Raising Boys

Reporter: Liz Kefford

Their situation isn't helped by the fact, Peter and Margaret have two very different parenting styles...while Margret admits to being over protective and suffocating, Peter is laid back and hands off. And when it comes to rearing their 15 year old son, Antony, both are a little lost..."I come from an all girl background and I've got all boys so it's really difficult to know what the boundaries are and what they need to be told and what they don't"

Peter says "I never really had that influence when I was growing up so it's a learning curve for me to try and influence him in the right directions" Anthony says "There's been times when I've really got angry at my parents and I'll just go into my room and have a cry and I always let my anger out on my little brother and I don't like that because I know I shouldn't do it" While the struggles faced by the Tavolaro's will be familiar to millions of Australian families, a new book titled, "He'll Be Ok", is proving to be a welcome instruction manual for mums and dads raising teenage boys... Early in adolecence he needs boundaries, he needs you to set some boundaries on him and stick to them and to link action to consequence

Author, Celia Lashlie, is a mother who spent 15 years working in New Zealand's prison system...in that time she saw thousands of young men land in jail after alcohol, fast cars and violence got the better of them...to avoid this she say's parents must lay down the law from the second year of high school...He's had a testosterone hit and he's grown six inches, now he needs you to hold him steady and it's an electric fence you need around him because he's 10 foot two and bullet proof and he's out there.

To research her book Celia spoke with 180 classes of adolescent boys across 25 secondary schools...and while they understand the importance of discipline, what the boys really wanted were their mum's to back off and their dads to step up...and Celia agrees... For mothers it would simply be chill out, stop talking so much, stop asking so many questions So shut up, if you've got something you want to say to him turn the 25 words into 3. For their fathers, they want their fathers to notice them, they want their fathers to know to be in their life It means just be present, they would walk across broken glass for their dads

Margaret says "I think I do need to chill out because I think it's coming from my own background of how I was brought up to question everything I did and to be really really cautious so I'm really cautious with my children" In the Tavalaro's case, dad Peter claims it's hard to get a word in edge wise or spend much time with his son at all because of Margaret's overbearing ways...but Antony himself would like to see his dad come to the fore...

Elizabeth and Paul Cheney still have a way to go before their four and-a-half year old son Parlo reaches adolescence...at this stage they're careful not to raise him differently to their 7 year old daughter Isabella... "To say this is a boy and this is a girl and to bring them up that way I think that's setting them up to not be able to intergrate into society later on in life" And this mum has already taken the "chill out" message on board...instilling in both her children common sense at a young age...

"I think you can over parent actually, you can try and scoop them up and protect them from everything I just have to rein that back in and hope I've told them enough times how to be careful"

As for the Tavalaro's, Peter plans to take Celia's advice on board by making time for Antony as often as possible...while mum Margaret vows... "I promise I will chill out Antony, just wait for your mother, wait I'll chill out, I'll chill out"