Enter to win every day in CTNOW's 21 Days of Summer Giveaways. Click here to see today's prize.
Family Fun
Family Fun

Is son's new love too much of a good thing?

Q: Your 16-year-old son spends all his time with his girlfriend. Should you nudge him to keep up with his male buddies?

Parent advice

(from our panel of staff contributors)

Nah. His buddies will take care of that, and the spend-every-moment-together thing will play out on its own. Although I did tell one of my sons that his girlfriend's refusal to have anything to do with his friends was a red flag.

Phil Vettel

I would be too busy talking responsibility and birth control with him.

Dodie Hofstetter

Expert advice

There is a good chance your son will alienate his buddies by ditching them for his girlfriend, says Anthony Rao, child psychologist and author of "The Way of Boys: Raising Healthy Boys in a Challenging and Complex World" (William Morrow).

But he doesn't need to hear that from you.

"As a parent, you often want to help your child not go through all the ups and downs that you did," Rao says. "But this is not time for a lecture. This is the time to respect the new, very intense, very powerful feelings your son is having and learn to approach him as a young adult — which he is starting to become."

You can certainly set up clear boundaries for your son. ("You do have control here," Rao tells parents. "Use it.") So curfews, where and when he and his girlfriend can be alone in your home, and what behaviors you approve and disapprove of should all be on the table.

That discussion can include a conversation about balance.

"It's an amazing opportunity to talk about pacing and balancing your personal life and your love life with all your other demands," Rao says. "You can talk to him about being careful not to burn out, like when you overtrain for a sport.

"You can give information, but you have to be careful not to lecture," he says. "This is not a young child. This is someone with his own identity with very strong emotions."

So the overarching tone should be one of respect and, ultimately, approval, says Rao.

"It's an opportunity to point out to your son what he's doing right," he says. "'I really like the way you show her you care about her.' 'It's awesome the way you treat her with so much respect.' 'I like the way you two are so compassionate with each other.' Encourage these things because they're great behaviors for your son to have mastered down the road."

And if the balance portion of the conversation falls on deaf ears, step aside and let his buddies razz him about the time he's no longer devoting to them.

"You've got to recognize and respect that there's an intensity of really great emotions here," says Rao. "You can't stop him from having these emotions or feelings, and if you get into too much conflict with your son over it, you're going to send him the message that you don't respect what he's feeling. That will just shut down the dialogue."

Have a solution?

You want your kids to be creative, but your daughter has no interest in art or craft projects. Any ideas? Find "The Parent 'Hood" page on Facebook, where you can post your parenting questions and offer tips and solutions for others to try.

Copyright © 2015, CT Now
Related Content
  • A Madison Daycation: A Beach, A Bookstore, A Beautiful Hotel

    A Madison Daycation: A Beach, A Bookstore, A Beautiful Hotel

    Downtown Madison, Connecticut, has the feel of a beach town, though the beach itself is nearly 2 miles away. In addition to shops and restaurants, the town has one of the best independent bookstores in the state and a century-old independent movie theater.

  • Caribbean and Jerk Fest Returns To The Riverfront

    Caribbean and Jerk Fest Returns To The Riverfront

    Jamaican reggae artist Luciano, Barbadian jazz saxophonist Elan Trotman, the music and dance troop Iroko Nuevo and other Caribbean-style performers head to Mortensen Riverfront Plaza on Saturday, Aug. 1, from 1 to 11 p.m. for the 10th annual Taste of the Caribbean and Jerk Festival.

  • 10 Tips For The Best Summer Runs

    10 Tips For The Best Summer Runs

    Summer is a great time for running in Connecticut — outside of the heat and humidity, the swarms of mosquitoes and flies and the crowds trying to enjoy this short-lived season of sunshine. Besides that, it's great getting a chance to lay down the ear warmers and unearth those tank tops. But once...

  • Sounds Of Mexico Come To Old State House Farmer's Market

    Sounds Of Mexico Come To Old State House Farmer's Market

    The sounds of Mexico, along with dancing, hand-clapping and maraca-shaking, come to the Old State House Farmers Market. Fiesta del Norte, Connecticut's first mariachi band, performs on Friday, July 31, at noon at Connecticut's Old State House, 800 Main St., Hartford.

  • Sunflower Maze Returns To Lyman Orchards

    Sunflower Maze Returns To Lyman Orchards

    Dinosaurs return to the fields of Lyman Orchards in Middlefield when its annual sunflower maze opens Saturday, Aug. 1. This year's maze, approximately three acres, is shaped like a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

  • Cirque Éloize's Hip-Hop Streetfight Circus Comes To Connecticut

    Cirque Éloize's Hip-Hop Streetfight Circus Comes To Connecticut

    Cirque Éloize, founded in Montreal in 1993, over a decade after Cirque du Soleil, is purposefully polished and neatly paced, but modern in its thinking. It's "iD" show comes to Foxwoods for a monthlong run.

Comments
Loading
86°