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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Single mom + Son + Conversation about Girls=Awkward

January 27, 2012

Got this email today from a single mom who just discovered her teen son has been pressuring girls to “put out.” She felt unsure how to talk to him about it. Obviously she’s not the only single mom out there who can’t rely on a positive male role model to set a boy straight on what is and what is not OK when it comes to relationships. With her permission, I’m sharing her email and my response. Hopefully it will empower other moms to get proactive in educating their sons about empathy and respect.

Dear Annie,

I spied on my 13 year old son’s computer and found out he pressures girls for “second base.” If they don”t comply he dumps them.  His last girlfriend told people he dumped her because she would not put out.  I don’t know how to address this with him.  I am a single mom and am very upset that I have raised a boy that would do this to girls!  The worst thing is that some girls agree.  How should I talk to him about this?

Confused Single Mom

Dear Single Mom,

It’s a good thing you found out. Now that you know what’s been going on you can give your son a needed course correction.

Yes, it would be easier if Dad were in the picture, but since that doesn’t seem to be the case, the honors fall to you. You might say something like this, “You are old enough to have girlfriends, so I want to talk to you about boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. Don’t worry. This isn’t about about sex, so you can relax. This is about relationships, which, by the way, are a 2-WAY Street. If you want a good girlfriend, you have to be a good boyfriend. Tell me what you think it means to be a good boyfriend.”

Then close your mouth and LISTEN to what he has to say. I’m guessing he’s never thought about it. He may just shrug and say “I dunno.”

That’s when you say, “OK. I understand you may not know. After all, they don’t teach classes in this, though they should. But a guy needs to learn how to be a good boyfriend, so I’m going to tell you what I know from the girl’s point of view. No girl likes to be pressured into doing things she’s not ready for.  Guys who pressure girls to “do stuff” are being disrespectful. Good guys don’t do that. And good guys make good boyfriends. The kind of girls who make good girlfriends (the only kind worth falling for), are girls with self-respect. They will stand up for themselves. They will say “No, I’m not going to do that. And I don’t like it when you pressure me. So just stop.”

ASK: What do you think about a girl’s right to say ‘Stop pressuring me.”?

LISTEN for his answer.

Ultimately it’s your responsibility to teach your son how to treat people with respect. That includes friends, teachers, kids he may not particularly like, and girlfriends. He needs you to step up and teach him about respect and empathy (taking the other person’s point of view.)

Tell him you have some information that he’s been pressuring girls to do things they don’t want to do. Tell him, this is WRONG because it is DISRESPECTFUL. Say: “Maybe you didn’t know this before. But now that we’ve had this conversation, you know it’s wrong. From now on, I expect you to always treat the people you are with with respect. If I find out that isn’t the case, there will be a consequence. Do we understand each other?”

How’s that?

In friendship,

Hi Annie,
That is such a great reply. I really appreciate your response. There is so much teen dating advice on web for girls. It would be helpful if moms of boys took some proactive steps towards this problem too. I couldn’t find much. I am going to speak with him this weekend. Will let you know how it goes. God bless you.

(More confident) Single Mom

Happy to help. ;O)

An easy way to ease into one of these discussions is through my Teen Relationships Bill of Rights. Check it out and share it with your son and daughter.

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