I never planned on having a “ministry” to mothers of sons but…I kinda do. You see, I’m still in the thick of the teen years with several sons and I’ve learned a lot from raising our first-born son. Meanwhile, exhausted and discouraged mothers keep seeking me out so I thought I’d pass on some of what I recently shared with one mom of several teen and preteen sons (and chime in with your best resources and advice for parents of teen boys!).
Dear Chloe (not her real name),
The mistake I see with most Christian parents is that they prolong the protective stage of parenting. Do you want an angry, rebellious son? Then, label everything he does as “rebellious” and tell him he needs to remain “under” your authority and constantly hammer those points home to him!
Mothers feel a sense of loss during the teen years because they can’t “nurture” their son in the same way as they did when their boy was little! They can’t kiss the tears away or help him into bed or nurture him in ways that make her feel like a “good” mother. Many mothers make the mistake of prolonging that way of mothering by doing their son’s laundry or driving him places when he is perfectly able to walk. This is not a good idea.
Women may also run into conflict with their husbands who are less protective of their son than she is but parenting teen boys can be an area where a dad can finally be recognized as a strong, awesome parent.
My best advice to you?
Make them work!! Are they gifted kids who spend hours writing new software programs or amazing debaters or…? Well, woopy doo! I grew up around Harvard and Yale Ph.D’s who were some of the laziest people I know. Education does not develop character like work does. Actually, scripture warns us that “knowledge puffeth up” so make sure to balance education with hard work.
Parents can watch for opportunities to keep our sons working hard and falling into bed every night exhausted. There is an arrogance that all young men get and a good sweaty day’s work of hard labor takes that out of them. Yes, they can get a good education and work hard at the same time. And, yes, it IS good for them to have a job that isn’t prestigious or exciting. (Read The Millionaire Next Door).We want to raise manly young men who work without complaining and take the initiative if the job needs doing. Make sure your boys are the first to fold up the chairs at church, to open the door for the elderly, to jump up and help. And make sure you’re not being too easy on them.
To sum it all up (and you can certainly take it or leave it), you may be feeling a sense of loss as a mom. Just because you have to be more matter-of-fact with your boys does not mean you’re not parenting them well. I see moms who say they have such a “close” relationship with their teen son when, really, they spend too much time talking with their son about “feelings” and they end up feminizing them.
Let your husband step in and stand between you and your boys. Ask for his protection when you can’t handle them! They are becoming men and they are like bulls in a china shop. Sometimes, teen boys think they’re being “manly” and are just being rude. Appeal to your husband!
Wear them out! Hard work reveals lots of character flaws. Teach them to work without whining or complaining. Teach them to take initiative. Praise them when they exhibit these manly qualities.