You need to know these four pitfalls for teenage boys

You need to know these four pitfalls for teenage boys

Even after years of researching what is in the heart and mind of men and boys, I still wasn’t quite ready when my pre-teen son began struggling with the same visual temptations as everyone else! In honor of all boys who want to do the right thing, here are four things every mom, especially, needs to know:

1. It starts young. Yes, I knew men and boys were visual – but I didn’t really grasp just how visual until my son was thunderstruck by the pictures in the Victoria’s Secret shop window at age of 4. “I like those ladies,” he said, in an awed tone of voice, suddenly and completely oblivious to everything else around him. “Their bare tummies make my tummy feel good.” The male brain is the male brain from the earliest age, and as I share in Through A Man’s Eyes, that means we moms need to know how to help those little eyes be careful what they see from the earliest ages.

Tweet this: “The male brain is the male brain from the earliest age; moms need to help those little eyes be careful what they see.

2. It is an almost overwhelming curiosity — and temptation. Even the most honorable, godly young men have a deep-down curiosity to see the naked female form. And once they do, they are usually incredibly tempted to do whatever is necessary, to click on whatever link, to investigate whatever source will allow them to see it again. And again. Last year, I remember a few of my fellow moms being shocked that the eighth grade boys at our Christian school had all listed “pornography” as the primary life temptation they were trying to fight. Our boys need us to wake up to the strength of this temptation. They need our awareness, help, and compassion in that fight up through adulthood.

Tweet this: “Boys need our awareness, help, and compassion in the fight against temptation up through adulthood.

3. It is a temptation the honorable boys don’t want. My son broke down in tears as he confessed looking at something he shouldn’t have looked at, online. Like many boys I’ve researched, he wants to be honorable toward women. He wants to do what God asks. He doesn’t want this temptation, and it makes me furious at how often his brain is being stimulated in this culture, and how hard it is to avoid that stimulation (and thus that temptation). Yes, when our boys make the wrong decisions and repeatedly make bad choices, they need consequences, they need help, and they need to know we are disappointed in them. But we need to know that they are also disappointed in themselves. Often, in fact, we need great wisdom about when our boys may need support more than discipline. This fight cannot be us-versus-our-sons. It must be us and our sons side by side, confronting a temptation that is thrown at them every day, and which neither of us want them to have.

Tweet this: “Often we need great wisdom about when our boys may need support more than discipline.

4. It is something they cannot confront well without our help. Because it can be awkward to talk about, few boys will ever tell you this… but they need your help. For an honorable young man, at least, there is great comfort in knowing that Mom and Dad have installed accountability or filtering software on all media devices, or have put unbreakable passwords on the “iffy” cable channels, so that they can’t look at those things without getting caught. Also, when I was interviewing young men for the book, it was clear they would actually talk to their mom about these things if they could trust that she wouldn’t freak out. So no matter what your son says, be ultra-calm and matter-of-fact. Acknowledge that you don’t have a male brain, but let your son know you want to understand, will never freak out about anything he shares (even if you have to impose consequences, you won’t flip, emotionally) and that you want to know how to support him. If you are married, your husband will better understand what your son is going through, and the two of you will need to partner on the best way to handle things. As a man, he will also be your best source for inside information. (Including, sometimes, talking you down off your ledge about whether a certain incident is a big deal or not!)

Tweet this: “No matter what your son says about his temptations, be ultra-calm and matter-of-fact.

In today’s culture there’s no perfect way of handling things. But we love our boys. So let’s step up to the plate. Let’s get more aware, educate ourselves, and be there for our sons, so we can help them in this fight this temptation, side by side.

Want to know how to be kind, when you’re really not feeling it? My research uncovered three daily actions that will transform your relationships – and you. Check out The Kindness Challenge, now available!

Helping people thrive in life and relationships is Shaunti Feldhahn’s driving passion, supported by her research projects and writing. After starting out with a Harvard graduate degree and experience on Wall Street, her life took an unexpected shift into relationship research. She now is a popular speaker around the world and the author of best-selling books about men, women, and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).

Her newest book, The Kindness Challenge, demonstrates that kindness is the answer to almost every life problem, and is sparking a much-needed movement of kindness across the country. Visit for more.

This article first appeared at Patheos.


  1. momof3boys says:

    As a mom of grown sons, I can tell you this info is true and accurate. They need us also to help the females around them realize that the males need them to be compassionate, and aware of how their dress code and actions affect these males of all ages. Both sexes bear responsibility in this. It’s about respecting and preferring others before ourselves.

  2. Thank you for these reminders, Shaunti. I have two boys, ages 13 and 11. Your post reminds me I need to have several thoughtful conversations with them this summer about guarding their hearts.

  3. libl says:

    I grew up in a home where nudity wasn’t only taboo, but shameful. I felt like I was going to burn in hell if I dared to sleep without panties on under my nightgown to air out, which is recommended by doctors. Any curiosity about puberty or sex was met with sharp, shaming, short, curt, dismissive answers.

    So, when I had kids, I decided on a different approach. Not a pendulum swing to the other side of crazy, mind you. I just let sexuality and nudity happen naturally and matter of factly. While we certainly aren’t nudists and value privacy and modesty, we don’t go to lengths to hide ourselves as a family. We all have seen each other naked and know what the male and female bodies look like. My boys have fetched sanitary pads for me, watched me breast feed, accompanied me in changing rooms and public restrooms. The female body isn’t a mystery.

    As they grow, I discuss good touch, bad touch, respecting privacy, and the mechanics of sex. I discuss what the Bible says, how they can combat the assault of sexual exploitation, and how to respect others even, even when they don’t respect themselves.

    I am open to ALL their questions and respect their limits.

    Still, I am no fool. Any of them could get hooked on porn.

  4. Mrs X says:

    Well, I guess time will tell in each one’s case, as to which children come out without being morally twisted.

    Hopefully none of them.

    Someone told me once that we need God to raise our children, because we are quite likely to mess things up terribly.

    Seeking God and His wisdom at every turn will be better than not seeking Him.

    So that’s what I advise.
    Don’t be set on hiding everything from them, but don’t seek to show them things that it wouldn’t hurt to leave till they are ready to marry.

    They get quite a lot of the idea of what a man or woman is, even with the clothing on.

    Thank you for considering my thoughts.

    I like what you wrote, Shaunti.
    You’ve carefully thought it out, considered everything, and made careful decisions, as usual.

    The main goal is to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord…and to receive the Word of God, the Bible. We want our kids to be Godly Christians.

    We also want them to have respect for their bodies, and the bodies of others.

    God bless us, every one.

  5. Rachel says:

    This is really helpful information, thank you! I would also add, be sure that you are discussing sex with your boys and answering any questions they may have, or they may turn to porn to get their questions answered. This might mean mom or dad brings up the topic, as it can be awkward for our boys to do so.

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