Parenting Vivian | 05 Nov 2010 12:52 pm

Would You Like To Get On With The Teenage Boy In Your Stepfamily?

I抳e read a great book, Raising Boys. We have a teenage boy and being an idealist I picked up the book after feeling like something wasn抰 quite with our relationship. I felt he抎 become arrogant, difficult to talk with and generally less enjoyable to be around. I assumed it was because I was his stepmum and he had for some unknown reason lost respect for me. After a while I had begun to find it hard to take. I found myself complaining to my partner about him. What I hadn抰 realised is that my complaining had become daily and at times hourly!

I had a rude awakening to this one day when my usually very supportive partner said sharply to me ?Don抰 tell me. Sort it out with him? I was really taken aback and quite hurt at first, feeling aggrieved, unheard and unsupported.

Then I thought about it. How come my usually very supportive and considerate partner had spoken to me in this way? That抯 when my realisation struck and I knew I had to do something about it. That抯 when I got the book.

Part of what makes raising children so hard is the lack of education we have. It’s like the old saying, ‘They don’t come with a manual’.

But there is one small thing that that could make a huge difference. It could be the difference between calm and peace as opposed to anger and frustration with your child. This positive difference comes from understanding what’s going on.

So let抯 talk testosterone!

At the age of four a boys testosterone levels gets a sudden surge. No one really knows why. But after this boys would become more vigorous and adventurous in their play. Perhaps picking up action figures and playing rough and tumble more with dad or friends. At five this level drops by half. Then somewhere between 11 and 13 it rises again – a rise that can be as high as 800 percent higher than that as a toddler. This extra testosterone causes, as you might imagine, a bit of a problem!

When this rise in hormones happens to a boy they go through a growth spurt and their whole nervous system gets a rewire. This rapid growth causes them to be dopey and disorganised for months on end and it means you have to become their brain for a while. At 14 the testosterone peaks: pubic hair, acne, sexual feelings and restlessness begin to drive your boy – and you – a little round the bend.

And the bad news is: he’ll be in his twenties before it all settles down!
And while we can’t stop this process, we can do something to reduce our frustration during the process.

We could choose to do what our parent’s did, ask us questions like ‘are you stupid? or suggest there might be cotton wool between their ears. But in all honesty that approach isn’t doing anyone any favours. The truth is if we shout to them, ‘Are you deaf?’ the right answer would be, ‘Yes, actually I am at the moment. Didn’t you know my brain is going through the rewire of teenage and the tubes to my ears are currently narrower than normal?’

But rather than do what our parents did, might I suggest we adopt a different view.

This knowledge gives us power. It gives us the power to choose our behaviour. We can choose to be compassionate. After all he’s now probably the dopiest thing we know. He needs a cuddle and noogie, a knowing smile and a truckload of understanding. Most importantly, in teenage, he needs a dad (If that’s a problem then he will need a strong male role model, a grandparent, a teacher, a friend or uncle. Someone who can talk to him and gently guide him through the rewire).
This strong male influence is important. A boy gets a massive boost hearing from a man that he is intelligent and loved.

I saw this in action in my own home last week. My partner had just heard my teenage stepson give what appeared to be an incredibly cheeky reply to a simple request. Having read Raising Boys he paused before making what would have been a curt reply. What he realised was that the rewire, this current dopiness, had led to him to forget to do something that he’d done for years. An action he’d repeated successfully many times.

His dad didn’t get drawn into a conflict over his attitude. He made a request that reminded his son what was needed and explained then said, ?You probably didn抰 realise this, but the way you spoke to me came over as rude. Can you be careful with that please??/p>

You see we don’t want to alienate our boys. We want to nurture them into strong men. Father and son are doing just that with camping trip. They抮e going along with another father and son. Boys need this bonding time. They need to be around other males who can make them laugh, get silly with them and also help guide them.

My biggest lesson from reading Raising Boys was that actually my teenage stepson’ s behaviour was 憂ormal?in any family and it wasn抰 just because we are a stepfamily.

I know that living with teenagers CAN seem overwhelming and more trouble than anything else. But it doesn抰 have to. It抯 easier when you have tried and tested techniques to follow.

Take a look at my free report.


The Stepfamily Coach

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