WT 109: Raising Older Boys
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Question 1: This is silly, I know, but I’m totally serious- any advice to help with the smell of preteen/teen boys!?!? They shower daily, and I’m a freak about making sure they have on deodorant, but still they just smell-bless their hearts. How did you talk to your son about hygiene??
Karen's Answer: Honestly, they all smell at this age! It does level out, which is good, but what you are doing is all the right stuff. ☺ At this age Taylor used Axe, which is strong, but I think it’s strong for a reason. Try your best not to make your son feel embarrassed and just continue guiding him.
Question 2: How did you handle respect (respecting me as the mom, respecting his sister, and a respect for women in general)? My husband is gone a lot, and does talk with my son about this when he is here, but most of the in the moment parenting falls on me. Now that we are in the teen years I need an explanation that is more fitting of this older age. What does this look like for single mothers too when there is not a positive male role model around often/ever?
Karen's Answer: Great question! I love that you included single moms in as well. Honestly, it’s multiple conversations. For me, with Taylor, we would talk about what he wanted in a wife one day, I would let him tell me the attributes that he wanted. Then I would just tell him that society as a whole doesn’t always treat women with respect, but if he wanted that caliber of a wife, then he needed to always treat women with respect. Anytime Taylor did treat me or others with respect I would praise him like crazy. Other people would comment to Taylor as well, as to what a gentleman he was and he is words of affirmation, so that went a long way.
As far as single moms, I would do everything I listed before, but also look for a man to speak truth into your son’s life. It could be an uncle, a small group leader, a youth pastor, but someone to take the time to invest in him. For Taylor he had two great small group leader’s in high school that helped. Greg did model this well, in our home, but I understand that not all husbands see the need. Maybe you could share with your husband what you are seeing, and your concerns, and ask him in a loving, nice way to help you. Once again, it is all in how you approach your husband, treat him with respect and you will get further in your request. Most guys don’t like to read books on self help, but you could try For Men Only by Shaunti Feldhaun
Question 3: Pornography and the thought that my son’s exposure to it is inevitable terrifies me. What can I do to prevent his from seeing porn early and how do I handle this discussion on the front end?
Karen's Answer: Be aware and don’t stick your head in the sand or think, “my son will never”. The fact of the matter is that the average age boys see some sort of pornography is 3rd grade. Now, I’m not saying that all boys do, but even if they are not looking for it, they can find it. Taylor was just sitting in his 2nd grade class when a girl showed him a picture from a magazine her father had. Conversations are the key. Start them early and tell your son about pornography, and why he needs to avoid it. With Taylor Greg took on this role with lots of checking in with him, they did the book, Every Young Man’s Battle together. Most boys struggle, it is so assesible these days, it’s not hard to get to at all with iphones. Be aware, and try not to let it freak you out, but speak truth around it in love. I used to tell all my children, God has a plan for your life, but so does Satan and Satan’s plan is to kill and destroy and one way he does that is through pornography, sex outside of marriage, abuse of alcohol, drugs, etc.
Question 4: How can I stay “connected” to my preteen boy going on 14. I see such a change in him lately such as being a little withdrawn, showing more interest in girls. I’m sure this is all normal and part of the growing up process for boys but I want to stay connected with him and foster a relationship with him in this stage of his life while allowing him to grow up. He’s such an obedient kid and his answer to any chore list is “ok Mom” and it’s done. I just am a little concerned with seeing him a little withdrawn lately.
Karen's Answer: Teens withdraw. It’s a fact. I personally think you should give them some space, and realize he is growing into a man. At this age, he is more than likely trying to figure out who he is and who he will become. This is an important developmental stage in his life, so give him space to figure it out. Girls are normal too. How to stay connected? Get into his world, don’t always expect him to come to your world. Ask him about his hobbies, school, his dreams for the future. Ask him, what if anything he is struggling with. Create a safe environment for him to come and talk to you. Taylor is an introvert as well, so after being at school all day, the last thing he wanted to do was sit and talk with me. I had to give Taylor his space, and get okay with that. This is a maturing of a mom as much as it is for a son. I gave Taylor his space, and usually at night, when the house was quiet, he would come in my room and talk. It had to be on his terms though. Be patient AND allow him to grow up. Growing up is not your enemy. You don’t want your child to stay small all their lives.
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