Ask Kari: How can I get my teenage son to talk to me?

Dear Kari,

I am struggling with talking to my child. My son is 17 years old and he is beginning to not care about school or his sports. He was always a sweet boy, but now he will barely speak to me. His moods are very unpredictable and I am wondering if he is using drugs. How can I get him to talk to me and tell me what is going on?

Helpless Mom

Dear Helpless Mom,

First, I would choose good timing for such a talk, when no one is tired or rushed. I would sit with him and warmly check in. Let your son know your concerns about his lack of interest in things and inquire if there is anything he wants to share with you. Listen to him; he will most likely give you some clues as to what he is feeling. Let him know that you love and can help him in any way that he needs. Depending on how the conversation goes, ask him if he knows of any kids at school who use drugs, whether he has ever been offered drugs, and does he use them now. More than anything else use your intuition, pay attention to what he says and doesn’t say. Lots of times our children give us the clues we need if we take the time to pause and connect.


As published in the November 2014 issue of Connections.


About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a resident of Issaquah Highlands.

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