Children are a blessing. They test us daily but they make up for it with heaps of cuddles, plenty of sloppy kisses and lots of “I love you mummys”.
But teen boys, well, they are a whole other story.
Sure, they still test us daily, but the cuddles, kisses and ‘I love yous’ are few and far between. Instead, we get smelly laundry, empty fridges and weird stains on the sheets.
Our goal as their mum is simple – to love them and to teach them how to be decent human beings. We’re talking respectful, resilient, responsible, all that jazz.
Because we won’t be washing their stained sheets forever. But how do you know if you’re doing it right? You probably won’t. That’s the thing about raising kids – you don’t really know if you’ve done enough until they are grown up (and by then it’s too late).
So, rather than stress about it, enjoy raising your teen son. Laugh with him, love him and accept him. Here are a few rules to raising teen boys that will get us on the right path.
1. Nurture his late sleep-ins
Sure, it’s frustrating getting him to school on time, but just remember what it was like when he was a toddler, up at 5am. Oh, how the times have changed! His late starts to the day (ahem..afternoon) is all part of the whole growing-up process. Let sleeping teen boys lie and try to plan family time for the afternoons.
2. Teach him to respect others
Women. Men. Elderly. Children. Humankind. Animal kind. All the kind. Without respect, you get nowhere. End of story.
3. Let him know you’re there
And that you care. Even if he doesn’t seem to give a sh*t, he does.
4. Teen boys can eat! Plan to grocery shop more than once a week
Restocking the fridge is your new job. Thanks, bottomless pit teenager! The term “second dinner” will come up a lot.
5. Be trustworthy and respectful of his space
Have faith that he will come to you. And, if he does, offer help before punishment.
6. Teach him life skills
I’m talking about those simple things that we take for granted. Like how to write a thank-you note, how to (properly) set the table, how to listen and ask questions, how to clean a bathroom, how to do a load of washing, how to scramble an egg (or make a few decent easy meals), how to get from A to B, how to order food and how to ask for help.
7. Teach your teen about consent
He probably knows how sex works. But make sure he understands how consent works – so many teen boys were not taught this back in our day and this needs to be a mandatory lesson for our next generation of gentlemen.
8. Don’t be that overbearing mum
Be there, yes, but be there in the background. Your teen needs space to figure things out, so give it to him. Teach him how to do it, give him the tools he needs to get it done and let him try. Sure, you’re always going to be his mum and secretly love doing things for him, but he needs to learn how to do certain things himself too.
9. Make sure he minds his manners
Please and thank you go a long way, especially coming out of the mouth of a teenager!
10. Don’t make a big deal about personal products (deodorant, acne cream, shaving gel)
Buy the products. Let him do it. Don’t discuss it at the dinner table either, unless you want to hear, “Muuummmm,” and witness a steady stream of eye rolls from your teenager.
11. Knock before entering
Just save yourself the embarrassment and get in the habit of always knocking. We’ve all seen enough slapstick comedies to know what could happen if you don’t.
12. Instill the importance of communication
He will go out at night. And you will hear the faint sounds of sirens and your heart WILL stop. The easiest way to give him freedom without the constant fear is to make it a rule they check-in. A simple text will do. Just so you don’t have a heart attack every time he leaves the house.
13. Pick your battles
You’re not going to see eye to eye on everything, but fighting over every minor thing is no way to live. So let him wear weird clothes or fart at dinner. It’s not the end of the world, right?
14. Don’t just say no. Explain WHY.
This especially goes for things like drugs and alcohol. Saying “don’t do it” is pretty much the easiest way to ensure your teen boys (heck, ANY aged kids) will do it. Explaining why it’s not a good idea – the side effects, the costs, the risks involved – can help him understand where you’re coming from and that you’re not just a prude.
15. Help your teen understand how money works (no, it doesn’t grow on trees)
Teenagers usually get a taste of earning their own money at this stage in their life. Beg and plead with him to be responsible with his pay, no matter how small it is. The Bank of Mum & Dad won’t always be open but money management skills last forever.
16. Be grateful, even on those days when you want to kill him
Because one day he will be gone. The smelly shoes, the sarcastic attitude, the rude bodily functions… oddly enough, you will miss it all.
But, here’s the thing about teenage boys. Wherever he goes, physically or emotionally, he will always come back to you. To do a load of his washing, to bake him a few casseroles for his freezer, to watch his own kids while he takes his wife out, he will always come back to his mum.
And, one day, he may even thank you for everything you’ve done. Maybe.