Parenting a Teenage Boy: AKA Surviving the Terrible Teens
Parenting a teenage boy is not for the faint of heart.
Fourteen is rough. So are fifteen and sixteen.
Now that I think about it, thirteen should have been the clue--the clue that my son was changing.
His dad had told me this would happen. "No, not Jacob," I thought. "He's so sweet. He's different."
Well I was wrong. Jacob is not different. He is normal and just like most teenage boys I have encountered.
While I'm still in the trenches of "teenhood," I've learned a thing or two--or five. Moms, you just might find what I've discovered to be useful.
First, read Wild At Heart by John Eldredge.
This book reveals the very nature of man as experienced and studied by a man of God. After all, isn't that the goal: to raise our boys to be godly men? I know it's mine. Take note that this book is not about parenting; it is about knowing your son, what makes his masculine heart beat, so that you can parent him.
Then, be prepared for your precious, affectionate little guy to pull away--slowly at first--while he checks out manhood. This might be around thirteen. It's normal. You want him to be a man even while you're grieving that adorable turkey who snuggled with you in the recliner every Saturday morning since he was two! But I digress.
Next, adjust your attitude or view of him while he is checking out manhood.
Anger, confusion, even hate may creep into your heart. You may question, "What did I do to him? What's wrong with him?"
Relax. You didn't do anything to him, and nothing is wrong with him. He is simply checking out manhood. He is learning to act like a man, speak like a man, and respond to his world like a man. You, mom, are a woman. Surely you want him to mimic male tendencies and follow the path of good men in his life.
Your job is to encourage and caution him, love him, participate fully in this transition. This is when he becomes a licensed driver, a dater, a leader, a follower. He needs you for driver's ed, the first kiss, college prep, and job applications.
Now, it's not about you, so don't take it personally.
He loves you; I promise he does even though he is not saying it or showing it.
Don't make it about you. Make it about him.
Say I love you when you think it. Hug him even if he sits limp or looks at you like a monkey's tail just grew out your backside. Stop and listen when he volunteers details about his day. Make time to watch that creepy, scary movie with him if it means he wants to hang out with you.
Finally, an absolute must: pray with him, for him, and over him-- bold, specific prayers in Jesus' name. Again, even if he sits limp and stares at you like a walrus tusk just grew out of your ear. Ask God to equip you with patience, empower you with boldness, and arm you with diligence so that you can stand firm when the enemy fights for your son's attention.
Unlike Wild At Heart, the Bible is a parenting guide. Read it. Study it. Use it to strengthen not only yourself but your son.
Ephesians 6:4 explains,
"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord."
Similarly, Colossians 3:21 asserts, "Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged."
Fourteen is rough; so is parenting.
Sad but true, I disliked--probably hated--Jacob when he was fourteen.
You may be feeling the same about your teen. I've cried many tears and spit some profanities, but talks with my parents, sound advice from solid friends who parented before me, patience, prayer, and John Eldredge's Wild At Heart have come in handy.
While Jacob is changing, I too am changing; he is becoming a man, and I the mother who loves him.
Don't worry, you will love your teenager again too! I promise.