Advice for Parents – I’m Worried About My Son (Long Read)


Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs in the world. A few years ago, I was reminiscing about the good old days with a 14-year-old boy I was supporting and his mum. She showed me some old photographs of her son happily smiling, dressed up as Sportacus, a character from “LazyTown” who used sports to make the town active.

This lightened the mood for a few moments while we sat in a court waiting room. Her son was about to go before the judge for possession of a machete.


This was the question I asked them both, as it was clear then that despite our best efforts, it was going to be almost impossible to stop him from committing crimes and ending up in prison.

That day, he avoided a custodial sentence. But about a year later, we learned he had not changed and was sent to a young offenders institute for robbery and a knife attack.

They couldn’t pinpoint the answer to my question, but they noted he had:

  • No real interest in any sports or positive activities
  • Found school difficult from the beginning
  • Nothing to do with his friends in their community
  • His dad had not been around and he lacked a positive male figure in his life

His mum said that her efforts to keep him on the straight and narrow had left their relationship in tatters.


In the past two months alone, TWMAD has had an alarming number of conversations with parents who are struggling with their sons, describing them as:

  • Angry
  • Argumentative
  • Having an attitude problem
  • Involved in county lines
  • Demotivated
  • Depressed
  • Using drugs
  • Fighting
  • Rude
  • Scared


These concerns are widespread, affecting even parents from professional backgrounds and loving home environments. Some parents are unsure where it went wrong despite providing a stable, supportive environment. They are at a loss about how to help their sons see the dangers of their behaviours and to find positive activities for them to show an interest in.

Other boys we support are being neglected and lack stability at home and they are familiar with chaos. Many of their negative behaviours are linked to traumatic past experiences and a lack of significance in their lives. They have felt powerless and now seize control of their behaviors in ways that ensure everyone knows who they are, leaving families and support workers struggling to deal with them.

Some boys suffer from mental health issues and have diagnosed conditions or are waiting for assessments. Their behaviours make them vulnerable, and home life can be challenging for these parents.


Many boys are normalising the use of vapes and cannabis at a very young age, with some even dabbling in harder substances from a much younger age than is comfortable to think about. TWMAD is alarmed by their accessibility to and understanding of drugs. We encourage all parents to address any suspected involvement with substances early. Children need money to buy these things, so be mindful if you are regularly giving them money. Also, look out for them wanting to sell items, as this is another tactic they use.

While it’s accepted that young people may experiment, we must do all we can to prevent them from becoming addicted or dependent on these substances. Vapes and cannabis can take them off track, impacting their emotions and mindset at an age where they don’t understand the consequences.


There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for boys, but we believe in closely monitoring them to spot early signs of poor behaviour and bad decisions. Setting clear boundaries and developing a routine where they can talk openly can help you understand them better. Listen to their views without immediately disagreeing.

Unfortunately, many boys we support lack a father figure. If you have male family members or friends your son may look up to, consider asking them to spend time with him as a mentor.

Encouraging physical activity can be great for their mental and physical well-being. With encouragement and support, the benefits they receive can trigger more positive behaviors.

Aspirational conversations can motivate boys. Share stories of successful people and ask them to think about the future they want. Help them see if their current actions align with the identity that they want for themselves and to achieving their goals.


Recently, TWMAD was approached by parents worried about their son. We spent a couple of hours with him, discussing relationships, consequences, and his current decisions. He disclosed that he had interactions with people who had looked to exploit him. We helped him see the dangers of continuing on his current path and warned him about losing good friendships and becoming someone he didn’t want to be.

His mum recently reached out, saying:

“His attitude in general has been much better and he is clearly thinking about what he’s going to say or do before acting on it. He has only had one red mark at school this week and is really proud of himself, as are we. He is in absolute awe of you and can’t stop talking about you, stating that you are his inspiration. Although he recognizes the things you spoke about are all things we have generally discussed, you explain things so much better! He is working through the booklet you gave him, although I’m not sure of the actual progression as he says he wants to keep it private. I can’t thank you enough for your kind support and inspirational motivation that you have shared with him. Fingers very tightly crossed that he continues to be inspired and motivated to make the right choices.”

We feel that we got to this boy early enough, and he was open to making changes which also plays a huge factor.

While there isn’t a magic formula we hope that this post has offered some guidance on how you can ease your concerns about your son.

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