If you have boys who are in the 12 to 14 year-old age group, “WOW!” is how you describe the challenges you encounter as a parent. There is something about this age and my guess is that is all about boys in puberty.
It Happens About a Year Later in Boys
Boys appear to enter the big changes of puberty about a year later than girls and they seem to dive in. You have probably noticed that your son is much more opinionated, easily irritable and does not seem to care as much as you do about basic needs like school work and maybe any work! This is a sweeping generalization of boys in this age group but something is happening for sure.
These young boys are testing their flying feathers in preparation for an independent life in the near future outside of their safe and comfortable nest. Just think, if they are 14 years old, they will likely be heading off to college or some other vocational plan in just a few years. There really isn’t much time to advance from being a young boy to becoming a young adult.
Here are three suggestions to help you navigate these years with your son:
- First, and most important, begin the letting go process for yourself. It is certainly more comforting to look back at those adorable baby and young boy pictures from the past than to consider sending your son out into the world, but the time is nearing. Push yourself to begin thinking about him as a young adult and become comfortable with that changed vision.
- Listen to your son. Hear what he would like to do in the future and be supportive of that vision. As you know, he will likely change his mind many times in the future (don’t tell him that), but it is important that you work with him to make what he is planning for himself come true. Just going through the process of helping him think through how he can prepare now for the future is a very valuable experience for him. He is young. Let him dream.
- Take time to strategize with your son about the next few years and beyond. A great way to do this would be to have regular (every few weeks) outings to their favorite place to eat and talk. These should be times he looks forward to because you are coaching him and not correcting him. It might even be helpful to have a list of goals that you create together and then follow up on those at your strategy times.
How Can You Work Together?
Think of ways to work with your son and not fight him whenever possible. Supporting his vision for himself in the future is a great way to let him know you are on his team and you are his biggest fan.