Family Friday: On Raising a Tween Boy

Second Friday of the month:  Parenting / Kids 

I was a first-time mom to a healthy baby boy almost twelve years ago. In less than two weeks, my boy will turn twelve, and according to him, he's already a "tween"... since he was 10! I don't want him to turn 12. I don't feel it yet. Or maybe I am just in denial. Whatever. I am not ready to raise a tween!
Summer 2015

So, how do you raise a tween boy?
Honestly, I feel as clueless as I was when I had him. I don't have the right answers to that. I'm still figuring it out while trying to educate myself by reading parenting stuff online and asking friends with teen boys. It's a scary stage for me, this puberty thing, even more than the baby phase.

With puberty, you don't know what they're thinking and feeling na kasi, so extra attention is needed. He's an inquisitive and sensitive boy, and has challenges on the socio-emotional level so I know we have to listen more and be mindful of what we say to him.

There are days na hindi ko pa rin siya matimpla even if we are always together, homeschooling for over a year now. He's not the type to bring up a topic and try to converse with me, unlike my girl who is naturally chatty. =) It's really an effort to open up and initiate a conversation with him kasi we don't have much in common. And then there's sex education. We haven't touched that topic yet. I'm scared!!! When? I don't know yet. I have to know what he knows first, and will take off from there. I know that J has his one-on-one moments with him and it's easier for them kasi they can talk about boy stuff on top of some philosophical discussions about life in general, which is great. In my time, I had none of those moments or conversations with my parents. But I got by and I think I turned out okay. =)

Puberty -- the awkward stage. A time of transition and self-discovery. The signs are there. The changes are happening. His character and personality are taking shape. He's growing up -- emotionally, intellectually, and vertically. But he lacks maturity for his age. Feeling ko I am scared to enter this new phase coz I'm unsure of my "plan of attack". 

To give me a better grasp of this transitional stage, I asked a few friends who have teen boys about their experience on how to raise a tween. The common advise I got is to make time and really be present for my tween. Here are the valuable tips and insights that they generously shared with me, and can be applied to all tweens, boys and girls:

Rose Fausto, mom of 3 boys (ages 25, 22, and youngest turning 19 next month)
My big tip is really for parents to BE THERE. 
Be there from the very start...
to teach them the values your family stands for
to implement rules
to see their strengths and what makes them tick
to have fun and to gain their trust
...so that when they grow older, they’ll continue to be open to you. Can you imagine a tween boy asking for your advice about matters of the heart or bullying or anything for that matter if you had not been there all these years? No way, it would be very tedious for him to give you the entire background of the long story that you missed! ☹ 
Learn more from Rose at: FQ Mom
Rose wrote a poem entitled BE THERE and she shared this video with me. Listen to the heart-warming poem here: 

Jen Tan, mom of 2 boys (ages 14 and second turning 11 next month)
Try to spend as much time with your teenage boy. I never believed in quality time naman talaga but quantity time is so much more important now (because) I feel they hardly talk! So spend as much time as you can. Kasi if they're not talkative, you want to be there when they do talk.
Also, learn to listen. And think before you speak. 
One thing I learned from a talk by Bo Sanchez is that there are 3 stages for parents:
  1. Parent - as in, lead your child and teach your child
  2. Coach - you stay on the sidelines and watch your kid learn
  He can make mistakes too, but you're just there to "alalay" (guide/support). You can also call him to be able to give tips (like a coach).
  3. Consultant - you only give your opinions when asked
Learn more from Jen at: Attached At The Hip

Janice Villanueva, mom of 2 boys (ages 18 and 16) and a girl
1. Make time for a one-on-one with your tween.
Even if or when he or she seemingly becomes secretive or anti social, just keep setting dates with them to keep the bond and to communicate to them that you're always around no matter what. 
2. It may be difficult in certain stages and if your child is the opposite gender, but it's good to find some common interest. It can be major things, like learning a new sport together, but it can also be something minor and mundane, like when my eldest and I went thru a milk tea phase. 
It's also good to show interest in something they like. If it will entail your learning a bit of Minecraft, do it. If you need to get on YouTube to find out who their fave stars are, then take some time to do that too. These will not only give you something to bond on and talk about but will also make you stay the cool mom that you are. =)
3. Now more than ever, parent according to your child's personality.
As your child goes from tween to teen to adult, these little seeds you plant of talking and bonding in small ways will go a long way! (It) builds trust and connections even as they go and find themselves.
Learn more from Janice at: My Mundo

My heartfelt thanks to these rockstar moms -- Rose, Jen, and Janice, for your words of wisdom.

I also want my boy to learn good values and more life skills, to have a more positive outlook in life, to have courage and take some risks, to be more respectful and in tune to the world around him. This article from Huffingtong Post that I recently came across on FB really hits the bullseye. I can definitely relate. Please read 10 Things I Want My Son to Learn Before He Becomes a Teenager, by By Shannon Ralph. This is like a wish list from a mom with a tween boy and she basically summed up what I want for my boy too.

It's a tricky stage we're in. There are still so many issues to tackle and I'm overwhelmed at this point. Ang hirap maging magulang! First, I think I need to be nicer to him and to listen more, so he'll be more open to me. =)

Did you learn something from these moms? I know I did! And I will really try to heed their advice. Effort na kung effort. Do you have tips for me too? Please share!
Pray for us and wish us luck on raising our tween!

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