My 6-foot-tall son lumbers into the room and sinks onto the sofa. “So, I've been thinking about Chapter Two...” he says.
I pause what I'm doing and we talk. We talk about fictional conflict, inciting incidents, and motivation—what the character wants more than anything. Nathan has just finished writing a novel and lately we've been chatting about that.
I have six children and my relationship with each of them is different.
They all enjoy different things, and for a while I wondered how I could best relate to my sons as teens. Yes, I cheered at their basketball games. I often found myself out to lunch with them one-on-one, or at sci-fi movies, but I wanted something more--something that could just be “ours.”
It turns out that Nathan, my third oldest, and I both enjoy writing and plotting. We relish figuring out what makes a story good…then what makes it great. After nearly every movie we watch, we talk about what worked and what didn't. As a homeschooler this started with chapter books that I read to him during school time.
Nathan also attended homeschool writing classes that I taught. We'd chat about all the elements of fiction writing on the way home. It wasn't a forced conversation. I didn't read a book and try to follow it. Instead, I just opened myself up to my son. We have talked about our shared interest and I've watched our relationship grow. Soon talking about plots and writing became “our thing.”
As I was thinking about this, I asked Facebook friends what they enjoyed doing with their teen boys.
What was “their thing?” The answered varied as much as the families!
Lyn: My 17-year-old and 13-year-old and I are in Civil Air Patrol together. I'm the squadron deputy commander. We love air shows and doing this together.
Angela: My son invites me to join his fantasy football draft and march madness bracket competitions. It might be just to make fun of me though.
Connie: My son used to like to browse antique shops with me. I think that's what instilled in him a love of history.
Sandra: Going to cons together! (As in comic conventions) And we always go to midnight shows of nerdy sci-fi/fantasy/comic book films.
Karen: My son just got his pro card and he is a Pro Bowler, I am his manager and we go to all the tournaments together, he just turned 20.
Marci: Several years ago two of my sons and I trained for a sprint triathlon together. It was an awesome experience and on race day when we finished it was fun to celebrate..later one of my sons and I did a mountain bike triathlon and during the off road part we actually passed each other on the trail and gave each other a high five…great experience.
Doni: We shoot our compound bows. It is his passion but I enjoy the time I've had with him.
Tami: I have three teen boys. I fish with them, play basketball, ride bikes, run, participate in their fantasy football league, target shoot, and raise a worm farm with them.
Donna G: My son and I played racquetball together (until I fell on the court and broke my wrist in 4 places). A good bonding experience (he and I, not my wrist!).
Donna O: 3 sons...3 different things we do. 1. Scrabble with the youngest (16). We both play for blood! 2. Yard/ sales/junk stores with middle son. 3. Deep discussions with oldest son. Usually at 2 am
Karla: Riding motorcycles
As you can see, “our thing” is as unique as each mother and son. In fact, just today I had one-on-one time with my three-year-old boy. What did he ask to do? Watch Lego Superhero as we snuggled on the couch and eat fruit snacks. Who knows, as the years pass Legos—or Superheroes—just might be “our thing.” And hopefully we'll graduate to something more than fruit snacks!
So how about you, Mom?
Do you have an “our thing” with your boy? I'd love to hear!
This post is a part of our series on building relationship with our teen sons. Click here to read them all!