See When Your Son Really Wants a Father or Just a Good Friend

This is a guest post from Tyler Jacobson. Tyler is a freelance writer, with past experience in content writing and outreach for parent and teen advocate organizations. His areas of focus include: parenting, education, social media, addiction, and issues facing teenagers today. You can connect with Tyler on Twitter or LinkedIn. If you want to guest post on my blog, check out my guest post guidelines and submit your post.

See When Your Son Really Wants A Father Or Just A Good Friend - JackieBledsoe.com

When parents welcome their bundle of joy and begin the journey of a lifetime, they might not realize how their roles will change as the years progress. They start out loving and serving their child and tending to all of their needs.

They need to care for their child physically as well as emotionally. As the child matures, both mothers and fathers might begin to transfer those emotions to their teen boy and develop an unhealthy dependence on him. However, he is not equipped to take on that role.

A father needs to set boundaries with his child so that the child knows his relational limits. While children naturally test these boundaries, they feel safe when the parent sticks to them. A father should provide emotional support for his teen boy, but the father should have his own need for adult connection met through other sources.

Teaching Respect for Authority Figures

A son needs to be able to respectfully share his thoughts and opinions with his father. However, he should not have to be the one making important decisions at this time in his life. Parents make decisions for the best interests of the entire family which helps teach children one of the roles of an authority figure.

Teen boys are notorious for challenging and questioning authority. A father can do much to help his son develop the right attitude that will serve him throughout the rest of his life. Conversely, a father can provide a bad example that hurts his son, resulting in poor decisions. For example, if his teen boy receives a speeding ticket for driving five miles per hour over the limit, the father can agree with the son’s complaining about the mean law enforcement officer and the unfairness of the laws, joining in the son’s frustration and making the problem worse. On the other hand, he can model a correct response to authority by empathizing with his son’s frustration as he explains that the laws are in place for a reason.

Making Your Teen Boy Your Buddy

Fathers sometimes look at their sons as a buddy or confidante. However, children were not designed to fill that role. Parents should care for the physical needs of their teen son, such as providing financially, offering transportation, taking care of meal planning, encouragement in school, and giving advice and encouragement. However, just because a father provides these for his child does not mean that his teen boy can reciprocate. The father might have the best of intentions, but the child isn’t prepared emotionally or intellectually to fill that role. Instead, he should look for another confidante to meet those needs and maintain the proper boundaries with his son.

Appropriate Levels of Disclosure

How much information is too much? That can depend on the situation, but teen boys should not be burdened with information that is not their responsibility or that is too much for them to bear. For example, they should not worry about paying rent or household bills. However, they can understand the need for a budget and a money-management plan, which might eliminate luxuries at this time.

Specific Ways Fathers Can Parent Teen Boys

One of the definitions of friendship is people who have similar perspectives about life. Your teen boy views life much differently than you do as his father. He has different ideas about what to do for fun, what the future looks like, his goals, and much more. You can parent your teen boy and guide him toward maturity as you find confidantes in other places.

Your teen son is developing independence as he moves toward maturity. He will keep some matters private, which is part of growing into an adult. Parents can act responsibly toward their child by setting boundaries in the following areas:

  • Encouraging them to do their homework
  • Not accepting failure
  • Not letting them act disrespectfully at school
  • Letting them face natural consequences, such as summer school for failing classes or loss of driving privileges after a traffic ticket

Divorce, Single Fathers, and Teen Sons

Single fathers might especially be tempted to fall into the role of becoming their son’s best friend. No matter the circumstances surrounding the divorce, all parties are usually dealing with a lot of emotional upheaval. The child is stuck in a difficult spot. The father might be inappropriately pointing out negative qualities or behaviors about the mother, and vice versa. However, the son isn’t emotionally equipped to handle these disclosures and will suffer as a result.

Question: What helpful boundaries have you set in your relationship with your son? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

photo credit: Father & Son via photopin (license)

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Tyler, excellent post! Also, thanks for sharing it Jackie.

    I have seen it time and time again, in both father/son, and mother/daughter relationships. When they make their child their buddy or their best friend at an early age, they eventually experience major disappointments in their relationships. We’re not called to be our children’s best friend – we’re called to be their parents. A level of friendship develops as time goes on. The amount of certain type of information will then be shared at a time when they can handle it.

    I am now experiencing that with my own son who’s soon to be 20. I have been able to share with him certain pieces of information that he never knew (and sometimes even wondered) that will now help him in dealing with others – including his own future sons.

    Similarly, my wife has established a great kind of “friendship” relationship with our 24 year old daughter. They are both learning the basics and the the much needed, behind the scenes parenting and leadership skills.

    May I add one more?

    Along with your first point, Tyler, I have made it point to support my wife by teaching my boys to respect and honor their mom. My wife has done the same thing with me. This has helped them immensely in also respecting other authority figures such as other moms and dads.

    Thanks again and sorry for the long post 🙂 A long winded preacher is at fault of also being a long winded or long writing commentator 🙂

    I will keep this post for future parenting counseling sessions.

    thanks,
    Alex