?> Annie Fox Parent Forum - Ask Annie - Communication Problems: My son's joking gets in the way of our communication.

Communication Problems:
“My son's joking gets in the way of our communication.”

Dear Annie,

My son is in 7th grade. He's a great athlete and a straight A student. (You're probably wondering... "What's the problem?") Well, it's the fact that he always kids around and I can never get him to give me a straight answer. It's very frustrating!

Not Always Laughing

Dear Not Always Laughing,

Of course it's frustrating when you feel like you never get a "straight answer" from your son. I'm wondering if you've ever calmly talked to him about how his "just kidding" attitude makes you feel at times. How does it make you feel? Like he's immature? Like he's hiding something? Like he doesn't trust you with his "real" feelings? Whatever it is, you have a responsibility to let him know how his behavior makes you feel.

If you've never talked about it (in a calm and helpful way) you may be in for some interesting surprises. For all you know he may use humor and joking with lots of people as an automatic defense or people-pleasing device. In that case, it would be a valuable thing to let him know so he can become more self-aware and more conscious in his choices about how he wants to respond to people.

On the other hand, it sounds like he's doing very well in school and has an active life. You haven't mentioned any problematic behavior or things that you suspect may be going on. Is it possible that this is more of a conflict in communication styles than anything else? Bottom line, talk to him in a non-threatening way and give him your feedback. That will help him become more aware of what he's doing so he can start exploring the reasons behind it. All of this will put him more in control of his own actions, which he'll appreciate! I hope this helps.

In friendship,

Annie

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