Why the title? Why not just “Raising Teens”? Well mostly because I only have boys and also because men and women are different. Teenage boys have to deal with a rush of testosterone which causes anger, aggressive behaviour and a need to try and be alpha. As well as the rapid growth and deep voices our boys are struggling with all kinds of emotions they didn’t have before. They don’t know what to do with these raging hormones and are often overwhelmed, understandable really.
As a woman, I have a lot of ideas about raising girls too but that’s another article altogether!
Thank God I’ve survived raising three boys into men or rather I’ve supported three men to adulthood. Through the stubbornness, anger and moods and happy times, it’s not all doom and gloom. Now with the internet and social media is very important to monitor their activity, I don’t like to do this in a big brother kind of way but we do have monitoring software on the computer, porn blocks on the home wifi and we regularly ask our teens to talk about what they are doing online.
Here are my top tips.
- Listen to them, read between the lines, boys are not as keen as us females to share their feelings when they do speak be sure to listen.
- Try to remember what it was like to be a teenager yourself. The moods and just how incredibly difficult the whole time can be. Did you enjoy being in the midst of puberty?
- Encourage their interests, they won’t be the same as yours, as these people find who they are, support what they want to do. So if your teenage son tells you he wants to be an (insert horrifically inappropriate career choice here) be supportive, if you react negatively you can be sure they’ll be more inclined towards it.
- Set clear boundaries
- Don’t argue with them, for some reason my teens go through a phase of goading me into a row, sometimes this goes on for years and puts a real strain on our relationship. I’m working on this one!
- Have fun together, do something together that isn’t work related that you both enjoy.
- Get them into a sport, from 16 gym membership is a great idea!
- Forgive. Move on.
- Be positive.
- Love them, even when they are not very lovable.
- Religion, don’t force it, simply teach it and let them find their way. Their relationship with God is for life, make sure it starts well.
Why do boys need to be alpha? Genetics I suppose, but it’s exhausting trying to coax them into everything, so I just leave them to it. A man of 16 can decide when he needs to do things, organise his time and work. He’s old enough to know the consequences if he doesn’t uphold his responsibilities. Let him deal with the outcome if he does mess up. It’s so important to treat them as adults or else you will have a 20 something child on your hands!
Give children responsibility from a young age, all my children have chores or jobs to do around the house, as they get older these jobs get bigger and more important. They are not nominal and nor are they to “earn pocket money” they are important parts of running the house. Praise them when they do well, praise them for trying when they don’t. No one wants their shoddy work put down. But we all like praise don’t we?
Help them make choices but don’t tell them what to do. I was dictated to as a child, teen and adult by my parents, you can be sure that whatever they decided I should be doing, I did the opposite. Not just to rebel but to carve my own way in the world.
I can’t imagine going back to my teenage self and given the chance I’d tell myself one thing
“It will get better”
What would you tell your teenage self? What’s your experience of raising teenage boys?