You Love Your Teenage Boy, But Do You Like Him?
My son can be very annoying. When I’m trying to relax on the couch, he plops himself right next to me and digs his knee into my rib cage. When he’s excited or anxious he’ll whistle so loud my ears hurt. Although he’s very intelligent, he thinks he’s an expert on the economy, politics and well everything! I hate to admit it, but my son can grate on me at times. I love him more than anything, but I don’t always like him. I feel guilty about this. As a mental health professional, I know it’s important for people to feel that they are not only loved, but liked.
Why It’s Hard to Like Our Teenagers
Adolescence is a bridge out of childhood and into adulthood. When our boys were children, it was easier for us to have shared experiences that were mutually enjoyable. Taking our boys to the park or the zoo were exciting adventures where both parents and child delighted in each other’s company. Watching a Disney movie or sharing an ice cream cone were simple but meaningful ways we connected and experienced liking our little guys.
Our teenage boys are in a state of growth and transformation. The adolescent years are characterized by separation, experimentation and opposition. All three of these annoy us and even scare us as parents. We feel slighted when our teenage boy chooses to hang out with his friends instead of hanging during family nights. We are irritated when he listens to his girlfriend’s advice instead of following our direction (separation). We cringe at our guy’s taste in music or clothing style. We worry about the consequences of his sexual activities (experimentation). We get upset when he is blatantly defiant or disrespectful (opposition). It seems our guys are either tuning us out or explicitly rejecting us.
We love our teenage boys with all our heart, soul and strength. But given the separation, experimentation, and opposition of our teenagers, it’s no surprise we all have a hard time liking them from time to time.
Why It’s Crucial Our Teenage Boys Feel Liked
Love provides our teenage boys a foundation of trust and belonging. When our guys are truly loved, they will carry this sense of safety and commitment into their adulthood and future relationships. Feeling liked is about approval. Whether or not our guys feel liked has an impact on their self-esteem. If we don’t like them very much they will have a hard time liking themselves.
Many teenage boys struggle liking themselves for two reasons. First, it is difficult to transition out of childhood. In childhood, young boys have many objects and activities that bring them enjoyment and satisfaction. Whether it’s Pokémon cards or make believe games with friends, boys have an easy time enjoying themselves and this results in a positive sense of self. The transition out of childhood and into adolescence results in a loss of interest in many of the things that once brought our boys joy and excitement. It takes a while to replace these supports and during this process many teenage boys experience boredom and depression. This experience can result in a state of strong self-dislike.
The second reason teenage boys struggle to like themselves is their struggle with puberty. When teenage guys enter puberty, they undergo physical changes and experience a heightened social self-consciousness. These two new realities, sexual awakening and increased social pressure, can result in feelings of self-dislike and rejection. Two common statements during this season from our teenage boys include, “I don’t like the way I look”and “I am not sure anyone really likes me”.
Given our teen boy’s difficult situation, it is crucial that we take the time to not simply love them but to express how much we like them. In addition to establishing a foundation of trust and unconditional acceptance, letting our boys know that we like them will help them feel approved, validated and valued.
4 Things You Can Do To Show Your Teenage Son You Like Him
Since your son is likely insecure about his changing body and social standing, point out things that you like about him in regards to these areas. Tell your son that he is becoming a handsome guy. Highlight how funny or creative he is.
Celebrate their Differences
Guys struggle to fit into their social group. It is easy for them to interpret their quirks and differences as negatives or deficiencies. Point out how differences are what make people unique and interesting.
Show Interest in What They Enjoy
Watch the latest Netflix show with your guy. Sit down and listen to a few songs from his favorite artist. Watch him play Call of Duty. Even if you have a hard time appreciating what they are into, having curiosity about their passions will communicate that you value their individuality.
Share The Mic
Parents like to talk and often expect teenage boys to simply listen. There is a time and a place for that. But it is also important to share the mic. Sharing the mic means that you encourage your teen to express his thoughts, feelings and beliefs- even if you don’t agree with them. Giving them an opportunity to express themselves (without judgment) will help strengthen their self-esteem.
Counseling Can Help
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help teenage boys increase their self-esteem. The main focus of using CBT is to help identify and address the distorted thoughts that are resulting in a negative self-image. During CBT your therapist will help you set treatment goals and teach you new ways to think about the things that are causing you to feel bad about yourself. Then they will teach you new behavioral skills to help you cope with these feelings in a more productive way. The therapists at the Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch are trained in working with teenage boys and the mental health issues that may arise for this population.
Don’t just love your teenage son. Show that you like him! Many teen guys find relief and build coping skills that can last a lifetime when they seek out professional help. Please do not hesitate to reach out today and call for help!
Other Counseling Services: Other Services at the Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch
Our counseling services at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch include counseling for children and adolescents dealing with depression, self-injury, and school issues. We also provide services for family therapy, counseling for young adults, trauma counseling, anxiety treatment, couples counseling, eating disorder treatment, and group counseling. Our therapists strive to regularly post blogs with helpful information on a variety of mental health topics. To learn more about our therapists and our counseling services, please reach out to the Center today!