The Wednesday Wars—
How to give your son the confidence to say no!
If you have a boy who’s entering the world of adolescence, there’s almost no doubt you’ve worried about him “running with the wrong crowd.” Moms are especially good worriers (you know you are!), but in this case, it’s hard to blame them. With drugs, sex, and guns running rampant, you may find yourself in a cold sweat just because your son is five minutes late for curfew.
There’s almost no way you can completely ensure your son’s safety. But what you can do is provide your son with the key components of a loving family: acceptance, belonging, and competence. These ingredients will give your child the confidence to say no to the temptations he will encounter.
Think back to those awkward adolescent years. I bet you wanted more than anything to be accepted by your peers and, most of all, your family. Your son needs to know that no matter how awkward those sprigs of first facial hair or odd mood swings, that you accept him. Kids will live up to your unwritten expectations. What are you saying with yours? Make sure your unwritten expectations are encouraging. Expect the best and you’ll often get it. Sprinkle in sincere compliments and accept your child even when he fails. Love him, but still hold him accountable.
We all need a place to belong. Ask yourself, where would you rather your son belong, to a an unhealthy group of friends or your family? (Your family of course!) So make sure everyone gets a say in household decisions and that everyone’s opinion is respected. Eat dinners together, and go to each other’s activities as a family. Kids need to know their family is a place where they will always “fit in.” Without a sense of belonging, there is no relationship between you and your son. And without a relationship, what you say and what you do mean nothing. But make your son feel like he belongs, and he’ll be primed for success!
No one wants to feel worthless. Make your son feel competent and he’ll have the confidence to tackle new projects and to say no to bad influences. So no matter his age, treat your son as if he’s competent. Give him tasks, and make him feel needed within your family. Don’t do anything for him that he can do himself. Instead, give him age appropriate responsibility, and watch him fly! The more tasks he does, the more competent he’ll become.
You can’t keep your son locked in a bubble. Eventually, he’ll squirm his way out, and he needs to be able to function in the real world. Giving him acceptance, belonging, and competence can keep him from going out in search of other more dangerous places to find these necessities. It can also give him the confidence he needs to say no to unsafe situations.
So make your home a place of connection—of deep relationships your boy can always count on. If you give your son acceptance, belonging, and competence, he won’t need to take a drag on a joint to “fit in.” He can say no, because he already has a place where he fits, just as he is.
For more information on raising your son, check out my book What a Difference a Mom Makes, a book for Mothers and the deep imprint they leave on their boys.
** My book, Way of the Wise was chosen for the Kindle Big Deal this month. It will be $3.49 for Kindle ebook only until Oct. 27th, 2013. Get your copy here **