Navigating the Sometimes Hilariously Awkward Road Through Puberty with Kids
Remember the day when you brought that bouncing baby home. You were on top of the world. You were a parent. The euphoria of being a superhuman was all over you and you felt untouchable. Well, that is until the first time the baby started screaming and you had no freakin’ clue what you were supposed to do next.
Fast forward into the toddler years and think about the temper tantrums of the terrible 2’s, 3’s and hell let’s add the 4’s while we’re at it. No book around could have prepare you for the meltdowns on legs from a toddler who would follow you into a room when you walked away trying to show them that Iyou weren’t tolerating the behavior.
Now your bouncing baby boy or girl is headed at 100 miles per hour down the road to puberty. Wait, where did the time go? How could this be happening now…in the middle of your career, unemployment, moving, your changing relationships etc..? Well, hold on tight parents because this is totally not about you now but the ride of a lifetime. Welcome to the “it’s all about me zone” for kids. As a parent about to go through this alien like phenomenon for the 2nd and 3rd time, I don’t know if I’m ready for a double shot this time around. My oldest being 25 and all grown up has been gone from the nest but the 14 and 12 year olds are officially residents in Puberty Nation!
So what is a parent to do when we think about …..WAIT FOR IT……PERIODS AND ERECTIONS and all the surrounding them????? How should you deal with it when your son comes to you the first time with a woody, saluting soldier or for those more brazen a hard on? Can you imagine the face you’ll have when your kid says hey dad or mom “my thing keeps standing up at the weirdest times, what do I do about it?” It never happens when you expect them to ask you about. Instead it’s usually at some place like the fancy restaurant you decide to take the kids to when normal dinner conversation turns to your daughter saying things like “there’s this stuff that looks weird ….down there…” as she points to her affectionately named suzy, little V or whatever name you’ve chose to give to it when she was younger. You know the actual period isn’t here but no one tells you about the “before stuff” unless you’re a girl and you were one of the lucky (not really) ones to get the pre-period before the period. So as the days progress in this weird time and your son is having random erections and your daughter is growing hair in places she didn’t know it could exist you’re totally freaking out but have to put on the “I’m cool outside but completely dying inside” parent face to make them think you’ve got it all under control.
Here are a few of the unexpected things parents are faced with during puberty that can freak us out even if we’ve read the parenting books and a couple of tips on how to stay cool despite feeling like a parental fool.
Freak Out Moments
- Your daughter comes to you and says she needs to shave her pits and completely spooked because there is hair growing between her cheeks (no, not the ones on her face).
- Your son having a major hair bump slightly above the soldier and ready to whip it out asking you to fix it like he’s still 5 years old but a lot has change and you’re feeling AWKWARD! SCREECH…..STOP RIGHT THERE KID!
- Your son asking if adults buy new sheets every time they have sex because he’s noticed you haven’t bought any in a very long time.
- Your daughter suddenly wondering why her brother is no longer ok with washing their linens together anymore.
- You’re a dad and your daughter asks you how to put a sanitary napkin on.
- Your son asks you why people don’t just use balloons instead of condoms because they’re everywhere and you can just grab one when you need it?
- You’re a mom and your son asks you how to put a condom on or you find him filling some up with water to make water bombs to drop off the balcony.
There are a ton of things parents simply aren’t prepared for through the entire parenting journey. We can usually roll with the punches and just wing, but something about puberty just freaks us out. Even the relaxed parent will be faced with some things that simply make you feel like “this is totally awkward.” Nothing is perfect with parenting and getting through puberty will certainly have its ups, downs, sideways routes and even u-turns but you’ll make it through. As for me, round 2 and 3 are definitely causing me to laugh more than round one did.
Here are a few tips to get your through as you and your family create memories along the way.
- It’s not rocket science. All parents have awkward moments and plenty of WTH moments so get used to it and you’ll be just fine.
- You will not always be able to keep a straight face even when you need to be serious because kids literally do and say the darndest things at the most interesting times.
- Don’t pretend to be the expert on everything because your kids know you well and know you’re lying. Learn together if necessary.
- Ask for help from other parents, professionals, your spiritual community etc. to help you figure out some of the tough or really strange questions.
- Keep your eyes open for signs of trouble. Some kids really struggle through puberty and need professional resources. This is nothing against your parenting skills, just an additional support.
- If you’re dealing with an opposite sex child and there is no opposite sex parent involved, make sure to find trustworthy, dependable support in that arena BEFORE you need them.
- Don’t be afraid to say I was wrong. Parents often think this undermines their authority but instead reinforces it by saying you have their best interest at hand but aren’t afraid to stand up as an adult and be accountable. Accountability is a great lesson for kids transitioning to adulthood.
- If you’re a dad, learn about girls and puberty even if mom is involved. If you don’t, might scratch your head so many times your hair falls out.
- If you’re a mom, read about boys and puberty. If you don’t, you may wonder what on earth happened to the child you thought you were raising as he drifts off into the abyss of Puberty Land.
- Show lots of love, patience, and understanding (or at least try). Make sure to laugh at what you can and pick your battles too!
This period is smooth sailing for some parents (I think they may be stretching the truth, lol) and for others it is really tough. Whatever your situation, YOU CAN DO IT, but take some time to laugh and enjoy it all.
Photo: Marco Arment/Flickr