Today I went to Target to buy a new bath mat because ours has disintegrated under our feet. By force of habit I shopped the perimeter and eventually ended up in the toy isles. I took a hard left through the barbies to the bath mats thinking to myself, “I’m so glad my “Target toy isle” shopping days are over!” Those were hard days. I now have a daughter in college, one in high school and two boys in middle school. The only time I frequent the toy isle is perhaps for a football glove, basketball, or water bottle, because we lose these things like socks in a dryer and the toddler days have been replaced by a lovely hormonal haze that smells like teen spirit.
I give you Puberty!
God has a sense of humor to bless me with two girls and two boys so I could experience puberty in it’s entirety 4 times over! 5 if I count myself! Perhaps He knew (perhaps!) that I would want to write about it and thought I should be fully informed on the topic! Allow me to share with you my findings.
First let’s talk about Boys.
Testosterone is such a raging force in my home right now and it is so “extra”. It makes pubescent boys see red upon realizing we are out of waffles and later that day speak like zombies in grunts and groans. Maybe they would rather keep the syllables short lest they expose their squeaky cracky voice. I have broken it down for you to just a few phrases.
Uh= “Good morning”
Nuh= “No thanks”.
Eh= I’m indifferent.” for instance, “How was your day?- Eh. “Do you want some dinner?”- Eh
Trying to decipher their moods and grunts seems like a full time job, not to mention playing a daily game of “What’s that smell?”
Now let’s talk about girls.
I must say, there really wasn’t too much drama during puberty with my girls. Perhaps the warning signs were familiar and I was able to cut things off at the pass, but the emotional highs and lows can be so extreme with girls; there’s just NO reasoning with them, and you of course know nothing! (even though you actually know everything.) and just as soon as you think you’ve figured it out, they’ve moved on and they no longer hate her or him or are crying their eyes out with nothing to wear. They’re… “Fine Mom… oh my God!”
It all just seems exhausting and futile and cruel I know… I KNOW! Over the years however, I have found ways to lessen the effects of puberty on us all:
- Contain it… Of course we can’t let our kids yell and scream at us as they irrationally melt down and use us as punching bags. It’s perfectly fine to expect respect from your child, let them know what is and isn’t acceptable and calmly hold them to that standard. When attitudes are flying and hormones are raging I usually try to stop the verbal abuse as quickly as I can, and suggest they spend some alone time in their rooms. When they are particularly ugly I might remove myself from the conversation and suggest they “stay in” this weekend! Frankly, a bad attitude doesn’t get rewarded with “going out”. Sometimes what they need (and don’t even know it) is a calm environment with a few boundaries. It’s also good to remind yourself that you are the adult and this is your home as you work to bring the rage and emotional outbursts under control.
- Recognize it for what it is. This is not who your child is. A friend of mine told me about a time their hormonal son was just an irrational mess during his own birthday celebration and try as they might to please him, the evening was practically ruined. After having a heart to heart with him, her husband said, ” Man I feel for him, he’s really going through it these days, I mean, this isn’t really who he is.” This stuck with me and helps me view my own kids in a different more compassionate light. Let me ask you….
Do you see glimpses of the little boy/girl you once knew? Take heart they’re still in there. Hold on and love them through this.
Do you see glimpses of the man/woman they are becoming? Take heart, they’re in there too. The lesser version you see at times is quiet possibly the two versions at war. They are in a metamorphosis, and in need of grace and mercy and support.
3. Kill it with Kindness: I pray often for compassion and understanding for my children, as I try to remember how I felt going through puberty and what I may have needed. When my hormonal child is “having a day” I find myself saying, “What can I do to help you?” Which the boys seem to respond well to and usually just need food or laundry 0r a ride, but every once in a while they open up. Be sure not to miss that opportunity! The girls usually sigh and say, “Nuuuthinnng.” which means stay here and talk and possibly find me some chocolate, but it sometimes means go away because my emotions are insatiable right now. And that is ok. Don’t grow weary! I think knowing that you are there for them and that you are for them even when they are not the best version of themselves speaks volumes.
Look, we got through it once, we can get through it again! (or 4 more times)! Contain, Recognize, Kill! This is your formula! I think it helps not to take these hormonal attacks personally. If we stay the course, taking the high road, they will remember how we supported them and loved them through this stage with kindness and care, and God willing we can have a lovely relationship with our adult children. Perhaps… I’m not quite there yet, but it is my goal.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8