I guess with 3 teenage boys I have a few perspectives - 2 of my sons, I split from their mum 14 years ago, lived with their mum until a couple years ago and now live with their Nan. Youngest son (I've been his only but non-biological dad for 12 years) lives with me and his mum.
Eldest son, 19 has a few issues (eyesight is RP + Aspergers), went to good comp' school was very worried about him last year after finishing business studies course. He did the archetypal sitting in his room, incommunicative playing violent games and only communicating via skype with unknown people. Seems to have turned a corner with some help from CAMS & other in his special needs support area. Is currently trying to get into work, is a NEET, but is volunteering weekly for a charity. He's at least communicating and socialising!
Middle son 17 at college, youngest son went to a pretty tough academy, certainly for our area. He worked his way through = his mum moved to the midlands 1/2 way through his GCSE's so he suddenly had a 50 mile round trip to school but more home support via his grandparents and us for his education. Came away as one of the best educated kids from his school.
Both struggle with esteem issues but are nice enough lads if a bit socially inept & lacking in confidence. Unfortunately the paradigm that kids follow their Mum's education pattern (she is bright but has a couple of CSE's) seems to be true. I wanted their education to be disciplined, stable and local to a community. They attended 6 schools between 5 & 15 with their Mum in a flux of relationships.
I think the lack of stability has contributed to their lack of esteem.
Youngest son 15 currently attends one of the top Private schools (thanks to his maternal grandparents) consistently hits A's, is on track to become a GP (his choice), is good at sport, communicative, confident.... His Mum was a nurse entered Univ after his birth and is now a Solicitor. However, he does know he's had a privileged upbringing (compared to his step-brothers) with grandparents (retired top Univ Lecturer and retired Primary School Head) who could support and encourage his early-learning. He's been to 2 schools his primary and secondary. Our expectation is a good univ' (fingers crossed).
For kids to be alright these factors seem to be common - I've seen the same across friends with kids:
- A stable family home & school (1 or 2 parent makes no difference - it's how the adults treat each other & the kids that count)
- kids rules that are consistent and appropriate to their age i.e. proper bed times, not allowed to watch / play video games much above their real age, encouraged / enforced - outside time off electrical stuff and some chores they have to do.
- Families who treat each other with respect and other people with respect.
All leads to kids being ok.