Talk to Me

Do you ever struggle to get your child to talk to you?

My oldest doesn’t divulge information easily. As his parent it can be deflating (is there something I can do differently to get him to open up?), and sometimes concerning (what is he thinking, is he okay?) but that’s the worrier in me. He is a teen, and I’m aware of his growing need for independence and not necessarily having mom or dad be ‘in the know’ on everything.

My oldest is getting closer to graduating and needs to start thinking about colleges. He hasn’t been willing to discuss where he might want to go, or study. While I was probably the same way at his age (in not knowing what I might study), I always had my eye on going to college. I knew I needed good grades to get in, I’d need to apply for scholarships to help offset the cost, but knew one way or another I was going. I’m not picking up that vibe from my son and that is worrying me.

I can understand the value of a college education being questioned after COVID, but I still believe college is that unique place and time in your life where you get to figure out who you are, what you’re interested in, you get exposed to different people from different places, and your universe expands. I know I thought I knew everything I needed to know about life and others in high school, but saw how small my universe was when I went to college. I very much want that for my two boys. My husband and I have been saving and planning for this.

My oldest shared with my husband he might opt to go to a trade school instead of college. He told this to my husband in confidence and my husband encouraged him to tell me. He won’t do it. I have tried asking him his thoughts on college, does he want to do something different, and he won’t share anything. Ugh! It’s unclear whether he doesn’t want to hear my thoughts (scared of how I might react), or if he’s still making up his mind (maybe college is still on the table?). I just wish he’d talk to me.

It would be one thing if we couldn’t afford it (and I’m aware of how fortunate we are to do this), or didn’t stress the importance of education and gaining knowledge with our kids, but we do. My son is anxious by nature and has a fear of failure (who doesn’t, right?), I’m worried he is taking a path that will essentially guarantee him a job, but narrow his opportunities in the long run. He is becoming an adult, but his frontal cortex still isn’t fully formed and I’m worried about him making decisions that can be life impacting. I may sound dramatic, but it feels like my son is coming to a crossroads and may pick a path different than I envisioned or hoped. I am struggling between supporting him and his growing independence and greatly wanting to influence his decision. I just wish he’d talk to me. It. Is. So. Hard.

How do you get your child to open up?