Parents are teachers.
We have taught our children innumerable things: how to use a spoon, how to hold a pen, how to wipe their own butts, how to cook eggs, and even how to pretend to be happy when they receive a birthday gift they don’t like. We have taught them pretty much everything they know.
Admit it and enjoy it, these kids would be complete idiots if it weren’t for us.
Since that nasty umbilical cord was cut, it’s been our job to speak wisdom and life-lessons into our kids – and it’s been their job to listen and learn.
The life-lessons become more complex when our children become teens. I write this because these little monster-adults needed us then, and they need us NOW.
The teenage years are challenging because:
A) Teenagers are constantly reminding us how much learning and growing they still need to do. “How many times do I need to tell you to put the toilet seat down?!” “What were you thinking when you decided to pee in the kitty litter?”
B) We parents have to teach challenging emotional and relational life-lessons that we ourselves have struggled to learn…and master!
C) We often have to teach the opposite message from what they receive from the internet or the media. The media is so powerful and persuasive that without parents or good mentors, today’s average teen male would be a complete and total loser. Addict. Selfish jerk. Lazy. Pleasure-seeking baby.
Here are Seven Things That Teenage Guys Need to Hear From His Parent(s). Some of them are questions and others are statements. Each carry weight, purpose, and necessary wisdom for modern teen guys.
1. “Porn is a Poisonous Drug.”
This statement used to be a mere opinion. Today we know it is a proven fact. Modern brain science has shown that like many poisons, pornography changes our brains for the worse. Similar to alcohol or steroids or PTSD, porn affects the way humans think, behave and respond.
Teenage males look at a lot of porn. A lot. (Did you know that Twitter has over 10 million porn pages?)
Our sons need to know that pornography is something to avoid at ALL costs. If they don’t hear this warning from a parent, who will tell them?
2. “You Don’t Need to Show Off or Prove Yourself to Me or Anyone. I See You. You are Worthy.”
There are many natural, psychological reasons why a teen male will act out or show off: He is testing his new body, his brain isn’t fully developed, and he has a hard time forward-thinking possible consequences. He wants to have fun. His brain wants to explore new things.
Parents have limited influence over these “reasons” because they are normal, neurological realities of being a teen dude and having a teen dude brain.
That said, teen guys need to hear “Son, you don’t need to show off or prove yourself to me or anyone. I see you. You are worthy to me.” It’s a parent’s job to teach their son he is loved and worthy…simply because he is their son. That’s it. That’s the reason. It’s not because of his grades or his sports or his gifts. It’s because he is your human son. It’s a powerful truth that he needs to hear from you as he builds a healthy identity and self-esteem.
When a young man hears this from his parents…and hears it often…something amazing will likely occur – he will actually start to believe it. And when a youngster believes he is unconditionally loved and worthy, he will likely become a young man who is set-up for a life of love, success, and goodness.
3. “Beware of Becoming Addicted to Fun or Pleasure.”
“Holy shnikes” there are so many things today for our sons to become addicted to: prescription medication, pot, screens, porn, peer acceptance, video games, social media, food, etc. But there is one addiction that I have seen more than any other – and no one is talking about it!
Fun is a great thing. It’s a HUGE part of being a kid. But with so many options to have FUN everywhere (video games, screens, sports, etc.), it’s easy for our sons to become addicted to fun and pleasure. (a.k.a. Selfishness).
It’s the parent’s job to set limits, assign chores, make house rules, make expectations, follow-through with consequences in our efforts to help our sons not get sucked up into this selfish, destructive addiction.
4. “Being Smart Means Nothing. Hard Work Will Determine Your Present and Your Future.”
This is one of the most difficult lessons to teach a teenager. Parents need to say this message with both their words and their actions. I teach, “Just like the real world works, parents should only pay for a job well done.”
Imagine this: a son who has been acting selfish towards his family. He does his chores poorly or not at all. Because of his poor study-habits, he has a D or F on his report card. Let’s say it isn’t Christmas, or his birthday, and a parent chooses to buy him a new video game or shirt, provides him money to go to a movie with friends, or allows him to use his phone/games with no limits. What lesson is the parent teaching?
The lesson you are teaching is:
“Hard work means nothing here. You are free to ignore this family’s feelings, needs, and expectations. Contributing as a family member is optional for you, young man. In this family you will be paid for a “job not well done.” We enable your lazy, selfish lifestyle here. We love you.”
At every opportunity, we need to teach our sons the value of hard work. Good work means you get paid. If they don’t learn this in the home then disaster looms.
5. “What Emotions Are You Feeling Right Now?”
Just like their female counterparts, teenage young men are filled with emotions. Lots of them. Teen guys need to hear this from their parents to bring these emotions out. Emotions need to be expressed with words and accuracy. If they are not, they will be stuffed and buried alive.
The more emotions are stuffed, the more you will see video games, aggressive behavior, addictions, shallow communication, and shallow relationships. As adults, we need to model healthy emotional expression because it’s good for us, and it is vital for them to learn.
We once taught our sons how to pee into a white, oval-shaped, porcelain bowl. It was awkward and messy at times. This will be no different. But if you don’t teach him, who will?
6. “Real Men Treat all Women With Equality, Respect and Honor.”
The statistics are bad. Haunting actually:
-Sexual assaults are occurring at an alarming rate in colleges.
-Sexting has become such an issue in middle schools now that middle school principals are calling me asking me to do school assemblies on it. (Middle school kids are ages 10-13.)
-Too many school dances and proms are being cancelled because of how the kids are dancing.
-At this very moment our children can view billions of photos on Instagram, SnapChat and iFunny that devalue woman. (And others.)
Society will not teach your son to be a good man. Society will not teach your son how to treat women. This is a parents’ job.
7. “Honor Your Parents and Your Elders.”
Take everything I just wrote about women in the above paragraph and apply it here. One of the many reasons I limit what shows I allow my kids to watch on the Disney Channel is because of how these shows consistently portrays parents and elders (like grandparents) – as TOTAL IDIOTS! Or…dead. It’s a consistent staple of the channel.
Parents, our sons need us now – more than ever…
Be strong. Stay close. Teach wisdom.
Sean Donohue – Family Coach
How we help teens and parents:
Sean Donohue Family Coaching provides coaching and mentoring to hurting and defiant teenagers and we show parents how to restore love, order, and communication to their family.
If your family is hurting or struggling with communication or defiance, we would love to partner with you and help you to restore love and communication in your home. We come to you. We don’t want or need “an office.” We connect with teens while doing activities they enjoy doing, and meet with families in their homes.