I do not know of any other dreaded parenting years, than when our kids especially boys grow to be teenagers. Parenting teenage boys can be very unsettling for most parents, even just a thought of it. I personally used to wonder how it is like to raise a teenage boy. I would look around when walking in malls and observe short,sometimes tiny woman, with a tall, giant , deep voiced son, in most cases I will assume that maybe they are siblings until you hear that deep voice turning to say mom.I was certain for years that I am not looking forward to those years. I actually had a conversation with one mom sometime and she was telling me that his son can easily lift her up.I’m quite sure that I wouldn’t want some under developed brain, whose body is under an uncontrollable surge of testosterone, to have such power over me. The wish is for the physical development to grow parallel to their brain and reasoning development.
Over the years I have read books, spoken to moms and mentored teenagers and my confidence to parent my teenage boy is soaring. And I can confidently say to all moms who are about to ride this wave and who are on it BREATH.
Not all teen boys are the same.
Yes they go through the same, but they respond differently. There is absolutely no need to pre worry, which can eventually turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Don’t expect the worst because you can unconsciously plant seeds that will serve your expectations. Our expectations of these years will certainly determine our approach. If I go into a space that is commonly known to be dangerous, my approach and attitude will change to align with my expectations.
Throughout my life, i have seen cool, no drama teenage boys, whom you will think that they have skipped the teen years to being young adults. I have seen them composed, responsible,disciplined, loving,respectful and focused just what every parent desires. And this does not mean that they are perfect and doesn’t mean that they sometimes don’t slip off. The best we can do is to not confuse the behavior with the individual.
Maybe you are asking, what should I do now?.The best answer will be, BE PRESENT, be at this moment treat each day as it presents itself, tackle each behavior as it arises. I believe what defeats most parents is to think that today’s uncalled for behavior, automatically translate into a lost and shattered future. Be here and make no room for fear , he is not becoming his current behavior. Keep planting good seeds, keep training and grooming with patience before you know it, you will reap.
Understand them, understand the phase.
Understanding is the best gift that you can give to anybody who goes through uncharted waters. Acknowledging it could be the best gift wrapper. I know that most of us, when we become parents, we turn to have divine, selected amnesia of our childhood and teen years. But one of the best ways to understand is to remember your own teen years, how freaked your parents were, how you genuinely thought that your behavior and actions were justified and how you always thought that your parents are overreacting, maybe the best question that you should ask yourself now is am I not overreacting?.
One of the most important things that parents need to understand is that, this is a transitional period and transitions in their nature are challenging. During these transitions, teens turn to pursue autonomy, most part of their previous life they have been blending in and abiding by the set rules. Now what they need, NOTE that, it is a NEED for them, not a want, they need to push boundaries and find themselves. This is a designated moment of separation, there is an urge to seek independence, and if you were to ask me, as much as it freaks and make parents uncomfortable this period is crucial and it should be fully embraced by the two parties involved.
What is happening to them is a natural process, that they can not opt out of. it is fueled by the known surge of hormones that flood their system
The surge results in the development of a deep voice, body hair, beard, increased sex drive , muscle strength and rapid growth
Few of what we know to likely take place as a result of the hormones are mood changes, increase in risk taking behaviors, depression, pushing boundaries, physically risky plays and behaviors, aggression, dominance, competitiveness accompanied by questions like Who am I ? Do i have what it takes to be a man?Am I accepted?.
The truth is if parents and teens work together, as a team, there should never be some adverse behavioral outcomes. Parents should do their best to work and help their teenage boys to find answers and make sense of all that they are currently going through.
What should parents do?
1. Ease the grip
Accept that they are no longer our little babies even if it might still feel like that. Make room for autonomy, create space for independence. For most of his life you have been leading from the front, this is just the right time to change position, to lead from behind.Like a shepherd, leading the sheep you can let him wonder on his own but within the set boundaries. You do not have to be there, to see him through every corner.
You have been at the center stage as the main influencer, you still have to influence his decisions but in a subtle way, it shouldn’t be obvious. This should not be confused with passive parenting or permissiveness. It might mean be pro active, foresee things and address them in a non crisis mode, It might mean be able to discern the space he is in and provide answers for questions not asked. It might mean being present, supportive, involved,open especially with your teen years, how you navigated the terrain, what you learned from your mistakes. Leading from behind to someone else might mean acknowledging that the stakes are too high for you to be directly steering behaviors,but choose to find a mentor for the little man, especially when you are a single mother.( THE INCREDIBLE BOY MENTORSHIP PROGRAM)
Whatever happens understand that he seek autonomy and independence and if he can feel that you want to tighten your grip he might position himself to push you back very hard.
2. Ease the grip but deepen the bond
Teenagers are one weird bunch of people that will never acknowledge their need for love and affection. They like to act like they got it all figured out, they are content with or without you but the truth is they are hungry, hungry for love, affection and acceptance. Its parents responsibility to find creative ways against the resistance to express their unwavering love.
He doesn’t only need your love he is desperate for it. Find a way to daily deposit into his love tank, it must never run dry.
Get to know what he likes most ( this can be regarded as his love language) speak it consistently and unconditionally. Express your love verbally. Affirm the good in him.be involved in his interest, compliment him, be an active participant in his life as much as he allows.
Our kids are not the same, know and understand what communicates love to him and speak that language consistently and unconditionally.
1. Choose your battles.
You will be wasted if you are going to be in conflict with your teen over any and everything. Fight battles that you know that, if left unattended they will have long term negative effects. There are a lot of things that so far are common in the teen world, we don’t have to approve them, they should know where we stand about such but it is not something to be fighting about on a daily basis, e.g a messy room, dirty dishes, his music, his choice of clothes and more. It is important that we keep our energy reserves to fight wrong peer company, crime, drugs, pornography and such.
2. Self Care
Like I said it is uncharted waters, it is a new route for both of you, but you are still expected to be a parent,provide guidance, protect and nourish. These will never be possible on an empty cup. Take out time frequently to fill your own cup. When you are at your best, you will give your best.