Dr Bruce Robinson shares advice on communicating with boys

Advice on communicating with boys

No matter what the circumstance, it is very important to keep the line of communication open with your son, so you can have a good idea of how they are traveling emotionally and mentally, who their friends are, how they are going at school, and when they need help.

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Tips on communicating with your son:

  • Build a comfort zone. Create a safe space for chats, this could be around the breakfast or dinner table, watching sport together, driving to and from a sports game, drop off or pick up to school, playing cards, walking the dog, cooking a BBQ, or taking a hike or surf together.
  • Make the first move. Don’t wait for your son, find a story to share with them that you want their opinion on – ask them a conformable question, one they will be interested in participating in.
  • Listen, without judgment, be open. Don’t share your view first, as it sets a position for them to adhere to and then you lose their real voice or their real feelings on a certain issue. If you are a particularly gregarious father, they may find it hard to compete, so be sure to give them space, time, and listen – let them speak first!
  • Ask curious open questions, don’t load the question with your expectations, and really seek their opinion on something – could be a new shirt, a tie, getting tickets to a sports game, a book to read, a movie to see, something in the headlines, or around their subject of interest.
  • Don’t always give advice. Help your son come up with his own solution first before adding in some words of wisdom.
  • Show you are listening and empathise. Say something like ‘I understand how you feel, or I remember when that happened to me, or that must have been pretty tough’…then you can expand to ask them if they need some guidance or help around the discussion.
  • Let him know you take him seriously and help him to trust his own feelings.
  • Stay calm, express your emotions respectfully, don’t get angry or cut them off, or speak over them, they need to know they can share their voice with you and you will not judge them.
  • Send them a text message after the discussion – share an emoji, or send them a funny picture, with a short message of support. The family cat or dog is often the best conversation starters!


Mondays with Fathering Project founder Dr Bruce Robinson
We want to foster connection, sharing, and collaborating in this time of isolation and need. The Fathering Channel is an online community hub and a source of research-based advice, support and information. Tune in every Monday for Bruce’s weekly video – packed with fathering advice and tips.
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