“You can still tell me things. Like, I still listen to everything you say. Just because I’m not little anymore doesn’t mean you can’t teach me stuff.” The truth about parenting teen boys is…
I’ve enjoyed a front-row seat at the display of God’s handiwork watching my son grow.
The days have raced by, and I’m clinging to the last few years I have left with him at home. These are precious years.
They are the finishing touches on a human I’ve poured myself into nearly my entire adult life.
I watched my boy grow from tot to tike to teen. Meanwhile, transitioning from a young woman to full-blown middle-aged myself.
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Having a Teenage Boy is Like
When he steps in front of you to hold the door open, and your heart is so crowded in your chest, you feel it in your throat.
Having a completely-acceptable-and-not-at-all-weird boyfriend you adore, who tells you you’re pretty, says I love you, helps around the house and spends 18 years breaking up with you.
Being the rope in an internal tug-of-war between pride for the man he’s becoming and grieving for the baby boy you pine to hold on to just a bit longer.
The Cold Hard Facts and the Truth About Parenting Teen Boys
1. Parenting teen boys requires levels of intentionality and might that will catch you off guard and shine a spotlight on all your feelings of insufficiency.
2. Our teenage boys need us to deliberately grow our parenting skills for and alongside them. Making ourselves well equipped to raise them as little boys, then going through the process of making ourselves well-equipped all over again when they’re teens to finish the job.
3. More teenagers are feeling depressed, anxious, and overworked than ever before. Suicide rates are 4x higher for men. Males are 7x more frequently admitted to juvenile institutions. And half-naked magazine covers line the shelves at the grocery store.
Our teen boys are set up for failure by a society that undervalues and disrespects them.
Why? Because an emotionally, spiritually healthy man who is secure in His identity with Christ is a powerful force for the kingdom. Satan wants to bring them down.
A Teenage Boy Needs His Mama To
Guard his heart.
1. The truth about parenting teen boys is that our teenage sons need us to set clearly defined boundaries while consciously avoiding lectures.
Exasperating lectures are a blow to your teen boy’s confidence and don’t do much good anyway. They stop receiving just a few short seconds into parental lectures.
2. Girls are appealing, even if he’s not quite ready to admit it.
Our teen boys need us to have already talked to them about sex. (Experts agree these conversations should have begun prior to the 10th birthday.) Don’t wait another second if you haven’t talked honestly about sex. I highly recommend The Ultimate Guy’s Body Book by Dr. Walt Larimore.
It is a fantastic resource that I believe all dads should go through with their teen boys.
Talking to our children about God’s design for sex does not rob them of their innocence.
Hearing unscriptural things about sex from an outside source, however, absolutely will.
Setting him up for relational success will steer him toward healthy relationships and help avoid having a fragmented, contrite heart in marriage.
3. Help him choose equally yolked friends.
Imagine your son’s relationship with Christ as standing on a table. If his friends are up there on that table with him, they can help each other stand strong, keep their footing, and stay on top.
If his friends are down on the ground and he has to reach down to try to help them up, it is far more likely they are going to pull him off the table than he will pull them up.
Don’t believe the lie that you can’t choose your child’s friends. Not only do we have a responsibility to guard our teen boy’s hearts by guiding their friendship choices, but we also have every right to do so.
We choose who comes and goes from our home and from what homes our kids come and go. Your boy can be a light to those not standing on top of the table without getting pulled off it himself.
I can find nowhere in scripture commanding a child’s life be a mission field.
It does, however, state that the blind cannot lead the blind. Our children must be trained first, so they can become effective kingdom advancers later.
4. Allow age-reasonable choosing opportunities.
Reaching a place of responsible and healthy decision-making takes years. Many young adults in homes of their own continue to make poor choices into their mid 20’s or beyond. Teen boys should not be expected to carry the load of making important life decisions alone. Provide opportunities for them to make low-impact decisions for themselves and slowly build the decision significance over time.
5. Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Think of your boy’s heart as a pond. The actions and words our boys do and speak come from that pond. The water in that pond was provided or “fed” from somewhere.
What feeds that pond are the things that go into his eyes and ears. For example, the stuff he watches, listens to, and reads.
Understand where he is developmentally and provide a pool of healthy choices to pick from. Feed his heart well, and do not rush him into adulthood. It will come for him soon enough.
If there is a movie or video game you are not sure about, wait. He will get older, but you cannot get his youth back.
Be emotionally present.
1. Say nice things to him.
He is a mighty man of God.
He has what it takes.
He is handsome.
He is a chosen priesthood.
2. He needs you not to assume he doesn’t want to hold your hand, hug him, or snuggle.
He needs you not to be overly sensitive when he doesn’t want to do any of those things. He needs a little breathing room, but to make sure you’re still within arm’s reach.
Be mentally present.
1. He needs you to help him not get too busy.
Depression, anxiety, and stress among teens are at an all-time high and growing.
The number one thing teens tell therapists in counseling that they don’t share with their parents is that they feel extreme pressure from parental expectations.
School, sports, extracurricular activities, and simply growing up causes them emotional and mental struggle. Take responsibility for deciding how much he may carry and, when in doubt, choose less.
2. Praise responsibility instead of performance.
Research shows that praising performance produces little to no long-term benefits, while praising responsible behavior is advantageous for children and parents alike.
My teenage boy rarely thanks me for a compliment on his performance.
Yet, when I compliment him on how his commitment blessed the family, how he is a valuable member of our team, and how proud I am of his display of responsibility, he affectionately says, (every time) “Thank you, mommy. That really means a lot to me when you say that!”
3. Recognize moodiness, anger, and frustration when you see it, understand it’s normal, and help him navigate managing it correctly.
Between the ages of 13-15, physical growth is its most rapid for young men.
During this time, they are a swirling, swishing washing machine of hormones.
Consequently, ability to remain stoic, stable, and predictable for your teenage boy is vital and will help to build a rock-solid foundation for your relationship throughout his teens and adult life.
4. Initiate conversation about the things he is interested in.
He wants you to seek him out. To pursue him as a valuable part of the family team, with his own unique individual interest and identity.
5. * Important* He is considering, pondering, and internalizing all the things you’ve been teaching him about God since he was little.
He is watching to see if you walk the talk.
Stay steadfast in your own relationship with Christ and provide a great example of a godly life.
The Truth About Parenting Teen Boys is…
The truth about parenting teen boys is… there is no rule that it has to be problematic.
You’ll hear a lot about the hardships and misery of parenting teens. But you’ll rarely hear how down-right amazing it can be.
The truth about parenting teen boys is that it can be one of the most rewarding seasons of motherhood. It will require intentionality, and many days you will need to be on your a-game.
Above all, our teenage boys need us to fight for them.
Take up your armor, draw your sword, and fight for him. I promise it will be more than worth it.