MomZette

The Seven Secrets of Raising Healthy Boys

Among other things, they love being outdoors — and need that vivid sense of adventure and freedom

I’ve watched parents raise children for 30 years, and raised four of my own, so I know how challenging it can be.

Here, I share some information about raising boys that I hope will be helpful for other parents who may have questions or issues on this topic.

1.) Know how to encourage your son. One fault is babying and spoiling him. But another is being so harsh that you lose communication with your son and destroy his sense of self-worth. You always need to strike the right balance.

2.) Understand what your boys need. Guess what? It’s not another computer game; it’s you. Make the most of your time with your son.

3.) Recognize that boys were made for the outdoors. Boys love being outside. A healthy boy needs that sense of adventure — and the reality check that the outdoors gives him.

4.) Remember that boys need rules. Boys instinctively have a boy code. If you ­don’t set rules, however, they feel lost.

5.) Acknowledge that virtue is not just for girls. Boys should, indeed, be boys — but boys who drink, take drugs, and have sex outside of marriage ­aren’t “normal” teenagers. They have been abnormally socialized by our unfortunately toxic culture.

Related: How to Connect with Your Teen, Whether You Want to or Not

Today, my practice as a pediatrician has to deal with an epidemic of serious, even life-threatening, problems — physical and psychological — that were of comparatively minor concern only 40 years ago.

A healthy boy strives after virtues like integrity and self-control. In fact, it is virtues like these that make a boy’s transition to manhood possible. They are necessary virtues — and he needs your help to acquire them.

6.) Learn how to teach your son about the big questions in life. Many parents shy away from this, whether because they are uncomfortable with these questions themselves, they want to dismiss them as unimportant or even pernicious, or they ­don’t want to “impose their views” on their children.

Related: Why Sons Need Their Mothers So Much

But whatever one’s personal view, your son wants to know — and needs to know — why he’s here, what his purpose in life is, why he is important. Boys who ­don’t have a well-grounded understanding of these big questions are the most vulnerable to being led astray into self-destructive behaviors.

7.) Remember, always, that the most important person in your son’s life is you. Being a parent can often seem a daunting task. But I’m here to tell you that almost every parent has what it takes to raise healthy sons.

You have the intuition, the heart, and, yes, the responsibility to change the life of your son for the better.

Dr. Meg Meeker has practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine for more than 30 years. She is the author of the best-selling book “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters,” as well as a number of digital parenting resources and online courses, including The 12 Principles of Raising Great Kids.