How Writing About Teenage Boys Has Made Me a Better Mom
Raising teenage boys is harder than I ever imagined. When my boys were little, they would run around, injure themselves and go to the emergency room. It was so stressful and also so normal, everyone said. Boys are more challenging when they’re little. When they become teenagers, they mellow out and it becomes easier, I was told.
Mellower, yes. Easier, no. I thought the most challenging part would be juggling all of the driving around. In reality, it’s more complex. While they’re not as energetic, they have complex emotions, lives outside of our house with friends and social media, the pressure of school and friends and changing bodies.
Thankfully, I’ve had help with many of my parenting questions thanks to my freelance gig at Mom.com. I’m writing about teenagers and it’s been amazing getting my questions answered by professionals, research studies and other moms of teens.
I’ve learned that one of my teenagers isn’t getting enough sleep (I kind of knew this already), how to get teen boys and girls to open up, and how to teach teens about healthy eating without shaming them.
Here are a few of the posts where I learned the most about raising two sons:
How much sleep do teenagers need?
The answer was… way more than my older son was getting. They need between 8 to 10 hours a night, which is difficult during the school year when teens have so much going on – sports, after school activities and (especially in Los Angeles) a time-consuming commute.
We made a change and while he’s not getting 8 hours, he’s getting more than he was and it seems to have made a positive impact on his energy level and schoolwork.
What happens if they don’t get enough sleep? People who sleep even one hour of sleep less than they should a night report having trouble concentrating and remembering facts. Plus, lack of sleep has been linked to obesity, diabetes, poor mental health and behavior problems. You can read more here.
How do you get a teenage son or daughter to open up?
Getting a teenager to talk to you about something meaningful can be difficult for some parents. One great tip came from my older son. He said to make sure and listen. Sometimes parents go through the motions and ask questions and then tune out. If you get to know your kids as people with interests and feelings, they’ll be more likely to talk to you. Here’s a link to a post about talking to teen boys and teen girls.
Fun questions to get your teens talking around the dinner table
I wrote another post about getting teens to talk – this time around the dinner table. Questions include, “Is Baby Yoda related to old-timey muppet yoda?” “Who do you admire most in the world?” and if you can’t get them to talk to you try “The first time you had sex was…” Find it here.
How to talk to teens about healthy eating
After writing this post, I decided I needed to cook more healthy meals. I had gotten into a rut where I would cook the same things over and over or pick something up on the way home. Not only did I actually start cooking more, but my boys have been eating the meals I cook. You can read more here.
Should your teenager get a job?
Yes. Yes, they should, in my opinion. I learned so much about life, people and money by having a job as a teenager. But can teenagers today really have a job and do everything they need to do in school? Teenagers are so overscheduled these days that fitting in a job along with sports, extra-curriculars, and a commute may seem impossible.
According to the experts in the article, having a job teaches responsibility, how to manage time and money, and looks great on a college application.
If you’d like to read more, here are articles about –
- how to know if your teen should go to college
- how to encourage teenagers to be creative
- how to ask parents if they have a gun in the house
- how to talk to people about your transgender teen
- and here’s an article I was quoted in about how to teach your teen to be financially responsible