Puberty: Q & A
One of the things that shocked me most about being a parent is all the things that kids need to learn. They don’t know anything, and they will slowly absorb knowledge and habits and skills from their environment, from the example that the parents set for them and things their peers and other adults tell them.
At this time I have children headed into PUBERTY.
Which means they have so many questions.
What is puberty?
When will it happen?
What does it mean, and how long will it take?
When can I have a phone?
Why can’t I just eat what I want?
Can I have a girlfriend/boyfriend?
What does transgender mean?
Some of these questions are easier to answer than others. I have been trying to dig up different resources to help with the questions. My children never have the energy or interest in a long lecture. They want simple answers. That is not always possible, but I do the best that I can.
One of the ongoing discussions that I have with all the kids is about maturity. I don’t want to put an age on things like phones and relationships because I know that everyone is ready at a different time. I talk to them about being responsible and what constitutes a need. Do they need a phone? No, because I am the one taking them places, or they are with trustworthy adults. They don’t need to have a phone. The one who really wants a phone is my extroverted daughter, so a big lesson for her is how to be content with the interaction that she gets to have with other kids at school. The lesson of contentment and patience will take her far in life, learning to hold off on something fun and maybe even good, to the best that we can be certain is coming.
My youngest son has a big heart and wants to have a girlfriend in the worst way. We talk regularly about how to be a good friend to others no matter their age or gender. We also discuss that he needs to learn how to be responsible with his emotions before he can have a relationship like a girlfriend. Validating the desire while also ex- plaining that we do not have to act on every feeling right away is an important lesson in helping girls and boys become men and women who will be respectful of hearts and bodies.
The transgender question came up at a crazy time because why not? One freezing February day the car battery died during school pick up. Several attempts to jump it led to a conclusion that the alternator was the problem. In the middle of sorting out car repairs and transportation for everyone my oldest gets my attention, “Mom, I have a question.”
“Yes, buddy, what is it?”
“What does transgender mean?”
My first thought was, “Now!? Really?!”
This is an important question, but an inconvenient time. Conveying to him that his questions were valid has always been a priori- ty, but that moment was quite the test of my patience. I gave him a short answer with the promise of more to come once we had sorted out the more immediate situation of getting out of the cold.
My short answer is that transgender means a person who is not happy with the gender they were born. I realize that it is a complicated issue and my goal is to handle it with grace and compassion. My belief is that God made male and female humans, and mankind has made certain things a “male” or “female” thing. We live in a culture that functions based on an us vs. them narrative. Men and women should not be in competition, but learn how to strengthen, support, and value the gifts that they have to offer.
Teaching my children that they are loved by a good Creator and have tastes, preferences, and gifts is a foundation for all the conversations that I have with them. For as much as I see that they do not know things, they are becoming themselves, expressing the unique person that they are by asking questions. This transition from childhood to adulthood is a learning curve for all of us. Some things will be simple to teach, like making a bed, others will be a little harder, like making a habit, and some things will be shaping how they understand and interact with the world around them.
My prayer for them is that they will become those who love God and love the people in their lives.
Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Sons
by Cara Natterson
This book is for all the parents trying to understand how boys go through puberty. It was so eye-opening for me, helpful for understanding what is happening beneath the surface.
She also helped write The Body Book for Girls and Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys, which I am going through with my kids at this time.
If you are looking for spiritual training with your kids I love Foundations by Troy and Ruth Simmons. My sons and I are using this Mother Son Prayer Journal this spring. For girls, I really like the Bible Belles series.
On Instagram, there are some accounts I recommend @milknhoneynutrition
Because I have a hyperglycemic child, and she had great advice for that kind of diet. @kids.eat.in.color has so much fabulous information about talking nutrition with your kids. Finally, @ourfitfamilylife has excellent exercises for repairing your body after childbirth.