Mamas: Here Are 10 Things Your Teen Son Quietly (and Desperately) Needs from You

Don't let his "offish" behavior fool you... your boy needs you far more than you know

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: Mamas, Here Are 10 Things Your Teen Son Quietly and Desperately Needs from You

Written By: Morgan Hill

While it may seem that your ever-growing big kid needs you less and less these days, you might surprised to learn that in many ways, the exact opposite is true. I mean, sure he might come off as being competent, confident, and capable, and in many areas of his life, he IS. But make no mistake about it, boys – regardless of their age – need their mamas.

Like many teenagers, your son might have trouble communicating what he wants or needs from you. But just know that you hold the power, just by being his mom, to tame these often vulnerable and emotionally fraught years.

While your son is openly desperate for a lot of things these days (a later curfew, more video gaming, and unlimited TikTok time, to start), he’s more quietly desperate for things only you, his mom, can provide. So mamas, here are 10 things your teen son needs from you. (As a mom of boys, this relates to my life, but these certainly could apply to girls, too!)

Mamas: Here Are 10 Things Your Teen Son Desperately Needs from You


Validation That He’s Getting More Right Than Wrong

There is so much in your son’s life he’s unsure of. Pile on the pressure he’s feeling to keep up with school, sports, and work, not to mention juggling friendships, romantic relationships, and family obligations, and he’s bound to feel (far more often than he admits) a lot of doubt and the feeling that he just can’t handle it all. But you, mama, can ease his worries and fears.

He needs to know you’re with him, that in your eyes he’s doing great, and that he’s not alone. Little things like, “Hey, it’s okay, hon… you don’t have to be perfect,” “I’m so proud of you – you really handled that well!” or even just an “I love you” in passing can make all the difference to your boy who’s trying so hard to get things right.

Your Loving Mom Touch

Gone are the days of your sweet toddler clinging to your leg. Heck, these days you can barely get a hug. But don’t let his “offish” behavior fool you. He needs his mom’s touch – albeit, perhaps in different ways than when he was young. (Nearly every teen boy will welcome a warm touch from his mom if given in the right increments at the right time).

If you can slip in a hug, great! If not, even a hand on his back when you drop him off at school, a high five, a fist bump, or a back rub will fill his heart with your love. Your touch has a way of calming him and making him feel safe and no matter how brief, your boy not only loves it, he secretly craves it. 

Help Solving His Problems

You might be busy making dinner and your son comes in, leans on the kitchen counter and says, “So… there’s this girl in my class,” or “Chemistry is a lot harder than I thought it would be,” or “My friend is giving me the cold shoulder and I don’t know why.” That’s your cue… 

Your son has a mountain of problems that need to be solved every single day. Sure, he might turn to his friends for some things, but he’ll turn to you for other things. Be ready and willing to help your boy work through his problems. Perhaps not by giving him the answers or tossing out unsolicited advice, but by brainstorming ideas, validating his feelings. offering gentle guidance (at times you may have to offer it whether he’s receptive or not), or just sitting back and allowing him to vent. 

Playful One-On-One Time With You

If he’s like a lot of other teen boys I know, he spends a fair amount of time alone in his room. But don’t forget… he NEEDS time with you! Go for a drive (that’s when the floodgates really open), grab a burger at that place he loves, or just hang out in his room (assuming it’s clean enough for you to dare to enter!). You don’t even have to talk. Just getting some quality alone time can silently strengthen your bond. But more than likely, he’ll loosen up and the conversation will flow.

A Common Interest to Connect

It can seem like you have nothing in common with your son. But with a little digging and creative thinking, you’re bound to find something you can relate to.

Go to a baseball or football game together, dive into a new Netflix series you both like, OR you’re a child of the 1980s and he’s of the 2000s, right? Crank up the “oldies” that so many teens today love (get ready for some good-hearted ribbing) and watch teen angst fade and memories get made. Just make sure you carve out time to talk, connect AND laugh.

Clear Boundaries and Responsibilities

Set boundaries early on and stick to them. But… go one step further and discuss them WITH your son. Let him weigh in on the rules (he’s not little anymore) as well as the consequences he’ll face if/when he breaks them. The more he has a hand in the rules, the less likely he is to break them and the less he’ll fight you when you put consequences in place – after all, he helped establish them. Be sure to put some responsibility on his shoulders as well. He needs to find out what he’s capable of and he can only do that by being gently challenged.

Help Keeping Up With Life

Has his room spun out of control? Is he behind on laundry or can’t keep up with his chores? Sometimes, what your boy needs is for you to throw him a lifeline to take the pressure off. Tidy up his room, do a load of laundry, or run an errand for him. Don’t get in the habit of doing it (with some teens, if you give ’em an inch, they’ll take a mile), but if he’s genuinely in need of help, stand ready to jump in. You’ll be surprised how much your son will appreciate you for it!

Forgiveness When He Messes Up

No mistake should be unforgivable, especially when your son is just trying to navigate his way in this world.

He’s bound to make mistakes (big and small), but failure is a byproduct of learning, so dig deep for forgiveness every time. And, resist the urge to rescue him (unless it’s a major life-altering mistake  – then you have to step in). While there may be consequences, let him know it’s your way of teaching him and that you’ll never hold a grudge  – watch a palpable relief wash over him. 

Leeway to Find His Way and Figure Out Who He Is

Leeway to figure a few things out on his own. Leeway to make important decisions that impact his life. Leeway to make mistakes, break free from life by escaping to his room, taking a nap, or deciding when he does his homework. Cut your boy a little slack. He’s growing up – it’s time to loosen the purse strings a bit and offer him more control. (This is also where a whole lot of prayer comes into play because as moms we all know we can’t control everything.)

Assurance That Your Love is Rock Solid

Of all the things your teen son needs from you, he needs to know, unequivocally, that your love is rock solid and that it’s never dependent on his grades, his score on the field, his choices, or whether he gets off track, at times. His teen years are a time of massive discovery, growth, and learning and he needs to feel the freedom to swim away from shore knowing you’re right there ready to toss him a life raft should he need it. He needs to know you’ll always have his back.


About Morgan Hill:

Morgan Hill is an essayist and humorist. She has written for many online and print publications including Insider, Your Teen Magazine, Revel, and MASK Magazine. She is the mother of freshman and senior sons in high school. When not writing, she can be found at flea markets, in her garden, photographing architecture, taking cooking classes, or eating the stinkiest cheese she can find. You can also find her on Twitter @MorganHWrites or Instagram @MorganHillWriter

If you enjoyed reading, “Mamas: Here Are 10 Things Your Teen Son Quietly (and Desperately) Needs from You,” here are a few other posts you might like to read!

10 Ultimate Truths About Parenting Teen Boys

Teen Boys: The Rippling Effect of a Mother’s Touch

Teen Boys: The Communication Barrier

Share your thoughts and stories in the comments section below, parents. What do YOU think your teen son needs from you? 

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