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I never planned on having a “ministry” to mothers of sons but…I kinda do. You see, I’m still in the thick of the teen years with several sons and I’ve learned a lot from raising our first-born son. Meanwhile, exhausted and discouraged mothers keep seeking me out so I thought I’d pass on some of what I recently shared with one mom of several teen and preteen sons (and chime in with your best resources and advice for parents of teen boys!).

Dear Chloe (not her real name),

Well, here goes. I really don’t have too many resources to recommend to you except any book or blog that encourages you to develop wisdom. Parenting is, in some ways, easier when your children are younger (ie., ” I will tell you to do this and you need to obey and if you don’t there will be consequences”).
Parents of younger children must protect them because they are little…right? 083

The mistake I see with most Christian parents is that they prolong the protective stage of parenting. Do you want an angry, rebellious son? Then, label everything he does as “rebellious” and tell him he needs to remain “under” your authority and constantly hammer those points home to him!

It’s true, he IS under your authority until he leaves home and is able to provide for himself but he doesn’t need reminding! He’s got this testosterone thing going on and he wants to live real life. He wants to climb mountains and discover new countries and take CHARGE! But there’s this mother standing in his way and telling him to do stuff like wash the dishes! He reacts to that.

Mothers feel a sense of loss during the teen years because they can’t “nurture” their son in the same way as they did when their boy was little! They can’t kiss the tears away or help him into bed or nurture him in ways that make her feel like a “good” mother. Many mothers make the mistake of prolonging that way of mothering by doing their son’s laundry or driving him places when he is perfectly able to walk. This is not a good idea.

Women may also run into conflict with their husbands who are less protective of their son than she is but parenting teen boys can be an area where a dad can finally be recognized as a strong, awesome parent.085

My husband understands our boys because he was one once! He helps me by  telling me to “lay off” my sons when I am nagging them too much and (oh, how I need this!!) he also protects me from that exhausting rudeness that many teen boys have toward their mothers.

My best advice to you?

Make them work!! Are they gifted kids who spend hours writing new software programs or amazing debaters or…? Well, woopy doo! I grew up around Harvard and Yale Ph.D’s who were some of the laziest people I know. Education does not develop character like work does. Actually, scripture warns us that “knowledge puffeth up” so make sure to balance education with hard work.

Parents can watch for opportunities to keep our sons working hard and falling into bed every night exhausted. There is an arrogance that all young men get and a good sweaty day’s work of hard labor takes that out of them. Yes, they can get a good education and work hard at the same time. And, yes, it IS good for them to have a job that isn’t prestigious or exciting. (Read The Millionaire Next Door).090We want to raise manly young men who work without complaining and take the initiative if the job needs doing. Make sure your boys are the first to fold up the chairs at church, to open the door for the elderly, to jump up and help. And make sure you’re not being too easy on them.

To sum it all up (and you can certainly take it or leave it), you may be feeling a sense of loss as a mom. Just because you have to be more matter-of-fact with your boys does not mean you’re not parenting them well. I see moms  who say they have such a “close” relationship with their teen son when, really, they spend too much time talking with their son about “feelings” and they end up feminizing them.

Let your husband step in and stand between you and your boys. Ask for his protection when you can’t handle them! They are becoming men and they are like bulls in a china shop. Sometimes, teen boys think they’re being “manly” and are just being rude. Appeal to your husband!

Wear them out! Hard work reveals lots of character flaws. Teach them to work without whining or complaining. Teach them to take initiative. Praise them when they exhibit these manly qualities.

Finally, pray without ceasing! God has a good plan for your family. It takes great faith to raise all children but, especially, boys! That’s because the world greatly needs godly men! Oh, how the world needs godly men!099
Christian parents need a vision for raising those boys because it is hard work. Don’t give up. Resist the enemy. Trust in a gracious God. We can say with Paul, “Most gladly, therefore, I would rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ would dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9