Raising an ADOLESCENT SON

(C) Julie Boyd 2012

Steve Biddulph, has dedicated his professional life to the education of young men, and has identified as being problematic for adolescent boys. You may wish to use this expansion of Steve’s ideas to consider how, as a family, you are responding to any of these which may be affecting you.

  1. Disengagement…yet a need for engagement. Boys will begin to disengage, usually most particularly from their Mums as they move through adolescence which can create some potential conflict. Mums need to see this as their sons growing up rather than as a reflection on their parenting. It is very important for boys at this age to have strong male role models, and they will usually benefit from spending ‘secret men’s business’ time with either their father or another male to whom they are able to connect.
  2. Need for connectedness… learning and people. Seeking opportunities to learn and connect with others outside home who will assist your son to develop positive social and learning networks is an important part of a healthy development.
  3. Disorganisation…lack of focus. Many young men find as they approach Year 11 and 12 that the pressure of work escalates and it is a challenge to manage. MHS encourages the development of effective work practices in Year 9 and 10 to assist the boys to begin this process. Forcing homework time is generally not productive, but encouraging your son to either study at school or to leave his computer and social networking as a ‘treat’ for when work is finished can help.
  4. Boredom…wanting to be challenged. Teenagers often complain about being bored and it is a perfectly normal part of development. Learning to use their time productively is extremely important, and the holidays are a good time to practice this.
  5. Not working to capabilities/potential. Difficulties with sleeping and disorganisation will make productive time difficult. Chunking work-time into half hour blocks, with time to eat, drink and exercise in between may assist.
  6. Lack of self discipline. As adolescents transition to young men learning to manage their behaviour, which includes thoughts, and feelings as well as actions is challenging. As parents we need to recognise this is an issue and support them through this difficult time.
  7. The need for good models ‘real and good men’. Strong and positive role models are crucially important for the development of our fine young men. In many indigenous cultures it is interesting to note that adolescents are often given over to the care and discipline of relatives or friends outside the immediate family circle. This is also worth considering if severe conflict arises at home. Relationships are often very challenging for the family as a whole during adolescent transitions and parents can see the involvement of other adults as a support for them as well as their sons.

Encouraging your son build productive relationships, helping him get enough sleep and good food, creating opportunities for him to experience various aspects of growing to adulthood, and helping him learn the importance of connecting and communicating effectively with real people, not just on-line will all assist in helping your son become a healthy, resilient adult able to make his way in the world.

In addition to the numbers and contacts below, a new service may be of use to you and your families and is worth exploring.

http://www.headspace.org.au/is-it-just-me/getting-help/eheadspace