Mom, stop mothering!


It could have happened in any home in SA: a 12-year-old boy who a year ago was loving and kind is suddenly a defiant teenager. He and his mom start arguing and she manhandles him physically.

Then the boy, son of a kykNET presenter, went to the police and laid an assault charge against his mother.

She’s waiting to hear whether it will be pursued by prosecutors.

Whatever happened that day it’s likely many women who raise sons on their own will empathise with the woman.

Teenage boys will probably direct their growing self-assertion and autonomy at the perceived softer parent, their mother, says Cape Town parenting expert Megan de Beyer. And it’s more challenging if there isn’t an adult male at home to help with discipline.

‘‘An important thing for moms to realise is they need to be sure of themselves during this period. They must focus on their own fulfilment so they can lead by example. They must be confident enough not to become doormats yet stay connected to their sons.’’

The first step to a better relationship with your teen son is to stop mothering.

Moms need to give sons the space to make choices and should remember to praise good behaviour, De Beyer says.

‘‘Her role should shift from being a dictator to discussing and teaching or modelling good behaviour.’’

Durban psychologist Nasreen Malek adds, ‘‘Teens will push boundaries and when they see they can outwit their parents some tend to lose respect as they believe they know more than their parents do.

‘‘If discipline hasn’t been instilled from a young age and the only place a teen boy is getting information about how to treat women is from a society where violence against women is rife he may think it’s acceptable to rebel against his mom.’’

* Read the full article in the 2 December issue of YOU.

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