He’s afraid his son might get into the wrong crowd.

March 11, 2014

Dear Wayne,

My 13 year-old son has me concerned. He’s a shy kid, but lately he’s beginning to act out by neglecting his schoolwork and even lying to me about it. And trying to get him to talk is like pulling teeth. He’s a great kid. But I worry that this mood portends possible problems as he goes through puberty and possibly gets introduced to the wrong crowd. Any advice?


Worried Dad


Dear Worried,

Relax, everything’s probably fine. We know your son has a father who’s paying attention. That’s a very good start. When I was 13, I didn’t have a father around to care for me. I remember hating everyone and everything. My poor mother! It was a tough time for a 13 year-old then, and it’s a tough time for a lot of boys now.

As a dad, you should know it’s unrealistic to believe that you can solve all of your son’s problems, or teach him the myriad lessons he’ll need to learn to become a good man. In fact, back in the day, boys used to learn about the ways of the world—and of manhood—by spending time with uncles, cousins, grandfathers and other men from the community. These days, many of us are so isolated, we are, or we’ve come to believe we should be, the sole source of guidance for our boys. You need help.

Your son is in need of some counsel, but from some other man you trust, perhaps someone your son will have an easier time opening up to during this confusing time in his life. Maybe there’s a favorite uncle, a younger neighbor, or some other family friend.

Open up to the possibilities of what your son needs and how best to help him. To be the best dads we can be, we have to let go of our ego. And judging by your question, it sounds like you’re doing a great job, dad. Now teach him this important lesson of asking for help. When he sees you reaching out, he’ll grow up to be a man who won’t let his own ego get in the way of doing what’s best for his family. That’s the sort of legacy every man can be proud of.