It is unkind, a mistake even, to think that teen boys do not need their mothers. Mothers play a profound role in the lives of young males. A large study at the University of Iowa discovered that young men look up to their mothers as role models for their choice of wives. Nearly 80 percent of the men whose mothers were college-educated married women who have similar educational backgrounds. This is not the only area where mothers matter. The mother-son relationship is special. Mothers who demand respect from boys show boys how to respect women, how honourable women behave and how girls want to be treated. Demanding respect can take place in numerous ways.
Example: Expect boys to clean up after themselves (instead of Mum).
Example: Expect boys to speak in a respectful tone towards them (and not looking at the computer screen when answering Mum).
Boys need mothers as much as their fathers for the sake of their emotional well-being. They need mothers who are willing to listen and understand their concerns, appreciate them for who they are and support them in their quest for a meaningful life. But they don’t need mothers who are overprotective and constantly try to solve their problems. A five-year-old boy might need his mother to regularly check his homework but a sixteen-year-old certainly doesn’t!
If you are a mother who never had male siblings, you might be taken aback by how physical boys can get especially in the early years (of course, some boys prefer to read books than to look for snails under rocks). Being physical is only one aspect of boys. As your son grows older, maintain curiosity about his interests. This is a wonderful way to keep the bond intact. Welcome his friends into your home. Some boys are not verbally expressive and may not be comfortable to talk a lot. Don’t nag him if he doesn’t want to talk much. He can feel your presence even if no word is exchanged. Respect his privacy. When he was five, you might have been at your wit’s end trying to keep him occupied. By the time he is fifteen, you might be at a loss as to how to make him talk!
Example: As your son grows more capable, you may need his assistance in certain areas. For instance, your son is adept with computers and has been coming to your rescue each time your laptop breaks down. It’s okay for you to ask for help. But just make sure your communication is not limited to only when you need help. Otherwise, he might think that the only time he matters is when your laptop breaks down!
Men versus Women: Paint a Balanced View
Boys gain input about what women think of men from their mothers. Are men good or bad? What is the difference between responsible, reliable men and wayward ones? Two extremes to avoid are idolizing men and painting a negative picture of men. The remarks that mothers make about men send messages to boys about whether becoming a good man is achievable.
Boys must learn that humans are complex creatures. Rather than painting certain men as “good” and others as “bad,” boys need to know that at all times, a man hovers between good and bad and it is his everyday choices that make all the difference. The ability of a boy’s mother to accept his father’s shortcomings, as long as they are reasonable, makes him realize you do not have to be perfect to be loved. Boys need mothers to inculcate a sense of growing independence by encouraging them to take more care of themselves over the years. How a mother interacts with males in her lives provides compelling examples for a boy on how to make male-female relationships work. Think about it: Do you see the opposite gender as equally important as your own? Consciously make an effort to portray a fair view of both men and women. Refrain from making remarks which may be seen as belittling the opposite gender.[Excerpt from Cool Boys Super Sons]
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