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Cracking the Vault to your Teen Boy’s Feelings

November 17, 2023

They say the reason men don’t talk about their feelings as much as women, or even as much as women would like them to, is due to conditioning. But I have to wonder as a single mom of five boys who definitely did NOT condition them to keep their feelings locked away in a vault, if part of the reason might truly be in their DNA.

If you are a mom of boys, you know that getting them to talk about their feelings or even getting their opinion on a personal matter that invokes emotion is like pulling teeth. In fact, I am pretty certain they would prefer to have their teeth pulled most of the time rather than have a conversation involving feelings!

Well, I’m not a quitter. Initially, my lack of ability to let the matter go when I can clearly see that my son is upset about something, and quite probably about something I said or did, really seems to only make much more irritated. This is one of those experiences that is bound to get worse before it gets better.

How tenacious are you?

Don’t get discouraged, Moms! Cracking the vault can be done; you just have to be tenacious enough to endure the 5 stages.

Stage 1: Stoic vault.

You ask why boys are upset. You can tell by their silence, not the usual quietude, the deafening silence, the kind that comes with an air of tension. Whether you are talking to them, and they are unresponsive, or you are quietly in the same room together you will notice their stoic demeanor.

Their stoicism is very much deliberate. This is about how well they express their definitely upset about something. They’re response is going to be simply, “nothing’s wrong.” But you know better!

Stage 2: Stoic to surly.

You state the obvious and point out the signs that something is wrong. As you do so, they become more irritated. Their expression is no longer blank and unphased. Their displeasure with this entire situation propels them into a surly state. They may even mumble dismissive and even rude comments.

You want to understand better. So, you ask again.

Stage 3: Testing combinations.

It’s now a guessing game of hot and cold about why they don’t want to talk. They don’t enjoy this game. No one really does. Yet, explaining that they can put an end to it all by opening up and talking about what is bothering them doesn’t do the trick. We still have two more stages to go.

Keep a watchful eye for clues as they start to react with more overt facial expressions and body language. Address the concerns you think they may have when you notice you are getting warm… a glint in their eye, an ever-so-slight upturn in one corner of their mouth, and they are no longer so focused on leaning as far away as possible.

Stage 4: Commitment.

You show you are committed to understanding why they’re upset because you love them.

They are committed to keeping the vault closed. They show they are still not motivated to talk.

It is so important you don’t give up here. This is the stage just before you crack the code! Your commitment to loving them must be stronger for you to get to stage five.

Stage 5: Cracking open the vault, even if it’s just a crack!

Start telling them what you think is the issue.
If you’re wrong, then explain that you have been left with no choice but to make these assumptions based on what you know since they won’t talk. Remind them that you’re not a mind reader.
It is important to speak plainly about your thought process. It isn’t fair for people to expect others to read their minds.
Women are intuitive, moms know their children, and when we use this skill and special knowledge set to navigate a better understanding of our boys’ feelings, then it takes the responsibility off of them to open up and share. This will inadvertently hurt their future relationships.
Still, there is no guarantee that they’ll talk. BUT you let them know you care. Tell them as much.
There’s a 50/50 chance they will talk. Of that 50% where they don’t, most of the time you guessed correctly. They’re lightened mood and expression confirm as much. To them that constitutes talking about it, lol. For now, it’s a win/win. Talking without talking!
We want to teach our boys that they are responsible for their feelings and for expressing their feelings in a way that is healthy in relationships.
Don’t give up on your sons! Keep trying to get them talking. Eventually, they will come around.

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