Moms with sons can be assured of two things in their momlife. The first thing is that they will have a love for their sons that is remarkable. The second is that at some point you will not know what to do with your son. The topic of whether or not single Black moms can raise good sons is nothing new. The media is full of questions like: Do moms with boys treat their sons like their husbands? Are Black moms the reason Black boys are seemingly “out of control” in America? Are single moms responsible for hikes in crime? I won’t pretend to know the answer.
But, I did have a bit of an epiphany last week about how I discipline my teenage son. I’m a mom who has ALL boys. Three sons to be exact. While I’m not an all-pro mom yet, I do get practice in raising boys daily.
Last week my son got in a bit of trouble at school and in common mom fashion I wanted to react with a punishment. You know, the usual discipline us parents engage in with our teens. We take something away, restrict them from going places or make them stay in their rooms. However, we’d experienced this behavior before and I knew the usual tactics just weren’t working.
So, I asked my dad for advice. He told me the same thing he always tells me, “Give him more chores.” Now usually I walk away thinking, ‘How is that going to help?’ Well this time I finally understand what he means. Imma break it down for ya’ll. Here are 3 things us moms need to realize about disciplining our teenage sons.
Rule No. 1 : Discipline Does Not Start at the Point of an Incident
Oftentimes us moms and dads wait until an incident occurs before we begin the act of disciplining our children. Here’s the definition of discipline:
the practice of training a person to obey rules or a code of behavior
The problem is we often focus on the obedience part and forget the training part. Moms with boys have to understand that if you want your teenage son to behave in a certain manner, they must be trained to do so. That means if you want your kid to be respectful to all adults, they’ll have to practice it consistently with all the adults in their life. If you want your child to be organized and well-prepared, than you have to be willing to be organized and well-prepared in interactions with him/her. Training is done everyday and every hour that you spend with your teen. If you’re not willing to get in the boxing ring with him and literally duke it out action for action, then you really don’t understand what discipline is.
Discipline is the act of repeatedly outputting a behavior with little to no fail rate.
You’re going to have to schedule some mommy n’ teen chore dates if you want your kid to have discipline, not be disciplined. Having discipline is when your teenager is able to conduct himself properly without you around. You can’t continue to wait until the problem is at your doorstep before you address the behavior. You’ve got to be the role model, and trainer for how you want your teenagers to interact with the world. As our mothers told us: practice make perfect.
Rule No. 2: 80% IS Okay!
There’s an 80/20 rule that I live by. If someone or thing gives me the desired output 80% of the time and the other 20% gets on my nerves, I’ve decided I can live with that ratio. Expand on what your kid does well. If your kid is more like a 40/60 kid, then you need to revert back to Rule No. 1 and practice that until they can get to 80/20. But, if you’ve already a got a most-of-the-time good kid. Then let them be. He or she won’t be the first person in the world to make a mistake. More importantly, you want your teen to make as many mistakes as he/she can before they become adults. That’s one of the goals of being a kid. They need to check themselves before they wreck themselves as adults.
The key is to actually make your home a safe haven for making mistakes. You want your kid to be able to tell you when he/she has messed up, so that you can both be proactive about getting back on the right track. You should absolutely have expectations and consequences for bad behavior, but let’s try not to focus on the 20% that is wrong and focus on expanding that 80% behavior into other areas of your kids life.
For example if your kid is bad at getting homework done and really good at supervising his little brothers doing their chores, like my teen is, you could say something to them like: “Your little brothers are watching how you do your school work, I’m confident their getting a good example from you.” And make them all do their homework at the same time so that he/she feels a responsibility to expand that 80% good behavior into the areas where they’re not doing too well. Combine and conquer.
Rule No. 3: Be Strategic & Give More Chores
The best medicine for bad behavior is being able to take a good, long look in the mirror, or self-examination. When my husband and I were first married I was insane and mean. (Just to be honest) But, he’d never argue with me. He would just leave me alone. That time alone made me look at myself in the mirror and slowly begin the process of recognizing and fixing my bad behavior.
I’m employing that same strategy with my teen. He got in trouble at school a week or so ago and I still haven’t even told him I know. I just fill up all his extra time after school with chores. Go around your house and make a list of EVERYTHING that needs to be done from laundry to walls that need to be wiped down, cabinets that need to be cleaned out and rearranged, mopping and sweeping floors and make your kid get down and dirty. The trick is giving him punishment without him knowing its punishment, and more importantly giving him the gift of alone time.
A funny thing happens when we do chores: we think! Give your kid more time to think. Not out of anger or frustration, but because your kid also needs time to think out his/her own problems. Like my dad said, “Give him more chores.”
Hope this helps mamas! Have a great one!
Read more about Raising Teenagers: