Three Ways to Tune Into Your Teenage Son

Three Ways Tune Into Teenage Son

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Dear Mom,

When my son was young, I would think about the future and I often battled the fear of what might happen when he became a teenager. Do you ever feel that way? Knowing our relationship would change as he got older I was fearful of what it would turn into. Change was inevitable, but I didn’t want to lose the sweetness.

Fear not! There is hope!

One of the things I have worked hard to do is to nurture my relationship with him by connecting with him in any way possible.This connecting has looked different in each season, but here are just a few of the ways we’ve kept our relationship strong.

  • Model Humility: Admit When You Are Wrong

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…” (Colossians 3:12)

Beginning at a young age, my husband and I would regularly take the time to ask each child if there was anything that we were doing that bothered, hurt, or frustrated them. It often brought to light things that we didn’t realize we were doing. It gave us insight into where they were and how we could best encourage them.

I remember clearly the day I sat with my then elementary school age son and asked him if there was anything I was doing or saying that frustrated him, or anything I needed to work on as a mom. He quietly thought for a few minutes and then said,

“Well, Mom, sometimes at night when I wake up and I’m scared, I call out to you. And sometimes you get irritated. That kind of hurts my feelings.” Grieved by my lack of sensitivity, I asked him to forgive me and told him it was something I would work on. I thanked him for being brave enough to be honest with me. And from that day on I purposed to try to respond better when he woke me up in the middle of the night because he was afraid.

Practicing tuning in over the years has been very eye-opening and humbling, but it has shown our children that we’re people who are in a process of growing  just like they are. It has helped to pull our children closer to our side (even in their teen years!), helped my husband and I become better listeners, and has been used as a tool to help us become even better parents.

If we’re unable to receive input or we make excuses for our behavior such as claiming that we’re “too old to change,” we are the ones who lose! We will lose relationships with our children, opportunities to grow and be humbled, chance to set an example, and lastly, we will lose the respect of our children.

We must admit that we don’t know everything. We must not insist that our way is always the right way. It’s a good thing when our children see that we don’t know it all and that we’re seeking help from the only One who does. If we live humbly before our children, I believe it will be one of the most important things God uses to draw our children to Him.

  • Give Them The Gift of Silence

It’s easy to automatically reflect on our own childhood and want to give our children the “When I was your age . . .” lecture. I’ve found in most cases that this speech only causes frustration. Our children are not us. They’re individuals. They need us to be functioning in the here and now and focus on who they are. As easy as it can be for us to go down memory lane, our parenting should not be based on all that we experienced as children. It’s important that we purpose to seek wisdom from God and study who our children are as individuals.

As my kids approached the teen years, my husband and I found ourselves reflecting back on our own experiences, so we came up with a signal that we call the “You’re Going Down Memory Lane” signal! It’s a gentle reminder that helps us to listen more than we talk.

When I practice listening more than I talk as we are going about our daily lives, my son will often open up about what is on his mind. Many conversations happen when I least expect it–over a meal, in the car, or on the way to a sporting event.  It is easy to get stuck in “parenting mode”, “teaching mode”, or “lecture mode”, when a “be quiet and listen mode” is more appropriate.  This validates what they are thinking and feeling and that you really want to hear what they have to say!

  • Turn Off, But Tune In!

In this age of technology much of what we do is done on the computer or cell phone. It’s easy to be distracted by what is now an ever-present pull, easily accessible, and seemingly urgent. Starting when they were very young, as much as possible, I have made it a policy to turn off all technology when my family enters the room, so that I can focus on them with as little distraction as possible. Of course, at times that may not be possible. I may need to finish up an email or quickly come to a breaking point on a project. There are times when we’re watching a movie as a family or when everyone is busy doing their own thing, so it’s okay to continue working, but as much as I possibly can, my computer closes when my family is home together. It shows them they are what is most important and that I want to focus on them with no distractions.

Modern technology is much more than a distraction, though, and it can be used for good! Because of the technology we do have, there are many creative ways to use it to tune in and communicate with our children. For example, the cell phone can be a wonderful way to keep in touch. As soon as your child gets a cell phone, start texting them regularly!

Messages like,

“Just checking in.”

“I love you.”

“I’m proud of you.”

“I’m thankful for you.”

“When will you be home?” reaffirm your interest in and affection for your teenage son. Cell phones and text messages are just another way I can tune in and connect with them. It’s a great way to take advantage of this age of technology.

Even though my children are now grown, I continue to look for ways to tune in. I don’t think that will ever end no matter what season of life I’m in. Yes, it does take time and creativity and just when we think we have it down, our kids grow and change. Then we have to try new ways to tune in. Our children are worth the effort, don’t you think?

150 150Gina Smith has been married to Brian for 25 years, and has been a mom for 23 years. Her husband and children have been her greatest gifts! Even though she has entered a new season of life, her children do still need her, and she is thrilled about that! Gina has served alongside her husband at a small Christian college right outside of Washington DC for almost 20 years. After homeschooling both of her children, she was able to serve as the Dean of Women at the college. Being a mom has been the most wonderful, terrifying, exciting, challenging, satisfying, exhausting, heart wrenching, and heart warming adventure and calling of her life. Now that her children are both grown, she fully enjoys her calling to mentor young women in person, and on-line with her blog “Real Life Titus Two“.


How to Keep and Deepen Relationship with Your Teen Son

My 6-foot-tall son lumbers into the room and sinks onto the sofa.

“So, I’ve been thinking about Chapter Two…” he says.

I pause what I’m doing and we talk. We talk about fictional conflict, inciting incidents, and motivation—what the character wants more than anything. Nathan has just finished writing a novel and lately we’ve been chatting about that.

how to keep and deepen relationship with your teen son

I have six children and my relationship with each of them is different.

They all enjoy different things, and for a while I wondered how I could best relate to my sons as teens. Yes, I cheered at their basketball games. I often found myself out to lunch with them one-on-one, or at sci-fi movies, but I wanted something more–something that could just be “ours.”

It turns out that Nathan, my third oldest, and I both enjoy writing and plotting. We relish figuring out what makes a story good…then what makes it great. After nearly every movie we watch, we talk about what worked and what didn’t. As a homeschooler this started with chapter books that I read to him during school time.

Nathan also attended homeschool writing classes that I taught. We’d chat about all the elements of fiction writing on the way home. It wasn’t a forced conversation. I didn’t read a book and try to follow it. Instead, I just opened myself up to my son. We have talked about our shared interest and I’ve watched our relationship grow. Soon talking about plots and writing became “our thing.”

As I was thinking about this, I asked Facebook friends what they enjoyed doing with their teen boys.

What was “their thing?” The answered varied as much as the families!

Lyn: My 17-year-old and 13-year-old and I are in Civil Air Patrol together. I’m the squadron deputy commander. We love air shows and doing this together.

Angela: My son invites me to join his fantasy football draft and march madness bracket competitions. It might be just to make fun of me though.

Connie: My son used to like to browse antique shops with me. I think that’s what instilled in him a love of history.

Sandra: Going to cons together! (As in comic conventions) And we always go to midnight shows of nerdy sci-fi/fantasy/comic book films.

Karen: My son just got his pro card and he is a Pro Bowler, I am his manager and we go to all the tournaments together, he just turned 20.

Marci: Several years ago two of my sons and I trained for a sprint triathlon together. It was an awesome experience and on race day when we finished it was fun to celebrate..later one of my sons and I did a mountain bike triathlon and during the off road part we actually passed each other on the trail and gave each other a high five…great experience.

Doni: We shoot our compound bows. It is his passion but I enjoy the time I’ve had with him.

Tami: I have three teen boys. I fish with them, play basketball, ride bikes, run, participate in their fantasy football league, target shoot, and raise a worm farm with them.

Donna G: My son and I played racquetball together (until I fell on the court and broke my wrist in 4 places). A good bonding experience (he and I, not my wrist!).

Donna O: 3 sons…3 different things we do.
1. Scrabble with the youngest (16). We both play for blood!
2. Yard/ sales/junk stores with middle son.
3. Deep discussions with oldest son. Usually at 2 am

Karla: Riding motorcycles

As you can see, “our thing” is as unique as each mother and son. In fact, just today I had one-on-one time with my three-year-old boy. What did he ask to do? Watch Lego Superhero as we snuggled on the couch and eat fruit snacks. Who knows, as the years pass Legos—or Superheroes—just might be “our thing.” And hopefully we’ll graduate to something more than fruit snacks!

So how about you, Mom?

Do you have an “our thing” with your boy? I’d love to hear!


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This post is a part of our series on building relationship with our teen sons.  Click here to read them all!


Three Daily Reminders to Connect With Your Teenage Boy

I just want to connect with him.

I’ve spent fifteen years with this kid. He used to rattle off every thought that went through his head, but sometimes it can get very quiet, awkward even.  We’ve always been so close, and now I might sit by his side and can’t think of one single thing to say. I don’t want to say the wrong thing and push him away. I don’t want him to think I’m trying too hard. I’m baffled.

I just want to connect.

Connect with teenage boy-3 daily reminders

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That awkward scenario doesn’t happen too often with either of my teen boys and I’m super thankful for that. Overall we have kept a healthy connection as they have entered their teenage years. But still, teenage boys will have these moments, and us moms…we need to deal with it.

When those moments do happen, I’ve discovered a little trick to help us connect. I sort of just stumbled upon it, but the more I practice it, the more certain I am that it works.

Connecting with your teenage son can be as simple as BEING IN MOTION with them. Boys need to move–a lot, and physically doing things with your son is a sure-fire way to open up communication.

When I want to chat with my boys, I will often get outside with them.  We shoot baskets together, pick fruit, or take the garbage down to the street together.  With almost no effort, I find the conversation flowing.  Sure, there may be some quiet moments, but soon the chatting begins.  Taking a walk or hike is probably my favorite way to open the channels of communication.

It doesn’t have to be playing sports or going outdoors.  I might ask one of my sons to help me fold laundry or do the dishes. As we work, there is a natural connection. We may not talk non-stop, but a little joke here, a comment there…which often lands us in a real-live conversation.

The car can be another magical place and it’s for that reason that when I’m alone in the car with one kid, they put phones and iPods away.  A little background music and the car provides a great place to chat.


Though teenage boys can seem like quite a mystery, I find these these THREE DAILY REMINDERS help me find a connection with my boys:

1. My teenage boys are NOT who they used to be. I need to let go of what I considered “normal” in his little boy years and allow him to grow into the man he is becoming.

2. My teenage boys still need me. Though my role has changed, I am still important in their life.  They might actually want to tell me about the things going on in their life, but perhaps  aren’t sure how to start the conversation. It is my job to look for opportunities and stay open for when the time is right.

3. My best chance of connecting with my teenage sons is when we are moving.  If I can find an activity or a project to do with my sons, they will be much more likely to open up.

Parenting teens is one of my favorite things in the world. It has taken me some time to adjust, but I love what we are growing in this new season. I encourage you to let go of old expectations or sentimental notions. Embrace the teenage years, have fun with your son, and pray for him as he is growing into the man you’ve been preparing him to be since he was born!

With Aloha,

Monica Swanson lives on the North Shore of Oahu with her husband and four surfer boys.  She home schools her boys, and has a passion for all things family, health and faith.  She loves to share encouragement and inspiration at her blog:


This post is a part of our series on building relationship with our teen sons.  Click here to read them all!

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Eight Simple Things that Connect You With Your Teen Boy

I played the air guitar to an amazing 80’s song in the car last night.

My teen son, the middle one, sat in the seat next to me.  You would have thought I was Selena Gomez or Ariana Grande, the way he was looking at me, with eyes that smiled and said you’re awesome.

It is among my favorite things in life, when my teen boys look at me this way.

Eight Simple Things

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Of course, I’m not always the cool mom.  Sometimes they notice my meddling and breathe that heavy sigh and say an exasperated “Wow, thanks, mom,” when I tell them “No you can’t go to that movie with those teens whose parents I don’t know.”

But we are close.  Really close.  The kind of close that you hope and pray for, but aren’t sure sixteen and thirteen will allow and then are gloriously surprised when it does.

I’m grateful, every day, that among the millions of things I did wrong, the way I have purposed to stay connected to my boys has, indeed, worked.  Mostly, I’m convinced that God has just been gracious and made up for my lack.

And yes, I’ve read them the Bible at night.  And I pray over their bed.  And I’ve had long conversations with them (longer than they prefer, trust me) to speak destiny and love into their heart and all the other good stuff moms do that is important.  But you know what I’ve found?

It’s not that hard for teen boys to stay connected to their moms.  A lot of simple, everyday things help a lot, with that, too.

And so, if I may, my humble offering of the fun, crazy, hard and most rewarding things I have done and continue to do as my boys grow up.

Lisa Whittle Connecting with Son

~Let them be silly, sometimes.  Boys will eventually be men that have jobs and bills and families they are responsible for and lots of other heavy things on their backs.  For now, let them think standing in the snow in a bathing suit flexing for a picture is awesome and grossing you out by giving you sweaty hugs after ball practice is a-ok with you. (Protest, even, for a little extra dramatic measure, which they will love.) Let them get by with some boy bathroom humor that grosses you out. They are born with this innate male need to express, for whatever crazy reason.  It’s simple: just, for a few minutes in the car or wherever you are when it comes up, pretend to lose your hearing.

~Care about their interests, which means attentiveness not endurance.  Trust me, they can tell the difference.  When they tell you about how sick a pair of shoes is? Know that sick means amazing and nod your head in agreement.  They will love you for it.  When they have a ball game? Move heaven and earth to be there, even if you can’t stand baseball and don’t understand the sport.  Your job is to become an expert on your child and what they love, you love too, just because they do.

~Force them to take ridiculous selfies with you.  They will moan and complain, but they will secretly love you for wanting a picture with them.  Also? It will prepare them for all the selfies their girlfriend will make them do in the future. :)

~Let them have the last bite.  Like, that last bite of your favorite cheesecake in all the world–the one with the strawberry sauce dripping gloriously all over it.  The last taste of heaven before you start that diet.  Yep, that one.  They won’t forget that mom did that for them.  Their wife, should they have one in the future, will love them, but even she may not give them that last bite.

~Tuck them into bed at night, even when they are huge and tower over you.  They will act like it’s unnecessary at the time, but when they ask you unexpectedly if you are going to that one night you almost forget, you will know it’s more important to them than they think.

~Have special nicknames for them that are playful and silly.  Call them by those names like crazy when you are at home, but never say them in front of their friends.  This is the unspoken rule of boys and moms that, when respected, helps cute mommy nicknames live on forever.

~Remind them of moments of awesome they did when they were little.  Pull out a picture and tell them the coordinating story.  Boys are just miniature men that need to be complimented and appreciated in order to feel fulfilled.

~Let their dad be the hero.  Learn to love them in the background and seize moments but not need to be #1. Yes, even though you changed the diapers.  Even though you wash the smelly clothes and wipe more noses and give more kisses and run their cleats up to the ball field numerous times when they leave them.  Even though.  You will win when their dad is more important.

Staying connected to our boys is a sign we have endured the mommy challenge of being different in almost every way, but understanding of the great needs and loves of their young male heart.

What both of us want.

Lisa Whittle Head shot



These things Lisa Whittle loves most: her husband, her children (3, including 2 boys), her fluffy dog who sits faithfully under her desk while she writes, and her Jesus who has made her life well. She’s authored 3 books, including her latest, {w}hole, and will release her 4th in August 2014. You can find her at, where she blogs less than she should, but when she does, hopes to start honest conversation.


This post is a part of our series on building relationship with our teen sons.  Click here to read them all.

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Locker Room Lessons: Teachable Moments from the World of Sports

Even as an upper elementary age girl, I was a fan of Sportscenter. Yep, I’m a girl who loves her Sportscenter. Whether it’s early morning or late night, I count on getting my sports news fix each day and Sportscenter is just the best place for that. Plus, they’re usually pretty funny.

Football is my favorite, but I’ve always been drawn to the world of sports in general. While most people are idolizing sports stars, I love the stories. I love the human interest. I love the lessons we can learn from the very public stage of college and professional sports.

I don’t think it was a coincidence that God put this love of sports in me and then gave me three boys. I know not all boys are interested in sports, but mine are, and we’ve had many great life and faith discussions that began with watching a football game or tennis match together.

And that’s led me to this. I haven’t written much here at The MOB Society because I wasn’t quite sure what to say, honestly. I’m still in the early years of raising boys – they are 8, 6, and 2 – and I don’t have a whole lot of wisdom to share at this point. The MOB Society is a place I come to learn and grown in my role as a boy mom.

He’s calling me now to share what’s on my heart – lessons on life and faith inspired by the world of sports. Locker Room Lessons.


Maybe your boy is crazy about sports and you are not. Maybe you both love sports but you’re not sure how to connect this love with God. I just know I love connecting sports and faith and I want to share those connections with you. It may seem trivial. I almost said to God, “Nobody will care about this.” But He reminded me of this verse…

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NLT

Who am I to say that God can’t use sports to help us raise godly men? I’m learning that wild obedience is what God asks of me, and sometimes that means taking that spark He has put in you and letting it burn bright whether anybody else needs that fire or not.

Each Tuesday, I’ll be talking about God and life and sports right here in the Locker Room Lessons series. I’m praying it will be a connecting point for you and your son. And I’m praying He will draw you both closer to Him through it.

What sports does your son enjoy watching?

Erin-MohringErin finds joy in her life as a Jesus-follower, doctor’s wife, mama to three handsome guys, writer at Home with the Boys, and co-founder of The MOB Society. She has a passion for healthy living, fashion, and encouraging families to form strong bonds based on faith!

Have you seen our series this month?  It’s on building a relationship with your teen son.  If you liked this post, head on over here for more quality content.

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