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Enough has been said about how we need to talk to our girls about puberty. But, is it not equally important to talk to our sons too, as they hit puberty?
Getting married? What’s upmost in your mind? The change that you are about to experience. Isn’t it?
You are relocating to a new city. You are anxious about the shift that you are about to experience.
A new job? What do I have in store ?
Confused what am I talking about?
Well, we as humans are always anxious about the changes we are about to experience, be it a new relationship, changing jobs or relocation. We discuss, we research, we vent out and that’s how we deal with the change. Puberty is a major change that kids experience at a very tender age.They are confused, inquisitive, insecure and most importantly shy to talk about what they are experiencing.
I remember it was a month before my 11th birthday. It was a cold winter morning and I woke up early since I had my half yearly exams. I went to the washroom and found my underwear stained. I was confused, scared and little lost to figure out what had happened even though my mother had already talked to me about periods.
I woke her up and sheepishly whispered into her ears. She hugged me and comforted me. She gave me a briefing about what changes and precautions I was supposed to take for the coming few days. Back then I think I was one among the lucky few, that my mother had already spoken to me about signs of puberty.
I have a 9 year old daughter and I had already started to talk to her as early as 4-5 years about the changes the body will start experiencing. Kids have questions and so many of them. We can start the talk in a very casual manner by simply answering their questions. The questions can be as simple as what is a sanitary pad or why do you have breast and not me. These are the most common questions toddlers come up with and you can find your own interesting answers to satisfy their inquiry. This will normalize the most sensitive topic between a child and their parent. Remember these queries can come from both boy or a girl and we have to address it.
What I would like to highlight here is that these talks are very common between a mother and a daughter. But do we really talk about the changes a boy goes through during his growing up years. Isn’t it a very neglected subject till date?
They equally need the emotional support and parental involvement to deal with the changes. Today kids are technologically far ahead of our days when the only source of such information was magazines and peers. Back then parents never thought it was important to talk about puberty to a boy because either it never occurred to them that it was an important milestone or they shied away from the subject.
Now a days kids have an access to internet and television which enhances their knowledge but at the same time it can ham it up a little bit for them. So, it is upon the parents to break the shield and talk about the tell tale signs of puberty to their sons as much to their daughter.
To begin with boys experience some subtle physiological changes like development of sweat glands, heavier voice, acne, increase in height, growth of facial hair etc. For parents these changes are easier to discuss and deal with. One of most important change that a boy goes through during this period is the nocturnal emission. Are mothers or fathers ready to speak about it to their boys? It sure is going to be a challenging task.
While these days we are speaking up for normalizing period talk and demanding involvement of fathers in it, are we really thinking much about normalizing puberty talk for boys? Aren’t they still left all on their own to deal with it rummaging through the magazines and through their mobile phones?
They are insecure and confused about the changes they are going through and are left all alone to deal with it. Parents, it is time to step up and talk to the boys about it. Show them patience and soothe their anxiety. They need to be reassured that it is a natural progression.
Let’s normalize this puberty talk with the boys and let’s not wait for them to bombard you with questions because in all probabilities this is unlikely to happen. If we do not introduce these conversations early then most likely the boy will shy away from discussing it with parents and turn to other unreliable sources.
Start asking them if they are feeling any changes or if they have any queries about why their friends are experiencing few things while they are yet to experience it. Talking to them about it is the most effective way while you can also handover some informations from the internet or books. Share your growing up experiences with them and trust me they will be much at ease.
Apart from parents a lot of responsibility lies with the school and the society at large. I was very happy that my daughter’s school conducted a class on puberty and they did not have separate session for boys and girls. Just like It is important for the child to know what is happening to them and it is equally important to know what is happening with the opposite sex. The school has a major role to play in it and I am glad they have started the change.
We as parents form a major part of the society and it is time for us to bring in light this cornered subject and stop the shushing around it.
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