Being the mother of two boys ages 6 and 9, it came to my attention the other day that I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT BOYS. Raising my daughter was one thing, I had “been there done that” and had no problems having “the talk” with her and helping her transition from being a child to a woman.
I expressed my concerns to my son’s pediatrician on handling questions that were sure to arise from my eldest son, and soon. I am going to share that information here with the rest of the “clueless moms” out there like myself!
Signs To Look For To Signal Puberty Has Started.
Puberty for boys usually starts with a growth spurt between 10 and 16 years of age. You may notice that your son is growing out of clothing or shoes more quickly. His voice may start to change. His emotions will begin to change; he will start to care more about what other people think about him. He will want to be liked and accepted. Your son will start to pull away from you and identify with others his age more.
Physical Changes During Puberty.
Body size. Arms, legs, hands and feet may grow faster than the rest of his body. Until the rest catches up, he may feel a little clumsy. Do your best to help him through this awkward stage by encouraging him in everything he does. Definitely do NOT ridicule or make fun of his clumsiness.
Body Shape. Your son is going to get taller, his shoulders will get broader and he will gain a lot of weight. (Stock up that fridge, Mom!) Many boys during this time experience some swelling under their nipples and worry that they are growing breasts. This is common, so don’t worry! It is only a temporary condition.
Muscles. During puberty, your son’s muscles will also get bigger. You do not want him to rush this part of his growth. He may have friends who work out with weights and equipment to build up their muscles. Often they are doing so before their body is ready for it and can cause damage to their growing muscles. If your son is interested in weight lifting, talk to his pediatrician first to see if it is a safe time for him to begin weight training.
Voice. His voice will deepen. It may start with his voice cracking. As he continues to grow, the cracking will stop and his voice will remain at the lower range.
Hair. Your son will start to grow hair under his arms, on his legs and face and above his penis. Chest hair may or may not appear during puberty. It may be years after puberty that he grows chest hair. Not all men have chest hair. Some men shave the hair on their faces, although there is no medical reason to shave, it is simply a personal choice. If your son decides to shave, be sure he uses shaving cream and a clean razor specifically designed for men. Remind him that he should never use another’s razor or electric shaver and to not share his with any family or friends.
Skin. His skin may get oilier and you may notice that he sweats more. This is because his glands are growing as well. Make him wash every day to keep his skin clean (we know how much they hate to take a bath!) and to begin using deodorant or antiperspirant to keep the odor and wetness under control. He is going to get pimples. There is no getting around that unless you come from a line of individuals blessed by the Gods to forever be pimple-free.
Penis. I know, take a deep breath and let out that heavy sigh. This is the tough one. His penis and testes are going to get larger. He may have erections more often due to an increase in sex hormones. Assure him that, even though he may get an erection at the worst possible moment, most people will not notice it unless he calls attention to it. Young men like to measure the size of their penis with the size of their friends’ penis so assure him that size has nothing to do with sexual functioning or manliness. Your son will begin producing sperm during puberty. That means that, during an erection, he may also experience ejaculation. Often times while sleeping this will occur, resulting in the nocturnal emission otherwise known as a “wet dream.” Assure him that this is normal and will stop as he gets older.
Emotional Changes During Puberty.
The emotional changes during puberty are often the hardest to deal with. Many young people feel self-conscious about their changing appearance and will feel too tall, too short, too fat, or too skinny. It is hard for them not to compare what is going on with their bodies with what is going on with their friends’ bodies. Try to have them keep in mind that everyone reacts differently to puberty and eventually, everyone catches up.
Your son will become more aware of his relationships with others. He will start to care more about what other people think of him. Some relationships become more important than others and he will start to separate from you, his parents, and identify with others his age more. He will also begin to make decisions that could affect the rest of his life.
Sex And Growing Up.
This is the area that frightens me more than anything I think. Remember when a look, a touch, or just thinking about someone made your heart beat faster and you had a warm, tingling feeling all over? Your son is going to feel these same feelings. He is going to have questions such as:
- · “Is it okay to masturbate?”
- · “When can I start dating?”
- · “When is it okay to kiss?”
- · “How far is too far?”
- · “When will I be ready to have sexual intercourse?”
- · “Will having sex help my relationship?”
In today’s society, the media does nothing to enforce the values we as parents grew up with. In fact, often times, the media portrays the exact opposite of what we were taught as young ladies and men. So as parents, it is our responsibility and duty to ensure that our children are brought up with the values that are relevant for your particular family unit. If you believe that abstinence is the proper way either due to personal choice or religious beliefs, then your child should be aware of your thoughts and feelings on the matter.
Above all else, however, your son should feel confident enough to be able to sit down with you and discuss these matters. If the matter of sex is not brought up and discussed by you with your child, they are going to learn the wrong information from their friends, the media, and the internet. We all know it is uncomfortable to talk about, but if you do so in an honest, loving and tactful way with your child, the lines of communication on this subject will be open between you. When a question arises later, you will be the one that he comes to for an answer, not his buddies on the back of the bus.
Talk with your son about birth control. Make him aware that, should he decide to have sex, to always use a latex condom to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Talk to his pediatrician and obtain information for him to read about other types of birth control. Speak to him of your own experiences with different forms of birth control.
An informed child is a prepared child.
Armed with the above information and a good rapport with your son’s pediatrician, you too will be able to get through your son’s puberty like a pro!
For more information, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics at www.aap.org