Before we become parents, many of us imagine that girls will be the nightmare children. There are heartbreaks, falling outs, and periods to deal with. Boys in comparison seem easy. They’re happy to hang out with their mates and play computer games most of the time. Boys in general, appear to have a much more straightforward way of looking at the world. But, when you have a boy you realize things aren’t as easy as they seem. That’s especially true when the terrible teens strike. Your sweet boy becomes someone you don’t recognize. You could say the same about girls, of course, but it’s actually easier to help them through the troubles.
Additionally, the main issue through the teen years is your child’s struggle to find themselves. To find their true self, they may have to go through many phases. They try on different versions of themselves to see which fits. Girls are more vocal about what they’re trying, and feeling. Unfortunately, boys may retreat. Of course, depression is one thing that every parent fears during those trying times.
It’s worth noting that girls are statistically more prone to depression. It’s also important to note that boys are more likely to take their own lives. In fact, globally, males are 1.8 times more likely to commit suicide. It’s hard to judge what this means, other than that more girls are talking about it, while boys suffer in silence. All the more reason we should do what we can to help our sons find their place. Here are few tips for raising boys and helping them become the men they are meant to be:
Take Him Shopping
Unfortunately, no teen boy is going to jump at the chance to go shopping. But, it’s important you try to encourage him. Make the trip as appealing as possible by taking only him. The trip could be to reward him by buying a new computer game. Or a new skateboard could tempt him if he’s a skater.
Throughout your shopping trip, let your son take the lead. Ask questions, but try not to dictate what he shows an interest in. Your pointing things out will irritate him, and ensure he doesn’t engage in the process. Think of him as a frightened gazelle; offer your hand, and let him come to you. A fast movement will send him running.
Most importantly, don’t judge anything he picks out. The fact he’s made a selection at all is a massive step. It’s also an exercise of trust on his part. He’s reaching out and showing you what he likes. If you knock him down, it’ll be a while before he takes such a risk again. You may not like the fashion he’s chosen, but it’s what he wants. Hopefully, he’ll ride the wave and forget that fashion in a few years.
For now, compliment his choices and tell him he looks great. Also, it’s worth keeping the trip as short as possible. Girls may enjoy long days of browsing through shops, but most boys won’t feel the same. Limit the trip to about two hours. You can always do it again if you feel the need. Once your son has a style he’s comfortable with, you may see a different side of him. Compliment him when he wears something new, and watch his confidence grow.
Design a Comfortable Space
Designing a child’s bedroom can be a daunting task. When they’re young, the main choices were up to you. And there was always the safe option of falling back on their favorite television characters. What boy’s going to sniff at a Superman room? None that we can think of. As with anything, the perfect room decoration becomes harder to master as your boy grows up. To make matters worse, their bedroom becomes more important during their teen years. We all know the cliche of the teen who locks themselves in their room.
We can guarantee that’ll happen to you. This isn’t cause for worry, either. This self-enforced isolation is all part of your teen finding themselves. Spending time alone is important for every aspect of self-discovery. When we’re around other people, it’s much harder to know who we are. So, don’t fight against this isolation. Don’t make constant attempts to drag your teen from his den. Doing this will only pull him away from that important discovery work he’s doing.
Instead, do everything possible to give him a room that he feels comfortable in. If he doesn’t believe his room reflects who he is, he’s less likely to feel as though he has anywhere to belong. Much like with clothes, let him make the big decisions. It’s best you do the decoration, but let him tell you what he wants. Most importantly, don’t judge. If he wants black walls, let him have them. It’s his room, after all. It has no significant effect on the rest of the house. And, the chances are that he’ll return to a different color over time.
Respect His Decisions
At some point, children are going to make decisions that we don’t agree with. Most of the disagreements will happen through the teen years. So, it’s important that you do everything possible to respect the decisions your teen is making. If could be a decision as dramatic as choosing a new religion. They could make a decision like buying a cross necklace. Show your support. Take an interest in his new purchase and passion. It’s a good way to build some understanding and to open up communication.
It may be that his decisions are less drastic than choosing a new religion. But, they’re important all the same. If he’s starting to listen to music you don’t know anything about, respect that. Don’t put it down. And, never utter the phrase ‘it’s a phase.’ If anything, it’ll make him feel as though you don’t take him seriously, which isn’t what you want.
In some cases, his decisions are going to need more than your respect. They may require your active encouragement. This is the best outcome you can hope for. It may be that he depends on you to get him to and from a class he’s enrolled in. Never make him feel as though this is a hindrance. Adjust your plans, and tell him you’d be more than happy to help out. Again, this will help the two of you to form that all-important bond.
Make the most of the journey time, too. Chances are, you and your son don’t get much one on one time. When you’re at home, he can duck out of a conversation whenever he wants to. In the car, he doesn’t have that choice. That’s not to say that you should use this time to grill him. Quite the opposite. Use it instead, to have the day to day chats that are missing from your normal life. Take the time to find out more about him!
Loosen Your Reins
Last, but by no means least, it’s important you loosen the reins during this time. This is probably the hardest point on this list, but it’s the most important. Too many parent and child relationships are destroyed during this stage. That’s because you’ll be fighting hard to hold on, while your child struggles against your grip. Save yourself the effort and accept that now is not the time to assert your parental dominance.
For the first time in your son’s life, he’ll want to spend time away from you. It may be that he starts going out with friends, or makes plans without including you. It can be a hard thing to get your head around. A few years before, he depended on you for every trip he took outside of school. Now, it’s as though he doesn’t even consider you.
Of course, it’s important you stay sensible, too. He may be a teen now, but he’s still in your care. Instead of demanding who he’s with and where he’s going, sit him down and explain this. The first time he takes a solo outing is the perfect opportunity to raise the subject. Explain that respect is a two-way street. You can only respect that he is his own person if he respects you enough to tell you his plans. When that happens, try not to get angry. Instead, remind him of what you discussed, and why it’s important. We hope that you found our tips for raising boys beneficial.