How To Homeschool Your Teenage Son (And Be Happy at the Same Time)

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:

  1. 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.”)
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!  😉
  7. 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.

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HHM co-owner and owner/writer at Homeschooling Blessings
Wendy lives in the South with her husband, Scott, and 3 children. She is a Christian, homeschooling, work-from-home mom. She is involved in her local church, is co-owner of the Hip Homeschool Moms website, and she teaches Training for Warriors classes at her local gym, Everwine Fitness. She and Scott were high school sweethearts and have been married for 25 years. Her oldest child, Hannah, is now age 20. She has autism, and Wendy began homeschooling her at age 2. Her son, Noah, is now age 19 and is the second homeschool graduate in the family. Her youngest child is Mary Grace, age 13, who is a social butterfly and ballerina. Wendy loves reading, eating gluten free, and working out.


  1. I’ve experienced this a couple of times in raising and homeschooling boys. It can be such a discouraging time for parents. You are so right about prayer and asking God to reveal things about ourselves that we’d probably rather nOt see! For a mom, it takes self control and discipline to spend time with a messy teenaged boy. Thanks for the reminder to just let them be themselves sometimes without having to hear nagging and correction. It is not easy to shift out of mom mode to listen but the payoff is always good. 🙂

  2. Wendy, your article hit the target this homeschooling mother of three teenage sons (one graduate and two to go.) I appreciate your transparency and excellent advice. I just made a shopping date with one of my sons who popped in as I was reading this. Thank you!

    • Oh, I’m so glad to hear that! It’s sometimes hard to post about topics like this one, but I think it’s important for other moms to know that it’s not always “fun.” There are usually many more good times than bad, though, and it’s absolutely worth it to work through those “bad” times when necessary. Thanks for your comment!

  3. This is a great, honest article. I really enjoyed it and am encouraged by your bravery to talk about the hard stuff.

    • Thank you, Christa! The truth is that I almost didn’t write this article. I know, though, that there are other moms out there who face the same issues I do, so I felt like it was important to share this information. Thanks so much for your comment! I appreciate the encouragement.

  4. This is pretty much exactly what I needed to read today. These first few days back at school after the holidays have been a real doozy with one of mine. We’ve just been butting heads like crazy. I’ve blown my top a few times and then he feels crappy and I hate myself. This stuff is not for the faint of heart. I have found myself just throwing up my hands and saying, “I might as well send you to school since you don’t care anyway!” His response is something like this, “I’ll care even less if I go to public school and I’ll get a crappy education!” ((sigh)) Sometimes I honestly can’t picture what caring even less would look like. Thanks for the good reminders and encouragement. I was literally praying for help and answers (through tears) last night.

    • Oh, Nancy, I’m so glad this post encouraged you! Homeschooling is definitely not for the faint of heart! I pray that things go well for you for the rest of the year.

  5. Hi there! I so needed to read this post today! My son is 17 and in his last year of homeschooling. Sometimes it seems like we have a huge disagreement every day. Sometimes I feel like it’s too hard for a mom to homeschool a teenage son. I could see my son saying the same things your son said-not because it’s true (as I’m sure it wasn’t in your situation either) but because that’s how he sees things from his limited perspective.

    It’s so hard when he walks around like a grouch and doesn’t have anything nice to say so much of the time. He’s not being mean-just kind of in the middle. Every time I try to talk to him about being nicer he just gets an attitude and makes exaggerated statements about how I expect him to act like a girl, smile all the time, etc. I don’t feel like that is the truth at all but he obviously does! I would just like him to exchange some niceties with the rest of the family and be pleasant to be around at least some of the time!

    I guess the answer is to just love him and not to try to change him. I mean, it doesn’t go well when I try to change my husband so why would I think that it’s going to go well when I try to change my son, who is well on his way toward manhood? I so need God’s help in this area because it is my nature to want to discuss problems and hash them out untill they are resolved. He just feels attacked when I try to discuss things with him though.

    It’s so hard that sometimes I think I’ll breathe a sigh of relief when he graduates this year. I know that I’ll cry as well but homeschooling will be so much easier and more peaceful without him having a bad attitude towards it.

    Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great kid. We’ve never had any real trouble out of him. He’s just very strong willed and opinionated and not easy to teach! If only dads could take over the homeschooling once boys hit the teenge years!

    • Melanie, I’m sorry that I never responded to your comment until now! Your school year must be almost over by now, and I hope it has been a good year. I agree that boys are definitely not like girls! My son sounds a lot like yours. We have 2 years to go, though! And I understand what you mean about him being a great kid but strong willed and opinionated! I think those traits will probably come in handy when he’s an adult and is taking care of his own family. 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

      • Hi Wendy! Thanks for responding to my comment.

        I had forgotten all about this blog post and comment. I reread my post and I must have been having a really bad day because it is so negative! I’m sorry about that.

        There have been many, many joys in homeschooling my son. I wouldn’t trade our homeschooling years for anything. I’m so thankful that the Lord led me to homeschool him long ago, when he was just a sweet, little 7 year old. There were many ups and downs throughout the years but the overall experience has been amazing. My son is turning into a wonderful young man. He’s a leader, a hard-worker and has a strong faith in God and he is very opinionated about what’s right and what’s wrong. He’s far from perfect, but I’m so proud of him.

        Yes, those same attributes that often drove me crazy are turning out to be some of his greatest strengths as well. We had many hard days but the great days far outnumber them! Homeschooling isn’t always fun and easy. Sometimes it’s just getting by through tears and hard work but the end result is so worth it!

        Sometimes, I’m glad to be done homeschooling my son. Other times, I wish we could start all over again. Where has the time gone? How did my sweet, little boy grow into a man so fast? If I had a few more years left to homeschool my son, I would do so many things differently. I would follow his interests more. I would major on the majors and not the minors. I would stop trying to force my opinions down his throat and give him room to form his own. I wouldn’t worry so much because, looking back, I can see that God worked all things out for his good.

        Thanks again for your wonderful post. It really encouraged me and gave me some great ideas. I wanted to update my post a bit and leave things on a more positive note.

        Praying that your last few years homeschooling your precious son will be the best yet!

  6. Hi I’m Marcus and my daughter and Grandson are in a very similar situation. My grandson and I are very close and he spends a great deal of time with me. It’s truly tuff on all of us with both of them not understanding or knowing each other that well. I know my daughter love her son very much and wants the very best for him. My grandson loves his mother but has misunderstood growing pains that have caused him to struggle in school and at home. My daughter e-mailed me your article because she recognized your information and experience could help our family. My daughter has also expressed an interest in home schooling my grandson. I also think that home schooling may be what’s best for him to get him back on track. But one other thing does cross my mind with home school is no social skills or interacting with other people his age or is interacting with other people his age the problem in the first place. I’m not sure what the correct moves are right not but I’m willing to try almost anything to get two of the people that I love best on track to a health mother and son loving relationship. Thank you for your review and information.

    • Hi Marcus! I have to apologize for just now seeing your comment that you made so long ago! Occasionally I miss one or two, though I try to be sure I don’t miss any. Yes, the teenage years can be trying! I’m glad your daughter was encouraged by my article, and I hope she knows that she’s definitely not alone!

      I’m going to include here in this comment a link to another article I wrote for a wife whose husband doesn’t support her desire to homeschool. The reason I’m including the info is that the article contains links to several other articles and websites where you and your daughter can get more info about homeschooling. It’s interesting to read your question about social skills and the possibility that interacting with kids his own age might be part of his problem instead of part of the solution. I think you could be right about that! It’s a shame that so many people think homeschoolers don’t have the chance to acquire proper social skills. You will see (if you look at the articles I referenced in the post that I’m linking to) that homeschoolers actually (at least the vast majority of homeschoolers) have much better social skills than kids who go to school. My children grew up knowing how to interact with everyone from newborn babies to other kids (of all ages–not just their own ages) to other homeschooling moms to grandparents. THAT is a kid who knows how to properly “socialize,” not a kid who is only comfortable with others his own age. There are so many homeschool support groups now as well as church activities, getting together with family, taking piano or tennis or some other kinds of lessons, etc. that provide lots of opportunities for socialization. I hope you will take a look at the article and then at some of the resources I mention. I really think you will get some information that you will find helpful!


      • I am glad you are willing to try, Marcus. I want to let you know we get that question lot. MY kids have learned to laugh and share that we socialize so much we have a hard time getting to actual school curriculum. We have a Co-op that meets 2 days a week (the second id for mostly older kids). We do everything from art to science. We even have multiple choirs and bands. The ages in class is 2-5 years split, depending on the subject. Enjoy looking at the resources and I hope you’ve started your homeschool journey!

  7. I came over from the high school link-up. Thank you SO much for sharing this. I am sure it was not easy to write such a piece and it is a real blessing. We are at the front-end of the teen years and I already see myself starting to make some of the mistakes you caution against. Thank you for the reminder and the tips. I have read other places about tween/teen boys having a “bad” year (or years) and almost resolved myself to the fact that it simply must be something we will pass through. Your insightful post (and your son’s honest response to you) is allowing me to see things in a whole new light. There are concrete things that I can do to make these difficult, hormonal years easier for my son- even if I have to step out of my comfort zone to make it possible. My relationship with my children is the crux of all that I do. Thank you for helping me see that I was starting to head down a destructive path and thank you for the wise words to aid my journey.

    • Tracey, I am so happy to have been an encouragement to you! I wish I had considered a few of these things several years ago when my son first entered the teenage years. I knew, though, that I needed to post on the topic (even though it was a difficult post to share) to let other moms of teenage boys know that they aren’t alone and that there is hope! The teenage years homeschooling our boys don’t have to be miserable, terrible years for our boys or for us as their moms/teachers. In fact, I have to go back and read my own advice now and then to keep myself on track! I pray that you and your son enjoy the rest of your homeschooling years and don’t settle for the idea that the teenage years have to be bad ones. Thanks so much for your comment!

  8. Thank you for sharing. Out of desperation, I Googled, “homeschooling teenage boys” and clicked on your post. I needed to read this. May God bless you!

    • Christine, I’m so glad you found my post, and I hope it encouraged you! We all go through difficult times with our children whether we homeschool or not. Please come back any time! You can also find the Hip Homeschool Moms Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hiphomeschoolmoms . There you can post questions if you’d like input from other moms and/or from the HHM team.

  9. I too have 3 teenage boys and each day at least one of them is miserable. I have homeschooled for 10 years and by far the 12-14 year olds can be crabby like you’ve never experienced. I really thank you for your advise and suggestions on how to work together and focus on what’s truly important – loving these boys and making them understand that they are smart, valued and loved. I googled the same as Christine – how did we all survive before!!

  10. Thanks so much for this article. I was on pinterest after searching for homeschool scheduling, and for some reason searched homeschooling teenagers. The truth is, I’ve been concerned about our 14 yo boy and his lack of enjoyment with school subjects and his general melancholy attitude. I know I need to cover him in prayer and also that he needs more affirmation from me. After reading your article, I think he shares the same feelings as your son- that I’m too critical and that I don’t like him or spend enough time with him, and that I spend too much time with his three younger sisters.
    I have noticed lately that when I watch Dr. Who with him or talk about his favorite topics, he’s much more cheerful. Now if I could get him to enjoy his sisters more, our homeschool days would certainly go better. More prayers going up!
    Thanks so much for bringing up the hard stuff and opening my eyes. I appreciate your openness. Tomorrow will be a new day with new opportunities to better our relationship!

    • Kristi, I’m so glad my article encouraged you! It wasn’t an easy post to share because it’s never any fun admitting my weaknesses and mistakes, but I felt like I should for the sake of other moms who are going through the same thing. It’s encouraging to me to hear from moms like you who were blessed by what I shared.

  11. I am a little flumoxed by seriously concerned’s comment. If I see parents and children acting politely, affectionate to one another and handling any social situation with grace I know they have been or are being homeschooled. Ever since my oldest daughter made the decision to homeschool her three I realise what a mistake I made by throwing my kids into the public school system. Now, all of my daughters homeschool. We learn from one another. It’s ok in our family to say “I don’t know, why don’t we find out” My Grands have taken me on a wild adventure that has included biology, history, the classics, on and on. One daddy teaches math, the other survival skills, aunts teach horse back riding, cooking, pyschology, Nana teaches sewing and accounting and Grandpa teaches electronics and engineering. What a wide range of subjects. The kids all decided they wanted to learn Spanish this summer and that’s what they’re doing. ON their own! Amazing what happens to young minds when there is NO question they cannot ask.

  12. Thank you for this honest and encouraging post. I’ve been struggling with my teenage daughter because I get this feeling that she resents being homeschooled all throughout high school. We enjoyed homeschooling during her elementary grade levels, but it has become much harder in her teenage years. She is a very social person and I think she misses being around her friends more often.

    When I ask her what is wrong or how we can improve things, she doesn’t say anything. After reading this, I’m beginning to think that maybe we also need to repair our relationship as mother and daughter. And when our relationship gets better, hopefully the homeschooling will follow.

    • I’m so glad this post was helpful to you! And thank you for your comment! It is encouraging to us, too, when we know what we’ve written has helped someone.

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