Hi, I'm dr. Kevin Skinner and want to thank you for taking time to ask your question here on Parent Guidance. Your question "What to do if your teenage son won't even talk to you or his therapist. He's isolated himself from the rest of the family and-shows a lot of disrespect."
Well, typically when we look at a case like this, the first thing we start with is, right, so he's not willing to talk to you, to anybody else. So what we first think about is, is their anger? Where is the anger coming from? Usually when we see emotions, isolation anger, they're pulling away for a reason. It might be shame-based. Are they, is he connecting with anybody? Does he have friends? Those are important questions to consider, as you look at how you're going to respond. Because right now your child is, so to speak, using silence to control the environment. And, as a parent, we want to address the disrespect. But that's not the priority in the beginning. The first part of it is to understand the why. What is triggering or what has triggered this isolation from the rest of the family? Is he spending more time on games? His phone? With friends? How is he spending his current time?
Let's just take this down two channels. Let's say he's just spending time alone. Well, I would wonder what he's doing with his time alone? Is it video gaming, is it violent video gaming, is it pornography or other sexual things that he's engaged in and he's embarrassed or ashamed to be around the family? Now, I don't know if these are the things that are going on, but these are the types of questions that-I would want to be asking because right now he's so isolated, not wanting to talk, why would he not want to talk? Usually, It's something that he feels ashamed of.
So, now we transfer that into the anger, the disrespect. Now, why is there the disrespect? Why is he angry? Now, these are the types of questions I invite you as a parent to consider, as you think about how you're going to help your son. Most important, your son needs to know that you still care and that you're looking for a connection. So, now we're looking at the solution and that is going to be related to you nurturing, connecting with, trying to connect, in a loving and kind way. Now, you can't force your child to come towards you. That's going to be done through action through maybe playing, going for a walk, taking him to the ice cream store, whatever it is to just spend some time with him. And, you might approach it from a curiosity. - "You know, I've noticed that, recently, you don't want to talk with me, you don't want to talk with the family with what's going on in your life." I don't want to talk about it, he might say, "but I do, because I care and I miss you." Now notice, there's the invitation, there's the, there's the bid attempt for connection, right? "I miss you. I miss connecting. What's happening in your life? Are you doing okay? It doesn't feel that way."
That's the kind of conversation I would have with my son, in your situation. Something is going on and the challenge is to find out what it is.
Now we talk about the disrespect. "It seems like recently you've been disrespecting, - disrespecting the family-and me. I wonder what you're angry at? Have I done something that bothers you?" These are the types of conversations that would want to have with your son. I wouldn't ignore it.
I really appreciate you reaching out. This is a very important question and I wish you and your son the best and the rest of the family as you go through this time. Take care, and thanks for your question.