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I can’t help if I don’t know how...

Every day my son comes home from school, I ask him about his day. And every day he gives me the same answer- “I hated it.” Each day I hope his response changes, but here we are, in the second semester of his fifth grade year and his answer is still faithfully, “I hated it.”

so of course this makes me ask questions:

What happened?

Why did you hate it?

Was the lesson hard?

Which LAMPs class did you attend today?

What was for lunch?

Who did you play with at recess?

Anything that will get me a reasonable answer as to why my baby hates school so much. And to those follow up questions he always says, “Mom, I just don’t wanna talk about it.”

If he doesn’t talk about it, how can I help him? I don’t know if the teacher is being mean to him or if he’s being bullied. And I will never know until he opens his mouth and talks to me.

How is it that I can get other people’s children to trust and confide in me and my own son won’t open up to me? It makes me feel like a failure as a parent. I spend so much time helping other people’s children succeed and I can’t help my own... I just don’t understand. I try to leave the lines of communication as open as possible, seeing as he‘s only 11. But the things he wants and needs, I can’t provide. He wants me to be able to come to his school and have lunch daily. And on the other hand he wants me to quit teaching other kids and home school him, which I would LOVE to do actually. But I can’t. I’m a single woman with a son. We survive on my income alone. I want to do more with and for him but oftentimes I just can’t.

I just want him to open up to me so I can be there- so I can help him accomplish his dreams and goals. But I can’t if I don’t know how.

So how can I foster conversation with my son so that he will know that I am always available to help him?

1. Just listen- As a mom, I always want to

solve his problems. But there are some things he will have to figure out on his own. Being a listening ear will help him talk through his issues so that he can determine solutions on his own.

2. Give age appropriate advice- Recently, the kid confided in me that the only friend he felt he had moved away and now he’s alone in class. Not only that, he’s lonely. So I tried to coach him on how to make new friends. In doing so, I brought up things that he likes and told him that other kids may enjoy those same activities but he won’t know unless he asks. Sometimes you just have to break it down so that they understand.

3. Be available- Most of the time, all my baby boy wants is my attention. He wants to know that when he’s ready to come to me that I’m available to listen and be there for him. Oftentimes, we get so wrapped up in our personal affairs or things that are taking place at work that we forget to take time for what matters most and that’s family. We can get another job. We can secure other friendships/relationships. But we can’t replace the members of our families. Like I stated earlier, my son is 11. When I think about it in terms of school years, I only have 7 more summers to be with him before he’s off to college or trade school. So I need to cherish these moments and live them fully.

That‘s all our kids want from us anyway... love and validation. And I want to provide as much of both as I can while he still allows me to because soon, he won’t want my help. He won’t want to confide in me. But as for now, I will make sure that he has no reason to feel like he can’t come to me for either.

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