You may be able to relate to your daughter, but what about your son? This guide with experts (June Low, sex educator, and Shahiraa Sahul Hameed, psychologist will help you zoom in on the changes that boys go through, and tackle some of the ensuing challenges you may face at home.
1. Who should be the better candidate for this talk?
In a relationship with your children, the importance of trust, respect, and love should be evident. Shahiraa recommends, “Either parent can broach the subject, depending on who the boy is more comfortable speaking with. It is important for the parent speaking to the child to be comfortable with the details of the conversation.” She also emphasises how important it is that if you or your spouse isn’t available, a trustworthy male adult steps in to give some pointers.
2. Should your son understand how puberty affects girls?
“Ideally, conversations involving relationships with women – on respect, chivalry, and safety – should start from a much younger age, and not just before puberty. If these values are already ingrained, the chances of a boy falling back on them are much higher – to guide his behaviour when entering any romantic or sexual relationships. Having a good role model to look up to while growing up would also help them model such behaviour,” recommends Shahiraa.
3. If you have covered all your bases on puberty, what should your son remember most?
“I think the most important takeaway, when it comes to supporting your child, is to let him know that you will always be there for him. Show him that you are open to having difficult conversations,” June expresses. You don’t want your kid to have to look for answers on his own, without guidance. So, reassure him that if he has any questions, he can come to you without fear. If you do not know the answer, search for explanations and solutions together with him.
4. How should you start the conversation on sensitive subjects?
“It’s important to give him the space to work through some of these emotions on his own. Of course, personal safety and the safety of others cannot be compromised in these situations. For that, adolescents must know their limits in expressing their emotions,” explains Shahiraa. Masturbation can be quite an embarrassing subject to cover, especially among parent and children. Your son may want to avoid that subject altogether. “Referring to age-appropriate books in these discussions can be very helpful, as they can help describe the physical, emotional, and even cognitive aspects of both masturbation and wet dreams,” Shahiraa suggests.
5. When is the best time to talk to your son?
In Asian culture, many still consider it taboo to talk about subjects which are deemed as too embarrassing. So, make haste and start the conversation first with your son, Shahiraa says, “I would suggest speaking to kids about puberty – what it means, the physical and emotional changes that come with it, and how to cope – as early as possible (or even earlier if you think your child is ready for it).