Parenting boys: looking ahead (and back) at the teen years
My first foray into parenting a boy was when I became stepmom to a teen already significantly taller than me. He drummed on everything (EVERYTHING) and could fall asleep anywhere (gets that from his dad), but has always been a likeable guy. He didn’t fit any of the negative expectations our culture tries to pin on teens. I remember him helping me paint his new room and talking to me about trying to figure out a girl he liked. I was glad he felt comfortable talking to me, but I had no idea what sort of advice to share.
Brandon grew into a wonderful, responsible husband and father. I’m proud of him, even though I had very little to do with it. But now we’re raising another man. Our youngest is only 8 but there’s a lot of teaching to cram into the years ahead.
Until a year or so ago, Jem and Scout assumed they’d grow up and be married to each other. Recently, Jem told me he might be a truck driver when he grows up but only if he doesn’t like his wife. He contemplates which of the girls in Sunday School he might want to marry, but we’ve assured him there’s no need to rush the decision. At least two girls have declared their plans to marry him.
All that to say: I need help with this boy!
Thankfully, Ken is a great Daddy and Jem wants to be just like him. (Except taller, like Brandon.) We know from experience that kids’ questions get tougher as they get older, and there will be big things to talk about in the next few years. Some of those topics I’m ready for: been there, done that. But some, not so much.
My friend Barrett wrote a book called The Talks a few years ago that walks parents through the awkward conversations about sex and puberty, and about what age to discuss these things with your kids. It’s a great resource. Now he has a brand new book written just for teen boys. Ken and I have had countless conversations with Barrett and his wife about everything you can think of, so I know Barrett well and trust him with hard topics like in this book, The Young Man’s Guide to Awesomeness.
This resource for teenage guys includes:
- how it looks to have a life that means something
- awkward topics addressed in a straightforward way
- biblical perspective without sounding preachy
- encouragement for teen guys to read it with a trusted mentor, plus talking points in each chapter
- lots of links to youtube videos and QR codes to keep reading interesting
- topics like porn, but also chivalry and honor, accountability and friendships, dealing with sin, and how to guard your heart
- plenty of humor without sidestepping big issues
It sounds scary to bring up these topics but if you think your teen boys have never heard/thought of these things before, I’m sad to say that’s probably not the case. In fact, the average age a boy first sees porn is eleven. Experts say more than 60% of teen boys are addicted to porn, and nowadays 56% of divorces cite porn addiction as a cause for divorce.
Those stats are far scarier than awkward topics. We have to help our sons navigate the potentially treacherous growing-up years and avoid as many pitfalls as possible. It’s hard to do things counter-culturally — but I want to raise a man who is a blessing to his future wife and kids and who honors himself and others along the way.