.
When you allow your son to share his dream openly, you are laying the groundwork for him to share other hopes and dreams with you in the future.
SHOULDER TO SHOULDER
When women visit they often sit across from each other, focusing directly on the conversation at hand. By contrast men tend to communicate side-by-side, often while doing a task at the same time.
If you want to get your son talking, remind yourself that his communication tendencies are likely different from yours. If you want to talk with your son, sit next to him when he is doing something he loves. Find ways to be involved in his activity.
Some of my best opportunities to talk with our oldest son, Tony, came sitting in his jeep while he worked on it. With his eyes focused on the engine, Tony’s mind and heart were engaged in our conversations.
I am certain if I had forced my son, Tony, to sit across from me and “share his deepest thoughts” I would have heard not a word.
If your son has a habit of disappearing to play with toys, follow him to his room sometime. Ask if he wouldn’t mind if you watched awhile. Yes, even if that means hours of observing him play with his Legos.
MAKE YOURSELF LISTEN as he plays. Don’t use that time to talk about all that is on your mind. Rather, determine to listen. Long periods of silence are okay; don’t feel you must fill the quiet with words.
ASK HIM JUST ONE THOUGHT PROVOKING QUESTION. Then see where he takes the conversation. Keep in mind you are there to observe, encourage, and maybe engage in his activity–not criticize how he plays, or clean up after him.
Although it might be hard for you to find time to do this because you have so many other pressing demands on your time:
Be careful you do not miss opportunities to get acquainted with your son’s heart.
Remember, there is an urgency to build this relationship. Your son will soon be grown, and the foundation you take time to lay now will reap blessings for years to come.
ENTER HIS WORLD
The mother of my precious son-in-law, Estevan, entered his world by playing video games with him. He has fond memories of the hours they spent together. Whenever Estevan speaks of those times with his mom, his eyes light up and he smiles. Sadly, Estevan’s mother died unexpectedly during his senior year of high school. The time she spent simply enjoying the company of her son, went on to leave a lasting impression upon him. In this case, time spent in front of video games was definitely not wasted!
ONE MOM’S EXAMPLE
When Yvonne’s son, Matthew, was wrestling with the issues of adolescence, he became interested in Civil War reenactments. Yvonne entered Matthew’s world when she embraced his newfound interest and got the whole family involved. Soon Matthew was dressed in full uniform and involved in the reenactments.
And Yvonne, once a feminist business executive now hand-stitches nineteenth-century dresses for her young daughter and herself. She spends her weekends camping at Civil War events, along with Matthew’s father, who also wholeheartedly engages in the activity.
Matthew has since graduated from high school. He is a wonderful, godly young man. He and Yvonne serve together as child advocates for Compassion International.
Should you ask Yvonne if the time she involved herself in her son’s activity was worth the sacrifice, I believe she would say, “What sacrifice?”
YOUR EFFORT WILL NOT BE WASTED
Whether your son is an athlete, spelling bee champion, musician, or computer wiz, if you make a habit of spending time alongside him and applauding his accomplishments, you will have become a very important part of his world. Your effort will speak to him, “I value you, so I value what’s important to you.”
I AM FOR YOU
As your son wrestles with the deep issues of life, he wants to believe you are for him rather than against him. Consider how you can best train, motivate, and inspire your son by devoting yourself to intentionally studying his character and listening to him.
The time you invest in building a close relationship with your son will knit his heart to yours, and you will win his trust. Earn your son’s trust and he will reward you the honorable position of confidant and counselor as you guide him toward independence.*
*excerpts taken from Moms Raising Sons to Be Men (Harvest House 2013)