My older son was frustrated, yet he couldn’t point to any reason for his anger flaring at a given moment. After seeing a pattern of his need to express himself and release tension—and since I have 2 sons and no daughters—it hit me: he was having his boy period!
I’m not a medical professional, but I’ve found that the more we trust our gut feeling, the better we can parent. After all, animals rely on their intuition and do the job without flipping through books and running Google searches.
Therefore, tapping into my gut feeling, I concluded that what was happening with my pre-teen was probably a rush of hormones without the bleeding.
I named this The Rage, defining it as “boy period.” It hugely helped both of us.
How to talk to your son about puberty
I began explaining about hormones traveling in the bloodstream. Seeing his blank look, I compared them to guy-guys in a video game, telling him how they were cruising on the bloodstream highway to make him grow and become a man. That seemed to register.
I coached my son to work it out and not put reason to his feeling but try to understand he was morphing into a young adult. I invited him to go to his room and punch a pillow (instead of his little brother), run around the block, bike, play music, scream, or (the evergreen) “go take a shower.”
I went on to remarry and helped raise 3 pre-teen sons on top of my own 2. They were born 5 years apart, so the above realization proved helpful again as we entered the hormone zone. The son I was telling you about is now 25, and I recently asked him about his take on this part of his childhood. I wondered if he remembered our conversation and if it was as much of an epiphany for him as it was for me.
He said he remembered my telling him that he was going to be mad, possibly without a reason. It was comforting for him to know it was a feeling that would pass and that I gave him permission to be different when he was growing up, like being allowed to paint his nails. As an adult, he tells people about that. It’s better to be unique. He admits that without that childhood conversation about not putting reason to the rage moment, he would’ve handled the rage differently. So, yes, the rage talk helped him a lot.
When I asked my middle stepson (now 22) what he remembered from our boy period talk, he said that I helped him understand it was alright to have feelings. Guys are compelled to not “feel.” He remembers learning that feeling angry doesn’t mean you’re actually mad. It could be that you’re stressed or depressed and need to work on how to sort it out so the ape brain doesn’t win.
Whether teens or seasoned adults, we all benefit from channeling our worry into a physical activity. It helps settle our feelings and take a moment to celebrate how unique we are, ape brain and all.