Much has been written about raising daughters, but when it comes to raising a young guy, it’s a different story. As moms, we seem to learn as we go, finding bits and pieces of advice that come in handy, especially when raising boys.
Even I am guilty of writing more about my girl and how I try to raise her to be confident young woman, while I mention my 14 year old son less and less. Honestly, it’s his choice because he would rather I not share too much about him, but at the same time, he seems to have it all under control. That doesn’t mean I am not worried about how to teach him to be comfortable in his own skin, or that I don’t celebrate how unique he is. I do, and I try my best at giving him the tools so he can be the best version of himself.
Our sons do need our guidance. Please note that I chose the word guidance and not interference. As they grow up, it’s normal for boys to want more independence and to spend more time with friends rather than family.
So, how do you guide your son without him feeling smothered? Here’s what has worked for me.
6 tips when raising a son
- Empower your son by trusting his choices. If he prefers to communicate directly with his teachers without your interference, let him. If he wants to choose his deodorant, body wash, and shampoo, that’s great – these smaller decisions help him define his own “something.” However, stay vigilant and discuss when you think he is making a mistake.
- Teach the basics. Without sounding preachy or using a teacher voice, it pays off to explain skincare and grooming basics so he learns to take care of himself. Many teens enjoy learning new facts, so you can mention a study you read, or an article you found online. Instead of highlighting what my son is doing wrong (or not doing at all!), I prefer to share my own struggles and tell my son what has worked for me. For example, I’ve explained to my son that washing your face at night really helps with breakouts.
- Show, don’t tell. Teens are very visual, so demonstrating how to do things is much more effective than simply explaining. For example, show your kids how to use body spray responsibly, so the scent is not too overwhelming. Tip: you should only spray AXE YOU for a second, or for how long it takes to say AXE.
- Listen, listen, and listen even more. If your goal is to improve your communication with a teenager in general, it pays off to earn your child’s trust, and to learn to listen. Allow him to express his feelings or to share whatever he feels like, while withholding judgment. Refrain from commenting on every little thing he tells you.
- Find good male role models. Whether it’s his father, your own dad, or an older cousin, it’s really important for young guys to have somebody they can look up to or confide in. Even when you have the best of relationships with your son, at times he will feel more at ease with another guy.
- Be patient. Hormones will keep reminding you that your boy is turning into a young man. Expect him to retreat to his cave, or to not really say much. Don’t take it as personal rejection, because it really isn’t. if you are worried because you don’t really talk much with him, avoid giving him the third degree. Take a walk together, or have him help you set the table and then try having a conversation. He will feel less pressured and more at ease when you do an activity together instead of sitting down to “have a talk.”
Disclosure: this is part of a sponsored conversation courtesy of Axe, but all opinions are my own.