Ever since I can remember, I always wanted to have five daughters. I guess I felt like I wouldn’t know where to start raising a son, since I was one of three girls in our family. I started out really well when I gave birth to our first child 15 years ago – a daughter! Yayyyy!
But then, three years later God blessed my husband and I with… a son! I must confess I went through a bit of a shock. I had so much to learn, and yes, it was a completely new experience for me – but one I wouldn’t trade for anything.
From among our five children, we have two sons aged 12 and 9 years old; each so different, yet what a joy they bring to our household!
My friend, Lynn, shared some excellent tips with me recently in how to really enjoy our twelve year old son, in particular. She has two grown sons who are wonderfully contributing to society, and who still consider their mom a dear friend! I figure she must have done something right!
So here are the 10 best practical tips for moms of tween boys that I’ve ever heard (in no particular order):
1. Write A List
Your son is well and truly in the process of becoming a man. Naturally, as a man in the making, he does not take kindly to taking orders from a woman. Rather than giving your sweet boy verbal reminders (i.e. nagging), write out a list for him of what he is expected to do. Instead of checking on him throughout the day, asking about his various duties, you can gently prod, “Have you done the things on your list yet, honey?”
This way, it’s the list that is doing the reminding, not you as the parent.
2. Incorporate “Man” Stuff
As developing men, some boys begin to resent doing chores around the house that women can do. Rather than giving your tween son household work such as dusting, sweeping, or laundry, incorporate “man” jobs into his responsibilities. Perhaps duties such as mowing lawns, snow shoveling, chopping wood, screwing in light bulbs, etc.
Too many requirements perceived as mundane, can be demeaning to a growing boy, and could incite either inward or outward rebellion in various forms.
3. Ask Him For Help
Along those lines, ask your son for help. Men love to help a damsel in distress, so start considering one of your roles to be a distressed damsel. 🙂
Ask your son for help when you need it and watch him shine!
- Reaching things from high places (or climbing for them)
- Fixing things he has a knack for
- Using his upper body strength to lift things
- Opening jars
- Teaching younger brothers/cousins/friends how to help like he helps.
He will soon be taller and stronger than you (if he isn’t already). Teaching him to use the advantage of his height and strength to help will serve both of you well.
4. Pour On The Praise
Be genuine in your affirmation of your son, but liberally pour on the praise! Openly admire his talents, celebrate his strengths, commend his protection of you. Show respect for his flourishing manhood.
5. Practice as “Priest”
Your son will one day be the head of his family, leading them in the ways of the Lord. Allow your young man to begin learning and practicing his role as “priest” by taking on spiritual roles at home.
- Give him the honour of praying for meals
- If he plays a musical instrument, let him lead a song of worship for the family
- If you’re doing a devotion with the other children, have him read from the Bible the scriptures you’re sharing.
- Encourage him to serve in the congregation in ways that he can and is permitted to.
Your sweet son is “being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Your home, during these tender years, is the training ground for your precious young man to grow spiritually and to learn to lead.
6. Discuss Goals For Your Tween
Your son, no doubt, is already thinking ahead. He is testing various areas of interest and may begin having an idea of what he may like to do professionally one day.
Talk with him about occupations that may suit him. Point out skills he already has or may have a knack for pursuing, as well as his God-given talents. Introduce areas of further education that he can dream about and work toward.
Last, but not least, explain to him that there is a reason for the daily drudgery of schoolwork. Tie what he’s learning in to real life. He is absorbing more than he realizes and even more importantly, practicing to “plod,” doing that which is expected of him. This is a skill that he will one day need, regardless of the line of work he chooses, as an adult.
7. Explore Opportunities
Boys are often motivated by competition and public acknowledgement of their work. Give your son opportunities to showcase his strengths in public, within the realm of healthy competition by getting him involved in debating tournaments, writing contests, athletic events, etc.
These will also train him how to win well, lose well, and be a good sport.
Then pour on that praise to genuinely encourage the beautiful qualities that you see shining through!
8. Laugh and Joke
What man doesn’t enjoy when ladies laugh at his jokes. As his mom, be his greatest fan. Keep your sense of humor and let love shine out of your eyes to affirm him during these awkward years.
9. Provide Physical Activity
That testosterone is increasing rapidly, and is partly responsible for increasing boys’ muscle size. Therefore, one of the healthiest things for boys to do is physical activity. Provide lots of opportunities for your son to let off steam by running, climbing, swimming, jumping, kicking, etc!
Let him try out his growing strength with some appropriate tussling with his friends. It may slightly freak you out, but it is good for our sweet sons to exercise their muscles in whatever way they can.
10. Teach Him What To Expect
Our tweens and early teens go through such rapid bodily changes, and I want to encourage you, dear one, to be the one to explain those anomalies to your son. Don’t let his peers do it for you. They may get it wrong, or share it crudely. The ideal is for you or your husband to be the ones to teach your son about his hormones and what to expect as his body and thought patterns change. It’ll be such a relief to be assured that all he’s going through is normal.
On that same note, point out your boy’s lovely physical features to him. Noses and feet grow first, so these can look somewhat out of proportion at some stages. He may find himself feeling quite self-conscious, and even clumsy. Did you know that arms and legs can literally grow overnight?! It’s not easy learning to live daily with an ever-changing body. Try to recall how awkward you were as a teen, and be kind and sympathetic to your developing young man.
You’ll do great, my friend! Remember our God’s beautiful encouragement to us moms:
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
How are you doing as a mom of a tween boy? If you’ve passed that stage, are there any additional pieces of advice you can give?