Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 19, 1999
A helpful guide to raising teenage boys
Teenage Boys!: Surviving and Enjoying These Extraordinary Years., by William Beausay, Waterbook Press, 1998, 245 pages.
Review by DEAN SARNECKI
Special to the WCR
I have taught, coached and worked with teenagers for 17 years. To say that I understand girls would be an overstatement, but I have found that girls in junior high and high school are more open to discussion, more predictable and almost understandable compared with boys.
Boys are an enigma; just when I feel I understand them, they do something totally unexpected. Although I was a teenage boy at one time, I really struggle with how to enter into dialogue with boys, especially on the topic of faith.
The book Teenage Boys!: Surviving and Enjoying These Extraordinary Years attempts to explain the mindset of a teenage boy and provides a number of suggestions on how to raise, interact with and get to know these young men.
The author, Bill Beausay, a Christian author, clinical psychotherapist, and father of teenage boys, provides tools to improve your parenting style and to get to know teenage boys in a new light.
With wit, compassion, concern and wisdom, Beausay gives the reader advice and sample scenarios for those of us living and interacting with teenage boys. Beausay reminds us of the power that parents and others have to affect the teenagers in our lives.
He provides sample dialogues for working through problem areas. With sections entitled A Parenting Plan for Man-Making, Shaping the Inner Man at Home, Shaping a Man Ready for Life, and Shaping a Man's Soul, Beausay examines the big questions in life and how to discuss these with teenagers.
He describes many of his own experiences raising teenage boys and some of the effective solutions he found.
The book covers a variety of situations including discipline, sex, money, friends, family situations, and alcohol/drug use. The section I found most interesting was Shaping a Man's Soul.
Beausay believes modern society has eliminated the usual rites of passage that are common in all cultures and necessary for teenagers.
"Rites of passage are about helping your son become a man who feels that he can both belong and effectively take his place among men." Completing rites of passage can be God's hands at work, bringing the young man to a quiet confidence and strength that leads him to faith.
Beausay believes that we, as Christian parents, are afraid when our youth reject or question basic principles that the family or Church teaches.
This search for truth, for independent belief, is normal. It should not be feared but looked on as an opportunity for children to acquire a personal faith.
Proverbs 22:6 says that if you raise your children in faith, they will always come back to it. Beausay reminds parents that an individual must make their own choices about God, no matter how strongly the parents feel about it.
Another common reason for a young man's move away from the Church, states Beausay, is the fact that faith is difficult. Even Paul (1 Corinthians 2) said our faith in God will look crazy to non-believers.
In a society that prizes personal wealth, status and ambition, Christianity is difficult for young people, especially boys, to accept. Being Christian, turning the other cheek, sexual fidelity and putting oneself last will put your son outside mainstream society.
What can we do to encourage a young person's faith? Beausay provides a number of hints.
Starting at a young age, build a spiritual home base. Introduce children to a Church community. Provide a Christian household where prayer, ritual and symbols are regularly present. Show the joy found in the Gospel message. Any presentation of the Gospel that does not show happiness and peace is missing the point.
And most important, role model Jesus. You in most cases will be the greatest influence on this young man's life. Do whatever you can to provide proximity to Christ. It is through you that Christ comes alive to your children.
Teenage Boys! provides some interesting and helpful tips on living with teenage boys. Much of the information provided here will not necessarily change your parenting habits but may provide parents and caregivers with an opportunity to evaluate and reflect on how you are currently raising the young men in your life.
There are some interesting conversation starters that could be useful in talking to your son and some useful advice on how to deal with specific problems. The author uses the Bible frequently to provide reflections and examples of holy men and women who have raised teenagers themselves. Overall a worthwhile investment in you and your son's relationship.
(Dean Sarnecki teaches religious studies at Archbishop Jordan Catholic High School in Sherwood Park.)