By Miriam Genao
Raising a teenage son isn’t easy. I can honestly say, that as I’m writing this, I can feel my stress levels rising. I don’t say it because my child is a bad kid, I say it because of all the challenges coming from the outside world that may or may not influence his decisions.
José is 15 years old and a great son. He has the same slip-ups as any other teenager, such as a tiny bit of an attitude, a messy room, and an occasional bad grade on a quiz. He just started the 9th grade a month ago, which is one of the top reasons I worry. He’s around kids that are older than him. I fear that he’ll succumb to the peer pressure that comes with older friends. I have always taught him right from wrong but there’s still that chance that José may disregard my lessons and fall into a bad situation. I can’t be with him 24/7, so I can only hope that he’ll do the right things.
I’m very strict with my son when it comes to the kids he hangs out with and the places he goes when I’m not around. I also do “surprise inspections” of his cellphone and his room. Some would say that I’m way too strict with my son and act like I’m a prison warden. I think it’s best that I do it than a real police officer during a bad situation that could have been avoided if I had been more strict with him. I feel teens need that strict structure so that they know if they mess up, there will be consequences to their actions. For them, in order to avoid consequences, they will act within the rules of the household.
Another teen situation I worry about is dating. José knows he’s not allowed to have a girlfriend because relationships at his age are nothing but trouble. I would prefer to have him stressing over a test or his next wrestling match than problems involving a girl. In junior high, he did have several girlfriends against my wishes but luckily he did learn that he just doesn’t have the time and patience to deal with a relationship.
Now that he’s in high school and around older girls, I had to have another sex talk with him. I told him that older girls are more mature and are going to want more from him than he may not be ready to give. I also reminded him what I had to go through when I had him at the age of 18 years old. José attentively listened to everything I said during our talk and promised me that he wouldn’t start dating again. He also promised that he will not be having sex anytime soon because he knows he’s not ready for it. Hopefully those words will ring true.
Sports and School
Keeping José busy with school and sports is what I believe keeps him on the right path and out of trouble. He has a full school day and right after school he goes to wrestling practice. As soon as he gets home, he eats and does homework. By the time he’s done with that and showered, he’s too tired to do anything else. All of these activities keep him focused. It’s a huge cycle. José knows that if his grades aren’t up to par, he can’t wrestle. Once he’s kicked off the wrestling team, he knows that his future in education as far as college is at risk. He has plans for his future and it’s my job as his mother to make sure he accomplishes them.
Raising a teenager isn’t a piece of cake, but if you put in the overtime as a parent and the love that a teen needs, you will end up with a responsible young adult. Teenagers need firm structure to keep them in check. As parents, we also need to be as truthful as possible about consequences the child will face if they step out of line. Also, those consequences need to be compared to the ones they will face if the trouble happens out in the real world. I feel like I’ve done the best I can with my son, only time will tell if I’m right.
Miriam Genao is a mother of 3 beautiful children and a blogger on Miriam Knows…