What they don’t tell you about boys and puberty.

Disclaimer: Puberty. Enough said.

Everybody talks about girls and puberty. The moodiness, The sass. The out of control body changes and image issues that arrive with them. Rollercoaster emotions and hormone driven, temporary insanity with a side of distaste for all things parental. Especially when it comes to the new perception of mom as wicked witch.

But, what about boys?

Nobody talks about boys and puberty.

Here’s a snapshot from my experience. (I have 3, ages 25, 23 and 13.)

1) Boys get hormonal. Hormones are drugs. I have watched the rollercoaster of emotions and thought: “Oh my word you just need to have a period and get it over with. You’d feel better. I always do.” Only-I remember sex ed and apparently boys don’t have periods… they are trapped in a hormonal h** until things level out. UGH.

2) While girls tend to get weepy and angsty- boys often get angry. OVER EVERYTHING. It’s like the whole world is trying to annoy them. Only-its the very same world and experiences that they were fine with before those hormones hit like a tsunami. I can remember looking at my pubescent angels and seriously considering exorcism.

3) There is a different order of events in the male pubescent experience.

  • Hormones (same.) Fact: Hormones are drugs. (Totally bears repeating) They can cause mood swings that are as unstable as the road side carnival rides and the tragic accidents they cause that you hear about on the news each summer. Hormones can cause weird behaviors. Too many to list. If your boy develops a new weird behavior? It might be puberty-related.
  • Voice changes. Your sweet tenored child experiences some degree of “Voiceous interruptus”. A word I just made up to describe the experience of vocals cracking. This can be dramatic or subtle. It can also be overly dramatized by children who like to make puberty an extreme sport. (Side note- everything I knew about voice changes prior to having my boys- I learned from an episode of the Brady Bunch. Google it. “When It’s time to change, it’s time to change” Truer words are rarely spoken.)
  • Hair, everywhere.  unlike girls- who are usually first blessed with hair visible to the public, (thanks lord. Must be part of the fall…) Boys hair first visits in places moms won’t likely see or know about unless your child likes to broadcast puberty updates like a 24/7 news channel. (Some do.) Legs are next. then pits and finally chest. IF they are blessed (maybe cursed?) with chest hair. Being a woman.. I wonder if boys pray for hair like girls do boobs… I suspect as much. Some do appear to develop invisible body hair…and point it out for confirmation. Just go with it. They’re excited.
  • Darkness of the soul. Your happy go lucky child may suddenly discover that the world is not full of rainbows and unicorns. They are rightfully disillusioned. Don’t start dressing like a unicorn and pooping rainbows around the house. You will only lengthen the process of coming to terms with reality. (Umm.. not sure I have yet.. but in theory this is part of the development happening during puberty.) Be patient and supportive. Listen to their processing. (Big things and small are part of this.. the reality of poverty, racism, hatred, violence that isn’t a game , but real are all pretty hard things to grasp. This is part of growing up. They will come around and figure out their responses and place in the unicorn free zone that is reality.
  • Uncontrollable Strength and Noise. Beware:the wrestling and horseplay that parents often enjoy with boys can take a surprising turn. Little Hulks erupt from testosterone and boys are totally clueless to their new strength. They can accidentally hurt you. Pubescent boys also appear to have a different relationship with gravity than the ret of the world. This causes each step to become a stomp that could confuse you with a horse galloping through your home. This too will pass. (I hope.)
  • Bumpus Boyous: I believe this is related to the above. Boys stand around in groups and Bump each other continually. It’s like a male pubescent game of pool. 8 ball side pocket. Backpacks become rams horns…. It could be related to defining social order… or just the wonderful weirdness of boys. You will stand there at school event and pick ups and glare that captain puberty to stop the bumping. It will not work.
  • Growth Spurts of Epic and immediate Proportions. You are not insane. Yes. the pants that fit yesterday may not today. It is not likely to be a body snatching or your falling through a hole in the time space continuum and missing a year of growth…It is a fact. I suggest keeping a size up of basics in case of growth and clothing emergency.
  • Non Fatal case of The Awkwards. Physically, socially, emotionally. wait it out. Remember your child is not your report card and you cannot control their awkward.
  • A Re-visit to every Moms Favorite Obsession with a Certain Body Part. (Yup. It’s here again. SURPRISE! You get to enjoy the awkward again.) This is normal, healthy and necessary. (And we all are freaked by it.) Please, for the love of all things sexually healthy later in life- simply encourage privacy and avoid shaming in this phase. Do not say things like: “Hello, there are other hobbies you could try.” (Thats pretty shaming.. Or, “If you keep doing that it will fall off.” (They’ll see this as a science experiment…) Or the classic: “You’ll go blind.” They will see every person with glasses in a different light if you do. So says the author currently sporting her sassy sparkly glasses of suspect. Do some research on sexual development and learn. You will fear less that your child is a perv. (oops I said that.) This is part of their becoming men. And awkward part. But a part. You can get through this and help them to as well. It’s possible I’ve learned this the hard way. I might be an epic failure at parenting through puberty. Wake me up when novembers over? How bout when puberty is?

As a survivor of puberty, and the mom of survivors of puberty- I can assure you that this is survivable. I can also say- that it’s an amazing, miraculous and messy and complicated, God created transition from boy to man. It’s a unique journey for every boy. And every mom. I could not love the men that I’ve traveled through puberty with any more than I do. You can do this mom. I’m with you.

So, dear moms of boys. What else should we add to the knowledge base of male pubescence ? Let’s talk about the unspoken and different things we’ve learned- so that moms who follow will have the hope and help they need:) Post int he comments and I’ll add your input!!!

Dear Lord, Puberty is hard. Pray for each mom and son that you would help and guide us through this uncharted and confusing journey. Help s to love each other well. I Love you lord….oh, and lord? I may as well be honest- help us not kill or damage each other… in Jesus’ name amen.