I wrote this a few months ago, but thought I would re post it in light of some conversations I have had lately about raising teenagers. Raising teenage boys is no joke!
Here I am. The mother of a teenage boy. You know, that stage in your life that you have heard countless moms talking about with dread and fear?
If there is one thing I have learned about pretty much every single area of life, it’s this:
Stereo-types are bullies.
They come in and get all up in your grill and try to convince you that their way is the right way. They tell you that this is how things are because that is what everyone has always said, and who are we to try to interfere? They don’t care who they affect, and they don’t let up, no matter how much time has gone by.
I’ve never been a big fan of bullies. And I decided a long time ago that I was not going to sit by and let other people and their opinions boss me around.
With that being said. I wanted to give you 3 things to remember when raising teenage boys. And because I like to make things easy to remember when I write and when I speak, I made them all start with the letter “a”. You’re welcome.
1. Teenage boys need a lot of attention.
You know how things were when your boys were little. They needed constant attention. They needed their meals made for them and fed to them. They needed to be dressed. They needed you to take them to the bathroom, rock them to sleep and sing to them when they were scared.
Obviously, things change the older they get. But don’t forget: They change. They don’t stop.
Big difference. Here is where I want to challenge you with:
They don’t need less attention the older they get, they just need a different kind of attention the older they get.
Of course you aren’t doing some of the things that you used to do, but make sure that you are not taking away the attention that they need from you entirely. You may not have to literally put food in their mouths anymore, or sometimes even cook for them. But everyone loves attention. Be sure to make a conscious effort to make their favorite meal every once in a while. Take out a bowl, spoon and cereal and leave it on the counter with a note. Leave messages on the mirror in the bathroom. Do one of their chores, look them in the eyes when they are talking to you, step away from your computer or turn the tv off to make sure you are making it very clear that they are important. Be interested in what they are interested in! When AJ wants to talk about this soccer player, and that soccer stat, I really don’t have a clue who or what he’s talking about. But I still love to listen. I love to hear him talk, hear him laugh, and watch him smile. Don’t take those things for granted. Enjoy being with your teenager. And don’t fake it…they will be able to see right through it.
Never stop giving your kids attention. Never.
Do you know one of the first people I look to when I want attention? My mom! I want my mom’s attention and I am a grown woman, myself! We never stop craving attention from our parents, and that is how it should be.
2. Teenage boys need a lot of affection.
Don’t forget about the stereo-type bully. I don’t know who ever started making it “embarrassing” for a boy to hug and kiss his mom in public. It’s stereo-typical, and it is not something you have to be pushed around with. Now. If you are not a super affection person naturally, I am not suggesting you start getting all crazy for the first time ever once they hit 13. But if hugging has always been a natural and normal part of your family’s life, why on earth would you stop when your boy hits his teen years? And for crying out loud, don’t ask them if it’s embarrassing! Why even put the thought in their head?! Why would it be embarrassing? You should make it so that he would start to wonder what was up if you didn’t hug him! Of course, everything has to start with communication.
A lot of moms I have talked to have told me that their teenager just won’t talk to them. Well…Two things for ya, momma… 1. The fact that your teenager won’t talk to you is not just because he’s a teenager. There are some other root issues going on there. Don’t use that as a cop out. 2. That doesn’t happen overnight. If your kids are still young? Start making it a family practice now to be open about everything!
I’ve said it many times before, but every once in a while, ask your teenager (or any age child) if you have done anything that day or that week that upset them. Ask at a time that allows for you to apologize and make things right in case the answer is yes!
Keeping current is so important in every relationship.
Hug that boy of yours. Rub his back. Kiss his cheeks. Put your arm around him. Show him that you enjoy being with him and you love being near him.
3. Teenage boys need a lot of approval.
I mean, duh. We all need a lot of approval! I think that you have probably picked up on that main theme here. A teenage boy is no different than any other person. We are all just humans, with basic emotional, spiritual and physical needs!
During these teen years there are going to be so many people who disapprove of your son. The biggest one I find disapproving of mine is…himself. They are going through so many changes- changes with their friends, their school, their body, their emotions, their moods! Sometimes I see AJ disapproving of himself, and that breaks my heart. Understand the major importance of teaching your teenager that you approve of him, and that more importantly God approves of him. At the end of the day, the things that you need to be pushing and showing approval in, are his attitude, his service, his acts of love – not only his soccer skills, his academic excellence, or his number of friends. Yes, I think it is very important to show approval in every area of life. You are still building confidence in them! He needs to hear you cheering at his games, complimenting his good test score, and saying good things in his ear shot about how you can tell what a great kid he is because so many people like him. And it is equally as important to be careful not to show disapproval over the temporal, fleeting things. I hear way, way too many parents screaming at their kids when they play poorly at a game. It breaks my heart. I want to scream at them for behaving poorly as a parent! Yes, I see the irony there. Ha!
You can show your approval by actually speaking it. By bragging about him behind his back so he overhears you. By writing a note. By making a special meal. By taking him out. By hugging him. By buying him something.
When a teenager feels approval by his parents, he is not going to be desperate to
find approval everywhere else.
Be the place he knows he can be himself without fear of being made fun of. Be the place he can laugh his hardest, burp his loudest, and act his craziest!
Don’t allow the stereo-type bully to push your son around. Don’t let him fall into any trap that make him feel like he has the right to not talk, to not show affection, or to not honor his parents. He is responsible before God, just like the rest of us to be living a life that is pleasing to God.
But he still needs you. He needs you there to support him. To know when to speak and when to listen. When to hug and when to walk away.
Enjoy that teenage boy of yours. They make the best friends.