I’m sure there are some blessed homeschooling moms out there who homeschool their teenage sons and love it! I’m sure there are some of you who have teenage sons who enjoy doing their school work. They want to do a good job. They hope to please you. They keep up with assignments and papers and maybe even their books and materials all on their own. Then, there are the rest of who homeschool our teenage sons who don’t do all those things!
I must stop here and say that I was (kind of) kidding about the title of my post. I do (usually) enjoy homeschooling my teenage son. I must admit, though, that there were a couple of years that I really didn’t enjoy it much, and he didn’t either. In fact, we were both so unhappy homeschooling from the time he was about 12 until maybe about age 14 (he’s 15 1/2 now) that I considered making him go to school somewhere even though he didn’t want to. He knows that because he homeschools he gets more free time, learns more, has a more flexible schedule, can sleep later, and gets other benefits as well. So why wasn’t he doing his work and allowing us both to enjoy him being homeschooled? Well, I’ll tell you.
I talked to him about why he was so miserable and (I’m being honest here!) why he was making me so miserable. I didn’t much like the answer. It turns out he felt like I didn’t like him. He felt like I was always criticizing him. He felt like I didn’t want to be around him. I think he really felt like I didn’t even love him. So what on earth is a mom to do in a situation like that? I’ll tell you some of the things I did to try to repair our relationship and help things go better.
It took several months, but he gradually began to realize that I did (and do) love him, like him, and want the best for him. Of course he still occasionally has a “stubborn day” or a day when he’s less than cooperative. Our relationship, though, is so very much better! He likes to spend time with me, and I like to spend time with him. He enjoys going places with me, talking to me, and homeschooling. He’s still disorganized and often doesn’t keep up with his work unless I watch out for him, but it’s not out of rebellion. (I’m in the process of trying to teach him to keep up with his work better and to keep a calendar, etc.) Here are some of the changes I made:
- Strangely enough, I had to start by changing my attitude toward my son. I had to choose to see the good in him instead of the bad or the things that bothered me. I had to force myself to look for times when he was kind or obedient or did something good, and I purposely complimented him without adding a “but” to it. (You know. “Thanks so much for cleaning your room, but you didn’t make up your bed.”)
- I made a point to compliment him to his sisters or to his dad in front of him. These were honest compliments, though! In order for him to know I was being sincere, the compliments needed to be honest and deserved. At first, this wasn’t easy. The more he earned honest compliments, though, the more he wanted to earn more, so it got easier!
- I made opportunities to spend time with him without his sisters. I made sure to spend a few minutes in his room in the mornings when I woke him up and/or at night when I could talk to him without being interrupted. I talked to him about things he wanted to talk about, like video games, books he was reading, church activities, etc. I didn’t use this time to tell him what to do or correct him for misbehaving or anything else other than just-for-fun chatting.
- As he began to “come around,” I asked him to do small jobs around the house to help him see that he really was needed and wanted in this house. I asked him to unload the 50 lb. bag of wild bird seed from the van because it was too heavy for me. I asked him to get things for me from the top shelf since I couldn’t reach it. I didn’t make up little tasks for him to do like I might have done when he was very young. Instead, I asked him to do things that really needed to be done and that were an honest help to me. Because I waited to start asking him to do these things until our relationship was on its way to being repaired, he never complained about doing these things for me. Then I was able to honestly share my gratitude for his help. He knew I really did need him, and that allowed him to feel useful and important–because he was.
- I started taking him places just with me. Even if I was just going on a quick run to the grocery store or the gas station, I started asking him if he wanted to ride with me. He began to see that I enjoyed his company and wanted him around.
- I made a point to tell him that I love him and to give him a hug and kiss each morning and each night before bed. At first he was a little resistant, so I didn’t push him. As he learned that I really meant it, though, be began to remind me if I forgot his hug and kiss! He still makes sure he gets his hug and kiss every morning and evening, but he might not admit it if you ask him!
- I tried to be careful to point out behaviors that needed to be changed in a more positive way instead of a way that made him feel personally attacked. Instead of saying, “You were really rude to your sister just then. Next time I want you to be nice!” I might say, “Please speak nicely to your sister.” I tried to point out the behavior that needed to be changed and not make it sound like he himself was bad.
I pray that these tips are helpful to you if you have a son (or daughter) with whom you don’t have a positive relationship! In my list, I didn’t mention the need for sincere prayer, but that is actually the #1 action you need to take. I asked God to show me, whether I liked it or not, what I needed to do to improve my relationship with my son. And He did! And I didn’t like it! I can tell you, though, that a “bad” relationship can be improved. Don’t give up! Keep praying and keep in mind the tips above along with whatever else God shows you. It’s worth it!
NOTE: The above photos are from www.freedigitalphotos.net.