Raising teen boys can be challenging, frustrating and rewarding. Parents of teens have to balance between communicating with their teens, disciplining their teens and allowing their teens to start becoming independent. Teen boys are trying to figure out who they are, what they are good at and which groups they fit in with. They experience peer pressure and regularly face with life-changing decisions, such as whether to have unprotected sex. Parents have to arm their teen boys with information and support while giving them room to make their own choices.
Stay connected with your son even though he might push you away. This doesn’t mean that you should become an overbearing parent, but you should make an effort every day to connect with him. Ask him about his day, his friends or his schoolwork. Eat dinner as a family on a regular basis to stay connected.
Encourage your son to get involved with sports or other after-school activities. Teen boys have a lot of energy, so it can be extremely beneficial to get your son involved in a sport. This activity provides another way for you to connect, because you can go to his track meets or basketball games to support him. Many teens get into trouble after school when they’re bored and don’t have structured activities. If he’s staying after school for a play rehearsal or for football practice, he’s not spending that time engaging in risky behaviors, such as using drugs or having sex. Sports and group activities build confidence and self-esteem for teen boys.
Check in with your son’s school, especially if you have concerns. Some teen boys will hide their report cards and forge their parents’ signatures on notes from their teachers. If your teen son seems overly angry, depressed or anxious, find out how he’s doing in school. His performance in class can indicate whether he is struggling scholastically or in other areas of his life.
Have the uncomfortable talks about sex, drugs, and drinking and driving. Many teens find themselves in circumstances where they have to make decisions about these temptations, so it’s important to discuss them ahead of time. Keep communication open regarding these topics, so your son will feel comfortable asking you questions if he needs to.
Set boundaries. Every teen needs rules and boundaries. They’re not adults yet, and they’re still impulsive. Your son will probably try to see how far he can push the boundaries you set. For example, he might come home 20 minutes past curfew one night and then 40 minutes the next night to see if he’ll get in trouble. Decide on consequences, stick with them and enforce the rules consistently.
If your son displays clear warning signs of mental-health issues or substance-abuse problems, don’t ignore them. Talk to your son, and get help from a licensed mental-health professional. The earlier that you intervene, the faster the issue can be resolved.