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Boys and Puberty

A few weeks ago I wrote about periods and puberty as it relates to girls and young women and several parents inquired as to what body books were recommended for pre-pubescent (and pre-pre-pre pubescent) boys.

I will be perfectly honest. I had no experience with books on puberty for boys, but I started to think, "Hmmmm... I should know this. I should know which books to recommend AND I should have some of these books at home probably. Maybe? Is it too late?'

I am not a book person, usually, but after looking through Fable's 'American Girl Body Book' I realized how important it is for children to have books and material they can study on their own time. Sometimes a kid doesn't want to talk to her mom about all of the things and that's perfectly okay. I'm never going to force a conversation with my kids. Consent works in all directions.

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That said, there is a reason I wrote a period post and not a testicle tale. I am a woman and I have no experience in a male body. And while some men/dads/male caretakers are really into sitting down and having all the talks with their sons, many are... not. Vulnerability is not something men were typically raised to be praised for back in the day, you know what I mean? P.S. Here is a GREAT guide re: talking to sons about sex/sexuality.

ED: Last night, I told Archer I was working on a post about puberty and boys and I asked him what he thought boys would prefer when it came time for their parents to have "the talk" with them:

1. To be given books to look at themselves and ask questions later.

2. To talk about puberty/sex stuff in a casual way with their parents/caretakers (which is what we do now).

3. To wait until the teacher brought it up during sex-ed.

His answer was 2.

I was surprised and then I wasn't ... We have been talking about bodies and puberty and periods and semen and pubes and all of the things since he (and everyone else) was a toddler. When you raise children with open conversation as it pertains to body changes, sexuality et al, shame kind of goes out the window. (For now, anyway.)

Empowerment is not something we typically see when, say, a boy's voice changes and he starts to grow armpit hair. And that's bullshit, man! We should applaud these changes in the same way we do our girls. Certainly we shouldn't fear or cower from them.

And yet, for some parents its very difficult to go there. (I feel like this is one of those times where your upbringing plays a HUGE part in the way you raise your kids. I have several friends who were raised in super religious households where masturbation was a sin and nobody so much as SPOKE of sex as it pertained to anyone who wasn't married and I know how much of a struggle these conversations are for them.)

Which is why GOOD BOOKS can be EXTREMELY helpful when it comes to all this stuff. Because it's inevitable, folks. Your tiny baby will soon be a young man. And it will have been your job to equip him with the knowledge and resources to navigate his adolescence. Because if you don't? His friends at school, the movies he watches, porn he downloads, will.

(And yes. Your child will eventually find porn. It is as inevitable. And if you don't have the "this is what a female body looks like and this is what happens when people have sex and this is what consent means..." your boys will learn about puberty from a teacher at school and sex from friends and YouPorn. And you do not want that I do not think. I certainly do not. P.S. Here's a GREAT PIECE about talking to your sons about consent AKA it's never too early.)

Puberty is a vulnerable time for a boy. And empowerment is not something we typically see when, say, a boy's voice changes and he starts to grow armpit hair. And that's bullshit, man! We should applaud these changes in the same way we do our girls. Certainly we shouldn't fear or cower from them.

WELCOME TO MANHOOD, BOYS! You are going to BE AMAZING AT GROWING UP! GO GET 'EM!

As for good books for boys, I did a little research, asked friends, and read various articles and these were the books that came most highly recommended when it came to tween boys and puberty. (Full disclosure. I do not own any of these books so I am recommending these based on recommendations of friends/people I respect and articles I trust.)

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ED: I'm big on the "hiding books in easy-to-find-places" thing. I realize it's probably totally passive-aggressive, but there is also something to be said for giving a child space while still providing that child with answers.

Anyway! Here are some books you may want to check out/hide around the house/in your son's room/etc:

For Younger Boys (5-9)

It's Not the Stork: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends.

For Tweens and Above:

The Boy's Body Book

American Medical Association Boy's Guide to Becoming a Teen

The Body Book for Boys

Sex, Puberty and All That Stuff: A Guide to Growing Up

The Care and Keeping of You*

RELATED: Rebecca Woolf on Letting Them Fight

*We love this book at our house. All four of my kids have read it 781728937 timesThis book we ACTUALLY have and I think it's really great for boys, too, so that they have some knowledge about what it's like to be a girl. And, yes, I think girls should ALSO read books about boy puberty for the same reason -- we cannot change a thing in this world unless we empathize with one another. It is VERY IMPORTANT for boys to respect their boundaries when it comes to girls and better understand what is happening hormonally in their classmates, but it is also important for girls to understand what is happening hormonally in boys, too. We're all in this together, after all.

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What about you? Do you have any books to recommend articles to suggest or insight to lend when it comes to talking to boys about puberty in a way that doesn't mortify?

Let's hear it, folks! Thank you in advance!

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