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We all know raising kids takes a village. Here I’m sharing what I want my teenage son to know to thrive and navigate the messiness of life.
There are so many stages of boyhood and parenthood alike and it’s no easy task to raise an honest, not so stinky, responsible, young adult. As my oldest boy is a few years into his teenage years, I have realized that it really takes everyone in the family to teach and guide him to be a good kid.
Even though we all take on different roles in raising him, there often is a pattern of who teaches him what. My husband takes on the role of teaching him the basics of shaving, training for a sport, driving, reaching beyond his comfort zone, and doing hard things rather than taking the easy route.
I take on the role of nurturing, teaching him how to cook, do laundry, guide any negativity or mood swings and channel them into positivity instead, how to treat girls, and how to push himself to be better.
My oldest son’s little brother, depending on the day, takes on the role of making sure the teenage brother doesn’t get away with too many things, is kind to him, challenges him in any competitive sport, and carries his weight when it’s time to do chores. It’s true what they say, it takes a village.
Beyond all of this guidance, observing and teaching throughout each day, these are the 10 most important things that I want my teenage boy to know.
Trust Your Gut
If it feels wrong or it’s something you wouldn’t feel right even sharing that you did with me or any of your closest friends, then you’re right to think that it is wrong. Don’t feel the pressure from those around you. It’s also OK to make mistakes, but when you’re intentionally doing something that doesn’t necessarily feel right, it’s most likely not. Make your own decision based on your intuition, it will most often steer you in the right direction.
Be Mindful of What You Say
Almost everything you say and do can and often will be recorded, saved, or documented in some format. Any and all of your words should be kind, empathetic, and without vulgar. As you have access to screentime including a phone, social media and the internet, it’s absolutely a privilege and your responsibility to use it for the right purposes. And if you can’t say what you’re about to type online to someone in person, then don’t do it at all.
Failing is Good
Success does not come easy. It requires hard work and determination, resiliency and a positive attitude. It means you’ll probably fail more than once before you succeed. Failure means lack of success. However, it doesn’t mean you have to give up. In order to succeed, you must try, try again.
Take Care of Your Body
Puberty is a change in your body over several years and you’ll experience all kinds of ups and downs, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Do these things daily: Wash your face, body, hair and armpits. Clean your ears. Brush your teeth. Put on deodorant. Don’t give the girls a chance to tell you that you smell. Exercise, move your body for 30 minutes. Daily affirmations and positive self talk. Look yourself in the mirror and repeat after me…I am smart. I am strong. I am safe and loved. I deserve happiness. I am kind, generous and grateful. I belong. I am enough.
Most often, you’ll have bigger consequences for lying than for what you actually lied about. Trust is built over time, but can be broken in just a single moment. Lack of trust in a relationship leads to not having certain privileges you would otherwise have, going to parties, driving the car, hanging out with friends outside of the home. It takes years and years to built trust and open communication between two people. Trust me…don’t lie.
Try Your Best
You don’t have to be a G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time), but you can absolutely be great. It won’t come easy, it’s work, determination, grit, time, uncomfortable, and will sometimes be more than you’re willing to do. You decide how much effort you put into each and every day. You determine your greatness, no one else.
Take on Basic Household Chores
Pay attention to what’s going on around you when you’re at home, especially in the kitchen, your room, and laundry room. You’ll need to learn how to make at least a few meals for yourself, by yourself. Learn how to do your laundry properly, from start to finish…washing, drying, folding, putting it away. Make your bed. Put your clothes in the laundry basket instead of scattered on the floor in your room. Clear your own plate after each meal and offer to help with the dishes. All of these little things will serve you better as you get older, as you leave the home, as you marry, as you eventually have your own kids, if you wish.
Volunteer Your Time and Skills
Serve meals to the homeless and less fortunate. Hold the door open for others, always. Help the younger kids and take the time to teach them the skills you’ve learned in sports, both individual and team. Most likely with all the time and effort you put into helping others, you’ll likely learn something yourself.
Don’t Be Afraid To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
It’s insightful to try something new and it may surprise you. It may be something you necessarily don’t want to do, but also naturally makes you nervous. The reward is often higher than the risk. It’s ok to feel scared. It takes courage to try new things. Remember, you’re not alone and we all have to do hard things day in and day out. You’ll never know if you don’t try.
No Means No. It’s That Simple
This two-letter word needs no further explanation by any girl or guy. If a girl says, “No”, she means no…not maybe, not later, simply no. Do not pressure anyone into doing something they’re not ready for or unsure of. Have self-respect and self-control simultaneously.
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Jodi is a fun-loving mom of two boys, ages 16 and 11, who live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As a stay-at-home mom over the years she has taken on the role of renovating just about every space in their home. She enjoys photography, being a brand partner for Young Living essential oils, sports, reading, crafts, exercise, cooking, plants and gardening. Her love language is acts of service and she’s an Enneagram type two, wing three. Follow her on Instagram @jodileigham
Agnes Hsu is a mom of three and has been inspiring parents and kids to get creative with easy activities and family friendly recipes for over 10 years. She shares her love for creative play and kids food to her 2MM+ followers online. Agnes' commitment to playful learning and kindness has not only raised funds for charity but also earned features in prestigious nationwide publications.