11 ways to love your 11 year old boy…

April 28, 2011

inspired by this.

We are hitting a new development frontier over here, and as we all feel so wobbly on multiple levels, I have been keeping a little list in the back of my mind on what I am discovering along the way (i.e. mistake making turned learning lesson). So here’s to every parent of a tween boy:

1. Laugh at the fart goodness. I know we have been discouraging all potty humor since the high holy days of preschool, but the truth is, farts are funny. There is something to be said for the amazing skill of burping the alphabet, whoopie cushions and mastering the art of the under arm fake fart sound. Don’t worry, you can still hold court at the dinner table, but get down and farty with your boy every now and then.

2. Hang out in his room. While you are still a couple years away from the lines of total sacred privacy being drawn, go hang out in his room with him with no real agenda. Lay down on his bed and bounce a ball off the wall, sort through comic books and don’t even try to pick up any laundry. Being together in his space may give you new insight into the things he cares about and the ways he might want to connect.

3. Listen, listen, oh, and listen (i.e. stop talking). Whenever I see that angsty, moody look on a growing boy’s face, I just want to pepper him with questions, playing emotional detective till I solve the adolescent case. Usually just one or two questions and a lot more listening do the trick. Your boy will find his words given the chance (without rescue) and is hopefully building the ability to communicate what he thinks and feels for the future.

4. Hey there Mr. DJ! While I would happily stay on the Regina Spektor Pandora station from now until the end of time, my boy is making Grooveshark playlists with everything from Queen to Cee Lo Green. Power music? Nobody understands? No worries, everybody needs the soundtrack of their life playing no matter what stage you are in. Remember my emo phase? Oh wait, still in that one.

5. Bring on the brag. Does he want every adult in the room to know he rocked the landing at the bmx track or just unlocked a secret character on Mario Kart? Let him share, add some details yourself, let him try on being seen and sharing his power in new ways. Chances are some dude in the crowd has been dying to talk about video games since he was 11. Atari, Nintendo 64 anyone?

6. Play just to play. Even though he has baseball twice a week or Robotics class every Monday, go out and throw a ball, program a lego creation, with no performance required. In all his efforts to achieve, make the winning basket, or score the highest grade in the class, he is probably happiest just playing HORSE or sitting on the floor with 57,000 legos.

7. Hold him tight. We instituted a new 15 minute a day hold/sort of hug each other ritual after a rough patch of trying to understand one another. I threw out the idea like spaghetti on a wall and surprisingly it totally stuck. So every morning I crawl up in the top bunk or he finds me, and we just sort of hold each other, no words required. In the midst of all this growing up stuff, I forgot how much we both needed this connection. Back rubs work too.

8. Break the rules. Now is the time for a burger or pizza run at 10pm, way past your bedtime with the windows down and music blaring. Night biking trip? Forget the showers, plan a boys adventure, watch a movie trilogy and never leave the couch. Experiences on the edge bond us to our boys and remind us as parents what it was like to be carefree.

9. Learn the lingo. Is Minecraft taking over your Mac? Have you Kinect-ed yet? Do you know every last football stat for Adrian Peterson? It’s okay, I have no idea either, but it is fun to start collecting the info that your boy is storing in his head and heart. You get mad parent points when you find the latest funny you tube video or even just really listen to all the minutia and can ask thoughtful questions. We all pretty much want that.

10. It’s all still in there. While the push pull of independence in every day life is tiring for every one but all of the boy and soon to be teen is jumbled up in there together. The need to question, cry, still be a kid, become your own self, fear, strength is all pretty rad. No boy, no person actually has to be just one, he can be all the things.

11. Be in it together. There is nothing like a new developmental stage to remind you of all your own old junk. It’s okay to be awkward, stumble through, just like your tween. Everybody is learning and growing, and he probably will respect your honesty when you tell him you are trying to figure it out too. The truth is, we all are walking through this life and it is almost always better together.

*thanks Kell for #2!

Please help this mother out, add to the list in the comments! What are the ways you are kind to your kids that really connect you?

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12 Responses to “11 ways to love your 11 year old boy…”

  1. anjobanjo22 Says:

    I love this post! And thank you for reminding me that my son is never going to be too old for some quality time. Our son is nine years old and I think the idea of hanging out in his rooms is fantastic. You’re right. It’s best to do it now while he let me. :)

    Our favorite thing to do is cook together. We both are lovers of food and there is nothing like trying a brand new recipe together to get us talking and laughing at the same time.

  2. Lydia Klinger Says:

    Thank you! My son just turned one on Monday, and this makes me so excited to see what the future brings. I’ll hold on to this wisdom for as long as I can… especially the part about holding on to HIM! :)

  3. Andi Says:

    Love this… applies to kids of all ages.
    One thing I’ll suggest as a #12 – Let him teach you something.

    It might be how to play a video game. It might be how to make those delightful fart sounds. It might even be how to spit with style. Kids get so used to us adults knowing how to do everything that it can be really empowering for them to realize there’s things they’re better at than we are. And, it helps open a dialogue to other things.

  4. Brenda Says:

    Funny as it may seem, these work for girls too. The farts happen in girly houses too…And, I’ve just started hanging out in my 11 and rooms too…I get the most insight! Also, the holding…I’ve figured out that we all have a quota that is definitely not being met each day. We can help each other out by connecting, holding, listening, laughing, and pointing out the good.

  5. Brenda Says:

    By the way…love this post! I’m passing it along to my bff who has 11 and 13 year old boys!

  6. Annie Fox Says:

    I love what you’ve written! You son is sooooooo lucky to have you as his mom. Great advice!

  7. Kelly Says:

    LOVE this POST!!!!!

  8. anne Says:

    so much wisdom in a woman so young…. :)

  9. Becky Says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I have a 12 yr old boy that I have been feeling disconnected too. Not sure how to reach out to him or stay connected to my first born baby boy. This post puts many things in perspective and will be a huge help. I’m going to try the hugging thing this week for sure!! We use to do it alot – need to get back to it. Thank you, its just what I needed to read this Mothers Day morning!

  10. Mary Ellen Says:

    Great post. I really like it. :)

  11. Summer Says:

    I find my relationship with my son changing the older he gets. Thanks for this post. I am definitely going to start doing these things. This is awesome.


  12. This is a great post, I really like the ideas you share about connecting and reconnecting with them. Our oldest son is 11 and I have been feeling disconnected, wondering if he knows how much I love him. I look forward to trying some of these :) Thank you!


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