Answering Your Teen’s Questions About How to Capture His Heart

It’s much easier to teach your teenager to load the dishwasher or master the skill of driving than it is to help them understand how attraction works. And because kids rarely make parenting easy, the tough questions usually come in the middle of the night or just when you hit the pivotal plotline of the newest bestselling novel. Still, sharing your wisdom about the quirks of human attraction can help your child learn to manage the complexities of future relationships. And if you’re a single mom, the conversation may just remind you how to engage with that person you’d like to attract.


Setting the Right Tone

Unless this child is the youngest of three, you may not have experience in sorting through teenage angst in the wee hours of the morning. If you can’t give it your full attention, let your kiddo know how seriously you’re taking the subject by scheduling an appointment to talk it out.

Make it a one-on-one date for a time that’s free of distractions and daily demands. This gives you time to order your thoughts and maybe check in with a trusted friend who’s already traveled the teen relationship journey from a mom’s perspective.

Keep in mind that your teenager probably isn’t interested in keeping “the guy’s” heart forever. You needn’t start discussing the heavy burden of choosing Mr. Right. The key word in the question is “like.” Granted, to a teen like is often interchangeable with love, but you know better. Instead of love, think “getting the guy’s attention” and build from there.


Getting the Focus Right

It’s important to explain to your teen that no one should try to force attraction. Changing your clothing for him, pretending to enjoy activities that you don’t, or acting out of character may lead to a brief but really dissatisfying encounter.

Instead, suggest your teen think of it the other way around. Remind them of all the cool things they have to offer a relationship. Put the emphasis on whether “the guy” is actually interesting enough to spend time with.

Don’t expect this approach to erase your teen’s quest to convince someone to like them. After all, this guy is important enough to make her share her innermost desires with mom. That’s pretty rare during adolescence. But it may help ease some of her fears and help improve her confidence level.


When Appearances Matter

While it doesn’t work to change yourself for a guy, feeling your best does boost confidence. Your teen may enjoy a shopping trip or a new hairstyle to help enforce her self-esteem. Take this path cautiously, though, since suggesting a new hairstyle can end up in a battle over why you hate her hair.

You might avoid that trap by speaking your truth, that feeling fabulous in a new pair of jeans and luscious hair color makes it easier for you to meet new people. Then ask if she’d like a new blouse or a trip to the nail salon to reinforce her “hotness.”


Getting Practical

Breaking this complex issue down into simple steps helps relieve some of the emotion involved in teen attraction. The first step is all about capturing his attention. Suggest your teen start with getting him to talk or at least acknowledge her existence by returning a smile.

Even though it would be nice (maybe), guys really can’t read minds. Discuss this baffling lack of skill with your teenager and explain that you actually have to let him know you’re interested. Researchers have discovered that most guys need a smile and direct eye contact to even entertain the possibility you might find him attractive. This may explain why pouty winks don’t always get him moving in your direction.

It may take several of these casual encounters over a period of several days (a virtual eternity in teen years) for him to take the hint and stroll over for a chat. If that’s a failure, and your teen has the courage, the next step is approaching him and starting a conversation about that day’s lunch, the long wait for the bus, or any other casual topic. The intention is to spend some time with the guy and eventually suggest they meet at a basketball game or try out the new skate park.

These purposeful encounters give them both the chance to watch for a spark that might move the relationship from new friend to new like.