I am blessed (and exhausted!!) raising three sons aged 19 to 14 – though I am really pleased to be a mom to boys I have to be honest and say I worry about the messages our boys receive about masculinity in today’s society. So I thought I would write some parenting tips for boys.
How often do you hear (or say) comments like “man-up” – “don’t cry” and “don’t show weakness” these are some of the most damaging things we can say to the boys and men in our lives. Boys are no different to girls and they worry about the way they look, about body image and about sexuality.
During adolescence boys can spend many hours each week submerged in computer games, social media and television. Its through these mediums that so many boys are fed distorted views of sexuality, connection and intimacy which are not based in reality but more importantly these mediums sell a very poor story to our boys – a story about what it is to be a man.
I am very concerned about pornography on the internet and how it impacts both young men and women at the beginning of their journey into close, connected, intimate relationships. So many young men believe the images they view online as being the ‘how to’ of sexuality and connection. I ask fathers to step up and talk with your boys about the gentler more loving side of intimacy that they will never see in pornography. If you do not teach them who will.
If we do not give our boys the opportunity to connect and question the ‘sales pitch’ of pop culture and the media – if we don’t allow them the opportunity to ask the questions they have about who they are and how they ‘do’ their lives – in a safe place where they will not be judged – we risk failing them into the future.
So how can you help your boy/s?
- Teach him the words to express his feeling
- Be a cheerleader for his life – he needs to know that you are on his team
- Teach him how to do chores – one day he will need to do laundry and cook a meal
- Make sure he has examples of good men and women who are powerful because of their brains, their determination, and their integrity
- Let them tell you ‘stuff’ and try hard not to be shocked or judgmental – that way they are more likely to share difficult things with you when it’s really important
- Teach him to have manners
- Teach him that there are times when you need to be gentle
- Let him ruin his clothes by getting dirty
- Let him lose – he needs to understand that sometimes we win and sometimes we lose
- Answer him when he asks, “Why?” and let him know that no question is a stupid one
- Let his dad teach him how to do things
- Give him something to release his energy – we have several punch bags and a gym at my place
- Let him build tree houses
- Encourage him to be compassionate by encouraging him to help others
- Let him know that it is perfectly okay to cry
- Listen to him when he wants to talk – as they get older it happens less – so grab each opportunity or try to make some if you can
- Kiss him and hug him – my 19 year old is a giant and it’s the weirdest thing – I still see him as my little boy
- Teach him to expect more from himself
- Teach him about violent computer games and try to help him understand the negative impacts it will have on him and his ability to connect to others
- Teach him what healthy boundaries are
- Never shame him
- Be home base – don’t let him go down the rabbit hole – let him know that home is a safe space for him to work out his ‘stuff’
- Let him know that pornography will never teach him about intimacy and connection
Parenting today is very challenging…. more challenging I think than at any other time. As parents we are fighting against a machine (the internet) which is lying to our kids about so many issues. We need to teach them to be discerning – to question what they are seeing either online or through television and gaming.
Let’s not forget our boys … lets help them grow and learn and become the men we know they are capable of being.
If your son is struggling and you would like assistance in a specific area of his life – or if you feel disconnected from him and would like to reconnect please feel free to contact me or schedule an appointment using the tab at the bottom on the screen.
Until next time ..