• Lucas North

What you could learn from a letter to my teenage son

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A PARENT to know that teenagers can be tricky. Everyone says they can be tricky. Teenagers get a bad press. The media often portrays them as monsters.

I lost contact with my young son even before he was a teenager. And I’ve been fighting to win him back ever since.

Presents, pleas and prayers didn’t work. Nothing I did appeared to make any difference.

I got a glimmer of hope last year when he agreed to spend some time with me. This came about when my niece visited me from Newcastle for a couple of days. She and my teenage son get on so well he overcame his aversion to me for a couple of days so he could also hang around her.

If you’re a desperate parent, you’ll be able to appreciate how this felt. Of course, it wasn’t about me. But that didn’t stop my optimism going into overdrive. I began thinking – dreaming – that the situation between me and my son had changed.

But I was wrong.

Since then, nothing. Whenever I’ve bumped into my son accidentally, he’s always been very polite. Yet I’ve not been able to persuade him to spend any meaningful time with me.

So, I decided to write him a letter. Not just any old letter. I’ve typed, printed and sent plenty of those to know they’re a waste of a teen’s time. This one was done with a pen and paper. I hoped, because he spends so much time in front of a screen, the shock of some long-hand writing might somehow make a difference.

I’m glad to say it did. Those inky squiggles on paper appear to have done the trick. My son texted me just a few days ago saying we could meet during the Easter break.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Easter hasn’t happened yet. There’s still time for him to change his mind. But the fact that he made contact with me at all (for the very first time) is a major breakthrough. At least that’s how it seems to me.

Why am I telling you this? Just to demonstrate that thinking a little differently can make a difference and it may even pay dividends.

Of course, you could try something different and fail. I know how that feels having been unsuccessful in getting through to my son for years.

But, as we’re living in extraordinary times, doing something different may just be the answer to one or two of the difficulties you’re currently facing.

And anyway, if you’re really desperate, what do you have to lose?

Keep trying. Keep communicating. Be humble.

Thanks for reading.

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