Oh my! Freddy* turns fifteen, and you have no idea what’s happened to him! Is there hope? (The short answer: Yes! The young man that lives in your home will not only do well; he will thrive. There’s definitely hope.)
Freddy is lazy. He doesn’t seem to see anything there is to do. He has no initiative and doesn’t look too pleased when you ask him to do anything. He slumps around on the couch, fiddles with video games, and his face looks like he just ate a prune.
Or . . .
Freddy claims he’s bored. He has an “impress me” attitude and rarely smiles. He doesn’t enter into family fun. He looks miserable and frankly doesn’t inspire others around him.
Or . . .
Freddy is rebellious. He wants to do just the opposite of anything you’d like him to do. He’s got an attitude as long as your arm. You think he’s experimenting with sin.
Or . . .
Freddy is a clown. He can make people laugh and shrug off everything. He’s truly hilarious, but he uses it to get out of work, to be popular, and to avoid responsibility.
Or . . .
Freddy is too intense, too driven. He’s a perfectionist, and he’s driving you crazy. He works all the time. If it’s not studies, it’s on his extra-curricular interests. He has to excel. He’s never satisfied with “enough.” Everything has to be more than successful. You’re concerned he’ll burn himself out or that he’ll not be realistic in his expectations, never able to accept “normal life.”
If you have a teenage “Freddy,” here’s a little bit of practical help:
- Remember that most young men go through an awkward stage at about age twelve to seventeen. The stage might start earlier or later, but almost every young man goes through a time of change. The changes in his body—huge growth spurt, hormonal differences, noticing girls—are part of it. I believe it’s also just a normal preparation for manhood. It’s the time before responsibility, college or apprenticeship, and getting serious about being a man. Most young men go through this. It’s not a cause for alarm.
- Encourage your son’s interests. Does he enjoy sports, art, music, mechanics, etc.? Make sure he can do those things. He needs to be doing something active as well as his school studies. Even if your son is naturally a bookworm, make sure he gets out and does physical exercise. It’s a win-win. It’s great for him physically, spiritually (helps him handle temptation), and mentally (a different form of exertion).
- If your son has a dad in his life, encourage his father to do things with him. Tasks can be as simple as changing the oil in the car or as complex as adding a room onto the house, but it’s great when sons are regularly working alongside their dads. If your son doesn’t have an involved father, maybe he can do things with an uncle, grandfather, cousins, or even a man in your church who has sons close to his age. It is very important for teen boys to have a great male influence in his life. It’s a vital part of his growing up as a young man.
- As “Freddy’s” mom, show him unconditional love. Freddy needs to feel your love, just as much as he needs to work alongside a male role model. Let him know you love him as he is. Is he morose, silly, or bored? You love him. Give him non-public hugs. Tell him how thankful you are for him. Put positive expectations into words. Be natural and normal about it, but verbalize your love and do special things for him. When he’s over his “goofy stage,” he will know you always loved him.
- Have non-confrontational conversations. I found the absolute best place to talk with my teenage son was in the car on the way to or from an activity. We weren’t face-to-face, and it was a natural place to talk—or just be silent—on the way. We talked about all kinds of things. Don’t pin “Freddy” down. Just talk normally and naturally. Always keep the lines of communication open with your son.
- If “Freddy” is into a sinful practice (cutting, porn, drugs, or even just acting out and being ugly), he has a sin problem. Can your husband talk to him about it? Can his youth pastor or senior pastor help him? Is “Freddy” open to talking to anyone? Is “Freddy” a born-again Christian? If not, he needs the Lord. Don’t pressure him, but make sure he hears the gospel over and over again. Pray that God will do a work in his heart, so that he will be convicted about his sin. (Unless change comes from the heart, it won’t be a lasting change.) Of course, if it’s a sin that affects your family, you may need to discipline him. Make sure anyone living under your roof obeys family rules. Also, make sure to protect all your children.
- Pray for your son. Pray that God will help him become the man God wants him to be. Thank God for working in his life. Expect "Freddy" to get through his awkward stage and come out on the other side stronger.
I can’t tell you how many mothers of teen boys have come to me desperately wondering what to do with their sons! At fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen, the boys are nothing like what their mothers would like them to be. But, you know what? These same young men, in a few years—at about eighteen or nineteen—have become responsible, serious adults with goals. It’s amazing!
And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father,
and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind:
for the LORD searcheth all hearts,
and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts:
if thou seek him, he will be found of thee.
(1 Chronicles 28:9a)
So, if you’re the mother of a teen boy, take heart and hang in there! Your “hopeless” young man will change over the next few years. Be prepared to be pleasantly surprised.
* I don’t know anyone named Freddy.