This is a guest post written by my friend Susan Shisler
. She has had two boys in my ministry over the past few years. This post is overflowing with wisdom.
I am a boymom (a mother to only boys) and I absolutely love it. Along with my husband, I have the privilege of raising four boys into men. Currently we have an 19-year-old, a 17-year-old, a 14-year-old, and a bonus little guy who is 6 years old. By the time he is a teen I hope to have this whole “motherhood” thing down.
Susan and her boys.
I have learned a lot along the way but have by no means perfected my parenting. Despite the varying personalities of our sons there are several things that have remained the same while raising them as teenagers.
Here are the top10 things I have learned from parenting teenage boys:
When kids are younger it’s easy to think that we have control over them. In some ways controlling younger kids is easy, especially when they’re physically small. For example, when they were acting up or having a tantrum what did you do? You picked them up, restrained them, or removed them from the room.
Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock/master1305
It’s not as easy to control middle schoolers. Good luck trying to pick them up to put them in a time-out! So, what’s the best way to achieve anything resembling “control” with older kids?
Happy Spring Break! Lori Garcia wrote an article on Babble.com that provides a fun perspective on parenting a middle school boy. Her post is called 36 Things No One Tells You About Parenting An Almost-Teenage Boy. I encourage you to check it out.
Photo courtesy of Dollar Photo Club/atikinka2
I’ll return with regular posts next week!
I love being a middle school pastor! At this point in my life, there’s nothing else I’d rather do. I love the variety of tasks involved, I love seeing students’ energy and excitement, and I love sharing special moments with them during a critical part of their lives.
Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock/luismolinero
There is one small part of my job that I consistently dislike: Graphic design. So, you know what? I got permission to pay a graphic designer to do all that stuff for me. Graphic design issues: Done. Outsourced. Passed on to someone else. Move on. Next task.
There is, however, another BIG part of my job that I dislike even more: Transitions.Saying goodbye to students once they leave middle school for high school. Letting go.
Guess what? You can’t outsource that task.
Guess what? Statistically speaking, your middle schooler is going to have sex someday. Hopefully he’ll wait until he’s in a loving marriage relationship. You as his parents play a significant role in helping him understand the value of waiting. That means helping him understand his sexuality and everything that comes along with that, starting at a young age.
Photo courtesy of Dollar Photo Club/pathdoc
Whether you believe it or not, your son is curious about sex. Why do you think so many teenage boys stumble into viewing pornography? Between what’s happening in their bodies, what they learn from classes at school, what they hear their friends say, and what see they in TV and movies, they are exposed to plenty of sexual ideas.
You never stop being a parent. Even when your kids leave the house. Even when they graduate from college. Even when they get their first real job. Even when they move away. Even when they get married and have their own kids.
Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock/eric
Having a good relationship with your adult-aged kids can be a reward for all the investment you gave to your kids during their first 18 years of life. Your kids can be your friends—how cool is that! I personally derive a lot of joy and encouragement from my friendship with my parents these days.
There are certain things you can do—and not do—when your kids are younger that can increase your chances of having a healthy relationship with them in the future. It’s not a guarantee and you can’t force your kids to stay in touch once they’re older. However, they’ll be more likely to come around on their own initiative if you’ve fostered a positive relational foundation.
When I was young I liked to push my parents’ boundaries occasionally. A few times I dared to speak words that I knew were unacceptable in my house.
Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock/rodjulian
My words were met with soap. In my mouth. It tasted disgusting. I hated it. I quickly learned that naughty words would not be tolerated in my house.
Fast-forward a few years to the start of sixth grade. All of a sudden kids started saying A LOT of naughty words. Despite the immense peer pressure to go with the flow, I knew those words were not okay. Even if we were at school and Mom and Dad couldn’t hear me say them. Way to go, Mom and Dad! The soap worked.
Sometimes the best thing you can do in parent-child conflict is to follow Queen Elsa’s advice and let it go. Most battles aren’t worth fighting. Others, though, are absolutely worth the trouble. Here are five battles worth fighting with middle school boys:
Parenting is full of battles, and we all know there is great wisdom in choosing which battles to fight. The potential for battles increases once students enter middle school because kids are beginning to develop their own sense of self. In other words, they’re figuring out how they’re different and unique from everyone around them, including their own family. It’s a beautiful process that’s a necessary step along the path to healthy adulthood but it’s rarely a smooth transition.
Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock/Tatyana Gladskih
By talking with students and their parents and observing their interactions with each other, I’ve been able to obtain a good grasp of common parent-child battles.
A wise friend told me when it comes to raising kids, “a non-moral issue is a non-issue.” That’s a great litmus test for deciding whether you should fight a battle with your middle schooler.
Every middle school boy is going to be a man someday. Crazy thought, huh? Sometimes it can be difficult to see past the hormones, awkwardness, and insecurity that currently dominate his life. But give it enough time and he’ll grow tall, develop a deep voice, and start shaving.
Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock/Subbotina Anna
Just because a boy physically develops into a man doesn’t guarantee he will act like a man. America is currently filled with “boys who shave,” referring to young adult males who look like men but act like boys.
None of you want a son who is still acting like a self-centered, lazy, impulsive boy in his late teens and early 20s. What can you do to help your son develop into a man?
What causes you to feel shame and insecurity as a parent?
Photo courtesy of Dollar Photo Club/fasphotographic
Last year I devoured all of Brene Brown’s books. She’s an author who writes about how shame manifests itself in our lives.
Brown suggests that parenting is a significant potential source of shame. I’ve started asking trusted parents about their sources of parenting shame. It turns out that everyone has spoken and unspoken expectations about how one should raise his or her kids.