Sunday, December 18, 2011

Understanding the Teenage Mind

"But MOM; you don't understand!"
What is your answer to that statement?
Working with so many young men over the years I have found that my answer to that statement can open or close the door to communication.
Even though I HAVE been a boy trying to become a man (something a mom has not) I have found it is very important not to reply: "I do understand what you are going through." The truth is NO WE CAN'T understand what another person is really going through. God made their mind and thoughts unique, they have had influences by outside factors I have not, they have goals and emotions different than my own.
So even though I may have had something similar; it is critical that I do not tell a young man "I understand," if I do I create a frustration that shuts down communication.
I have found it is better to reply, "No, I can't completely understand what you are going through, what are you going through?"
This OPENS the line of communication. And no matter what they talk about I need to keep quiet and listen to ALL of that young mans opinions and views on the world and his situation. If I take that time, after he has vented I can now respond directly to what he is thinking and he knows I have at least heard what he is feeling.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gay in schools

Some of you may have witnessed the news programs featured on bullying gay children in schools.
I have addressed bullying in earlier post that can be reviewed.
The issue is this unbelievable pressure on teenagers to determine their sexual orientation...
How do you protect your teenage son from this? I have dealt with it in a larger setting of multiple boys in group homes; and their emotional confusion which is addressed in an earlier post too. However; for today; what specifically needs to be addressed is this pressure from society on your son to label himself.
Make sure you talk to your child about our society pushing people into thinking they may "possibly" have the desire to act in a perverted sexual manner; having sex with other men - state it for what it is - not gay - it is men having sex with other men: I have found that if I state it plainly to a young man asking the question, his reaction resolves the issue.
That does not mean they bully anyone; or label one person worse than another. As in the earlier post; read the ENTIRE first chapter of Romans, it is very clear about sexual orientation but it also goes on to point the finger at the proud, boaster, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; as life styles that are unacceptable to God. So we all have to be aware that our thoughts and desires are not what is good and normal but something to be put under God's direction.
The main point is to TALK about it and discuss it even if your son is uncomfortable with it. If you don't - know for a fact our current society is going to.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Teenage Entitlement

Mom; I have to have that car, cell phone, sneakers, Levis.
in a day of 50% divorce and the need to try and keep your child "happy" with you, so they will not "leave"; we have entered a time of entitlement that has ripped apart a parents ability to guide and direct.
Love bought is not love that counts is it?
The one item you CAN give a teenager is love: We confuse that with giving things. Never forget the natural sin nature drives a teenager (or adult) to push for things - so a teenagers under developed mind, guided by other teenagers. will strive to push you to give them what they want. But is this really showing them love?
God's love through the Bible has always been firm. Merciful, caring, long suffering are the words He uses in Corinthians - who suffers by the way? It is the person doing the loving (God in this verse), so if we are firm and loving, then we will suffer, with our child saying mean things to us because we wouldn't give in and give them something.
Do you see how this applies to us in discipline, guidance and direction.
The teenager will react against you, pressure you, hurt your feelings; all examples of your long suffering; but if you truly love them they know it.
Love is measured in time, listening, caring about their problems - not giving them thier latest whim.
Hard to hold by I know...but important to hold by. Get that support group we encourage in BAM and prepare for long suffering through this season.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What to buy a teenage boy

Do you buy another video game?
We have to accept the fact that we have built a society of subdivisions that are not friendly to teenagers playing outside - so - how do we give them something to do at home without making it a video game?
This is a real problem.
Two suggestions - one is to give those gifts that encourage outdoor activities. The second is; if we have to give video games; we need to set rules and guidelines of how much that use is going to be.
Try for a balance.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Teenagers and Cell Phones

We had an interesting BAM program and discussion last weekend that brought up the urgency of dealing with teen boys and cell phone (texting) use.
800 minutes...that is what this seventeen year old was hitting in texting minutes. And the attitude was the cell phone was a right.
Where do we draw the line here?
Teenagers feed on each others thoughts and ideas (if we both agree than it must be right) in such a way that it can escalate and give them confidence to argue and fight with parents and feel supported by their friends they text just seconds afterwards.
Controlling that peer alliance is an important way to guide a teenager on the right track.
i.e. Teenager texts six friends who all say he is right and his parents are stupid - this empowers him to be more aggressive because he has peers backing him.
So controlling the phone is a major part of controlling the way he thinks and what influences are directing his thoughts.
I always have an extra hammer you can borrow…it may seem drastic but it could save your son from doing something that costs far more.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mom - I don't want to go to church

Another common question in our seminars is what to do when a teenage son state's he doesn't want to go to church anymore.

I think we need to start with looking at it from your son's point of view.

To begin with; we see too many examples of young men who went to church doing just as badly as those who never went into a church. So the real problem and question that needs to be answered is WHY they are going to church. If it's to please mom or out of duty...they are not going to listen and they are not going to get anything out of it. Just as God gave us free choice and does not force anyone to worship we have to give the young man free choice once he's reached a certain age. This was the bar mitzvah in the Jewish tradition. When a young man was declared able to make a choice of going to church or not. A great book that covers this is The Differance a Father Makes

So there are two points:
One - an age needs to be set when the young man can make his own choice.
Two - he needs to be going to church for the right reason; it is far more important to discuss the WHY of going to church vs the duty of going to church.

We really can not force morality or a relationship with God onto anyone; all we can do is guide and point out the consequences.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Getting Boys to Read

Boys at age eight on start to get interested in frogs, snakes, war movies and things that turn mom off.
So when mom goes to buy a book for her son that she thinks is good...well; now we know why boys don't read books.
Boys need books that are fast action, adventure and less emotion.
If you want them to read - you need to find books they will WANT to read.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


The news gave an interesting and sad statistic that the most frustrated people in our society are young men 18 to 24. They feel hopeless and unable to find a way to succeed in this economy.
If you watch the news; you know just how depressing and hopeless it sounds everyday. If your son is not already experiencing this; he probably will be soon. So what can we say or do to help them through this time?

When I'm working with boys and men in the detention facilities it is ten times as bad because they already have a bad mark on them and usually have poor educations and little to no support. My answer to them is to look back at history. To look at the depression or the Oklahoma dust bowl and how under the worse adversity; people found a way. Faith and God had a great deal to do with their ability to continue forward. The Bible is 3/4 history, why? Because we need to be reminded how God came through and how people survived tough times to be blessed later in their lives. This is where hope comes from. The reminder of what has happened in the past and how we can get through it.

My mother had been through the depression, World War and five sons; her first response to adversity was, "we will survive this too." That came from remembering how she had made it through to see better days. A teenager has never experienced that so they think it's the end of the world. Share and direct your son to stories and situations where people have come through tough times to help build their hope.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Winter things for boys to do...

We talk a lot about alternatives to video games and television and of course reading is an area we want to encourage for imagination and thinking. With that in mind I'm going to take a second to plug the Christian Action Adventures I sponsor for boys.
Two things; one is they can read the Boardunders series, answer the questions on the books and get a free Boardunders t-shirt.

second is encouraging them to try and write a Christian Action Adventure Book and I will publish it for them if they win the writing contest.
If you contact me at the web site I'll send the first book of either series for free and guarantee your son will read it...I feel that strongly that this is a ministry that is important.
David and Goliath was a Christian Action Adventure story and boys remember the message!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

MAN tasks

One of the casualties of the "sexist" movement was a boy's identification as a man. We are so scared to sound sexist that we work especially hard to not support or distinguish the role of manhood.
Let me caveat that with the fact I feel strongly that girls should be allowed and encouraged to be able to work and play sports without discrimination.
However on the other side of that; we have ignored that young boys take pride in doing a "man's" job.
Pumping Gas is a good example - of course the girl can do it. But watch a young boy run out and pump the gas for mom with his shoulders back in a sense of pride that he's "man" enough now to do it. That reaction and attitude is a healthy thing that boys need to feel good about them selves. Don't be afraid to encourage and support your son with "man" jobs even if they are not limited to men.
A example in the BAM program is asking a young boy to take out the trash but using the phrase, "let's see you use some of those man muscles and get that big load of trash to the curb son." He'll love that recognition and react to it in a positive way.
Don't be afraid to encourage your son to be a man.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My boy wants to be a girl

This has been a really rough subject of conversation in our BAM programs: half of the seminars we have done have had a mother come up with this as an issue.
It is really difficult to have any correct response without knowing the circumstances. If a boy has an older sister he admires - he may simply be seeing her as a roll model. Perhaps even a strong mother figure has had the same affect.
The age is a major factor; take out the hormones, as with young boys, and they may just be going through a phase of experimenting.
There is no "answer". The most important consideration is how the adult and siblings react. In this day and age of pro-homosexuality (which my stance is that I do not agree with) the first response from people often is the boy is a homosexual. The child is extremely impressionable about "who" they are. If everyone tells them they are a homosexual - then they will presume they must be. Even if they have no interest in sex with other men (I know that is a harsh statement but we play around with this subject with the word gay etc. and I believe we need to spell out the behavior for the truth of what it is).
So not over reacting or labeling is the most important "lack" of reaction to take.
The next issue brought up is; My boy thinks he's gay. Again - Your reaction is critical. Your ability to discuss what they are feeling and why they are making that statment is very important. Don't be afraid to let your son work through thoughts and feelings. Emotions often stem from circumstances and things that have happened to them; let them discuss and talk about their past to find out what is going on. If you can't; find a counselor that can. However I will warn that you need to have a very personal interview with a counselor and find out what their view is before allowing them to possibly manipulate your sons thoughts. Do not work with a counselor who will not share their opinions and personal beliefs.
I have had many 13 to 17 year old boys in the Detention Centers come to me stating they believe they are gay because they have these feelings about other boys in the center. The first thing I always do is state what my stance is and point out that other people have other opinions. Once that is understood I tell them they can listen to my view point and others and then should make their own decision. At which point you are free to give them your thoughts without having to be politically correct.
My stance is that I believe the Bible. We take time to read through Romans Chapter One - but I do not stop at vs 27 but continue through to vs 32 where we see people who are proud, full of envy, violent, boasters, even dis-obedient to parents and ask if these people feel this is something they want to they choose to do it? So the truth is we all have sinful thoughts and desires but it is what we CHOOSE to do with those thoughts.
They can consider that stance vs the stance of someone who states they can't help their behavior it is just who they are. You get the idea.
God gave us the choice - so it is not our duty to force a behavior but to make sure the boy understands what the choices are.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Who are your Sons friends?

There is a frightening statement made by a mother in the BAM DVD; "your son will grow up like the people they hang around."
You meet your sons friends but what do you really know about them?
You know they have a "front" up when they are around you (front: a facade of how they think you want them to behave). But what do they really say and do when you are not around.
A "front" can not be kept up forever - so the best way to find out more about them is to spend more time with them. Take them to the movies, take them to ball games, take your son and his friends to as many places where they will become so involved they will drop their front and you'll know their true behavior.
Now comes the tough part - what if this is a person you DO NOT want your son hanging with?
One tool to direct "who your son hangs with," is to be honest about the behavior you don't like. Then reward; with movies, ball games etc., your son and the friends you DO like.
I'm sure you are aware that as soon as you say you don't like one of your sons friends he will get extremely defensive and argumentative. Don't get into that argument; simply state you just wanted him to know. Then state you don't mind taking him to events with friends who do not have bad behaviors. Your son then has the choice; hang with the bad kid or have fun outings with the good kid. Kind of tough discipline but I have dealt with hundreds of boys who were misled by the bad kid. I'd rather be tough now in the small things than deal with the consequeces.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dealing with the Bully

Unfortunately bullies usually have a group around them that they are trying to impress. This group is often the real problem.
So how does your son deal with this as a a spectator...or even the bully?
Tough questions because none of us want to think of our son as someone able to bully or to provoke bullying. But it must happen because they are always there.

As a Victim; what tools can you suggest to your son? Consider giving them a series of "tools" and label them that way for your son.
1. Avoid: Try to avoid the situation
2. Redirect: Redirect the bullies attention to something else such as playing ball etc.
3. Encourage: Statements such as "be cool man" toward a bully or "man you're going to be tough in football this year" are statements building the self confidence that is making the bully try to prove himself.
Every situation is different but you have to start somewhere. Doing nothing keeps the bully on track which always escalates the situation.

As a Spectator : Teaching a principle early on that watching the crime is just as guilty as doing it could change our world. There are plenty of bully situations that we allow. Case in point is a very popular TV series NCIS where the "newby" is constantly insulted and degraded. This is bullying but the characters in the cast including the boss do nothing to stop it. Great situation to point out to your son and ask, "would you like me to allow people to do that to you everyday?" All the co-workers would have to do is simply say, "that is way un-cool, why do you bully him like that?" This is all your son is responsible to do as a spectator. Remember the bully wants to elevate themselves so if the behavior lowers them it starts to reverse.

As a Bully: In the above NCIS example the character doing the bullying would never consider himself a bully. This is how all bullies see themselves. So defining bullying with your son is very important.
The Bible narrows it down to "Do unto others as you would have them do to you." Pretty simple rule that could stop all bullying.

No matter what your thoughts on the subject need to discuss it with your son!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Boys relationships with girls

I think we have all discovered in our lives that relationships are a "learned" experience.
Who we trust and who we share our lives with often is learned by trials and  mistakes.
Boys start their relationships with the "girl race" as a cootie infested, doll playing alien - then they hit their teenage years and hormones drive them to want to know more about this alien they used to ignore.
This is a critical time for moms to tactfully share what the "girl race" is all about. What girls think, what they are looking for in a boy, the fact girls have much different emotions.
Now MOM has information they need - but no son wants to look at mom as a girl. So it needs to be done in subtle comments as we talk about in the BAM work book. You have the power to help direct and guide them toward a girl and can help them avoid pitfall mistakes.
My Grandmother had a great line she used on my cowboy uncles who would say (after several divorces), "why can't I find a gal like dear old mom." Her response was, "because dear old mom wasn't found on a bar stool."
VERY POWERFUL comment that stuck in my mind; as it was told years later to me; during my teenage years...
As I like to remind Moms in our discussion groups; remember that you are directing him toward your new daughter-in-law!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Boys and video games

Are video games dangerous for boys?

We need to start with WHY boys want to spend hours in front of video games.
Key word here is ACTION. They are wired and designed to be DOING something. Before video games they ran around the yards or fields playing make believe.
We have a culture that has created the enclosed subdivision where boys running around is frowned upon. So where do they get their ACTION FIX? Now it's in the TV screen.
Is that unhealthy? Anything and everything in excess is unhealthy. If the choice is between sitting and watching a TV show versus interaction that uses the mind...well at that point the video game is probably a better choice. BUT...we have to make the effort to find other ways to satisfy that ACTION FIX.
YMCA, Boys and Girls club, church groups and other programs are very inexpensive with a goal to try and find interactive interesting alternatives to the addiction from video games.
Find those alternatives and you'll be rewarded years later with a son who is more balanced in his ability to interact socially and be more healthy.

PS: Please share your thoughts - I personally stopped blogging when the interaction stopped happening on BAMMomTools. Recently several Moms asked me why and I stated that the interaction was what I was really looking for. I guess that is not necessarily how Blogs work but I really do want your thoughts.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Is wanting to watch violent movies normal in boys?

Boys and Violence -
I was in a college class room when a young mother came in crying because her four year old (who she had kept away from any violent movies, games, etc) turned the barbie doll she gave him into a gun and went bang-bang.
Why do boys seem to be so drawn to violence? If we are honest; this is not a new problem. Time proves it has been happening for as long as recorded history.
The need to understand the emotional drive to be strong and powerful is important in finding the answer. Violence is usually expressed as power over another person. Hollywood always justifies it with "getting" the bad guy - so it's okay. Is it though?
As BAM discusses; the problem is not the drive in the boy but how we direct that drive. The NEED to not feel helpless is important to acknowledge. Re-directing that from Hollywood's "kill the bad guy" to depending on God is a tough sell to a young boy. But if we do not direct a son at a young age and help them SEE the violence as something wrong...we will get the same outcome as we've seen through history.
Tools that have worked: When a person is killed in a TV show; make the Mom comment, "every person killed has a mother that will miss him."
The objective is to help your son see every person as something God created and not just a bad guy to be shot.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dealing with Failure

Failure is something we all have to deal with at some point in life.
Teenagers often are not given the tools to cope with failure - in fact often they feel parents are disappointed in them and are afraid to even admit to bad grades or other losses in sports.
So what can you say to help them deal with a loss?

Cliche' terms can make your son feel like you are belittling the loss.

It is important to affirm that the loss feels bad - at that point of truth the focus can be directed toward the fact that everyone has to loose at some point - what is important is what a person does after the failure - if they will get back up and try again.

Do you have a plan for helping your son through his next attempt in life?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Feeling Understood - a son's thoughts

   "Mom just doesn't understand!"
It's a common complaint I hear from boys - but what is their definition of "being understood?"

Let's start with your own emotions - how would you feel if someone had power over what you could and could not do - and didn't understand what was happening in your life? You'd feel frustrated, depressed, angry; have you seen any of those characteristic in your son?

Understanding that a person IS going through difficult times does not mean we have to understand WHAT those difficulties are. In other words; just knowing someone has compassion concerning what we are experiencing is tough and acknowledging it - shows compassion for what we are going through. I can tell someone with a broken leg, "man, that really stinks to not be able to walk for a week." Shows compassion - even if I've never had a broken leg.

I find boys really respond to a simple statement that; "it's really tough to deal with teachers or school or girl friends"; but NOT saying, "I understand" which is implying I have gone through what they are going through; None of us have ever gone through the exact circumstances another person is experiencing and especially a mother talking to a teenage son. But saying it must be tough and even though you've never experienced it; you know it must be rough is something they will hear. If you try this approach you will see a look of appreciation in their eyes.

Remember the BAM program - THEY HEARD YOU - your son will probably not respond "oh, thank you mom". But they did hear you and do appreciate the fact you are trying to "understand" the toughness of this period of time in their lives.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


   Moms disciplining a son can be emotionally tough.
Keep in mind your child KNOWS this and often takes advantage of it.
How do you balance loving with being tough? One important element is to not let the situation get so out of control that you are disciplining from a state of emotion. This means reacting with a punishment before your child gets the "power" to push your buttons.
Then you are disciplining from a logical - thought through - stance which will keep the emotion out of it and help you to stay in control.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

BAM at Eagle Nazarene Church Wed 7pm

BAM presentation at Eagle Nazarene Church Wednesday at 7pm
Come join us for a free program and a discussion group afterwards


  To a mom being feminine is a wonderful thing; but should a mom raise her son to be feminine like she is?
Children mimic and copy what they hear and see parents do. So it is not surprising that divorce has created a generation of men who are insecure about being masculine.
What is "being masculine"? What is the positive roll model of masculine? The words mom used on the BAM DVD are: protective, self sacrificing, responsible, provider.

Finding male mentors that represent that roll model is a mom's key job in helping her son become a masculine man. Pointing out examples of men who represent those characteristics to her son can help him see what you are encouraging him to become. Have you, as a mom, ever taken the time to consider what masculine characteristics you would like to see in your boy when he grows into a man? Like everything, a boy does not automatically become a man, he grows into that position. If he's not encouraged to grow into a man, what motivation is there for him to work at building that character? When I develop discussion groups on "helping your boy become a man", there is a lot of negative emotion from women ranging from anger to disgust. The John Wayne image Hollywood portrays, is not the "man", we are talking about. Let's list a few key words: .
1. Responsibility 2. Truthfulness 3. Accountability .
Much of the anger from women in these groups, is because a male who calls himself a man, just because he's over 21, has not demonstrated any of these characteristics. These have to be taught. But a man sees this a lot differently than a woman as we discuss in the BAM work book. There is also a rebellion when the woman wants responsibility from the male as a means of getting what she wants. If you are teaching it to manipulate your son to become a person who suits your feminine ideals, he will see through that and rebel. So often the boy who is acting out is rebelling from the WAY the woman is trying to teach him how to full-fill these three key words. These three key words should be about every day life, school, how they treat friends, how they play games. .
The phrase "be a man" or "man-up", are used by fathers to often point out this behavior, such as; not taking out the trash as accountability, uses the male ego as to "who" they are, and how they should act, to demonstrate that they are "a man". So as a mother, it is important to guide and direct a son using terms and conditions that indicate that being masculine is being responsible, telling the truth and doing what they said they were going to do. .
A boy has an inherent desire to be a man just as a girl as an inherent desire to be a woman. But if a woman is the only roll model, angrily states, "men are pigs", because a male let her down, the boy becomes embarrassed at his inherent desire to become a man. The damage is extremely hard to repair in the male psyche. If your father told you as a little girl that woman are pigs...what would that have done to your desire to become a woman? The end result is a boy wanting to mimic the roll model he sees, that mom does not consider "bad". .
I have worked in juvenile detention centers with boys dealing with this issue. And although it is not popular in modern culture, there is a man in the Bible who was a clear example of masculine, and responsible, by the name of Jesus Christ. This is the roll model I point to. Courage, strength, masculine, kind and caring, but in all ways a man.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Back to School

  The Mystery Time
School becomes a vacuum our children disappear into and a mystery as to what is happening to them in that extreme social environment.
They come home from school, slam the door, we ask them how their day went and they mumble, "fine".
What is really happening for over half their day. This is where most of the problems in a teenagers life happen but we you have no way of knowing what that is.
How do we help them?
Instead of asking questions (which they don't want to answer); talk about situational stories. Jesus always used a story about someone else to break down the barriers.
An example would be to discuss a news story. Something dramatic such as the sad shooting we had last week at a school. Talk about the story. Sometimes your teenager will chime in with comments themselves. Or you may use the opportunity to ask if a students ever made a comment they heard.
Trust that you will NOT react is critical if you want them to open up. The less you react the more they open up.