Have a Tween or Teen Son? Read This.

Posted May 3, 2024 by Prairie Wife -

“They” say having a tween or teen son, and raising them to be good men of strong moral character in today’s culture is harder than it ever was before.

I genuinely have no idea if this is true or not.

This is, after all, my first time doing this!

But, as a mom of three sons, one is currently 18, one is almost 14, and another is 11…I can tell you that raising sons is not for the faint of heart. And, as a mother to two daughters, I can tell you that boys are not easier or harder than girls.

They’re just different.

I decided to write a review of this book after several readers reached out to me about this review of a book that I found INCREDIBLY helpful about parenting tween and teen girls.

They wanted to know if I had a resource for boy moms, so here it is! I found this book after reaching out to the author of the book above and asking her what she recommended.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Before I share my thoughts about this book, I want to add that I had The Cowboy read it too, as well as the book about raising daughters. After all, we both needed to be prepared for hard and awkward conversations with the kids. Also, as with everything related to parenting, we needed to be on the same page.

Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Sons by 

I appreciate that this book clearly describes the behavior you may be seeing (like your son suddenly no longer talking to anyone) and provides scientific explanations for that behavior. I think we often make the mistake of thinking about hormone changes and the behavioral struggles that go with them occurring at the age of 13—or when our children are officially teenagers. The truth is that puberty often starts before that!

Natterson also shares scripts and suggestions about how to approach your son about various topics. Even if you don’t use them word for word, they definitely take some of the stress away from the hard conversation you WILL be having.

This book also covers topics like tech time, gaming, texting, and pornography.

As the mom and female parent, I always assumed that The Cowboy would know how to talk to our sons about “all the things” because he has gone through them himself! Just like I took most of the responsibility for talking to our daughter about the changes in her body and how to handle them.

When discussing some of the things I learned from this book with The Cowboy, I soon realized that he had no idea how to talk to our sons about many of the topics the book covered. As a kid, he had been told nothing and learned most of what he knew from “locker room talk” or simply figuring it out. Also, things like access to millions of free pornography videos and having to ask for consent from a girl you’re dating were never something to worry about when The Cowboy was a teenager…or ever for him…because we were married when he was 24, which was well before smartphones.

While he was admittedly reluctant to read this book (he actually chose to listen to it), he eventually agreed. Afterward, he told me that it had opened his eyes to many things he wasn’t aware of.

While nothing can make raising tweens and teens easy, “Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Sons” by Cara Natterson, MD, is an excellent and incredibly helpful resource!

Here’s what the publisher says:

What is my son doing behind his constantly closed door? What’s with his curt responses, impulsiveness, newfound obsession with gaming, and…that funky smell? As pediatrician and mother of two teenagers Cara Natterson explains, puberty starts in boys long before any visible signs appear, and that causes confusion about their changing temperaments for boys and parents alike. Often, they also grow quieter as they grow taller, which leads to less parent-child communication. But, as Natterson warns in Decoding Boys, we respect their increasing “need” for privacy, monosyllabic conversations, and alone time at their peril. Explaining how modern culture mixes badly with male adolescent biology, Natterson offers science, strategies, scripts, and tips for getting it right:

  • Recognizing the first signs of puberty and talking to our sons about the wide range of “normal” through the whole developmental process
  • Why teenagers make irrational decisions even though they look mature – and how to steer them toward better choices
  • Managing video game and screen time, including discussing the unrealistic and dangerous nature of pornography
  • Why boys need emotional and physical contact with parents – and how to give it in ways they’ll accept
  • How to prepare boys to resist both old and new social pressures – drugs, alcohol, vaping, and sexting
  • Teaching consent and sensitivity in the #MeToo culture

Decoding Boys is a powerful and validating lifeline, an audiobook that will help today’s parents keep their sons safe, healthy, and resilient, as well as ensure they will become emotionally secure young men.

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