If you ask a teenage boy about the joys of male puberty, he'll tell you straight, "There aren't any."
Fair enough. Chances are he's feeling a little volatile. 😀
So, what is male puberty all about, and what can you as a relative, friend, or carer expect from this massive life change?
Puberty is a natural process that every child goes through. It involves significant physical, emotional, and psychological changes. However, the transition can be particularly volatile for boys.
Boys experience a complex range of issues during puberty, including physical, social, emotional, sexual, and interpersonal challenges. Perhaps the greatest of these is finding their place in society, and also determining the type of man they want to be.
One of the first challenges boys face during puberty is physical changes. Boys' bodies go through significant transformations, including an increase in height, body hair growth, voice deepening, and muscle development.
These changes can make boys feel self-conscious about their appearance, especially if they feel that their development is not in line with their peers. For example, boys who are shorter or have slower growth spurts tend to feel inferior to their taller peers.
The absence of pubic hair is another major variable to add to a pubescent boy's anxiety.
Additionally, changes in voice pitch can lead to embarrassment or ridicule, as boys struggle to control the pitch of their voice.
Another challenge boys face during puberty is social pressure.
Boys may feel that they need to conform to certain societal expectations, such as being physically strong or emotionally tough.
Peer pressure can be particularly intense during puberty, as boys try to fit in with their social circle.
This pressure can lead to negative behaviours such as bullying, aggression, or creating fake personalities as boys feel the need to prove themselves to their peers.
Along with physical and social changes, boys also face emotional challenges during puberty. Adolescence is a time of increased emotional volatility, and boys may struggle with their emotions as they navigate the changes in their bodies. They may experience mood swings, anxiety, or depression, which can be difficult to understand or manage.
Boys can feel isolated and uncomfortable discussing their feelings, and may feel that expressing emotions is a sign of weakness. This can lead to internalising emotions and avoiding seeking help when needed.
Obsessions Lost, Obsessions Found
Pastimes or interests that possessed your teen as a child might suddenly be abandoned. That $5000 mountain bike he loved so much last Christmas? Forget it. He lives for Siamese Fighting Fish now.
New hobbies which had never interested him before, can overnight become a new obsession. That new obsession might stick forever, or just as often, it too might be forgotten in weeks to come.
Puberty is a storm of passion, obsession, and impulsive behaviour that defies analysis. Each new interest could be piqued by any catalyst whatsoever, and forgotten just as easily.
It's a time of playing with any number of personalities, or crusades, or sports, or substances, or social causes. It's a time of rebellion, tattoos, loud music, cringey behaviour, and makeup.
Don't try to understand what forces are driving your boy from one thrill to the next. It's a roller coaster, and chances are he doesn't know why he's doing it himself.
Sex and Sexuality
Another significant challenge that boys face during puberty is navigating their sexuality. As boys begin to experience sexual feelings and desires, they may feel confused or uncertain about their sexual desires, worth, and identity. They will struggle to conform with society's ever-changing expectations of masculinity and what it means to be a man.
Once a teen boy realises he has become a sexual creature, and if he is given the freedom to think, thoughts of sex and sexuality can dominate all other aspects of his life.
His constant ponderings will range from basic appearance issues such as learning to be comfortable with his own nudity, or deciding whether or not to wax his pubic hair, to more intimate subjects like sexual preference and how much masturbation is too little or too much.
Additionally, beyond their own bodies, boys may feel pressure to engage in sexual activity or prove their sexual prowess, leading to risky behaviour or unhealthy relationships.
Misinformation and disinformation within his peer groups can exacerbate all of the above.
Independence & Privacy
Finally, puberty can be challenging for boys as they begin to assert their independence and autonomy. Boys typically push back against parental authority and seek greater freedom in their social lives.
This can be difficult for parents, particularly of the helicopter variety, who find it difficult to relinquish control or who feel anxious about their child's safety.
The reality though, is that you were never meant to be their bestie for life. A parent's job is to raise them with good values, not be their bestie for life. Boys work this out early, parents take a bit longer.
At some point, parents cease to be the cool centre of a boy's universe, and for a while become something to be despised. They don't want you to understand them. They will say awful things, then - if you're lucky - come back decades later and apologise. You just have to take solace in the fact that you did all you can do. It's up to them now - That's what this stage of life is about.
Many parents try to deny what's happening, but puberty is an unavoidable journey, as boys begin to establish their identity and figure out who they want to be in their seemingly huge new world.
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Have a brilliant day,