I finally had a chance to go listen to a speech I've been trying to get to for years. It is by a priest that has worked most of his life (I think 40 years now?) at a local all boys Catholic high school. It was EXCELLENT. So many good thoughts, with funny stories too for many of the points. He was gentle and loved his job, and loved helping parents understand their sons. The subject was "Transitioning Adolescent Boys Into Extraordinary Men".
Here are my notes, a little scattered, but things I want to remember:
Teens these days have:
Too Much Stuff
Too Many Choices
Too Much Information
Brain development: Teenage boys have "hardware but no software". In brain-prefrontal cortex is underdeveloped until early 20's. This is what helps to make good judgments. This is why we will often hear, "I don't know why I did it. It was stupid, I shouldn't have, but I just did without thinking about it."
When they are alone, their tolerance for risk is the same as adults, but when they are with friends their tolerance for risk is twice as much-this is from brain studies!
So what do we do?
We provide structure.
We give freedom WITH limits.
We help "be" the pre-frontal cortex.
We are the brakes.
We teach teach teach---lessons of integrity all the time.
Guide the transition out of selfishness-how do actions effect others around us.
Guide journey to manhood.
Be parents not friends.
Set clear standards.
Articulate consequences (not outrageous ones but ones that fit the "crime") and follow through.
Love him but not all that he does.
Allow freedom and separation.
Don't take it personally.
Don't ever say, "My kid would never do that." Yes, he would. ALL kids makes mistakes, all of them. Smart good kids do stupid things. ALL of them.
Forgive but it does not mean no consequences.
He will disappoint you but not deliberately.
Keep a plumb line for him-teens swing into polarities-we need to teach the middle.
Parents are heroes-they need to give lifelong love.
How God dealt with Old Testament's message is geared towards infancy/children in a way-reward/punishment/this is what I say/do it.
Jesus in New Testament not reward and punishment but teaching what's right through words and examples, guidance and leadership, Jesus was always asking questions, this style fits teens.
Teen boys needs ritual and initiation and ceremony provided by parents and church, if not it will be provided by peers (gangs). ie.-Confirmation, becoming upper classmen, annual trips with fathers etc.
Overprotecting could be safer now but not in long run-they need to develop an immune system to build character and resilience-be exposed to bugs and viruses in a way, to face consequences of life. Success is working through problems and difficulties.
Don't be overprotective, give gradual freedom. Just punishment can't stop behavior, must learn from us, natural consequences and why. Take an interest in friends, and pray, pray, pray.
Every child needs a mother and a father. Divorce is hardest on children-when there is shared custody there is no consistency in the home-two people who can't get along are now raising children two different ways with two different sets of rules, teens need consistency more than ever.
A mother and a father are essential in a child's life. Both model different things, both give children different things that they must have. This is the ideal and should be upheld for the sake of the child.
A father must be active and present in a child's life daily.
Statistics for boy's without their fathers: (I wrote these down quickly, don't know if I have them totally right).
71% of dropouts
90% of men in prison
90% of runaways
63% of suicides
75% of drug and alcohol addicts
72% of murders
60% of rapists
A mother nurtures, comforts. Dad's supply the adventure, the model, the identity and walks with him through the journey to manhood. Dad's-tell your sons you love them, every son wants to hear it. They must know your love is unconditional.
Love him and enjoy his adolescence with him. Remember your own experiences, and have faith in God, and faith in the foundation that you have given your son.
Remember Romans 8:28
"All things work together for good to those who love God, who have been called according to his purpose."