By Diane Windsor (Publisher, MotinaBooks.com)
I remember so clearly when my son was little. He was seven when his father and I divorced, and we moved out of state. Sure, we struggled, but we had many good times, too. I was a super-involved single mom. When he was in elementary school, I knew all of his teachers. I attended class parties, and I never missed a parent-teacher conference.
I made sure he was involved in fun extra-curricular activities with other boys his age. We were very active in Cub Scouts. The Pinewood Derby was always my favorite event! Together, we built several cars that won the race! I was a very proud Derby Mama; I knew how to polish those axels and make the cars go FAST!
He joined a basketball team for several years, and that really helped him grow. I was there for every practice and game, and I was the mom who kept track of all the players’ statistics. My son was good at defense, but he never wanted to shoot. I’ll never forget the one time he was in the perfect spot to get a basket. The parents were sitting on the bleachers wondering what he would do. Then, he threw the ball and made the basket! We all got on our feet and cheered.
But sports were not his passion. And he decided not to continue with Boy Scouts.
My adorable little boy was becoming one of the most feared creatures on Earth; the teenager with an attitude. He loved to argue with me. Everything I said was wrong. He was still doing pretty well in school, which was certainly a relief. But home was a different story. We got along fine as long as he was doing and getting what he wanted. But when I needed him to do something for me or the household, it wasn’t happening and an argument erupted.
The Challenges of Raising Teen-Aged Sons
Being the mother of a teen boy can be so challenging! I’m five-feet, three inches tall on a good day, and my son towered over me when he was only thirteen. His father lived out of state, so I was on my own with this kid. How in the world would life be bearable until he graduated from high school?
As a mom, I was tempted to just give in to his wishes to make peace in our home. I certainly did not look forward to the days that, after being at work for nine hours, there would be a huge knock-down, drag-out waiting for me at home.
Truths About Raising a Teen-Aged Son
I needed to remind myself of several important truths:
- I’m the adult, not him. This was my home, and he was allowed to share it with me. I paid the bills, and I made the rules. Even though he is absolutely sure that he knows more than I do, I know that I’m right. I need to stand my ground and be the adult.
- Giving in to his demands will not help him. As a parent, it’s my job to raise a child into an adult. This boy needs to become a strong man, and I need to help him. This means that he needs to understand that the choices he makes will have consequences, whether they are good or bad. If he chooses to not complete his school work, he will suffer the consequences of that choice. It’s not my job to bail him out. The same rules apply at home. If he decides not to do a household chore that is his responsibility, I will provide the consequences.
- Enabling him and bailing him out will not help him. It would have been so easy for me to clean up after him, cook all his meals, and just give in, in order to keep peace in my house. But is that teaching him how to be a strong, independent man? No!
- Parents have more power than we think we do. It seems that many parents today are almost afraid to discipline their children. It is okay if we don’t give our children every single thing they want. “No,” is a complete sentence. We do not need to give them an explanation for the decisions we make.
This difficult time with my son is only a season. It won’t last forever. I know that it’s my job to help him grow into a successful young man, and he won’t always enjoy the process! I’m looking forward to the day, maybe five or ten years down the road, when I hear the words, “Mom, you were right!”