Tag Archives: teen boys

Despite Less Drama, Life with Teen Boys is No Cakewalk

When our boys were young and rambunctious my husband used to say, “Pick your pain.” By this he meant girls may be easier when they are younger, but the pain will come later in the emotional drama of the teen years. Whereas boys will be harder during the toddler years, but will get easier as they grow. Either way there will be pain.

Yes, either way there will be pain.

Obviously this philosophy stems from the stereotype of girls and boys, and in many ways we’ve seen it to be true.  Boy drama is nowhere near girls. We know! But, being a teenage boy – and parenting them – is no cakewalk either.

Now that I’ve been through it with a girl and am in it with boys I honestly think in many ways it is harder for boys. I know, all you moms of just girls think, “No way!” But boys struggle with identity and worth in much the same way as girls. They get left out, feel alone, experience hurt feeling and rejection. Only they tend to stuff it even more than girls- because they’re boys and boys are supposed to be tough and non-emotional.

This same unspoken expectation to be “manly” plays into boys’ decisions to give into sinful behavior.  They worry what others will think, don’t want to be made fun of and feel pressure to conform to what “cool” boys do so they take a puff of the vape, use foul language, look at pornography, and share inappropriate pics from girls.  Before you know it none of these things seem like such a big deal. Did God really say don’t eat of the fruit from the middle of the garden? 

Of course this happens with girls too.  Boys and girls act in accordance to their desire for attention and affirmation. But from my vantage point I see a widely disproportionate number of girls vs boys who are able to withstand teen year temptations. And in our society of double-standards certain behavior for boys isn’t even considered a big deal. Boys wil be boys, right? 

As a boy mom this worries me. I know with pornography, drinking, drugs, immodestly dressed girls and sex always put before them standing strong against temptation will be by God’s grace alone. Recognizing this does two things:

  1. It drives me to the Father in prayer knowing he loves my boys even more than I do.
  2. It challenges me to be the contrary voice against the culture in my boys’ lives.

Both are hard. In the midst of our kids’ sin, struggles and trials it is hard to trust God when his ways are not always ours.  It is also hard knowing how to engage our kids’ hearts and speak truth into them; even knowing what it is they need to hear. What I do know though is God has given parents the high calling to shape how our kids see him, themselves, and the world around them. But eighteen years goes fast.

Ever since my daughter neared college, I’ve been hit with how many things I want to impart with each of my kids. Lessons and truths that take time and repetition. Things that when we were in the thick of the parenting forest I thought we’ld have plenty of time for later. But then time whittles away so quickly, it can feel overwhelming and hopeless to start in on things we’ve neglected.

Thankfully God has not left us to do it alone, and it’s never too late. He promises to equip us with everything necessary to do what is good and pleasing to him. So as we start this new school year, whether we are feeling fearful or tired of fighting the uphill battles, may we turn to him and be met by his infinite wisdom and grace for our parenting. In him there is always hope for us, our girls and our boys.

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What Teen Boys Battle Just like the Girls (and Adults too!)

In 2015 I conducted an online anonymous teen survey that spread nationwide. I created the survey after learning how social media had negatively contributed to my own daughter’s sense of worth and belief that if she was struggling so many other teenagers must be too. I was right. This data collected is the backbone of my new book.

The original survey went to both girls and boys, but after talking to my publisher about the heart-breaking and eye-opening information filling my inbox we decided to hone in on just the girls. But it absolutely does not mean teen boys are not also struggling. They are… maybe even more unnoticed.

Everything I wrote in Face Time is everything boys need to hear too. I know that from the survey results, and more personally because I have two teenage boys.  Therefore, I felt like I needed to write this post to say that while Face Time is for girls it does not mean boys are immune to struggles with identity and worth. In fact, the content of Part I of Face Time is as applicable to a teen boy, as a teen girl or an adult man or woman. This is because no matter who we are, our hearts are the same!

By God’s design we long for approval, acceptance and love. But we were made to know and feel our worth perfectly in his absolute approval, irrevocable acceptance and loyal love.  But we think his approval, acceptance and love is not enough. So instead of resting secure in who Jesus is for us, we try to secure our worth by gaining the approval, acceptance, attention and love of others.

We do this by looking to our appearance, performance, achievements and status as the qualifier for how well, or how poorly we fair. For a teen boy it may play out like this…

  • He feels inadequate not playing on the “A” team or varsity so he tries to prove his worth and gain the acceptance of others by bragging about how good he really is. The may be coupled with how unfair tryouts were and by talking smack about the guy in the position he covets. By tearing the other guy down he seeks to elevate himself so others accept him; think more highly of him.
  • He is insecure about some aspect of his appearance, so he overcompensates by acting as the class clown. But by drawing attention to himself and receiving laughs what he seeks is to know his worth. To know he’s okay despite his perceived flaws.
  • He is excluded from a social gathering, and retreats into himself, secretly feeling like a nobody. He may blame the others (and there is no doubt kids can be mean), but his own idol is looking to the approval or inclusion of others as the basis of his worth.
  • He gives into peer pressure -starts drinking, smoking pot, having sex – in an effort to look/be cool or to fit in.  Appearing cool, or rebellious, gains him the approval, friends and popularity he craves, which is where he looks to find his identity and worth.
  • He asks for nude pictures from a girl and then shares them in the locker room. Because of the so-called respect he gets from the guys, he too feels cool. At the girl’s expense, his own status and felt worth is increased. On the flip-side her reason for sharing the pictures also stem from a longing for approval and love, which is unpacked further in Face Time.

As parents we can’t take everything at face value. We have to get to the heart (the root) of why they do what they do, and see it for what it is – the idol that’s ruling them.  Whatever it is they (or we) turn to for identity and worth, to fill us, to give us security apart from God is an idol. Uncovering these idols and seeing them as sin is hard, but necessary and good.

Until our kids (and again, us) see how deeply entrenched our sin is – that it’s not just bad external behavior, but our inner desires, motives and idolatry – we miss seeing how deep our need of Jesus’ worth and work for us really is. Therefore, our view of Jesus rises and falls on how much (or little) we need him.

I don’t know about you, but more than my sons’ happiness and success, I want them to become men who know they need Jesus, live under his smile and desire to please him not out of duty, but delightTo get there, my job must be to help them peel back the layers of why they do what they do to see what rules them. And then point them to Jesus.

It is his perfect performance – not theirs – that their true identity must be rooted in.  When it is:  They won’t have to try to assert, defend or prove themselves, work to impress others or try harder to measure up. They won’t have to live threatened by others’ accomplishments or less than in comparison. And while they will experience disappointment, hurt feelings and rejection (just as teen girls do) my prayer is it won’t define them or rock their core because they will know their secure identity and worth in Christ.

For us as parents, being rooted in Christ means we can live free of tying our worth to our kids successes and/or failures and worrying what other people think. We can live loved – fully accepted, knowing we have the absolute approval of the King. And when we do, may his love and acceptance of us drive us to be compassionate toward others in their sin.  For our kids too, let’s encourage them to reach out to love (not ostracize and judge) those seeking an identity in all the wrong places. Because when we know our own sinful heart tendencies and God’s goodness to us despite it, we should be people of grace and mercy who speak to the hope and security found only in Christ.

If you woud like to further unpack the content of this blog for yourself and to help speak into your kids's hearts, Face Time may be the book for you (even if you don't have a teen daughter). To preorder click: here.

France From The Eyes of Two Teenage Boys

Well, this post is different than my normal, but I thought you might enjoy seeing France from the eyes of my two teenage boys. They just returned from a spectacular Spring Break trip with my parents where they took in Normandy, the French countryside, and of course, Paris.

While my parents have visited France several times in the past, and my daughter and I went to Paris with my mom a few years ago, I am certain this trip was quite different than any other before. For one, there was no shopping, no macaroon-tasting and no slowly sipping chocolate at Angelina’s. There was, though, plenty of dessert eating. You know, in between the many meals of burgers and French fries (their version of “French” food) since teenage boys don’t go long before food is their sole focus no matter what famous landmark is in front of them. Something my parents, who didn’t have sons, quickly discovered! And, the fact they are boys also automatically meant their interest level, insight, & humor added to everything they saw and did.
Many of you saw my Facebook post of the video one of my boys took of the future King and Queen of England (Prince William and Princess Kate) when they walked into the same room they were in at the Musee d’Orsay. Had this happened on our girls’ trip, it would have for sure been a highlight. But when the boys got home and we talked about their favorite things they forgot to even mention it! Not that they didn’t think it was cool, it just didn’t effect them in the way it would’ve me!

What they did think was super cool was everything they saw and learned in Normandy from the beaches to the cemeteries, museums and buildings. What made a particular impression was handling the guns, throwing grenades, riding in an armoured vehicle and seeing the other 40’s era/World War II memorabilia that is part of the personal collection of someone their Normandy guide hooked them up with. Hands-on learning at its best also included trying to remove nails and metal debris out of a cow’s liver to show them what it would’ve been like for the medics to extract shrapnel out of a wounded warrior.

When it came to the Louve, both boys were very unimpressed with Mona Lisa. I have to agree; I too remember being surprised at what a small piece it is and considering its fame how unspectacular. On the other hand, the boys were taken by much of the art and sculptures (and the architecture and carvings on the buildings), although they didn’t understand why people – including William and Kate – stood and stared at a piece for so long!

They preferred a little more action to their viewing…

And, in some cases, they thought their own art would be more Louve-worthy than what was hanging. 

Avenue des Champ-Elysees may be home to a Louis Vuitton flagship store and other high-fashion, but to them it was just the street with the Arc at the end. What they preferred over the glamour was the tucked away hilltop of Montmartre where Van Gugh and his artist friends used to congregate, and artist today still hang out.

Last, but not least for my youngest, is the fact he has now used the tallest toilet in all of Europe. Yep, he documented it at the top of the Eiffel Tower:)

I’m sure I will continue hearing tales as the days go by and they remember things. But based on what I’ve heard so far, as much as the trip itself they loved their special time with grandparents – talking, laughing, playing Mexican Trains (a family favorite) and just making memories.

Pencilled in mustaches to turn these boys into French men- thanks to Honey!
And in their words, “Peace Out, Paris!”

I’m so thankful for this opportunity they had, and for the constant entertainment and new perspective they bring to my life. I say it often, and my most used hashtags have become: #gottaloveboys #boyjoy and #allthingsnew!

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