Help with a 12-year-old

Lately, our 12-year-old son has been having some issues in school and at home. Some of the issues include talking back and being disrespectful. He has also had some issues with not listening, not caring, and dishonesty.

We have tried a lot of different things with limited or no success to get him back on track.

We have tried taking everything electronic in the world away from him. Basically everything but the light switches and alarm clock in his room. We told him he wouldn’t be getting any of it back until we saw improvement. To my amazement, it was of very little help.

I had several individual ‘man-to-man’ talks with him, that I felt were productive, fall on deaf ears.

I even told him I’d spring for a new iPhone if he cleaned his act up. No dice.

One day, without giving it much thought at all, my wife came home with a book she bought and threw it at me on the couch. “A Guide to Four Battles Every Young Man Must Face—A Manual to Overcoming Life’s Common Distractions.”

So a little bit of background on my 12-year-old son. He is black and I am white. He has never known his ‘real’ father at all. He has an older sister, a younger brother (3) and a younger sister (20 months). He had always been the baby until I came into his life. It’s tough to gauge just how much any or all of those things have affected him.

I prelude with all that to say this…I decided after reading the summary on the back of the book that we’d both read a chapter by ourselves every night and then meet up in the office to discuss it. Just him and me.

Turns out this is the perfect kind of book to do this with. Each chapter is only 3-8 pages long and comes with its own questions and discussion topics at the end. It’s perfect. It has been going great so far. I tell him he can feel free to discuss anything and not worry about getting in trouble.

Some important things I have figured out: There are plenty of things in this book beneficial to BOTH of us. It’s a great way to bond and in the future we can do the same with any book. I’ll even let him choose the next one.

The most important thing I figured out: He really just needed some attention, and this turned out to be the perfect format to give it to him. He’s making me feel like a good father with every question he asks and it seems I’m making him feel like a worthwhile son at the same time. And…

His behavior has been steadily improving.