As a sole mother to two boys, I often worry about how to help guide my boys through their transition to manhood.
After all, I don’t know what it’s like to grow up as a boy. Navigating the physical and emotional changes brought about by male hormones is uncharted territory for me!
And I have to say some days my 11 year old son is just as unfamiliar to me – my sweet natured son can seem like a complete stranger. There is so much I never knew about the Tween Zone!
Irritable, impatient, irrational and impulsive, I have to remember my son gets just as frustrated with this new state of being as I do.
But its so hard to know what to do – leave him be? Keep a closer eye on him? Get his grandfather to talk to him about what it means to be a man???
Interestingly, even when they have strong role models, parenting expert Maggie Dent says a strong connection with their mum is particularly important for tween boys.
“You are their safe place,” she says. “They need your unconditional love and understanding during this time.”
As we are often cop the brunt of any hormonal outbursts, it’s a careful balancing act for a mum of boys at this time. But we must try not to come down too hard on our sons as they transition from child to adult. Maggie stresses it’s important not to nag or berate them too much when they exhibit undesirable behaviours such as attitude, disorganisation or disengagement with school.
Its important to have conversations about these changes but at a time where your son is engaged and not distracted. During a walk or driving in the car are great times to connect. Your boy will also need their space and may choose to talk to you on their own terms.
Reassuring your son that you love him and are there for him in non-verbal ways is the best course of action, recommends Maggie. Cooking nutritious meals, having his friends over and sharing silly moments with your son will help you maintain a connection.
It can be hard to keep in mind that your attitude packed tween is actually feeling confused and vulnerable. As they change into men before our very eyes, there is still a little boy in there.
I’m fortunate that my son is a talker and we have good chats, but I wonder if the day will come when our chats are reduced to grunts.
In the meantime, I will go gently with my manchild, confident in the knowledge that, just like every other stage in his life so far, we will get through this.
To hear more about what Maggie Dent has to say about tween boys and their mums, check out ParentTV.