Quinte, On. real estate agent: Conversation Starters With a Teenage Boy

Conversation Starters With a Teenage Boy

Last month was a great month for me. Both of my kids had their reading weeks at college so they could come back home for a while. Unfortunately they both had different weeks off, but we did have one gloriously fun overlapping weekend. The upside of this arrangement was that I got to spend more one on one time with both of them than I usually would. This can be quite daunting, especially in the case of my son who isn't terribly loquacious.

Towards the end of the week I realized that most of the time I spent with him in public consisted of walking a few steps behind him exhorting him to pull his pants up. It drives me nuts, but he's the one with the droopy pants and it doesn't seem to worry him in the least. He seems to be an expert at hiking his jeans up just before they are about to fall to his knees. Seems pretty risky to me, but he's got it down to an artform.  It shouldn't be terribly difficult to convince this generation that wearing clean underwear is important.

I found myself looking for topics to start meaningful conversations with him, It wasn't easy.

I tried to start a conversation about the merits of wearing a belt or suspenders. He didn't seem very interested in that particular subject. I talked about how important it can be to wash your jeans regularly so they cling a bit better to the waistline. Again, he wasn't too impressed and that ended up going nowhere. An attempt was made to discuss how to accurately assess the size of one's waist so that properly fitting pants can be purchased. This too was a non-starter. One final effort was made to talk about how inmates in prison have saggy pants because belts are verboten because they can be turned into a weapon. You'd think that this might interest a teenager, but no, he already knew this.

I had run out of things to talk about. Teenagers can be difficult, that's for sure. I was out of material.

Sometimes I guess it's just best to quit nagging and let him be.

We really don't need forced conversations and lectures to have a meaningful interaction. Sometimes we play Xbox, sometimes we listen to music, we go for quiet drives, and best of all is when he just tags along with me and helps me get some of my tasks done, we can both feel useful and happy at the same time.

Perhaps on certain occasions just a look and a smile can convey way more meaning than a conversation ever could. I also know that when the time comes he will pull his pants up of his own accord, or maybe the right girl will come along and entice him to dress just a little bit better. Either way, it's not something I should worry about too much.










Comment balloon 32 commentsMalcolm Johnston • March 13 2012 10:15AM


Malcolm - That's one fashion statement that I just don't get.  I like your attitude, though.  Don't sweat the small stuff; in time it will work itself out.  Glad you were able to have some one on one time with your kids. 

Posted by Sally Weatherley, Vancouver Home Staging, Home Stager Vancouver, B.C (EXIT STAGE RIGHT) over 8 years ago


It's tough to get the conversation going sometimes.


Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) over 8 years ago

Maybe I should stop nagging my hubby and just let him be since we don't have kids, only furbabies, LOL

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) over 8 years ago

Hey it could be worse....he could be like my little Jack walking around in his Underoos and boots!  I really hate those droopy jeans, and can't for the life of me figure out how they can stand wearing them!

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) over 8 years ago

Malcolm - Kinda reminded me of my teenage days when my mini skirts were the topic of conversation at the breakfast table...just remember, this too shall pass.  He will eventually pull the jeans up. 

Posted by Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities, Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A. (Charlemagne International Properties) over 8 years ago

The funny thing is that I can relate....in a different way. I made the mistake this weekend of letting my 5 year old pick his own clothes. The jeans he chose were too wide in the waist (He looks like Gollum on a good day)  so we spent the day in Baltimore watching the poor little fellow hike his pants up every 10 minutes! I finally resorted to turning over the waistband twice- Maybe you should have done the same thing!

Posted by Ellie McIntire, Luxury service in Howard County & Catonsville (Ellicott City Clarksville Howard County Maryland Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Malcolm - what a beautiful post and I'm sure you echo so many parents out there.  I do remember that with my mother it was my hair.  In fact I'd time just how long it took before she asked me when I was going to get it cut.  Don't sweat the small stuff.  The twig has been bent... now just enjoy it. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 8 years ago

Hi Malcolm, It is great that you were able to enjoy one on one time with your sons and even a weekend with both of them!  I don't understand the fad of droopy pants either but "this too shall pass".  It sounds like the "quiet moments" were the best moments of all.  Thanks for sharing this post and congratulations on the feature!

Posted by Linda Holloway, REALTOR®, Your Next Home in Tampa Bay Starts Here! (Keller Williams Realty Tampa Central) over 8 years ago

Malcolm, I did find that recently, too. The moment I knew what his interest was, it was easy to talk! (Should we not do the same for our clients, too?)

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) over 8 years ago

I have a 9 year old so I'm hoping the drooping jeans fad is over by the time he's a teenager. But then again, something else will replace that. Yes, it's the time spent together that really matters. All the other stuff can just be dropped - literally. 

Posted by Charlie Dresen, Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro (Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty) over 8 years ago

I LOVE this, Malcolm!

I'm not sure who exactly featured this article, but I love that he/she did. 

This little piece of written prose exudes wisdom.

Seems to me that a certain teenage boy has a pretty damn good Father.  I hope he reads this.  If he doesn't get it now, he will.  And when he does ... there is a pretty big hug on the horizon.

Posted by Jason Sardi, Your Agent for Life (Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina) over 8 years ago

Malcolm, I think they hear us parents most of the time and maybe even see the benefits of our suggestions, but cannot let us know that there is any merit in our suggestions for now. When they're in theirs twenties, they may let you know you were right about a lot of stuff.

Posted by Wayne Johnson, San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale (Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS®) over 8 years ago

Malcolm, thank you for such a fun post about teens.....you're telling your son to pull his pants up, I'm telling my daughter to pull up her low cut tank tops.... ;)  - it's all very frustrating and annoying - but I guess we gotta let them be themselves for now.....anyway, I had a sucky real estate day - listed a house and got an offer today, 5 days later, only to be told by my sellers they had changed their mind!  Ugh.  thanks for the smile .... I needed it....and a break from RE for just a minute! 

Posted by Sheri Salley, Ready to Move When YOU Are ! (Century 21 HS & Associates) over 8 years ago
Malcolm...I have had many similar conversations with my sons. Now I also gave up & just let them be :-)
Posted by Ann Nguyen, Lake Tahoe Truckee Homes For Sale (eXp Realty of California, Inc.) over 8 years ago

Hi Malcolm,

I am not sure the purpose of your post.

Every generation has something that drives their parents crazy. Do you remember rock and roll, or long hair on boys, wearing a beard, or mini skirts?

Forget the peripherals. You have a few fleeting years to set your relationship with your sons as adults. Put your effort there.

My kids are long gone and married. Now the grandchildren are coming up. We adore them and consider them pure, unadulterated joy!


Posted by Phil Leng, Phil Leng - Retired (Retired) over 8 years ago

Have four kids, was a single full time Dad. Last one in junior year of college. Silence is not bad, conversation does not have to fill to avoid dead air. Just spending time with kids is what counts. Making them a priority. I am flying to Colorado tomorrow to ski with two of them and excited. We will talk on the lift but on the slopes you all feel closer to God, filling your lungs with fresh air. Hang in there.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 8 years ago

Malcolm, this is all just part of growing up. Teen agers have to show their independence. One day he'll realize you can't walk around in life pulling up his pants all the time. Congratulations on the featured post.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 8 years ago
I just put my latest tech gadgets and products and tools in my Nephews hands and we seem to get immersed in some kind of conversation along the way.
Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com) over 8 years ago

My mom is a school teacher. Can you imagine how many times a day she has to have that conversation with students?? It drives her absolutely crazy. A fad I will never understand. Not a single thing about it looks comfortable at all.

I'm with Wayne. He hears you. He just has to be independent.

Posted by Margie Kopp Sorrell, Lake Oconee Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Lake Oconee Realty and Lake Country) over 8 years ago

Morning Malcolm,  Not sure where I heard it but still like the adive I heard from my mom:  Know when to oversee and when to overlook !

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) over 8 years ago

Malcolm, great post and a well deserved feature.  With my son I have resorted to asking him what he wants to talk about.  Most of the time I don't know the muscians he is talking about, but on our drives he will play them for me.  I don't read the books he does, but we have all read the same book on vacations so we can talk about it.  I am ok with the droopy pants, what I don't like is the untied shoes.  This is very little to worry about in the bit scheme of things, don't you think?

Too bad your daughter didn't get any ink today.

Posted by Larry Lawfer, "I listen for a living." It's all about you. (YourStories Realty Group powered by Castles Unlimited®) over 8 years ago

My oldest connects with her father much more than me.  She at 31 confides in  him and asks his advice.  I feel that is great as she has a parent she feels comfortable enough to lean on.  Our son was HORRIBLE from 14-18 when he started calling from college and saying "mom what do you think I should do?"    WHO invaded this boy's body????  Now our 17 yr old is going thru the same issues as all teens;  She thinks we are stupid unless we are doling out dinero. 

Don't we as parents have a fun life?

We still don't have a lot of conversations but we have tried to stress to our children;  we are family-- thru thick & thin; we are ALWAYS here for each other.  And if we occassionally have those deep conversations more  the better.

Posted by Faye Y. Taylor, Homes for Sale Floresville, La Vernia & San Antoni (StepStone Realty, LLC ) over 8 years ago

I have never understood the "sagging pants" trend. It seems just inconvenient and uncomfortable. I do wholeheartedly agree with you that not all interactions with older youth (or young adults) need to be lectures or direct conversation. I find enjoyment just sitting with my children on an evening when we are all together. We don't need to do anything special. Those are the moments that always mean the most.

So glad you shared this, congratulations on the feature.

Posted by Bud & Beth McKinney, Cary/Raleigh/Apex NC - The Team That Cares, RE/MAX United (RE/MAX UNITED) over 8 years ago

I can only imagine how hard it had to have been not to keep nagging.  But you are right, the more you push the more they push back.  He will discover for himself, especially when he is trying to impress that right girl.

Posted by Jane Peters, Los Angeles real estate concierge services (Home Jane Realty) over 8 years ago

Good advice. My oldest boy is almost 11 and I can see the conversation getting less and less. But I have found that if I just sit beside him or even watch a movie with him he eventually starts talking. Sometimes :)

Posted by Mary Borth, LuxeHomesBN.com over 8 years ago

And I have a 23 year old that . . . only texts.  :)

Posted by Joy Daniels (Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd.) over 8 years ago

I work part time in a middle school this year after spending all of my previous teaching years in elementary school. The biggest lesson I've learned working with teens now is to not push it (as you concluded). If you push it, you make them want to talk to you even less. I engage in a little small talk, make myself available, then take a step back. If they want to, they come to me.


Posted by Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate, Customized Choices for your Real Estate Needs (Kelly Right Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Hi Malcom,..... great post! It is a case of picking your battles and you are wise to let this one go as it will change for a different fad soon.

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) over 8 years ago

Malcolm, been there, done that ! LOL! It was a girl that finally got my son to nix the baggy but look LOL! Your time will come too ... really!

Posted by Janice Ankrett, Staging Professional (Janice Ankrett Home Staging) over 8 years ago

Malcolm, I felt myself reading your story and imagining a few years forward, when Alec is your son's age... you taught me a lesson.

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 8 years ago

yes, the almost falling down pants issue has been addressed many times, and now i have put it to rest. Having him home and just enjoying his company is a blessing, and yes "a look and a smile " is all that we may get , it makes me happy when he says i "will spend the afternoon with dad, we will just hang and chill"

Posted by sj over 8 years ago

I have a son, a teen too and a daughter who is going to become that age very soon.

It is almost impossible to talk to a teen, I stil remember my time....I always tell my kids:'' i'm here to take care of you and love you, but you, and only you are responsible for choices you make. Please be proud of them. If you need my advice, i'm always here for you''.

But agree, sometimes it is extremely difficult time being a parent of a teen.

Posted by Inna Ivchenko, Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA (Barcode Properties) over 6 years ago