Are adolescent boys comfortable talking about their body?
I began to question this when I started to write my upcoming book, I’m a Boy, Hormones!, for boys 11 years and older. Typically, when I complete a draft of a book, I invite groups of kids together to review the content with me and give feedback. With the comparable girl book, I’m a Girl, Hormones!, it wasn’t difficult to find small groups of girls to talk with me about the book at all. The moms were eager and so were the girls!
However, after I completed the first draft of the boy puberty book, I could not find one group of boys to review the material with me! The parents were eager but the boys were not happy about the idea. Out of desperation, I suggested to my 13-year-old grandson that we invite some of his friends over to talk about the book. His response was predictable and to the point:
“Nana, I am not going to talk about this stuff with my friends and my grandmother!”
These responses I have received make me question what is happening during the in-school puberty discussion that most boys attend in 5th grade. It must be such a “shock and awe” experience for them, especially if the discussion includes girls.
So this brings me back to the parents. I believe you, as parents, are the key people in the adolescent boy’s life who can make sure that your son learns this important information about puberty. I also appreciate the challenge that you face because he is probably going to resist you.
So how do you begin?
If your son is very young (less than 8 years old) and not yet in puberty, there is hope that he will talk to you. This is the best time to start a conversation with him that can develop through the years. He will probably have lots of questions about his own body and about a girl’s body, especially if he has a sister.
If your son is already in puberty, you may need to be creative. Use whatever you can to begin a casual conversation. For example, the many Viagra commercials on television provide a great lead in for a talk about erections and even spontaneous erections that happen during puberty.
I wanted to share some other suggestions I have for you as you initiate a conversation with your son.
- Don’t trap him in a conversation. If you feel he needs to learn some things about puberty, let him know ahead of time what you will be discussing, when and where.
- Keep your discussions simple and don’t expect them to last very long. Some boys might really enjoy discussing puberty topics, but most boys are going to resist.
- Make sure he knows you understand he is uncomfortable with this topic, but that you want him to have a basic knowledge about his body as he matures. He might complain now, but he probably really appreciates that you care.
- You can talk about puberty while throwing a football together, sharing a pizza or just hanging out. If he can trust that these conversations will be pleasant, he will be more cooperative in the future.
I am on your team and here to help!
If you have any questions at all, please email me through my website and I will personally respond.
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