Helping your son, nephew, or younger brother transition into adulthood is actually not a process that starts at puberty. The reality is, bodies change but values do not. Parents have a HUGE job to educate children at different levels as they age, but basic principles and values do not change, they become a deeper part of who the child is.
It’s like my father said when I was a young boy, “Should I prepare you for marriage now or the day before you get married?” Of course, by then it is too late! Education starts from infancy.
Becoming an adult man that is a gentleman is a process that starts before “the talk” when bodies, hormones, and emotions go through any kind of drastic development on the road to adulthood. And it’s not just about firm handshakes and holding doors for others, although both make good habits.
But don’t panic if your child is on the cusp of that plunge into his teenage years and beyond. We are all on the road to develop ourselves and there is no surefire formula to make anyone perfect overnight. However, there are some tips that can help you and your family support each other in becoming more courteous, honorable, and considerate towards others.
Many boys may not be eager for a sit down with their parents for a heart-to-heart, but consider that they do need to feel your support in other ways.
1. Make a habit of acknowledging the good things he does on a regular basis. Praise him when he helps out around the house or takes care of his siblings.
2. Know who his friends are. You can’t entirely control who your child becomes friends with, but it is important from a young age to develop trust between you and your son and his friends by getting to know them from time to time. Ask about how they are doing and show interest in and support for the healthy activities they participate in.
3. Have a good role model that isn’t a parent around. Your son may not find out how cool you parents are until he’s full grown, so it’s helpful to have a slightly older male role model around for him to emulate. Young boys (and girls) look up to older kids and having someone around that treats him with respect and who models good behavior will naturally encourage him to emulate the same behavior. It’s called peer pressure and, in this case, it can be a beautiful thing.
Remember, change happens over time and with consistency. As most children will notice as they age, as I have, we get to know our parents better because we start to see their reflection in ourselves. I quoted my father earlier, something I find myself doing more often now. What we will learn in time is that it’s not just words that are quoted, but actions, a far more telling indication of how my father raised me.