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The Communication Conundrum

As your sons complete this extraordinary year it is timely that reflect on how you can support them to finish strong across all their commitments. One of the best predictors of your son’s wellbeing is their relationship with you! As the COVID-19 Pandemic has revealed you provide a model for him of how to deal with difficult situations and how to view the world.

Teenagers. Who’d Have Them?

At the foundation of a strong relationship is strong communication. Your sons will rarely tell you they are stressed as how they communicate their feelings is rarely straightforward so why not try this:

Make the First Move

You are the adult and parent, so take the first step to show them you care.

Timing is Everything

Catch them at the right moment to have a chat or make a request e.g. a meal when it is just the two of you, while doing an activity such as a walk etc. Try to avoid certain times e.g. as soon as they walk through the door from school, during a fight etc.

Location, Location, Location

Talk on their ‘turf’. Your son will respond better if they feel they have some control over the conversation. Wait until a quiet time of night (not too late) and ask if they have time for a chat.
Be honest: Don’t beat around the bush. Teenagers can get suspicious when parents suddenly want to “talk” and don’t always respond well to small talk. Tell them you want to know how they’re coping.

Listen Without Judgement

If your son tells you they are stressed about Maths, they are unlikely to take it well if you tell them they simply need to study more. Separate the behaviour from the boy and approach the issue as a joint problem-solving activity and don’t try to solve their problem for them e.g. ask them “Have you thought about…?”, “Maybe you could try…?” etc.


When your son doesn’t open up the first time, keep trying and keep the lines of communication open. There will be plenty of “dunnos” and shoulder shrugs. Don’t take it personally.

Get Organised

This is a whole family effort. If your son is to be organised they need the support of all family members. Communicate with all members of the family to ensure they are aware of the game plan, ground rules, rosters, routines and rewards. Maybe even look at some of these recommended apps from that could help your son study!

Conor Finn
Dean of Formation

Further reading. The Managing Time webpage has helpful tips for the best ways to study, developing strategies for planning that will help boys to stay calm, organised, and on top of everything.