Help Your Teenage Son Become a Good Man
- Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com Contributor Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2012 2 Feb
If you’re the mother of a teenage son, you may think that he needs you less now than he did when he was younger. But the teen years are a crucial time for you to influence your son. As your son moves from boyhood to manhood, he’ll experience many challenges that can be tough to navigate, and he’ll look to you to help him figure out how to become the man that God wants him to become.
Here’s how you can use your powerful influence as a mom to help your teenage son become a good man:
Help your son deal with changes in his body and mind. During the teen years, your son’s body and mind will undergo many changes that God designed to propel him from a boy to a man. Your son’s levels of the hormone testosterone will fluctuate as he goes through physical changes such as growing taller and deepening his voice, and mental changes like processing information differently in his brain than he did before. If his peers view him as somehow not being masculine enough, he may suffer ridicule from them that can wound him deeply. You can help your son deal with emotional wounds by giving him the opportunities and encouragement he needs to succeed doing something he values. Your son may also struggle with emotional confusion as a teen, so help your son understand what emotions he’s feeling in various situations, and help him process those emotions by using object lessons or examples from your own life or other people’s lives. Teach your son how to control his emotions by thinking critically about them, so he’ll learn how to prevent unhealthy outbursts of anger or anxiety.
Communicate effectively with your son. Keep in mind that males usually aren’t as adept as females at communicating verbally. When you’re trying to get a message across to your teenage son, keep it as simple as possible, since he may lose focus if you give him too much information at once. Focus on communicating just one topic at a time. Speak directly and plainly. Your son may pay more attention to you if you talk with him while the two of you or doing some kind of physical activity together, such as taking a walk or working on household chores. Be specific when communicating expectations to your son. When you want your son to change a behavior, focus on his strengths rather than his weaknesses and try to encourage him instead of criticizing him.
Model the kind of lifestyle you want your son to develop. Keep in mind that your son is likely to follow the example that you set for him. So show your son what it looks like to live faithfully. If you’re promiscuous, tell lies, gossip about others, smoke, drink, waste time, waste money, or engage in other unhealthy habits, your son will probably adopt those same habits. But if you model spiritual disciplines such as regular prayer and Bible reading, worship God and serve others regularly, live with integrity and love, and abstain from destructive behaviors, you’ll likely inspire your son to do the same.
Give your son opportunities to make more decisions. Let your son gradually make more of his own decisions and experience the consequences of his mistakes rather than making decisions for him or swooping into tough situations to try to rescue him. Whenever possible, include your son in the process of making decisions for your family.
Expect the best of your son. Low expectations are demoralizing to teenage boys, so set high expectations for your son and give him the encouragement and support he needs to meet those expectations. Praise him for his successes and encourage him to keep trying after failing.
Connect with your son emotionally. Build emotional closeness between you and your son by spending time together regularly doing activities that he enjoys, and eating together, since teenage boys enjoy food. Pray with and for your son often.
Give your son positive role models. If your son’s father is around and spiritually healthy, urge him to be active in your son’s life, helping him grow closer to Christ. If your son doesn’t have a healthy father around, find Christian men you trust and admire to build lasting friendships with your son.
Help your son recognize and avoid dangers. Dangers such as pornography, violent video games, alcohol and other drugs, gangs, and unhealthy peer friendships can all send your teenage son down a destructive path. Talk with your son often about how to avoid destructive dangers, and why doing so is important.
Help your son develop a healthy sexuality. Urge your son to set up boundaries and accountability structures that will help him abstain from sex until he marries. Teach him how to treat women with respect and care.
Teach your son key character traits. Emphasize resiliency, perseverance, integrity, respect, honor, compassion, and self-discipline as you teach your teenage son values. Give him the opportunities he needs to practice those virtues as often as possible before he leaves home.
Train your son to become a leader. Encourage your son to discover and fulfill God’s purposes for his life. Teach your son the critical thinking skills he needs to make wise decisions. Involve your son in activities that can help him grow into a stronger leader, such as team sports, scouting, or student government. Emphasize leadership skills such as a strong work ethic, respect for authority, accountability, and team work.
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Adapted from That’s My Teenage Son: How Moms Can Influence Their Boys to Become Good Men, copyright 2011 by Rick Johnson. Published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.revellbooks.com.
Rick Johnson is a bestselling author of That’s My Son; Better Dads, Stronger Sons; and Becoming Your Spouse's Better Half. He is the founder of Better Dads and is a sought-after speaker at many large parenting and marriage conferences across the United States and Canada. Rick, his wife, Suzanne, and their children live in Oregon. To find out more about Rick Johnson, visit www.betterdads.net.
Whitney Hopler is a full-time freelance writer and editor. You can visit her website at: http://whitneyhopler.naiwe.com/.