36

Our teenage son (17) likes this girl, but he allegedly doesn't have chances with her (*). While we do think that this is something he has to deal with himself, it did affect his mood visibly over the past few days. He's less happy and optimistic than he normally is, and it's rather sad to see this. We haven't really said much to him about it because we are not sure what to say/do: saying the wrong things isn't going to make it better.

So what should we do? Should we do anything, or let him deal with this himself?

(*) Based on some answer comments, I think I phrased this a bit confusing (non-native speaker here!). While the girl didn't flat-out reject him (i.e. saying "no"), he did approach her but her reaction wasn't the most 'open' one, if that makes sense. Basically she tried to avoid him most of the time and didn't feel much like conversation with him. So the problem isn't that our son doesn't know how to approach her.

To answer the "where do you live?" question: West-Europe.

  • The comment section is for asking for clarification, not explaining how the young man could have a more successful approach to women. Please restrict your comments to what is considered acceptable on SE networks. Thanks. – anongoodnurse May 5 '17 at 20:02
  • 2
    I don't see anywhere on this page the obvious question: Why are you so sure he needs to get over it? That is, why are you sure the question is not "How to help teenage son get into communication with this girl he likes and get to know her better?" You should at least consider the possibility, IMO. – Wildcard May 5 '17 at 23:10
  • Your son is likely to be interested in dating coach videos, i.e. Kezia Noble. – William Jockusch May 6 '17 at 13:34
  • Seems like its not totally uncommon for teenagers of either sex to have crushes on what they perceive as inaccessible mates. – Mark Rogers May 6 '17 at 23:25
  • 1
    Did you experience something similar in his age? What would you have wanted your parents to do? – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen May 7 '17 at 9:29
62

Be supportive. Be there for him. And be willing to just listen. He doesn't need you to fix it for him (not like you could anyway). He just needs someone to talk to and be supportive. Listen first. And only give advice once he's asked / stopped talking. Let him do most of the talking.

Only he can really get over it. It will just be easier if he knows you love him and will help him in any way you can.

(If you want to initiate the conversation, you could start by asking what's bothering him and if he'd like to talk about it. He may not want to, yet. But if he knows you want to listen, he may open up later. Just don't push him.)

  • 9
    +1 in general, but I wish I could give another +1 for "he may not want to" and "don't push him". One thing, though. It is quite possible that he may never want to talk about it, especially with his parents. – sharur May 3 '17 at 22:53
  • 2
    +++1 for "Listen first... Let him do most of the talking." Excellent advice for most similar situations. – Lindsey D May 4 '17 at 4:12
  • 2
    Yes. I also recommend setting up situations where he can talk without feeling like your full attention is on him. Teenagers often seem to be more comfortable talking when they're in the car and you're driving, they're hanging out in the kitchen and you're washing dishes, etc. – Jacob Mattison May 4 '17 at 13:42
  • 2
    I'd like to add that although he thinks he may not have a chance, this is some pretty negative thinking. Unless it's a celebrity crush that your child has never met, and if your child sees this person regularly, it's not a stretch to imagine that if he really takes the time to get to know the person, they're more accessible to him than he may think. – Anoplexian May 4 '17 at 14:15
34

I'm not sure about advice that says to be supportive and just listen to teenage boys. Obviously, not all teenage boys are the same, but emotional communication ability is not a noted trait of most teenage boys (it certainly wasn't for me). What does 'be supportive' even mean? Does it mean trying to talk to him? That is what you are concerned about the first place.

What is a noted trait of teenage boys is energy and the desire to explore. So give him something to explore!

Now what that might be depends heavily on you, what you know how to do, and what your son is interested in. A project for distraction could be many things, I have no idea what is right for you.

  • Buy the parts to a computer (gaming computer?) and assemble it yourselves.

  • If you/he like blowing things up, build potato guns out of PVC pipe and an air compressor (or ether and a BBQ starter, if you are feeling risky). Alternatively, build a small trebuchet and try to launch melons with it.

  • Go to the nearest forest/mountains and learn how to take awesome nature photos. Make a webpage of some sort with said pictures.

  • Depending on your monetary/old car having situation, there are lots of car related projects you could tackle together.

Actions, not words, are what your son needs. Get him out there into the world, have him find something to get excited about. There are lots of things to get into, and projects, unlike girls at school, don't tell you they are not interested.

  • 4
    I agree with this, from what the OP says the girl hasn't even rejected him he just doesn't know how to approach her and engage with her. "allegedly doesn't have chances with her" this is the problem and this can be fixed, he still might not get the girl but the skills and confidence he learns in taking action and trying will help him so much more in the future. Talking to girls, like anything, requires practice to get better at. – user1450877 May 4 '17 at 14:29
  • 4
    This is the kind of stuff that helped me a lot when I was down over relationship issues. A lot of guys don't want to or don't know how to actually talk about this sort of stuff, but the action and visible effect of activities can help a lot. This also provides the chance for you to talk without it being primarily about talking. It's usually a lot easier and more mentally acceptable for men to talk about problems while working on a project with someone rather than an awkward sitting on the edge of the bed talk. – Kik May 4 '17 at 14:34
  • 2
    great ideas from another pov! – WRX May 4 '17 at 14:48
  • 9
    As a safety aside: PVC is not a good choice for a potato gun: It shatters when it fails, sending plastic shards. ABS splits, which is safer. In either case, non-pressure-rated versions exist and are a very bad idea. HDPE, while more expensive, is much, much safer: it deforms on failure. It's used in professional pyrotechnics for mortar tubes because it is significantly safer in case of failure: it doesn't generate shrapnel. – TemporalWolf May 4 '17 at 17:53
  • 2
    Haha @TemporalWolf, that reminded me of this picshag.com/pics/122009/… – AbraCadaver May 4 '17 at 18:54
10

"...we are not sure what to say..."

Then don't say anything. Just start by listening to him. Many times my wife will come to me with problems and I immediately try to fix them, but that isn't what she needs or wants. She just wants me to listen and empathize.

Remember that you have influence, not control. You can't make him change or make him agree with your point of you. But you can listen.

And what if he doesn't want to talk to you? Well, maybe he just doesn't want to at the moment, or maybe he thinks you just can't understand, or maybe he thinks you'll just try to fix everything. Instead of starting with conversation you can start with simply doing something for him, no strings attached, that you know he loves:

"Sorry about all this, bud. But hey I got you this coffee/candy/toy/game."

"Hey do you want to go for a run/play a game/see a movie? My treat."

Some people respond better with gifts and others with quality time and some with acts of service. You know what your son likes. And I'm not talking about bribing him. I'm talking about doing something you know he loves to help him feel not-so-down. Then after a while, with patience, he may be more willing to open up to you to give you a chance to just listen. Finally after all this, you can give him advice when you know that he wants it.

1

Every teen will get fired from a job, damage an automobile, fail a subject, and survive a crush. All you can do is help him find some perspective and learn that:

  1. his affection for this girl, even if unrequited, will make him a better boyfriend and eventual husband for whomever he does end up with.
  2. that women as class respect persistence but not desperation and confidence but not arrogance.
  3. that success consists of going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm -- which in his case might mean going from attempt to attempt with this girl, or from this girl to the next.
  • 2
    "Every teen will (...) damage an automobile, (...)" => Sight... So first-world centered. – yms May 4 '17 at 22:17
  • 6
    @yms It's also rather hyperbolic. I never got fired from a job, damaged an automobile, OR failed any subject as a teen (never even got close to any of these things), and I knew plenty of other teens who didn't either. Every kid has their own set of problems. Not all teens are the same. – Apologize and reinstate Monica May 4 '17 at 23:06
1

If it were my son, I would ask him if he could share how does it feel to have his love unrequited, go into the feeling, and tell me how does the world looks from there,then I would ask him what are the dreams if she has accepted, and how does the world looks from there. Sharing sorrow vividly to others gives us strength to face them.

-1

Take him on a trip to show him a world more vast than his own local suffering. When a small social circle was getting toxic for me I found volunteerism via the Peace Corps cleared up my teenage depression (admittedly in exchange for an alternate sort of Weltschmertz, but at least it wasn't directed entirely inwardly). If your teenager isn't ready for such a fulsome commitment, then at least take him an extended road-trip to expose him to the notion that there are vast communities of worthy social contacts outside of his current clique. The more distinct your trip from his current climate the better.

  • 2
    While expanding a child's horizons and helping him to gain new interests and volunteering are all good ideas, I am not sure how this will help a 17 year-old to get over one of possibly many-to-come crushes and disappointments. School, economic, and perhaps work commitments will also be factors. We imo, don't learn to deal with disappointment by leaving the situation, but rather by learning to face it. This is an almost-man, and dealing with whatever form of disappointment comes, is a part of growing into adulthood. This what parenting and mentoring are meant to help teach. – WRX May 4 '17 at 16:59
-1

Look you just need to be there when he needs you and the situation he's suffering from it's normal with teens.we learn from experiences, not good experiences but bad and painful.Yes it is distressing to watch your son like that I can tell you one thing for sure your son is more likely obsessed with that girl. Let the time pass and he'll realise on his that this girl is not really good for him and spark self will tell him that I shouldn't be wasting my time for her. After sometime when he's over and back to normal maybe he'll fall in love again. Just like others have answered ask him how's everything is going,talk casual and other answers much helpful which are telling how to approach him and talk. 😉😃

-3

Seventeen is very young so this could be his first love. OR he could just be a teenager and in lust, not love. Either way getting him to mix with a lot of young girls perhaps by joining a new sport or dance club should keep him active with less time to brood. You may then be surprised how quickly he discovers another beau. Moving on is soooo much easier when younger. However, it is a good idea not to treat this as insignificant as young love is long remembered. As an astrologer, I know that if he is an Aquarian their first love is terribly important to them. And of course being an Aquarian myself I can vouch for that!

It sounds as though he has not told you the full story yet ie why she isn't being friendly and is avoiding him. He may find it easier to discuss it with a sibling. Being sure to be there when he wants to talk about it is the best thing a kind parent can do.

protected by Community May 4 '17 at 22:13

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.