Carolyn Hax: The more I nag, the more he shuts down

DEAR CAROLYN: Our 16-year-old son has always been taciturn; now he barely speaks to me. Our interactions have degenerated into me nagging him about his grades, chores and activities. He doesn’t appear to be depressed. I’ve asked — probably not the best approach — and he just laughs.

He is the only child in the house; his much-older brother was also challenging but with different issues. Your thoughts are appreciated.


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DEAR NAGGING: How much parenting (hate that as a verb, by the way) do you really still have to do at this point? Does he need the nagging on grades and chores and etc.? Can most of it be accomplished through natural consequences and reasonable parental limits, and occasional schedule confirmations?

I ask because the best thing you can do for your communication is to be a person who likes him as a person. Parents get so used to being the boss and the teacher and the disciplinarian and the banker and the manners-minder that sometimes just enjoying your kid gets pushed off the schedule.

It can be hard to get this back if you’re essentially years from the last time you had a shared activity beyond day-to-day life, but chances are there’s some old ember you can fan. Or you can introduce a new one, if you can resist pushing. Just cooking together side-by-side or hiking together without talking can, over time, loosen up bits of conversation.

The specifics of what you choose aren’t important, except that it needs to be near his wheelhouse and it needs to be something you can credibly do. Being in motion, concentrating on something else, not face-to-face — these are ideal conditions for people to let their guards down. Again — you must resist the urge to push for

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


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