I think it’s quite clear that I adore my son Coby and I’m sure if you’re reading this and you have children, you of course adore yours too. I’ve narrowed this post down and worked out the key five things I know my teenage son needs
I love spending time with him, he’s funny, entertaining, sensitive and overall a spirited, happy person to have around.
There are days though where it can be super challenging and I can’t fathom sometimes where it comes from or why. I then often have to remind myself about how difficult it can be as a teenager and how stressful growing up really is. Working out exactly what he means sometimes is half the fun!
We’ve reached a strange type of crossroads where he’s still a child, but he also wants and if I’m honest, needs to be treated a little more like an adult. I say this as I know I can’t wrap him up in cotton-wool all the time. He’ll never find his place in this world if I was to make all of his decisions for him.
He thrives on positive attention and responsibility and he likes to feel part of something important – don’t we all though!
He has lots of people around him that love and care for him lots. His home with me and my boyfriend is stable and secure. His home with his Dad and Step-Mum just the same. We’re all pretty much on the same page and all good to talk to in different ways. Split parents can be tough but it doesn’t have to be if everyone works together. We’ve had our moments, don’t get me wrong, but for now it’s all pretty smooth.
I’ve worked out recently that right now, and probably for some time coming, Coby needs certain things. This can probably apply to most teenagers I think.
I remember being a similar age, probably around 12-13, where I was desperate to go out with my best friend somewhere a little further away from home. I remember the first time I was allowed to take a bus into town to go shopping and I was so excited! Coby is the same, he thrives on being trusted and has rarely broken my trust (with consequences when he has). He is very good at keeping in touch and he’s well aware that we are all new to this. He knows we care so he’ll update us with where he is, who he’s with and regularly enough so we know he’s fine.
Compared to my experience at that age when I had to hunt down a phone-box to call my Mum, having a mobile phone is a luxury.
Love and affection
Whilst publicly I’m only just allowed to walk next him down the street and holding his hand is now a big no-no, I still try to hug him every day. I still do a night time routine and always give him a kiss and tell him I love him before he goes to sleep. I can’t ever imagine not doing this! If Coby has done well I don’t over-praise but I do tell him I’m proud of him or he did a good job. If he’s feeling down or ill I’ll sit on the sofa with him or lie on his bed and chill. He’ll often just naturally shift over to me and we’ll cuddle and watch TV.
I think affection is really important and if even if you’re not the cuddly type or your child rejects it completely, one-on-one time or just a pat on the back or an arm over the shoulder counts too.
We’ve recently noticed that Coby spends more time on his own in his room. He’ll pop downstairs every now and then but will head straight back once he’s said hello. I personally think he comes down to check he’s not missing out on anything or for a re-stock on food, but I try to tell myself it’s just because he misses me really 😉 I’ve accepted now that he needs his space and privacy is really important so I don’t take it personally. We’re going on holiday in the summer and I imagine he’ll be the same then too.
My step-daughter Lucy is the opposite though. She’s more likely to sit with us for longer and will often spend quite a bit of time with her Dad in one room. I guess this is another difference between boys and girls at this age.
In an attempt to not let him completely seclude himself we do go out quite often at the weekend. Last Sunday we spent time in the park, went trampolining (again) and out for Sunday lunch. Whilst I do respect his need to be in his room I do try to get him out of the house whenever possible and we always have fun.
I obviously listen to Coby when he talks to me, but I also listen when he talks to other people. I didn’t realise how important this was until I overheard a conversation he was having regarding bullying that a friend of his was experiencing. When I asked Coby, as casually as I could, what type of bulling this was and when he responded with racism and terrorism comments, I was glad I’d overheard. Thankfully he is pretty switched on with what is right and wrong in this regard. But we ended up talking for a good while about bullies at school and his feelings and fears about it. Coby even told me about what the bullies had said to him and that he pretty much chose to ignore it.
A few conversations like this have led me to realise that he’ll often share his deepest feelings at the most casual of times. One subject, which I know plays on his mind a lot, is the absence of his older teenage brother. Nothing I can ever help solve as it’s out of my hands, but I did realise that his Dad and I need to constantly reassure him he’d done nothing wrong and there are simply some people you cannot help.
This is a subject I don’t really have the right to write about, as it’s very sensitive. For a little bit of context when I met Coby’s Dad he already had a son who is now 15. He is going through quite a tough time and has chosen to cut his family out of his life. Coby included. When he is upset about this the best way to solve it, or feel better, is through communication and talking to us.
Listening is the key to finding out how a child really feels, and the best way to find out if they are in trouble. It’s really important that Coby also sees I’m genuinely interested.
A biggy for us. He’s a boy who will push and push the boundaries if not set. School, home, online and outside with friends. He needs them ALL the time. I set boundaries and I explain the reasons behind them. His teachers all set boundaries and he follows them too. If they don’t he’ll end up in trouble with them. At parents evening earlier this year all of his teachers were extremely positive about him in many ways. But I began to recognise a pattern. They all said he can get a bit ‘rowdy’ or ‘excitable’ without boundaries.
Does this resonate with you and your child? Do you have any tips or suggestions? I’d love to hear your experiences.