Turning boys into young men

Teenage boys can be loads of fun. Many of them eat anything you put in front of them, have a great sense of humor, and can reach up high into tall cabinets for you. However, sometimes boys on the road to manhood, usually between 14-18, hit a developmental milestone called, “My Mom knows nothing.”

Suddenly, our opinions, thoughts, values, heck even our voices, sound like annoying static to their ears. If you find your ego is taking a beating from your boy who used to worship your every move, hang in there. This stage is normal and temporary and means you are doing a good job of helping your boy become a man.

It’s also normal for Dad’s status to suddenly rise high above yours as he tries to figure out what it means to be a man. Women can be lots of things but a dad isn’t one of them. If your son is shutting you out and Dad’s not around, or you don’t think his dad makes a great role model, here are some things you can try to meet his needs, that might not come naturally to Moms.

  • Find out who your son admires.  Ask him to name some men that he admires in real life or through media exposure:  President Obama? Jon Stewart? Atticus Finch? Obi Won Kenobe? Put his picture on his bedroom wall and ask your son to imagine these famous voices are his personal advisers. Notice that many famous men worth admiring (Jamie Foxx, Bill Clinton, 50 Cent, Jay-Z) grew up without fathers.
  • Find a substitute. It wasn’t very long ago that teenage boys would move in with their uncle to learn a trade, or apprentice with another adult male in the community. Expecting teenage boys to only live with and obey their moms during their adolescent years is probably against human nature. Expecting teenage boys to act mature when they spend all their time with other teenage boys, is unrealistic. You can help your son build connections with grandfathers, uncles and other men in your community that you admire. Ask someone you respect to play the role of godfather or big brother to your son. It’s great if boys connect with a male teacher, coach, or the father of a friend, if not, try hiring a male counselor or personal trainer just to give him a unique relationship. The Big Brother/Big Sisters program is the pioneer of youth mentoring and boy scouts and other youth organizations can help fill this need.
  • Show him you appreciate his masculinity. Take our Time for The Talk sex education class together and show him you understand he’s a guy. Buy him My Body, Myself or other books for boys in puberty.  Would he like to try karate, cross country running or wrestling? Is he interested in learning to  to build fire or BBQ? Many growing young men enjoy having a chin up bar in their door jams, access to weights or a gym membership. When the time comes, buy him shaving cream and razors. Have him overhear you speaking highly of him and other men. Present real problems for him to solve like hard to opening jars, syncing iphones with laptops, or fixing a toilet that won’t stop running.
  • Value his opinion. Ask him who he thinks you should vote for and why. Subscribe to The Good Men Project, and then share articles with him and ask his opinion about them.

Sometimes the transition from boys to men can be challenging for moms who love nurture and mother. If your teen son thinks you know nothing and your ego is taking a beating, hang in there. This stage typically only lasts until 22 years old or so, when their world view expands and they realize mom might know a thing or two.