Puberty can be a difficult subject to discuss. It is such a wide-ranging and encompassing change that just one conversation won’t cover it. Add to that the awkwardness of sitting down and actually having the discussion.
Yeah, many of us parents sort of blunder through it.
Along comes an outside agency and puts everybody on an equal footing of discomfort.
I recently had the opportunity to take August to a 2 day talk about puberty and the changes boys go through. Great Conversations has been leading talks and workshops for about 20 years, and this was a fantastic introduction for August to the changes his body is about to undergo. All of the awkwardness and questions he has about this subject may not have been answered but he (and I) was given an opportunity to revisit this topic and have more discussions and questions answered.
Great Conversations spends two afternoons or evenings, usually about a week or so apart, and about 90 minutes each session, simply going through the facts. What is puberty? Who goes through it? How does it change you? Is this normal?
And yes, they touch on some basics of sex.
Awkward? Sure it was. I mean, having somebody else standing in front of a crowd of 25 or so dads and their sons discussing pubic hair and body odor, well, it can be awkward even in the best of circumstances, but in a group setting? At least it helped knowing that everybody else was feeling pretty much the same thing.
That’s what is so good about the Great Conversations sessions – the rough edges are blunted by the group setting but the right information still gets where it needs to go.
One of the nice things about these also is that it isn’t meant to take the place of any discussions you would have with your child. Instead these are augmentations and conversation starters. These aren’t meant to be comprehensive educational lessons where kids simply soak in information and then it’s done. Instead parents are prompted at times to share small stories, kids are allowed to voice their concerns, and most importantly, both parent and child a platform and background to revisit the various aspects of this topic as the need arises.
Because not every aspect of this topic can be covered, and Great Conversations knows this, it isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but a solid overview and introduction. August and I may not have learned a bunch of new things, but we now have a common language to use in further discussions.
Maybe the idea of having somebody else talk about puberty is distasteful. That’s fine. If you’re looking for a way to discuss the topic with your child, son or daughter, Great Conversations is there for you. There are two different sessions, one for boys and one for girls, and yes both have some overlapping material.
August and I walked out of both evenings feeling good about the class and there were questions he had I was able to if not answer at least address. And the door is open for more discussions in the future.
Great Conversations holds various 2-night sessions in various locations in the Seattle area. There was even an event as far away as Bend, Oregon recently. If you’re in the Puget Sound area give the page a look.
If you don’t live in the Pacific Northwest there might be other organizations holding similar events to discuss puberty with your son or daughter in your municipality. It’s an important talk to have before it hits. Great Conversations helped up get started talking about the subject. While it isn’t a replacement for simple and direct one on one conversation it can be a great way to overcome much of that awkwardness and intimidation.
Great Conversations did not compensate me for this. They didn’t even know I was writing this. I simply firmly believe in it after having experienced it and we will be doing this again with our other kids when they get to be of age.