When you have 5 teenage boys at once, you tend to feel like you are getting ready to go into battle. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
It seems like they don’t listen. It appears they don’t understand what you expect. They act like they don’t care what you say, want or feel.
All of my 8 sons are adopted so they each brought their own experiences, insecurities and mindset into our family – and it wasn’t always pleasant. OK. It was seldom pleasant.
At the time I lived in a constant state of panic and doubt. Self doubt can paralyze you and render you powerless. In a house full of boys that can be VERY BAD. Here are some things I learned along the way that hopefully will be a help to you.
#1 When you deal with your son in moments of opposition, leave your emotions out of it.
Picture a police officer when he’s issuing a ticket. He doesn’t rant and rave about how you were speeding or cry because he’s offended you broke the law. He is emotionless and wields the authority of his position because he can. You as the mom are the same. You are in charge and need to show that you are confident. Teen boys can smell fear and doubt – they will pounce on you like a wolf on a sheep if you waiver.
#2 You don’t know what is going on in that head of theirs, but most likely their behavior during their bullying has something to do with a man’s need to conquer.
When my boys were teens they had an almost obsessive desire to play computer war games. It really bugged me and I said so to my DH. He said, “Men have a need to conquer and this is just their way of delving into their manhood. It’s natural. Don’t look at it like they are in love with violence, consider it a part of growing into manhood.” It made perfect sense!
#3 They need concise rules that are laid out in front of them and must know they will be held accountable – preferably by the father.
There were days when I felt I was beating my head up against the wall when it came to getting my boys to obey the little rules (big ones too, but for now we’ll deal with the little ones) – rules that made our days run smoothly. It felt like all day long I’d be correcting them over ridiculously obvious rules that had been in our home since the dawn of time.
Examples: Tuck your shirt in. Wear a belt. Don’t dress sloppy. Do your chores. Brush your teeth.
I felt like a broken record and often it would turn into a grumbling session if I’d mention any of it.
They were disrespectful, obstinate and oppositional. It was ridiculous how petty they would become but always seemed to turn it around and try to make me feel like I was the one at fault. We had always been told that to say, “Just wait till your father gets home,” was very bad and the mom should never put the dad in the position of having to deal with stuff when he gets home from work. Fortunately we went to our pastor/friend for advice. He told me the exact opposite of what I expected, and it all had to do with their quest for manhood (see #1).
So our pastor/friend told me to make a chart and put a check by each infraction whenever I saw they hadn’t obeyed my “little rules.”
Don’t say anything and don’t show emotion.
Just walk over to the fridge and put a check mark.
I added one thing to his advice. I added a smile whenever I put up a check mark. It demonstrated to my boys that it was their choice to disobey, to choose rebellion over obedience. We made it very clear that when Dad got home he would go look at the chart to see if they had chosen to disobey. For every check mark, they were charged a dollar.
Each week when it was allowance time, we’d go to the chart, add it up and the boys would have to lay that many bills in my hand – and endure the smile on my face!
I saw a 90% increase in obedience to my “little rules!” No fussing. No head butting. No emotion. Only their choice and I didn’t care one way or other if they obeyed (outwardly if not inwardly). I bought some pretty nice things for myself with that little change in our discipline! We had better days and I saw that they were more content. Win Win.
Pastor explained that some teen boys are not mature enough to advance into manhood without leaving havoc in their wake. The chart allowed them to be a man (make their own choices) and save face at the same time (not feel like a little boy when dealing with Mom).
Later one of my DDs told me that one of those sons purposely tried to break up Dad and Mom by causing grief between us. Like I said, you never now what is going on in their heads. Fortunately we provided a united front and never allowed them to pit us against one another. Often teens are self-destructive and you just have to be stronger than them, showing then family security even when they appear to not desire it.
#4 Be confident and consistent – this is the most important factor.
Even though it appears your boys want you to slack off or make exceptions, it is not in their best interest. Security comes in knowing your parents are consistent and will inspect EVERYTHING. It’s one thing to tell them to clean their room, it’s another to inspect it when they say they are done. Plus if they know there will be a penalty for disobedience, they will think twice before lying or trying to fool you.
Make sure the discipline fits. You treat a messy room differently than direct disobedience and lying. Decide your discipline before hand and make it clear to your boys what will happen for each situation. Never blind side them, waiver or change with the wind. They need your consistency to prove your love and protection – even at age 17 when they are all big and bad, self confident and manly.
Moms of teen boys – work on making your rules clear, enlist the help for your husband or a father figure, be confident in your discipline plan and follow through – every single time.
NOTE: If you would like a sample chore chart to reference as you make your own CLICK HERE and I will send it to you – it’s just a simple chart that I made in Excel to give you an example of what I am talking about. Sometimes it’s just easier if you can see it.
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