Growing up today isn’t easy – this is a world unknown to our parents and grandparents, we have little guidance and ‘know how’ to help our boys develop into young responsible, happy adults. Surviving the teenage years can be a huge challenge for some and many boys will not want to hear what is being said and not act upon ‘well-meaning advice’ but there are ways of helping your child to lead a more productive, easier life.
I am blessed with a son and two daughters and I think one of the key things to remind your child is they really don’t have to know everything – it is perfectly okay to ask for help. Somehow today, we are supposed to understand and be good at everything. If your son understands that it’s okay to listen to others and ask for advice he will be less likely to ‘take unnecessary risks’ by working it all out alone. He won’t feel he has to ‘impress’ his friends.
Ultimately we want our children to be able to take responsibility for their actions and learn from their mistakes so they grow and develop into healthy young adults.
Here are some tips to help your teenage son not grow up feeling overwhelmed in the complexity of the society we live in today – these are taken from my own personal experience bringing up my own son and in my work as a coach and counsellor –
- Communicating is THE key to developing healthy relationships – teach your son by you communicating openly with him how to communicate, children always learn by behaviour not by the spoken word. You will be teaching him a life long skill that will stand him in good stead in his personal life, his business and his health.
- Asking for help – it really is okay to ask for help, in fact, it can be the smart thing to do most of the time. Successful people didn’t get to where they are in life alone; they found someone who knew that bit more than them. This life skill can translate into anything from asking for directions, issues at school, dating girls, health issues and friend challenges to name a few. Teach your child not to worry or get confused about an issue – ASK.
- Where to find help – let him know where he can actually go to find the help he needs. Perhaps it’s a family member, a teacher, a doctor or a website but point him in the right direction – this will alleviate so many worries. You as the parent don’t have to figure it all out.
- Show you care – just by letting your son know you are there for him will alleviate a lot of concerns even if he doesn’t actually voice them, he won’t feel so alone. Tell him you are interested in talking to him even if he doesn’t feel like it right now.
- Encourage him to find activities he enjoys – this is crucial for his self-esteem and self-worth, doing something for himself so he develops a passion. When children become passionate (not obsessed) about a project, a sport or a business idea encourage this as the passionate feelings will spill over into the rest of his life.
- Journaling – this life long skill could save him from many tears. This is a fabulous way for him to learn to express his emotions especially if he finds this hard to put into spoken words. Just a few lines at the end of the day can really put perspective on life and give him clarity; from this he will gain confidence in how he feels, as he will be more in touch with himself.
- Sex – wanting a romantic relationship that is loving is great; we often just hear that teenage sex is all about unwanted pregnancies and diseases. But teach him that it’s okay to be in a loving relationship. Be open with your son about this, more and more boys WANT this sort of relationship. My son has been with his girlfriend now 7 years and he’s 25! (I would also say this isn’t the norm, they’re just right for each other).
- Communication – teach him that having a girlfriend isn’t just about sex, it’s far more about learning to communicate with her and finding out what her needs are and being able to communicate his needs. If he can learn this skill early on he has a much better chance of enjoying being with women and having a fulfilled sex life as he goes into adulthood.
- Rejection – this is okay and normal, not everyone wants to ‘see you’ or go out with you and that’s fine. Teach your son that rejection isn’t about his self-worth but more about they aren’t a good match right now and we may never know the reason and that’s also fine. Rejection is a normal part of life we ALL go through. It’s how we handle it that counts.
- Romantic challenges – your son is going to mess up, that’s guaranteed and that’s fine. We all do, we all make mistakes, romance isn’t like the pictures where we all live happily ever after BUT screwing up a relationship is not the end of the world. Help him to understand that it’s okay to mess up and move on – it’s not about him but the relationship.
Boys growing up today have more opportunities than ever before but what comes with this is a complex mixture of emotions, hormones and sensations. So to deal with this entire mix can be very daunting for young boys and they go into overwhelm, the danger of this is that young boys can retreat into themselves and ‘do nothing.’
The key in all of this is communication, teaching them it’s okay to ask for help and unconditional love. These few pointers will guide your young man into being a responsible adult who knows how to enjoy life, go for what he wants whilst having respect for others and himself.
As always I love to hear from you – don’t be alone!
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