How Do You Bond With Your Teenage Son? I Prefer Milkshakes, Bad Pop Music

The beat of the music filled the car much louder than I normally prefer. But, I didn’t turn the sound down. I just let it fill the space around me and my 13-year-old who was silently lamenting his lacrosse team’s loss in the championship game of an intense full-day four-game tournament.

The car smelled like teenage sweat and defeat. My oldest son has never been one to wear his emotions on his sleeves. He is quiet, reserved, and very internal, which is opposite me in every way. I am extremely emotional and once you get to know me, not very quiet. So, I struggle at times to relate to his lack of expressed emotions.

But, after 13-years I have learned that quiet commiseration is usually what works best with him. I just want to hug him, rub his back, and rock him until the pain of the loss goes away. Of course, this would never fly. I know I wouldn’t even get past the hugging part. So, I drive home silently listening to the deafening beats of the music he put on. The music that makes me feel old because I have no clue who the artist is or what is being said. He stares out the window, probably replaying the heart wrenching loss. His team isn’t used to losing.

At the next light I take a detour and pull into the drive-thru of a fast-food restaurant. He looks at me inquisitively. “Milkshake?” I ask. He nods and I can see the glimmer of a smile at the corner of his mouth. But, only I would notice. He takes his milkshake without saying a word and we drive some more.

About 10 minutes later he switches the music to the Carly Rae Jepsen song ”Call Me Maybe,” which I know he hates and starts to bob his head. I look at him and start to bob my head with him. Then our eyes meet and we start to laugh at our inside unspoken joke.

In that moment, I knew he had moved on and in his own way reached out to me. I’m not sure if it was the milkshake condolences, the respect of silence, or the fact that I didn’t say anything about his music choice, but, we shared a moment. We bonded over milkshakes and bad pop music and frankly I’ll take it. Not only will I take it, but I will hold on to it and remember it for a long time because this is what it’s all about. Precious seemingly innocuous moments that make up your life and your relationships.

Parenting a teenager is hard. But, parenting a teenager when you are also parenting little ones is even harder because your attention is so divided. I’m just grateful for all these little moments with my oldest because I know the clock is ticking and soon…. well honestly I don’t want to think about that next stage in our relationship because I’m still learning how to relate to him now.

Do you struggle to relate to your teenager? Have you shared a bonding moment with your child recently? Are you willing to bribe your child with milkshakes? Please leave a comment, subscribe to my blog, and join the discussion on the Tiny Steps Mommy Facebook page.


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