WARNING: TEENAGE BOYS FLY UNDER THE RADAR
It’s no secret that teenage boys can be emotionally withdrawn. When you try to have a conversation with them, even if it’s about something simple like their day at school, it can feel like pulling teeth. Parents sometimes assume that just because their sons are not talking to them about their problems that there are none. This is simply untrue.
Teenage boys face as many hurdles as teenage girls. Those hurdles might be even more challenging for teenage boys to overcome because no one teaches them how to verbalize their difficulties. In our society, boys are portrayed as non-emotional and more physical beings. No one expects them to display their emotions as openly as girls do so they don’t, which is the beginning of the problem. By not recognizing that teenage boys are facing social challenges, just like girls are, we are contributing to their emotional withdrawl.
For example, boys are just as likely to be body conscious and nervous in social situations as girls are. Parents of teenage girls are way more prepared to handle those situations because our society prepares them for that. In Masterminds & Wingmen, author Rosalind Wiseman shares an example about a teenage boy that is anxious about going to a pool party because he has a “moob” (man-boob). He is self-conscious about it the entire party and after the party when his parents ask him how it went and he gives them a one word answer, they dismiss the answer because they assume it was typical “boy behavior.” In fact, they missed what was underlying his short response, and he felt ashamed and alone in that shame.
There are ways that you can help your son through moments like this one. Here are some tips:
Be Prepared: He might not be as forthcoming about his issues as a daughter might be but the issues are still there. Be ready to give emotional support because that will go along way with him.
Don’t Take the Boys Will Be Boys Approach: Avoid attributing your son’s behavior to the simple fact that he is a boy. There is often an underlying issue that is making your son act the way he is acting Investigate..
Be Involved: The best thing that you can do is connect with your son. Whether it’s taking an interest in school or even the video games that he likes, being actively involved in his life is very important.
**We have our own male psychologist, Dr. Daniel Sorkin, who reaches boys and understands the unique challenges they face. If you’d like to talk with him about your son’s issues, call 847-469-3355.