At any given time, on any given day, the topic of parenting teenage boys dominates my private practice. Parent’s emotions range from victory to defeat.
The fact remains, parenting teenage boys is not an easy task, nor for the faint of heart. Here are some basic strategies you can adopt to help survive “The Teenage Years” and still have a healthy relationship with your son.
- Time to grow a backbone – Start discipline early. Your cute and cuddly boy of the past has developed into a freethinking teen. It might be time to make decisions that may be difficult for him to accept. Be firm, without yelling, yet still show affection and care. There’s room for both. During the physical act of discipline, try looking them in the eye, or stand in front of them and give a gentle touch.
- Don’t take a rebellious act as a personal attack – Your teen isn’t out to get you; he’s just trying to reach for independence. Let him. ALL boys must eventually be independent, don’t stifle his attempts, regardless of how early he may show signs that he is looking to be independent from his parents.
- Teach manliness for the 20th century man – Men these days need to learn to function in a more sophisticated environment then their grandfathers and even fathers did. No more “Boys will be boys”. Being sensitive to a wide spectrum of needs will be expected. Teach tolerance, acceptance and empathy early by exposing your son to a wide variety of activities besides the normal manly chores of tradition. Washing dishes, folding laundry, sweeping/mopping/vacuuming, cooking for the family, and even babysitting are all chores he will be expected to master once he leaves the home. Also exposing him to interactions with elders and being sensitive to different cultural backgrounds.
- When it comes to communication, be patient and teach emotional self-awareness – Being parents of boys who participate in so many activities is tough. Driving around from school to practice then home to finish homework can sometimes leave little time for a boy to stop and reflect on how he feels about anything. Boys can be less inclined to share a strange or strong emotion than some girls. Encourage self-awareness by first listening to cues from him and second, being available to listen and elicit responses by asking the right questions once he does open up. Giving him an outlet to express self awareness in a safe and Non-judge mental environment will increase the likelihood that he will do it again in the future, thus increasing the likelihood that he will develop into a sensitive and caring future husband and father. For example, my oldest son, who rarely spoke about how he felt, would decide to share from the back seat when I would drive him to baseball practice. I would be so glad he was sharing his thoughts that my excitement and over zealousness would often kill the mood. I soon began practicing simple active listening skills I learned in graduate school. Check this link out for some simple listening skills from Mindtools.com.http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/ActiveListening.htm It’s all about listening, attentiveness, timing, and feedback.
- Remember you are model #1– One of the most common complaints I get from parents who come into the office is this: “how can I get my teenager to talk to me with respect.” Oftentimes it doesn’t take long for me to watch two parents interact with each other before I see the problem. Our children communicate primarily based on modeling after their parents. Remember: “Do as I say, not as I do” is a parenting strategy our parents used on us, and wasn’t effective back then either.
This list could go on and on. Bottom line: There is no silver bullet for parenting your teenager. Patience is the most important virtue here. And remember, it’s only temporary.
If you are in the San Antonio area, and want to learn more, call our office at 210-481-3727.
Or you can email me at Andrew@pacecpounselinggroup.com
Pace Counseling Group is a professional counseling firm located in San Antonio, Texas. We are focused on continuously improving the quality of life for our clients and their families. To learn more, visit us at Pace Counseling Group or call (210) 481-3727.