Knowledgeability Clarity of Response Timeliness Politeness
10 10 7 10
Comment: Thank you, Ms. Keller, for your good advice! I appreciate it. I am aware of the dynmaics of communication with teens, and we are working on that– and making progress. Part of her reluctance to talk I think stems from not having anyone to talk with in my daughter’s former living situation, but once again, we are making progress, and it is delightful to us all. I won’t push, but I will gently guide and look for teachable moments. Again, thanks!
Rating: Knowledgeability Clarity of Response Timeliness Politeness
9 10 10 10
Comment: Thank you for the sound advice.We will take everything you said into consideration.
Subject: Teenage boy phases
Question: Thank you Kay,
I had mixed emotions when I first read your advice. It seemed a little harsh but I understood it the longer I thought about it. I told my husband that I hadn’t spent much time alone with our son and that I was taking him out to dinner by myself. I wanted to have that heart to heart talk blunt talk you mentioned. It was hard but I got the words out.
I told him that I found his box with my stuff, the photos, and the cigarettes. The color literally drained from his face when I told him I knew. I thought he was going to start crying at the table but he kept it inside. I insisted that he explain the box and after some prodding, he did just that. I give him credit for being honest with me after I confronted him but it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. He thinks he wants to be a girl. He says he’s never kissed a boy but he’s attracted to them.
He is a smoker. He started three years ago and he is addicted. From what I can understand, he associates smoking with femininity. He wants to be my daughter and he doesn’t care about playing sports and he’s petrified that his father and I will disown him. He’s probably right about his father disowning him. I told him there’s no way he can be a girl or smoke in the house unless he confronts his father about his issues and I doubt his father will accept it. So in short, he’s basically screwed and I told him so.
He’s going to have to live up to his father’s expectations until he’s old enough to move out on his own. And then he can do anything he wants, including being a girl and smoking but until then he’s our son and he will be expected to follow his father’s rules. Wow! I did the right thing and I feel horrible.
But as you said, these are his issues- not mine or my husband’s and he isn’t an adult. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.
Thank you, Anonymous
Subject: Teenage boy phases
Question: Dear Anonymous,
I’m writing to you about our 15-year-old son. I think he’s gay and I think he’s addicted to cigarettes (like I am). I haven’t talked to my husband about this because I don’t think he’ll take it very well. My husband is very sports minded, athletic and he doesn’t smoke. In short, he’s a very masculine man and he has similar expectations for our son.
Our son has always participated in sports. He’s good but he’s never shown much enthusiasm for it. For the last couple of years, I’ve suspected that my son has been getting into my closets and wearing my clothes, and smoking my cigarettes. I’ve talked to him about the smoking. I never out and out accused him of it because I’ve never caught him red handed so to speak, but I’ve talked to him about how addictive it is and how I wish I never started myself.
I’ve never confronted him about my clothes because I couldn’t prove it and I didn’t want to embarrass either of us. I hoped it was just a phase and I tried to ignore it, but I don’t think I can ignore it any more. Last week while my husband was at work and my son was at school, I was putting away some clothes in his closet and I found a box that covered up with clothes and I looked inside. I found some a lot of my things have been missing for awhile. I found panties, slips, bras, and a nightgown. I also found a lighter and some cigarette packs. Some packs were full and some were empty. Some were my brand (Benson & Hedges) and others were popular women’s brands like Virginia Slims, Mores, Eve, and Capris. I also found some pictures of boys. Some are photos of guys from his school and some are just advertisements from magazines showing models. I haven’t told my son about finding his box and I haven’t told my husband either.
I tried to look this kind of thing up on my computer and the closest thing I can find that describes my son “transgendered” where a boy wants to become a girl. I think that’s what my son is. I’m writing because I’m hoping you’ll say this kind of thing happens with teen boys and its just a phase and nothing to worry about and it will just go away on it’s own. But if you think that isn’t the case, then I want to help my son. I’m so afraid to talk to him about this and I wouldn’t know how to begin.
Answer: Dear Anonymous,
Let’s start with the cigarette smoking on a deeper level than just the smoking. While this is not uncommon for parents who smoke to have children who then think they can take their cigarettes and smoke them it should not be allowed.
First of all you son is only 15 years old and it is illegal. He is showing you a great deal of disrespect by taking your things and I am sure your cigarettes are expensive. Expecting him to pay you for what he is taken is an appropriate response for the consequences of his actions.
I am sure he would’t be too keen on the idea of you taking anything from his room or helping yourself to whatever he had without his permission and this needs to be the topic of your next conversation. Don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked by the do as I say not as I do rule because it is legal for you to smoke (although yes it is unhealthy, you however are not breaking any laws).
Stealing and underage smoking is illegal and stealing from one’s own family shows a disrespect which needs to be addressed with energy.
As for the cross dressing. As he is 15 and if he has not shown an interest in cross dressing before I wouldn’t freak out. It does not mean he is gay. It does not mean he is transgendered. It may not even mean he is transexual or a cross dresser.
He maybe exploring, he may be trying to be closer to you. I would suggest just setting down and discussing the issue with him. He knows what is going on. He know whether or not he is gay, or feels like he is a female in a male body or if he just gets excited wearing your clothes. Many times we ask the experts what our children would quite willing tell us upfront if we would ask and then be receptive to listening to them without judgement.
Then supposing your worst fears come true, whatever they maybe. You have to focus on your relationship with your son. No matter how you may feel about what is going on with him, it is important to seperate your feelings and issues from your relationship with him.
Do you love him? Do you want to keep the relationship at a level that no matter what happens in his life as a teen or an adult you will be a part of his life?
If the answer is yes, then take this one day at a time, being a willing listener, a supportive parent and seek the understanding you have already begun by reaching out to others as you have here by posting, doing research on the internet and reading up on what you can. Try to remember this is your son’s issue whatever it maybe and is not all about you.
Although what our children do affects our emotions it really doesn’t affect the rest of our lives, it affects the rest of their lives. As for your husband. You are just not responsible for his ideas, thoughts, feelings and outlook on life. How he reacts to this situation is his responsibility and will define the relationship he has with his son. It is a statement about who he is not you.
M Kay Keller