Parent-Child Communication: An Example of Decoding Boytalk

by Brenda Yoder, MA

Momparent-child communication, are you coming to my game tomorrow night? my son asked.

It’s a common question in our busy house.  

Usually the child asking is wanting to know how he’s getting home from the event.


But in parent-child communication, you never know when a common question needs decoding.

With more children than parents in our family, it’s been our protocol that at least one parent is at a child’s event, which is tricky.

Some nights I literally don’t know how we fit it all together.  

As a couple, my husband and I discuss who needs to be where, recognizing the needs of everyone in the house.
There are times when one of us needs to be “back home” with the other children who have homework, who need a stable night at home in the hectic-life-of-a-family-with-school-age-children.

We have five sporting events in six day this week, so tonight was going to be my night home with the other kids who need a warm meal and a mom to ask questions about their day.  

 Mom, are you coming to my game tomorrow night? my son asked again.

This question came not only once, but twice.  

Unusual for the boy who doesn’t say much and hasn’t let me kiss him since he was five.

Seriously.  He stopped letting me kiss him when he was five. 

Because it was a new pattern in parent-child communication, I made a mental note of the repeated question and my husband and I discussed who should be where.

I was hoping it was my night at home to get the busy week started off with the other two kids.  

 So mom, are you coming tomorrow night? He asked a third time as he walked upstairs for bed.

 As a mom of boys, I’ve learned parent-child communication with them goes like this: 

      1.   If they really don’t want you do something, they’ll say so.

2.  If they really don’t care about something, they’ll say so.

3.  If they want to talk to you or need something, they usually just don’t come out and say it.  

 Instead, they speak in code, giving clues that what they’re saying is important – an essential clue in decoding parent-child communication.

For some reason, this teen needs his mom at his game even though his dad is going to be there.

Perhaps it’s just for a ride home.  Perhaps it’s because he wants to discuss things deep inside his soul (highly unlikely). Or maybe tonight he just needs his mom to smile at him from the stands. 

No matter the reason, I deciphered the clues in parent-child communication. A third time is a charm.

Tonight, I’ll have a warm dinner in the oven for the other two boys – because tonight, this one needs me more.

What are ways you listen to your children? How do you decode the mysteries of parent-child communication? What are examples of how you make time to really listen to your kids? We’d love to learn from you, too!