Parenting teenage sons was a huge learning experience for me. Are you a boy mom headed into the teen years?
My hope is that these lessons will give you the head start you need. The teen years are tough. I needed all the help I could get.
I’d been a therapist and worked with teenagers in my office and in residential treatment centers before having my own at home. I knew it would be a learning experience and WOW it has been.
Disclaimer: As a BetterHelp affiliate, we may receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase products or services through the links provided. This article is for educational use only. If you are in need of professional help I recommend BetterHelp. They will match you with a therapist that you can skype, email or talk to on the phone for an affordable monthly price. To find a mental health care provider near you call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
1. Boys are Different Than Men
One of the first things I noticed as my sons got older they were becoming more and more different from girls and women. The thing about little boys is that they spend a lot of time in a world run by women. Mothers and a lot of teachers are women. Little boys approach the world more like women than teenage boys.
As little boys, they loved to cuddle with me as much as I loved to snuggle with them. One of my boys abhorred public hugs before he was 10. His idea of PDA was to flash me a sign language I love you sign when his friends weren’t looking. So sweet, but certainly not a hug.
2. Men Deal with the World Different Than Women
At one level I knew this before. I’d been married and I’d done hours of marriage therapy, but nothing helped me understand men like having a teenage son. As if before my eyes these people I’d known and shaped their whole life became different. They thought and acted differently, so much more like men than children.
3. Too Many Words Stops Communication
This is never more true than when giving correction or advice. I challenged myself to provide direction, advice, or negative feedback in 10 words or less. Any more words and their eyes started to glaze over and their ears stopped hearing.
In the spirit of minimal words, I had only 2 house rules by the time they were teenagers.
4. They Still Need Their Mom
Sometimes it seemed they didn’t care at all. It seemed they almost resented having a mom who expected them to do chores and monitored their decision-making. It was almost as if they thought they came to earth as a teenager with no need of a parent to get them from baby to almost adult.
But then I’d be at their activity and I’d catch them looking for my face in the crowd. Or if I was sick or they thought I was hurt I could see the care and concern in their eyes and behavior.
5. Boys Love with a Fierceness
As long as all was going well I might be invisible. If they thought I actually needed them they stepped up. Like when I said goodbye to them at college and they knew I did need a hug even though there were people there.
6. It’s Important to Be Available on Their Time Schedule
Teenage boys can go for weeks with no need to chat with their mom. Then something will come up and you are the one they want or need.
Maybe they are sick and need your comfort or maybe they are having a problem with a friend or girlfriend and they need to know someone loves and accepts them for who they are. Maybe they just need a safe place to talk through their thoughts or feelings. These are the times you need to be there even if it is late and you are tired or you are busy and have other things to do.
7. Choose Your Words
As their time at home came to an end I realized it became more and more important to choose my words and behavior wisely. I knew those last few months were probably the ones they would remember most clearly during their college years.
8. Prayer is Powerful
At some level, I knew this before too, but I learned it in a new and powerful way. It started my oldest’s senior year of high school. He was ready to be a man on his own, but he was still living at home where there were certain expectations. I had to hold my tongue many times knowing that his time at home was limited.
At those times I went to my room shut the door and prayed. After that year I had many more times where I’ve depended on prayer. When they were college men I prayed for their safety and decision-making. Later still when one spent a year in a remote part of Europe or they were choosing wives I continued to depend on prayer.
That senior year I mostly prayed for myself that I would survive, that I wouldn’t poison the relationship with the harsh words I was thinking. Now my prayers for them are most often of gratitude for the wonderful men they are and the beautiful relationships we have.
9. This Too Shall Pass
Whether it is one of the difficult times in parenting or one of the sweet moments it will not last forever. Difficult times flow into fun and sweetness and back to pain and sorrow. It is not what happened as much as how I handled what happened that my now adult children and I remember most.
If you are struggling to keep your perspective during these turbulent teenage years talking to a therapist can be a great way to get your perspective back.
If you are having trouble keeping your perspective while you are raising teenage sons, a good therapist can help you get your perspective back. Find someone to help you here.
10. Cherish the Moments
When children are babies it feels like we will never be done with diapers and bottles. When they are in middle school it feels like our time and money will forever be dominated by running them to and paying for their activities. At times when they are teens we wonder if they will ever think we know something or appreciate what we do.
And then there comes a day when the house is quiet and the only messes are the ones I’ve made. None of those stages of life will come back once they are gone. Cherish as many of the moments as you are able to in the midst of the exhaustion of raising children and building a career because once the day is passed it is gone.
As a closing thought: The days are long, but the years fly by, so do your best to make the most of them, but give yourself grace, because you are human. To be human is to make mistakes and that is okay, your children will learn more from how you deal with the mistakes and your efforts to do your best than they would from having a perfect mom.
If you are looking for ideas on how to make special memories these articles are for you:
Hi, I’m Tamara the creator of Empowered Single Moms, a single mom, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and the author of Thriving a Single Mom’s Guide to a Happy, Positive Life and Thriving a Single Mom Journal. I have a solo private psychotherapy practice where I treat anxiety, depression, and relationship issues.
As a member of the Empowered Single Moms community, I believe you can stop carrying the weight of the world alone and build a life you love. Join my mailing list and get 5 Keys to Single Mom Success.