Boys to Men: How Parents Can Help
Examining identity and masculinity at a pivotal time in boys’ development.
By Jay Greytok, head of middle school at The Haverford School
As our sons go through puberty, there is often little thinking happening regarding the decisions they make, the friends they keep, and the activities they undertake. This is a time where impulse and instinct go hand in hand, as our boys begin the process of learning to be adults. They want to be independent young men but struggle in their efforts to make their own plans, build healthy relationships, and respect the values and feelings of their friends.
Boys in middle school undergo the second greatest physiological and hormonal change in their lives next to birth. Typically, they are driven by peer relationships that change overnight as old alliances shift and new loyalties are formed, and some boys are at a loss to explain it.
Finding the center in this process is often challenging and emotional. Here are some things parents can do to help:
Provide structure and responsibility with appropriate positive and negative consequences. Our sons are seeking more responsibility, leadership, and independence.
Be neutral and non-judgmental, and when all else fails, ask for help from school leaders.
Model expectations and demonstrate consistency. Our sons will do what we do and say what we say. If we are consistent in our expectations, we will hear “that’s not fair” less and less.
Finally, as difficult as this age is, enjoy it. Keeping a sense of humor and perspective will help with the realization that this too shall pass. Middle school boys are awesome lumps of clay that need to be shaped and molded appropriately before they harden into their adult selves. If we, as parents, keep working with them versus against them, chances are we will have a masterpiece worthy of display when they emerge as young adults.
For more tips on raising boys and young men, visit haverford.org/bestforboys.
“Boys to Men: The Transition from Adolescents to Adults” was presented by Mr. Greytok as part of The Haverford School’s Best for Boys Speaker Series. Open to the public, these events engage the community on practices that help foster the social, emotional, and academic growth of boys.
Saturday, March 11, at 9 am: “The Boy Behind the Mask,” with Janet Heed, Upper School Counselor, and Dr. Michael Reichert, Consulting School Psychologist.
Boys tell us that they often wear masks to conceal their deepest emotions. This talk will examine the complexities of boys’ emotional development and discuss ways parents can help their sons claim more authentic and healthy lives. Join The Haverford School to gain prescriptive and concrete tips on how to raise an emotionally secure and healthy young man, discuss everyday scenarios your son is encountering in person and online, and develop tactics that will help you connect with your son.
Photographs courtesy of The Haverford School.