Conversations with Your Teen Sons!

My brother and I have an uncle that lives in Florida. He and my brother have always had a very close relationship. Whenever anyone asks my now-grown brother why he loves his uncle so much, he always says that when he was young, Uncle Jim made him feel just as important as the adults in the room.


Photo: Thomas Sørensen
Photo: Thomas Sørensen


During the phase of life when teenagers so often feel overlooked and under-appreciated, Uncle Jim made my brother feel valued, not just by expressing affection, but by engaging him in great conversations and showing sincere interest in his life.

Sadly, many of our sons don’t have an “Uncle Jim” in their lives. Some may not have any strong male role models to speak of. But even if they do, this doesn’t let us moms off the hook! Our teen sons need this same sort of affirmation from their mothers.

We need to carve out time from our mothering routines to engage them in great conversations. {tweet this}

You might be thinking, I talk to my son all the time! And of course you do. You’re his mother, after all. But if your mother-son relationship looks anything like mine, more often than not the conversations revolve around discipline issues or general care-giving. We talk to them about how they can improve their attitudes, pick up after themselves, treat their siblings better, and making sure they are eating well. Some, perhaps even most, days, our “quality time” with our teen sons consists of driving them to school, sports practice, music lessons, etc., etc.

The rushing and racing and disciplining and care-giving is all part of being a mom.

But mothers, we can’t let these interactions be the core of our relationships with our sons.

As our sons grow from children to young adults, they need us, their mothers, to engage them in the sorts of conversations that make them feel like young adults – conversations that encourage them to be strong men of God.

Keep It Simple

For some of us, these conversations aren’t easy. Perhaps our sons seem distant and disinterested. Perhaps it feels like you share little to no common ground. And these things may be true, but we all need to start somewhere. Keep it simple!

  • You don’t need to jump straight to “what is the meaning of life?”
  • Try asking your son’s thoughts on a particular book or TV show.
  • If he’s interested in a subject you’re not familiar with, ask him to explain it to you.
  • Engage him in a “grown up” conversation about politics or current events.
  • Challenge him to develop an interest in these areas. {My son loves to have discussions about these things and feel included in the world of adulthood.}

Once you’ve breached the gap with these sorts of intermediate topics, you can start to dig deeper. Really get to know your son, and take an active part in developing the man he is – all too quickly – becoming. 


Make Deposits

Then Go Deeper

Although dads often play the bigger role in talks involving girls, puberty, sex, and the dangers of pornography, moms can, and should, still be a part of these conversations. Some of you single moms may need to have all of these talks with your sons. Regardless of your situation, don’t shy away from these topics. They are some of the most important in his life, and your maternal perspective is invaluable.

After all, Proverbs doesn’t distinguish between fathers and mothers when it commands in Proverbs 22:6 (ESV), “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

  • Have conversations about his ambitions and dreams for the future.
  • Ask him for his thoughts on spiritual topics, and make sure he knows you’re praying for him.
  • Above all, seek to encourage, and not to tear down.
  • He needs to hear you point out his strengths and validate his contributions.
  • He needs to hear how much to love him and how he makes you proud (even if it makes him blush!).

Make sure you aren’t always talking on your turf. By that I mean, make an effort to bond with your sons in places where he feels comfortable. Exercise together. Who says moms can’t shoot hoops or toss a ball? If you allow video games, play with them sometimes.  Go out on a “date night” at a restaurant he likes. Whatever it is, let your son know you want to share some time doing something he enjoys.

I know talking to your teen son can be awkward, for them and for us. But do it anyway!  If he pushes you away, don’t give up.  Sometimes it will feel like you have to pull conversations out of your teen son, and that’s okay.  If you have younger boys, start great conversations now!  The earlier you start, the less awkward they will be. It won’t always be easy, but it will always be worth it!

“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.”
Chuck Swindoll

What about you? Do you ever struggle to be a mother to growing boys?

What are some ways you’ve found to connect with your teen sons?


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