Offer me advice: my oldest child is turning 13.

I have 4 kids that are more or less 2 years apart. My oldest is a boy who is about to turn 13. Seeing as I have nothing but teenage years ahead of me for the next, um, 14ish years… I could use some advice.

They are all good kids and none of them have behavioral issues at the moment.

My oldest, Alex, is unusually physically developed for his age. He is 5’10", has a deep voice and puberty is well on its way. He has a ‘girlfriend’ but they have only seen each other outside of school once and that was yesterday when her family and our family met and all went to see “Alice in Wonderland” together. He is a bit of a slacker and does just what is necessary in school to get a “B.” And he is too aggressive with his siblings, although he has never really hurt them. But he is still my sweet boy and sometimes even still sits on my lap, squashing me painfully but I love it.

So any specific advice on Alex or on dealing with teens in general.


Yours sounds a lot like mine, although he is the second kid. His older sister is going off to college in the fall. Anyhow, We keep the 13yo ( as we did with his sister) very busy. Band, orchestra, soccer, etc. His peers in these groups tend to try harder academically and stay out of trouble.

Alex runs track, plays clarinet in the school band, and is active in a service organization called Builders Club But it is hard for me to shuttle him around to much since I have 3 others

I laughed.

Yeah, it’s tough but worth it.

I don’t have any girls, but I do have three boys, the oldest of whom is 19. I’ve tried very hard to instill in my boys a decent opinion of women in general. I think it’s very important for boys of today to know that girls and women are not to be seen as sex objects, even though today’s girls seem to be buying into that themselves, and that women are human beings just like them, with feelings and all that good stuff. I try to get them to understand me as a woman, and why I think the way I do- hopefully that will carry on to them trying to understand their girlfriends and wives, when they get them, instead of being insensitive.

Also, it’s good to teach them along the way to do laundry, cook for themselves, and generally clean up after themselves. I don’t ever want any of my sons to stay with a woman because they can’t take care of themselves, just as I would teach any daughters I had to take care of themselves so that they were never stuck with someone out of convenience’s sake.

Firstly, all kids are different, and every one needs to be treated differently, so advice is of limited worth, unless you happen to find someone dealing with the exact same issues you are.

Secondly, that said, they nearly all turn into assholes of one form or another. Just roll with it.

My stepson is nearly 16 now, and I think the worst part was from about 13 1/2 to about 15. Now he’s matured enough that we’re at least able to communicate somewhat productively when situations arise. In our specific case, which probably won’t apply to you, my wife and I had to learn to back way off and let him make his own mistakes and deal with the consequences. That may sound like an obvious thing, but it wasn’t, and it’s more difficult than some might think.

:rolleyes: Yes, do not, under any circumstances, take any advice that is offered here and apply it blindly to each and every child that you have given birth to. This advice is loaded and should be handled appropriately, under penalty of death.

Help me especially understand teenaged boys. I grew up with 3 sisters and no brothers. Guys are kind of a mystery to me. And I have 3 sons and one daughter, so I need to understand teenaged guys well!

My dad would tell you to nail him up in a barrel and talk to him through a hole. When he hits 16, plug up the hole.

Food, girls, and fart jokes. What more do you need to know?

This bears repeating… If he says he doesn’t want to talk about something, don’t push him. He’ll come around, but there’s nothing that pisses a teenage boy off more than being nagged by his mother.

Secondly, do not allude to sex, masturbation or how cool you are/aren’t with it. This is a conversation for his father/uncle/older cousin/somebody male. Anybody but his mother.

Beginning early in their lives, I told my kids that although they were currently very smart and wonderful, when they turned thirteen, their brains would shrivel up like raisins and they would become little assholes. I think my daughter set out to prove me wrong, because although she’s not a perfect kid, she’s like the opposite of a stupid asshole. :slight_smile:
The boy just turned thirteen recently, and whenever he says something disturbing, I say, “Oh, yes, you’re a teenager now…” He knows just what I mean and we laugh. I’m happy to say he will still sit on my lap as well!

Advice, advice….um, well, I still read to my kids (ages 13 and 18). Not every night like I used to, but once in a while, if I’ve found something they’ll like. I also go see each of them for a few minutes every night before bed so we can just be alone and talk.

He’s all over the food part. We’ll have a regular dinner, say spaghetti. He’ll eat a large bowl and get seconds and thirds. Then dessert. Then an hour later he’s heating up (and eating) a large can of chili. Then he makes a PBJ sandwich before bed time.

It’s alarming just to watch that boy eat!

This is true. Furthermore, he’s not a younger version of you. He’s a separate person. He’s going to have likes and dislikes that are different from yours. He will almost certainly like some music, hair styles, and clothes that you will not. He might enjoy subjects in school that you hated, and hate ones that you liked. There’s nothing you can or should do about this except live with it.

Learn to pick your battles. Not everything he does that you don’t like is worth fighting over. His hairstyle almost certainly isn’t, for example, because hair grows back. If he’s being hit on online by somebody much older, that is worth fighting over. There is a huge difference between those two. Quashing every hint of rebellion so that he’ll never do anything you don’t like won’t work to make him be like you, and will damage your relationship with him.

Make sure that what you’re doing to encourage or discourage certain behaviors is actually having the desired effect. I’m shy, and hate being the center of attention. My parents tried to encourage me to get better grades by making a big deal over me when I did. I found the optimum GPA for them to both not yell at me and not make a big deal over me, and directed my efforts to getting that GPA. If they’d realized that being the center of attention was a punishment and not a reward for me, I’m sure they would have done things differently. Giving him things you would have liked at his age as a reward may not work, since he has a different personality than you do.

When he falls short of what you’d like him to be or what you think he could be, remember: he could be worse. My parents didn’t figure this out till I was about 18- until then, they were trying to get me to “shape up”. I, like most people, did not like being somebody’s project, and our relationship suffered. But eventually they realized that, while I might not do everything the way they wanted me to, I could have been worse.

If you want to find out how his life is, do something with him: play cards, watch TV, jog, something. Boys talk in spurts and there has to be something else going on. They don’t, generally, “just talk”.

He won’t tell you anything, but will tend to assume you already know. So, if say, his social circle at school falls apart, he will never mention it but think you are aware of it. This is why it’s important (if possible) to have talking activities, like I mentioned above.

Kids learn lessons very, very specifically. If he gets a ticket driving down a Elm Street, he will learn not to speed down Elm Street. It takes a lot of talking to get teens to generalize this sort of thing.

On grades, be all in or all out. Either micro-manage every step of the way, checking his homework nightly, talking to him daily about what is going on in each of his classes, etc., or set up consequences for unacceptable grades, implement those consequences, but stay emotionally uninvolved. DO NOT freak out at every report card, micro-manage for a week, get tired of it and loosen up, only to start the whole cycle over the next grading period.

Remember that maturity is an erratic process. I’ve seen the most level-headed, most practical, most considerate young men experience collapses in judgment that were epic–absolutely breathtaking in scope. Try to maintain some perspective when this happens.

and then send him over the falls?:stuck_out_tongue:

PVGood luck with the boy keep him close in heart and mind, you’ll continue to know who he is and what he needs from you.

I am trying not to hover over my 13 young lady, and to let her figure out consequences to her actions. This term she failed to retake a test(man did i harp about this but still she kept forgetting), and saw her A drop to a C+. So on her own she hustles in late assignments, actually studies and followsup with her teacher about extra credit (granted I made her email the teach and copy me). I wont’ be doing so much of that next year in HS. I let a certain amount of attitude go by, but no dissing on the P’s please and when it’s possible be civil to your sibling.

It’s funny but I can hardly remember what it was like to be a teenager. I remember hating stupid questions to which there were obvious answers, being second guessed and privacy was rule #1.

One thing I never do is give a preteen or teen a "timeout"warning, and the ol’ 1,2, 3 threat. This blows my mind when I hear it directed to an older kid, jsut seems so, so infantile.

It’s helpful, for both boys and girls, to have this be something that doesn’t require, or even prevents, eye contact. Riding together in the car would be an example. It’s easier to talk to your parents about some things if you don’t have to look them in the eye while you do.

You have to be a bit careful about this: when kids feel trapped, they get defensive. But I agree that eye contact can make them clam up.