My oldest son turned 13 this summer, so we’ve officially stepped into “those years” (as several parents, safely past this phase, grimly referred to it in a recent conversation). We’ve already been in “hormone land” for a while, however — the moodiness, body odor, and growth spurts started up over a year ago. I’m ready for it, though (maybe), because I’ve been preparing, wanting to help my boys through this phase better than my parents did with me. And never having been a teenage boy myself, I’ve felt the pressure to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible.
Several books have been particularly valuable in helping me plan for and understand this phase, including “Brainstorm” by Dr. Dan Siegel. While I was reading it, I mentioned to Sam (my teenager) that this book was about teens, and I was learning that at this age he would sometimes feel like a man, and other times he would still want to be a kid, and that this was perfectly normal. Further, I said that I was also learning about why teens (boys especially) feel the urge to take risks and, sometimes, have difficulty controlling their anger (not things I remember experiencing as a girl). With tears welling in his eyes, he said “Yeah, that’s all true. I didn’t know that was normal. Can you please keep reading that book, Mama?” So there you go — money and time well spent.
Another book, one I read years ago but have been revisiting lately, is “The Minds of Boys” by Michael Gurian. This book has provided me with so many insights that I wouldn’t have gained anywhere else — I highly recommend it for moms with boys of any age. You’ll be amazed by all the things you didn’t know that now make sense.
But not everyone has time to read entire books these days, so when I came across this recent Huffington Post article “Top 15 Things Your Middle School Kid Wishes You Knew”, I couldn’t wait to share it. There’s gold in here, as confirmed by Sam (he read it, too), and it struck some chords with me as well as I reflected on the frustration and confusion of my own teen years. It’s a great “Cliff Notes” version of the wisdom in the other books that will get you through until you have more reading time. The good news is: it’s okay to make them take showers and use deodorant!