Mark Wyer | Preparatory School Deputy Head – Pastoral Care
Parenting! It can make you laugh and it can make you cry, especially when we are dealing with our boys. As caring adults, it is important we are both tough AND tender. Most of us are good at one or the other by default. The challenge is being able to vacillate between the two depending on the situation and what would be most helpful. Here are 7 things are that every boy needs to hear, regardless of their age.
1. I love you.
This is crucial. Always be strong enough to say to your son/s, I love you. There are grown adults, who have NEVER heard this from their parents. If they don’t hear it from you, I don’t know who they’ll hear it from.
2. I’m proud of you.
As parents or caring adults, it’s important we applaud effort more than achievement because achievement is often subjective to the group we are competing against. So applaud and reward effort over achievement and let your child know you’re proud of them.
3. I’m sorry.
Taking responsibility as an adult is so important for our boys to see. We have to model what it looks like to be an adult, and apologise when we make mistakes. And don’t cop out by saying “I’m sorry, but …. “!
Remember boys learn a little bit from what we say, they learn a little more from what we do but learn the most from who we are!
4. I forgive you.
It’s crucial for young people to know if you are wanting to succeed, you must be willing to fail. They are going to screw up, it happens! The question is always: what will you do when you inevitably mess up? By saying I forgive you, boys know it’s ok to admit mistakes.
5. I’m listening.
Once your child is a pre-teen or teen the name of the game isn’t about control, it’s about influence. You can’t control a 15-year old but you can influence them by listening and asking them questions. Lecturing doesn’t work as well as asking strategic questions and then listening, doing that will help them come to their own mature decisions and beliefs about situations.
6. This is your responsibility.
Don’t bail your son out of problems they can solve. Instead remain like a coach: prepare your child before the game, cheer from the sidelines and then review what went well and what went poorly from the sidelines.
The urge is there because we care, but stay on the sidelines and stay off the field! If you fix it, they’ll interpret that as you telling them they don’t have what it takes. Instead, be there for moral support and guidance, but let them take responsibility.
7. You’ve got what it takes.
It’s important for them to know you know they have what it takes. If they know you believe in them, they’re better prepared to take baby steps to accomplishing their goals and dreams, and face those difficult situations.
BONUS: #8. ‘No’
Sometimes the most loving and caring thing you can tell a boy is NO. Rest assured, they won’t always appreciate it in the moment. But years later they shall circle back and praise your brilliance. By saying NO to the wrong things, it allows us to say YES to the right things.
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