5th June 2017

Five Things I Know My Teenage Son Needs

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

He’s fab!

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 positivity

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.

Five Things I Know My Teenage Son Needs


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.

Five Things I Know My Teenage Son Needs


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.

After the Playground

40 responses to “Five Things I Know My Teenage Son Needs”

  1. I don’t have children but it’s great to hear about positive parenting because I am a qualified youth worker and often have to deal with the consequences of no parenting or poor parenting. Well done you!

  2. Nichole says:

    This was fantastic, I often worry about when my kids come to that age the challenges I’ll find. I love how you put this! Thank you! You sound like a fantastic mom.

  3. This was such a good read
    And true.
    Thanks for this

  4. Pooja K says:

    What a mature approach to raising a young man – this age can be a turbulent time in their lives and a parent’s understanding makes all the difference!

  5. Marcie says:

    I love this! My oldest is just 3.5yo but I’ve been trying to instill independence and boundaries. I’m so curious what he’ll be like at age 12 or 13!

  6. Oh I have such similar feelings with my 13 year old son. In all honest, it’s me that needs to step back a bit and let him gain that independence as I know that I still do too much for him like packing games bags etc – I never did that for my girls once they hit senior school but I find myself doing it for him – I know it’s wrong but I can’t help myself. The emotional part is hard too as although he looks big and confident I know inside he is still young – that’s the hardest thing I find. Oh such challenges but as you say it is so important to listen and really hear and keep an eye on what is happening around them. sometimes the non-verbal signs are louder than the verbal. Thank you for an interesting read #TweensTeensBeyond

    • hellocuppies says:

      Ooh I know exactly what you mean about the bag packing thing! I so need to stop being the one that takes control on that too! X

  7. lovskakara says:

    Lovely ) ! It is so important for children ( and teens / and people in general / heh ) to feel like they are heard and listened to 🙂 .

  8. Jhilmil says:

    Its so true, all the points are so relatable with my niece as of now!

  9. Tubbs says:

    Recognise all of this. We’re trying to give the Tubblet boundaries and teach her independence whilst keeping half an ear out for situations that we can help out with. It’s so hard! Glad it’s not just me 🙂

  10. My daughter is Coby’s age and my son 18 and they are both so different. My daughter is fiercely independent and very private, whereas my son is a bit more needy! But I have a great relationship with them both, they know I am always here and will frequently seek me out to chat about life, their worries, what’s happening around them and just seeking an older opinion. Communication and listening go a long way in the teenage years. You have a lovely relationship Natalie and it sounds to me like you are doing everything right. A lovely piece. Thanks for sharing. #TweensTeensBeyond

    • hellocuppies says:

      Thank you Jo 🙂 x I can’t even imagine what Coby is going to be like when he reaches 18. I’m excited to see but a tad nervous too! I was quite like your daughter when I was younger and my sister was the opposite, she was far more needy with my Mum (sorry Jenna, you were) Ha – just in case she reads this!

  11. gloriagordon says:

    I don’t have kids yet but I loved the reasoning behind this. Kids want to be understood and you seem to be doing great at it. Kudos to you!

  12. Sadie says:

    This is such a brilliant post. Especially the bit about affection…I’ll be honest and say that I don’t hug my son as much as I probably should do, and I’m going to make sure I put in that effort to make contact. Thank you for writing this,

  13. Colette B says:

    This is a great post – I already worry about what life will be like with teens I must admit.

  14. elizabethbrico says:

    Oof Teenage boy. I am NOT looking forward to any of my kids becoming teenagers…though of course I hope they do. I just think it will be an ordeal. You seem like you’ve got the parenting thang down pretty well…I’m glad to see PRIVACY on this list. My parents had a major problem with that when I was a teenager and it was not cool!

  15. This is such a lovely read. I am dreading with my boy becomes a teenager. I will have to implement the above points more to my life.

  16. Very lovely to read Natalie. We have had a week of everything being thrown at us from hormones to independence to my daughters school being locked down due to a suspected terrorist threat. Everything has run counter to what we are trying to nurture and encourage and I feel a bit beaten this week and she has suffered too. We all have. I feel a bit like a new parent that hasn’t got a clue. Positive and normal me is nodding along to everything you have said here but my articulation skills aren’t firing on all cylinders today – other than to say thank you for sharing this – we are all on the same page. Your relationship with Coby is beautiful. I shall be back for another read #tweensteensbeyond

  17. there have been many times over the years when i’ve had to son to my 4 boys that whilst i appreciate they are no longer children they are not yet adults and whislt they may think some things are unfair in regards to boundaries that as their mother a) i’m the one who pays the bills b) i’m the one that does the running around at my expense in both time and money and c) life just isn’t always fair and they need to be prepared for that and just have to deal with NO sometimes #Tweenteensbeyond

  18. This is a very well thought out and useful list. I totally agree. The subject of physical affection is tricky with teens. I do find that my girls do want cuddles but is has to be at a time that suits them so when they want a hug i just drop everything and give them one! Thanks so much for sharing with us at #TweensTeensBeyond

  19. This is a great post darling,
    I hope I can help B with these things too.

    Affection though, he’s getting a little too affectionate

  20. You’re so right that the deepest things seem to come out at the most unlikely moments. My daughter is the same age, and it’s such a tricky time, as they grow in confidence with their independence, but still need us. And us them, I think!

  21. This is such a great post. I have two children and I must admit, the thought of the teenage years terrifies me. You have such a brilliant approach to teenage parenting though, knowing exactly what your son needs at this difficult age is so positive! Thanks for sharing!

  22. kittyandb says:

    Absolutely resonates! B is only 2 but he is getting more independent every day! It’s wonderful to watch him grow but terrifying at the same time. Coby sounds like he’s growing into a little man but with the right amount of care and that balance of privacy. Sorry chaps, but mummy will hug you no matter what! x

  23. Surrey mama says:

    This was a really good read. My girls are a lot younger but I love reading about the next stages as what they need from us constantly changes. So interesting about the listening to when he speaks to others. X

  24. Oh Natalie, What an amazing post. I am terrified by the thought of them becoming teenagers! .

  25. HIya well it seems like you’re doing a grand job so far 🙂 It’s terribly difficult the teenage years… my son is 18 and although we are very close and he’s a great son when he wants to be, he can be very offhand and rude at times and sometimes doesn’t make the best decisions. He’s very sociable and has always had a girlfriend so he likes to have fun! But now he’s got older (now an adult technically!) the hardest thing is stepping back as I ultimately have no say, however much i try, in his final actions. He stays out, he goes clubbing etc and even though that’s completely normal, I do worry like mad continually. That never goes away. I feel like I nag a lot but that’s necessary so he knows there are boundaries, but I believe as long as he knows he’s loved and supported… he will do the right thing! . I have three younger children which means I can’t always get that one on one time but I do love spending time with him still, I think that’s important like you say, so we go for lunch or etc when we can. It’s such a cliche but parenting certainly doesn’t get easier the older they get! xx

  26. LovelyLu says:

    I love this post. My oldest son is 19 now and I’m quite sure he has no idea how much I completely love and adore him.

  27. fredsbox1 says:

    I’ve got this to look forward to, Fred is only 7 but this definitely helps! The privacy one is hard though when they are young you need to know everything but I hope by the time he gets a bit older I will be a bit more relaxed! Great article thanks for sharing 🙂

  28. Kelly Peters says:

    Such a good post – my son is only 2 years old but I can already some of these things benefitting him!

  29. I worry about parenting teens/pre-teens a lot! My children are 7, 6 and 3 so still a few years away… but already with my eldest I am trying to give her more independence and respect her boundaries. I like that you still go out as a family rather than just letting him sit in his room all the time!

  30. The Daisy Pages says:

    Nice read. I can relate to a lot of this…I agree with the part about listening and talking to your teen. I think it’s so important to make time to do that and be there for them x

  31. My children are younger than yours, so have very different needs. But I have to admit I am slightly dreading the teenage years, but it sounds like you are doing a fab job and managing the balance nicely.

  32. My oldest will be 13 next year and already I’m recognising that he needs everything on your list. I try to trust him to do the right thing.

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