The Adventures Of Fatherhood – November 10, 2023

The first hour home after school for both my boys looks similar.

It’s straight to his room for Carson, who wants some electronics time as soon as he gets home. If he has a good day at school, we say go for it.

For Beckett, it’s also directly to his room after a detour to the kitchen for mass amounts of food.

Both kids seem to crave time to decompress after school. Accepting this is a good way to stay sane for us. We need to resist the urge to inquire how their days at school went and sports after school in Beckett’s case. When I pick him up from practice or school, I simply ask Beckett, “you good, everything good?” The answer is always invariably some version of yes, even if a few minutes or hours later it’s not when he talks. Sometimes he vents about this or that, but I have found it best to just listen and let him share what’s on his mind. Most commonly he has nothing to share and just want to eat and relax in his room.

There was a time when I didn’t understand the boys’ penchant for immediately heading to their rooms, but I have to accept it and even support it. Even in most case, I need some time immediately after walking in the house from work to relax and process the day. I can empathize with our boys, 15 and 14 years old, who are dealing with puberty, unshared social challenges and academics.

I also respect their wishes to not share everything. I prefer to internalize work things myself and keep those matters outside of the house and away from family. It’s important to have some separation. To me, it’s just important my kids know we are there if they want to talk or share something. Otherwise, I will work under the assumption the “yeah, man” I get from Beckett when I ask if everything is good is the reality.

All of this is partially why the headline on an online post, “Why I Give My Teen Freedom to Escape to His Bedroom,” caught my attention ( The story was written by Morgan Hill, a mother of freshman and senior sons in high school sons. She hit the mark.

My son is deep in the throes of his teen years. What that means is that he’s now spending an awful lot of time alone in his bedroom.

… Like a lot of parents, at first, I didn’t understand it. I fought it tooth and nail and I took it all too personally.

I figured I must have messed up horribly somewhere along the way and now he just doesn’t love me like he used to. But I eventually learned that his behavior is all so normal. In fact, most teens go through a pulling away, “just leave me alone” stage.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped knocking on his door, checking up on him, asking him to hang out, and making sure he’s not dealing with any hidden mental health issues. And, it doesn’t mean I’m giving him the okay to become reclusive – he needs balance in his life.

What it means is that I’ve stepped back to give him his privacy. I’m letting him have the time he needs. And I’m respecting the fact that he’s growing up and needs space. …

Though the day may seem short to me, it’s an eternity for my son. School, sports, his part-time job, not to mention social and family pressure – he needs time to process his day, take a deep breath, decompress, and regroup. In fact, one study found that boys, in particular, need seven hours to process information. (Which explains why they suddenly get chatty at 10 o’clock at night.) And, honestly, being a teenager is enough of a reason to warrant time alone in their bedroom.

… Everyone needs “me time,” but I know my son needs it even more. Most (if not all) teens go through a stage where they crave alone time. It’s normal, healthy, AND necessary for their development. So when my son comes home from school, grabs a cold drink and a snack, and escapes to his room where he knows he won’t be bothered and he can finally get some peace and quiet after a long, loud, busy day, I know that time is soothing his soul.

… I know as parents we have a tendency to worry if our kids are suffering, struggling, or lonely when they choose to hole up in their bedrooms at times. But research has shown that teens who spend a moderate amount of time by themselves tend to get better grades and have lower rates of depression than those who don’t. And, that “self-connection” they obtain from being alone can also help them withstand peer pressure because they become more in tune with their values and morals.

Plus, according to experts, learning to be alone is a skill that can be refreshing and restorative for teens. … From social slights to stressful academics, those seven hours at school are filled with pressure and conflict. Challenging classes (or boring ones), homework, extracurriculars, and high expectations put on himself and by others can make my son want to take to his bedroom to relax and recuperate. I see my son’s stress – it’s tangible – which is why I encourage him to relax and unwind in his room.

… Both teen girls and boys have plenty of drama in their day. … There’s no better place to think it all through than the quiet of your own bedroom. Whether my son spends a couple of hours gaming, doing absolutely nothing, or scrolling through Instagram, he needs to escape the drama of his life so he can put things into perspective …

About The Author: Steven Green

Alternative Text

The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.