Parenting and looking after teenage boys pose a lot of unique challenges for the parents. Effective parenting in case of teenage boys involves learning and growing along with them.
Watching your innocent son slowly transform into a blooming teenager can be fascinating and, at the same time, challenging. It is an equally difficult time for the teenagers too. An oft experienced scenario in homes, which have teenage boys is that the boys tend to withdraw, emotionally, socially, and physically. They go to their rooms, close the doors, turn on the stereo, and emerge only when they want, or think they have gotten over whatever they wanted. In today’s day and age, teenage boys are changing in far more serious ways, including drinking and drugs, aggressive behavior, reckless driving, and more.
Understanding the Teenage Years
As a boy approaches his teens, there are a lot of changes taking place within him. These are both, biological as well as psychological. His behavior and ways of thinking, talking, feeling, and reacting to certain situations, also tend to undergo a drastic change at this juncture. He wants to take risks, solve his own problems, initiate social interaction, and also start dating or express himself individually. In short, he wants to build his own identity at home, at school, among friends, and in the society as a whole. However, at the same time, he might also feel completely unprepared to face new challenges.
The pandemonium in the boy’s mind may be reflected through his behavior from time to time. There may be a prominent change in the way he behaves with his friends, his siblings or his parents. There may be a change even in the way he behaves in public. Sometimes, these changes are positive and parents are pleased by them. At numerous other instances, these might be unpleasant, negative, and more often than not, rebellious, and parents might get extremely tensed by the behavior of their son. Raising a teenage son is not easy, and one needs to understand the kid’s side of the situation and the probable reasons for his behavioral fluctuations. Following are some of the reasons why boys may behave in a certain way as they grow up:
The first and strongest reason is that they are trying to achieve independence or establish their own identity. Owing to this, they feel the urge to rebel or act independently, sometimes against the will of the parents, on whom they have depended on for so many years of their life.
An important factor is that boys experience drastic changes in themselves as they hit puberty, owing to the fact that their bodies mature. Naturally, they tend to feel embarrassed or overwhelmed about the increase in sexual feelings, and may not want to discuss this with their parents and family members.
A probable reason why the teenage boys suddenly become difficult for their parents is the increased importance of friends in their lives. This is because they want to discover the larger world that is out there, and also because friends tend to become a bigger support-system than parents, as the deepest of the secrets can be shared with them.
Many of the boys live behind a mask of masculine bravado, they feel it is necessary to cut themselves off from any feelings that society teaches them are unacceptable for men and boys – fear, uncertainty, feelings of loneliness and need.
The problem for those who wish to help is that, on the outside, a boy who is having problems may seem cheerful and resilient, while keeping inner the feelings of being troubled, lonely, afraid, and desperate, hidden. The problems below the surface become obvious only when boys go “over the edge” and get into trouble at college, start fighting with friends, take drugs or start drinking, are diagnosed with clinical depression or erupt into physical violence. Parents thus, need to understand and try to handle the inner frustrations of their teenage sons.
Tips for Parenting Teenage Boys
It is very essential for the parents to judge how their teenage sons might react in a particular situation. For this, it is very important to know your son well. Having one to one conversation with your son may prove to be of great help. However, talking to teenagers usually takes huge effort, as getting them to have a decent conversation, more often than not, seems like a mountain to climb. Here are some tips that may help you get through to your son. After all, just an assurance that you are always there for your son, no matter what, can help him cope with his inner frustrations to a large extent.
It is vital for the parents to understand that their teenage boys will not attain mental maturity all of a sudden. They will see, do, and experience things and will learn from them. Try to gauge why a boy is behaving in a particular manner. He might attempt to hide his feelings and frustrations from his parents, so it important to try to understand what he is trying to camouflage and why.
Being a parent, you should always be alert. Look for those early signs of trouble. These signs include everything from bad grades to rowdy behavior, from seeming quiet to manifesting symptoms of depression, from using drugs or alcohol to becoming a perpetrator or victim of violence. Be extremely alert and try to have a healthy conversation with your son, so that you can talk him out of all the troublesome habits, which he may be getting into.
Figure out new ways of talking to your son, so that he doesn’t feel afraid or ashamed to share his true feelings with you. Be patient with him, don’t push him or nag him too hard. Be gentle and kind and show him that he means a lot to you and that you are proud of him.
Parents have to learn to give the boy the time he needs to express his feelings and come out wholeheartedly in the open. Usually, boys need to set a clock for themselves. They have to determine how much time they need to remain silent before opening up to share their feelings. If parents learn to become sensitive and respect their sons’ emotions, it will make it easier for the boys to be honest about their feelings.
As parents, you know your kids best, and only you can be the best judge of their behavioral and mental state. The key here, is to trust your son, and try to be open in understanding and accepting what he may be going through or what he may be expecting from you. And finally, do not hesitate to consult an expert and call for professional help or additional support, whenever need be.
Disclaimer: This AptParenting article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for the advice of an expert.