The teen years are challenging for most parents as boys struggle to move from boys to men. Gurmeet Kanwal, assistant professor of psychiatry at Cornell University, points to the trend of negatively portraying teenage males in the media and society's acceptance of "male bashing" as contributing to a "crisis in masculinity." Parents of teenage boys, who recognize they are facing common problems, can deal with them more effectively.
Problems at School
Parents of teenage boys need to prepare themselves for the problems their sons are likely to encounter academically. Boys have more difficulty in school than girls, starting as early as kindergarten, according to Fatherhood.org. These educational problems continue into the teen years, where more boys are more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and have higher high school drop-out rates than girls. About 80 percent of remedial classes are male students and 95 percent of students who get suspended or excluded are males, according to a 1999 article in British newspaper "The Guardian."
Problems with Rebellion
Parents of teen boys often find themselves dealing with serious problems outside of school. Parenting online.com suggests that society's current high expectations of men lead some teen boys toward rebellion. Boys who are expected to excel at everything, including relationships, might feel overwhelmed and either withdraw or rebel. Teen boys often become frustrated when the increased independence they expect isn't granted. Combined with the surge in testosterone they experience, aggression and rebellion often result. It's not uncommon for parents to hear from the police that find their son engaged in reckless driving or substance abuse.
Most parents are aware of the physical changes they see their son experiencing, especially when they're purchasing larger-size clothing to accommodate his growth spurts. But they might not be as aware of how rapidly his brain is undergoing change. Michael Grose, bestselling author of eight parenting books, tells parents to keep instructions simple when speaking to their teenage sons because their developing brains can't easily process complex information. He also points out that mood swings and lack of motivation are common.
Parents might be surprised to discover that their adorable, talkative little boy has now become someone who is reluctant to communicate with them. Teenage boys often prefer to respond to every question with simple, one-word answers. Parental attempts to get more information might be met with annoyance or anger. Teen boys often begin spending more time alone in their rooms. Anthony E. Wolf, clinical psychologist and author, advises parents to accept this behavior as normal and be on the look-out for topics of interest that might motivate their son to communicate more freely.
- PBS Parents: Understanding and Raising Boys
- All Michigan: A Closer Look at the Gender Gap in High School Graduation/Dropout Rates
- Parenting Teens Online: Raising Teen Sons
- The Guardian Observer: Raising Boys
- Parenting Ideas: Raising Boys and Scrambled Brains
- Dr. Laura: A Parent's Survival Guide to Teenage Boys
- Psychology Today: The Masculinity Crisis, Male Malaise, and the Challenge of Becoming a Good Man
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