As the father of three boys, one of whom is rapidly rushing headlong into puberty, the subject of their “coming of age” has been increasingly prominent in our household. Sweaty, stinky clothing, sprouting hairs, and acne have begun making appearances with alarming frequency all around us, and while my wife has our daughter’s puberty concerns on her plate, the responsibility for dealing with our sons’ questions and issues falls, logically, to me. Obviously she can’t tell them about “guy stuff”…but it’s still not a comfortable subject. How do you, as a dad, guide your son through the puberty blues and your son’s coming of age?

I remember the wildly uncomfortable day when my then-nine-year-old son informed an entire room of adults that he was growing hair on his nether regions. And no, he didn’t use that euphemistic term. After recovering from the apopleptic fit and laughter that ensued, I pulled him to the side; it dawned on me that it was time for “the talk.” Well, the first of a series of talks.

It’s a scary time for boys, to see and feel your body changing. They need to know what to expect, that they’re perfectly normal, that these things are just part of the voyage they’re taking from childhood to maturity. When you sit down with your son and discuss things, here are some things you should keep in mind.

  • Don’t hold back on details. By being vague and figurative, you can create confusion and compound erroneous beliefs about his body and what to expect.
  • Enlist help. Buy a book, one focused specifically on male puberty. Here are some good ones.
  • Make keep it short and sweet. Don’t drag the talk out for hours. Hit the high points and make sure your son knows you’re available for questions anytime.

Puberty for boys and girls is a roller-coaster time for the family, but remember, it’s worse for the kid going through it. You can’t do it for them, but you can make the process easier by being there and being proactive and supportive.