By Stephanie Broadhurst/The Mother List
Your son comes home from school, melts into the couch and grabs the Wii remote. “How was your day?” You ask. “OK,” he says. “Anything new?” “Nope.” He sits quietly, playing the game.
Many parents say they’re at a loss for words when it comes to talking with boys. Others assume boys are just easier because they talk less. But best-selling author Rosalind Wiseman (“Queen Bees and Wanna Bees”) sheds new light on boys’ social dynamics based on her research listening to what boys really have to say.
“Boys are much more complicated than we realize,” she said at a recent talk in Winnetka, Ill. Her new book “Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World” holds a magnifying glass over what’s happening in school hallways.
So how should we talk to boys? One way not to do it, Wiseman said: “Nearly every boy said, ‘Please tell my mom to stop interrogating me in the car!’ ”
She added, “All kids walk around with armor, so when they get in your car, they want to decompress, to relax…. Imagine if you came home from work and your children asked you: ‘Did you get all your emails done? Did your meetings go well? Can we talk about it?’ ”
Instead, she suggests that when boys get in the car, you simply say, “Hey, what’s up?” Then, allow silence. Listen to music. Do not ask them anything. Just be with them. If they want to talk, they will.
One of the best times to connect with your son is just before bedtime, she said.
“I suggest around 9:30pm, go sit at the edge of his bed and ask if everything’s good?” she said. “If the lights are dimmed, that’s even better. Dark is good because it hides facial expressions. (If I raise my eyebrow, I’m accused of completely freaking out on them.) It’s quiet. You can listen better.”
Wiseman also suggests speaking to boys while in motion. “Boys like movement, and it eases the stress. If my son is out playing basketball, I’ll go out and shoot hoops with him. Then I’ll ask him just one question.”
When the inevitable argument comes along, she’s found scheduling a time to talk, then keeping it short and sweet is ideal. “I give myself three minutes and three points. And I don’t repeat myself.”
What if a boy confides in you that he’s being bullied and pleads: “Please do not do or say anything!” Wiseman’s response would be: “Thank you for telling me. I can’t promise I won’t say anything because I don’t want to break a promise. But what I can promise is that you will be a part of this process. We will work together on this.”