Top Ten Lessons I Have Learned From Parenting Three Teenage Boys

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:

  1. Some of our best conversations happen in the car…when they don’t have to look me in the eye. They feel more freedom to ask me something that may be a bit uncomfortable for them to ask eye-to-eye. I purposefully don’t play a lot of music in our car and they aren’t allowed to be on their phones if they are sitting in the front seat. It allows time and space to talk. 
  2. Food matters. I am “that mom” who agrees to run pizza to school, bake cookies for their friends, buy their favorite treats at the store, and make their favorite meals to celebrate them. Food matters to teenage boys. My boys appreciate that I understand how important food is to them. They have repeatedly thanked me for being “that mom” who always provides good food for them and their friends.
  3. Texting is safe with Mom. My boys text me often. They text me about funny stuff, sports stuff, and real life stuff. It’s another safe place for them to share with me. Texting is quick and they don’t have to look me in the eye. It’s also a great way for me to send a quick encouragement, reminder, or prayer to them. Plus I know they always see and read my texts.
  4. They appreciate learning how to be a gentleman. There was a time when my boys rolled their eyes as I stood there waiting for them to open a door for me, but now they are proud to do it for me and for others.  They love to be “the man” by holding the umbrella for me or parking the car for me so I am dry (wait until they have their driver’s permit for this one). I often hold their arms and have them escort me into church or the mall so they can feel what it’s like to be a protector. They are not too young to learn. Teach your boys to walk on the outside of a sidewalk and let Mom walk on the inside and to pull chairs out at a restaurant. They may actlike it’s cheesy but trust me, they will love having this inside info when they begin to date some day.
  5. Play an active role in conversations about sex. It does not have to be a father/son only conversation. I have found that my boys and I have an open dialogue about girls/women “stuff” because I have allowed and welcomed it. Certainly I know more than their dad about being a girl, so it makes sense that they feel comfortable with “birds and bees” conversations with both of us. In our house I would prefer they ask us rather than their friends. They may giggle and be mortified but in the end I know that’s all a cover—they’re secretly grateful to have answers to their questions.
  6. Praise them for the little stuff. Quick comments matter. Praise them when they try something new. Praise them at the end of a game even if they only played one minute. Let them know you LOVE them. Thank them when their laundry makes it into the basket or when they help fold laundry or help with a meal. Kids want to please their parents—tell them when they’ve accomplished that!
  7. Teach them to write a letter to you and share their feelings. I don’t ask my boys for presents on Mother’s Day or my birthday. Instead, I ask them to each write me a letter. I tell them, “Write me a letter; tell me what you are thankful for, what you need from me, and what matters to you about my mothering. “ It teaches them to write a “love letter” and it teaches them to search their hearts. I pray someday this will translate in their marriages.
  8. Kiss them daily. Yep, even if they squirm. My boys don’t leave the house in the morning without a kiss on the cheek. It’s not an option.
  9. Tell them “I love you.” I don’t think any of us can hear “I love you” enough.
  10. Pray them out the door. I pray every morning with our boys before they leave for school. Don’t just tell them you are praying for them today—actually pray for them!  Pray aloud, in the kitchen, in the car drop off line, and even when they are running late. There is no better way to send them out the door.

In our home full of boys there may not be cute ribbons and bows, coordinating shoes, or quietness, but we do love BIG! The blessing of boys is they do a lot of things with great passion—they fight hard, forget fast and love BIG!