There comes a time in every parent’s life where you need to have the talk with your kids. You know which talk I’m talking about, right? Well, we recently had that little chat with Riley.
It’s a little bit hard to believe that my baby is a puberty hitting, pre-teen on the cusp of manhood. Inching ever closer toward the not a boy, not yet a man stage of his life and I’ve never been more terrified in my life. Don’t get me wrong, talking about sex really doesn’t concern me – talking about puberty and extra hairs sprouting up didn’t concern me either – the fact that he’s now old enough for this talk is the bit that got me.
My fresh-faced 11-year-old came to me last week to exclaim with much excitement that he was growing hair you know where. I wasn’t entirely surprised because he has been dealing with a very throaty voice lately and I know that means that his is changing. While I’m elated that my son is growing up, I have no idea what male puberty feels like. I was terrified that I’d be at a complete loss at what to tell him when this day came.
Sure, I can tell you with confidence that period pain starts at 13(ish) and never seems to end. I can tell you that pimples on your chin signal your cycle starting and that you can’t be pregnant just because your boobs hurt – you have to have sex for that. I don’t have a clue what it feels like to have your balls drop, or how it feels to have your voice break. I couldn’t be more thankful for my husband and his first-hand experience with all things testosterone related.
Paul and I initiated the talk over dinner after he got back from Thailand this week. To be fair, I kind of sprung it on the both of them in between passing salad dressing and taking a mouthful of roast chicken. Thankfully, we’ve never really made a big deal about sex in our house and it wasn’t nearly as awkward as it should have been.
From a very young age, Riley has known that we’re completely fine with whatever sexuality he is comfortable with. So it wasn’t surprising that explaining masturbation wasn’t a big deal for any of us. It was more than that, the talk was an important conversation with our son about consent. We live in a world where even kids programming portrays girls as ditzy objects to lust over, and as parents of a son, it is our responsibility to make sure he knows that is not okay.
I know that society makes it easy to justify the objectification of women and girls, it is my responsibility to ensure that Riley doesn’t follow mainstream trends. As a woman, I know all about being vigilant so that I don’t get raped – as a mom, I have to raise a son who knows that rape is wrong. I know that he is surrounded by visuals and messages that women are there to entertain, so we have to be the voice reminding him to respect women, to respect their bodies and understand consent.
My son is 11, he’s started puberty and will soon the scary descent to teen-hood. If the only thing we’re able to instil in him at this age is respecting women then we’re winning at parenting.
Have you had the talk with your kids yet? What are you most afraid of having to talk about? I love hearing from other parents, so leave your thoughts below.
Until next time.