November 9, 2009

Snips and Snails and puppy dogs tails? Really?**

I have no kids. No teenagers. There I said it.
But, what I do have is at least 12 years of experience working with countless adolescents from church and school settings. And I know all parents are down with getting any info they can on dealing with middle school boys. So here are a few things that I've observed and like to throw in the mix for you.

1. Guys will be guys.
Teenage guys have mad energy. They just need to move, be crazy and have fun. I know this is a big "doy!", but I have seen many parents fight against letting their student be a typical teenager. He's a boy, who is growing, learning, struggling to be a man.
The teenage years should be (with Godly supervision and encouragement) a testing ground of sorts. You can't expect a kid with a super surge of hormones, growth spurts and cognitive growth to just be a sweet little angel. Uh Uh. Ain't gonna happen.

2. Guys need community.
Guys like to run in packs. I had a roomate in college that I used to make fun of because where he grew up they had a group of friends called "the wolfpack". I still tease him about the name, and no I won't change my mind. But seriously, guys have this brotherhood mentality from early adolescence on. They need a tribe of guys who will validate them as masculine. They need to experience a heart connection with other guys that they can't get at home.

3.Guys need real leaders.
In my experience there is no better time then in adolescence for fathers and older men to come alongside of guys. A mentor is there to impart wisdom, character and encouragement to a young man. Guys need mentors who will walk the narrow path with character and faith and will show them how to do the same. (PS we still need guy leaders in GraceSTUDENTS, so man up!)

4. Guys need to be loved.
The only way a teenager can learn to love is to be loved.
I have a quick rant to fathers. You may feel that you learned tough love from your strong, silent type dad, but to replicate that type of love to your son is NONSENSE. Tell your boy you love him. Spend real quality time with him. Be a real man and give him a hug and let him know intimacy with his dad is a good thing. Kids are learning so much about love at this stage in life. So I implore you to love on your teenage sons. They will learn how to love God through their relationship with their parents. Trust me.

If you are parenting teenage boys know that my heart and prayers go out to you. If you ever need someone to bounce things off of, or just need encouragement I'm here!

** a great resource to check out is "Teenage Guys" by Youth Specialties.