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The biggest two problems that you're going to have are more fighting and he's going to be keeping secrets. He's got a lot of hormones, and they're going to express themselves whether you want them to or not. In fact, the more you try to suppress them, the more damage you're going to do. I know he's going to hate me saying so, but you need to look at him as a butterfly coming out of his cocoon; the more you try to keep him in that cocoon, the less able he's going to be fly on his own. You need to let him go if he's going to fly.

 

This is not to say that you need to release him into the wild just yet (though you might want to). Let him go in stages, and you'll be all right. The first steps are the hardest, just as his were; you're entering a whole new phase of parenting, and he's going to do his best to make it easy on you. Trust me: By the time he's eighteen, you're going to want to push him out of the nest. You may even want to strap a rocket on him to help. Now's the time to make sure that he cook, clean, and basically take care of himself. That said....

 

Boys Fight

 

There used to be a time where two boys could fight and people wouldn't even pay attention to it. Unfortunately, those times have changed. It wasn't because violence was condoned, but because it was seen as a reasonably harmless way for them to deal with their hormones. However, as society has matured (we hope!), violence has less and less of a place within it. If you can sublimate the need to fight by enrolling him in a martial arts class or sports, then you may be able to avoid a lot of the problems down the road.

 

However, you need to realize that, to a degree, boys can be violent. This isn't to say that you should encourage it, just that you should be there to bandage him up and be non-judgmental while doing it. As long as it's limited to bruises and scrapes, there is no reason for you to get involved, but you should definitely step in if cuts or broken bones are involved. Be very aware that you are walking a tightrope as a parent; you need to fight the natural urge to stop him from doing what he was doing in order to prevent loss of life and just hope that he learned his lesson. Otherwise, odds are he's just going to find more ways of getting hurt, and getting hurt worse. Note that this applies only if he's doing something legal; if it's gang-related or otherwise illegal, you need to step in and step in hard.

 

Boys have a lot of hobbies that involve the potential for injury, and so you need to be on top of things when bad things happen; if you don't have insurance, odds are pretty good you're going to hate this phase of your son's life. If an accident does happen, you need to act with all of the speed of a cheetah, and as quiet as an owl; he's expecting a lecture, and you want to give it to him, but you would hate yourself if your last words to him were a lecture. Feel free to glare, however, and save the lecture until he's safe and can't run away thanks to the IV.

 

I can't stress enough that a healthy boy is not going to make your life easy. He's going to be on the go, getting into things he shouldn't, doing things you wish he had never heard of, and giving your heart a regular work-out. But...that's raising a healthy boy.

 

Adolescence and Information Control

 

Boys don't keep secrets. They practice information control. There IS a difference; secrets keep people from getting information, whereas controlling who gets what information helps streamline the process as you don't have to repeat unneeded information more than needed. Let's just say that there is a reason that boys understand the “need to know” concept.

 

It's important to understand this when it comes to boys and their bodies. When it comes to injuries, they know that you are going to react in extreme fashion when it comes to relatively minor things like broken arms; you're going to restrict him and otherwise make it difficult for him to repeat it. Besides being bad parenting (see above), it's going to add to the inborn persecution complex. And if they know that is your standard reaction, imagine how they think that you would react to something of actual importance, like puberty.

 

Because of this, you're going to be out of the loop a lot. He's going to be doing a lot of things and he's not going to be telling you more details than are absolutely necessary to get a ride from you there. It's not because he doesn't respect you; in a weird yet basic way, his counting on you is a form of respect. Even after ticking you off, he's going to hope that you'll be driving to the dance, but that's kids for you.

 

When it comes to his changes, he's not sure of what's happening to him, but he has a general idea. He's not going to like not having the facts to tell you what's going on, so he's going to avoid telling you until he does in order to not make you nervous; if it freaks him out, he can only imagine how you would react. However, rather than pressing the situation, you need to learn when to give him room. You need to loosen the strings a bit and let him figure things out on his own, just like you did when his reports were due. He needs that space now more than ever, and it's going to help not only build his confidence by accomplishing things on his own.

 

Just remember how cute he was when he was young, and you should be okay...

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, so now it's the mother's turn....

Laundry?

It may sound silly, but you need to teach your son laundry. You're going to need to do it sometime, and if he's going to slip something red into the whites, it's better he do it when you can show him what bleach is all about.

However, the parental paradox inserts itself rather rudely here. As a mother you want to do small things for your son so that you ensure that he's your little boy. There's also the logistical issues of having to deal with a lot of laundry on a weekly basis, especially when there are a lot of boys trying to deal with their own laundry. So obviously there are a number of good reasons for you to do the laundry, right?

Nope.

Your son is probably having to deal with just his homework and probably some team sport, and that's about it. He may include video games, hanging out, and exaggerate his chores, but those don't count, and you as a parent shouldn't allow them. By the same token, all you have are excuses as to why he shouldn't be doing his own laundry; he has time, and you don't. You may, but that doesn't matter; he has the time do a little extra, and he should be taking responsibility for his messes sometime. Now is that time.

More importantly, he's hitting some interesting times, and he's going to want more privacy for dealing with his physical issues. It's not that he's necessarily keeping secrets, it that he doesn't know how to deal with the situation and he simply doesn't want to embarrass himself. This should not be seen as an affront to your parenting skills by any stretch; he just recognizes that you're ability to help him has shrunk because you lack the experience that he needs. It's easy to say that puberty hits boys and girls, but you need to realize that puberty for boys is different than for girls (no menarche to begin), and that he's dealing with an entirely different set of expectations (for example, causing pregnancy rather than being pregnant).

Even though a lot of advice may go both ways, your kid isn't going to be listening to you as much, especially if you've done your job right. You should have taught your son critical reasoning; to go to the best expert he can get his hands on and the most applicable to his situation. In this case, a mother isn't the best or most applicable expert when it comes to boys undergoing puberty. If he wants to know how girls think, or how to impress them, then you are his, um, man.

The best thing that you can do is just give him space, let him know that you're there if he needs to talk about girls, and, most importantly of all, teach him about laundry.

[To put this in a more clinical fashion: At the very least, your son is going to be dealing with nocturnal emissions, voluntary or otherwise. This can be a source of embarrassment for your son, as he either doesn't know what causes them, or (even worse) does know what is causing them. If he doesn't know, then the splotches that appear in his shorts are a source of embarrassment, and, to some degree, fear. At the other extreme, he likes the pleasure caused by them, but is embarrassed discuss them with you. Teaching him to do his own laundry isn't just an object in cleaning up his own messes; it prevents a lot of embarrassing discussions with his mother. And no matter how loving or open you are, it's only going to cause him embarrassment and to close up even more. Just teach him how to do laundry, and you'll not only have a bonding moment, but you'll teach a valuable skill as well.]

Running With The Pack

Another consideration is that he should not be confiding in you as much at this age. He should be seeking outside sources or depending on the male figure in his life. He needs the experiences of his peers and elders, as he needs to know what to expect and how to plan for it. Your instincts on what is important to him are generally going to be contradictory to what he needs, no matter how well-intentioned. It may be bad advice under normal situations, but you need to let boys be boys;  he needs space, and you won't be helping him to keep under your apron. Be seeking to control him and keep him close, he loses something vital that he needs much later on. He needs allies and confidants his own age, and, if he is going to develop normally, he needs a chance to get them.

Your kid will do fine if you let him have the chance. You need to let him succeed or fail on his own some time, and the best time is when you can help pick up the pieces. Keep that in mind before you limit him to where you can see him. He needs to run, not stay; he's not a plant that does well under observation and constant care, but a wolf that requires room to run and others to run with, but a place to sleep that he knows is safe. So let him run, and he should come back to you. Keep him chained, and he'll run as far away as he can when he gets the chance.

One other thing: Things are going to get hairy during this age; he's going to push everything to the limit because he needs to know his limits. He knows that they've increased. He's capable of taking on greater responsibility and he knows it. You need to recognize that as well; it may be easier to keep him in line, but he's going to hate you and disrespect you for it. If you respect him, he's going to respect you, and that means that any argument you get into will have limits. If there is mutual respect, then he is willing to let you win and even back down. And that can be worth it in the long run....


Doctors and Your Son

Oh, and it may come up, so: Make sure his doctor is a guy. This isn't as sexist as it may seem. When he was younger, any doctor would do. However, he's gong to have a possibility of a certain physical reaction when touched by a female physician, especially when he's in nothing but his underwear. Meaning that he's not going to be giving accurate readings to her instruments. In order to eliminate this issue, get him a male doctor as soon as you can.

Just remember the laundry, please!


Dads & Sons: The Good News, sorta

Now that you know why you want to kill your father, there is some good news. Sort of.

Traditions
The first is that you are more receptive to traditions. Because of the sheer tumultuousness of puberty, you are looking for a rope to keep you tethered to reality. As such, traditions do a splendid job of this. As they link you to the past, they create a psychological anchor that you can hold on to even as the rest of your life seems to be changing into something that you can't handle. They remind you that others have survived, and that you will as well.

Better yet, they are also a useful way for lessons and information to be passed down to you that would be more difficult in other ways. Families with a hunting tradition, for example, usually teach the kid a lot about hunting at this age, from tracking to dressing to killing the animal. your father and other relatives are going to see this as a last chance to teach you about anything except sex, and will take full advantage of it. As such, expect a lot of arcane knowledge to be passed down at this stage. Of course, also expect a lot of hazing at this stage and try to enjoy it.

New Responsibilities
You also have new abilities at this age, and those abilities are of use to your family. Not only are bigger, and thus stronger, you are also more patient, able to follow instructions better, and basically capable of dealing with bigger responsibilities. As such, you will be helping with families more as well as doing more. You should actually encourage this new abuse, as it will allow you to learn habits that will serve you well in later years. You now start establishing yourself and creating your own reputation, and one that is separate from your father's or other brothers.

At the same time it also presents you with new areas in which to mess up and lose control. The good news that it is expected; any intelligent person knows that  someone new to something will screw up and that it's just a matter of time. The key question is not how badly you will screw up, but how you handle it. Learn to be patient with yourself, and don't be too embarrassed when you do screw up, and you should be fine. And, yes, you will be angry at yourself; that's fine and people will expect it. Just don't wallow in it too much.

Warning Label!
You may want fathers to read this part!

Here's the fun part: The two of you are engaging on a journey where the rules have changed. It's important to recognize that the rules have changed, or are changing, and that you need to allow for those changes. You're not yet a full adult, and some room needs to be allowed for you to make mistakes. At the same time, you need to opportunity to make those mistakes as well. On one hand you need tp be given more leeway, but that you also need to show more of your reasoning before you do things, at least until others are assured of your ability to deal with those greater responsibilities.

Something that needs to be noted is that the relationship is changing from adult/kid to adult/adult. The boy is becoming capable of making more adult decisions, but still needs a firm hand. You can let them off on their own, but make sure that they check in every so often.

Turning 13 isn't some mystical magical number where you all of a sudden have greater insight. You need to recognize that there will be increased friction between you and your father; there will be numerous times where you think that you deserve greater leeway, and yet he may not see it that way. You need to learn how to bargain, but also trust in your father's judgment when you aren't given what you want. You're too old to act like a spoiled child, but you also also need to learn how to persist but when to back down. Learn all of that, and you should do well over the next few years. Remember that logic should rule your actions, even though emotions may be more fun. After all, the goal of this guide is to help you survive until 18!

Fathers vs. Son: Territorial Issues


Obviously, most of the issues between fathers and sons are because the sons are now trying to define their own territory. Fortunately, there are several different kinds of territory.

Physical Territory

This is the obvious one, but not necessarily the most appropriate. Eventually, the boy will need his own territory; until then, he is more than willing to share it with others. The werewolf analogy is rather appropriate for boys of this age;  they tend to be more of the wolf pack mentality rather than bear. Once a boy starts to get serious about dating, he'll be more interested in his own territory, so that he can decorate how he wants and for the obvious privacy. Until then, he'll prefer to do things as part of a group rather than by himself.

However, this does mean that he'll be interested in defending his shared territory. The boy will be more willing to die in order to defend his family and home; after all, he now feels that he has to prove himself, and he also has reason to do so: By proving himself a good defender he will also prove himself ready to be considered a man. Consider the difference in video games and movies: He is not interested in platform jumpers and puzzle-solving games, and prefers first-person shooters and fighting games. He is no longer interested in kid movies, and prefers horror movies and violent movies. Although it could be argued that it desensititizes the kid, I think that it's worth pointing out that it's far better than the old-fashioned way, where the kid saw death meted out first-hand rather than symbolically. By running as a pack rather than solo, the boy is better able to defend the territory (strength in numbers and all that).

There are some obvious issues with running with a pack; the boy will leave all decisions to the pack's leader, and the pack leader will make decisions more to solidify his position and to maintain popularity. This means that, when he runs with the pack, his effective intelligence drops by half, natural cunning doubles, and his decisions will be based more on emotion; this explains why so many boys get in so much trouble at this age. However, this does mean that the boy is perfectly set up for the role that society has, until recently, needed the boy to fill: Cannon fodder. I know it sounds bad, but combine a group that is into guerrilla tactics, is focused only on proving themselves, and takes orders easily, and you have a group that any commanding officer would be proud to command.

In essence, because the boy is unable to have his own territory, he defends that which may be his. The bad news is that it means that gang behaviors are inevitable, but if you can find a way to shift those behaviors a bit you could have a reasonable powerful source for good. It's just a matter of giving the pack a goal that helps the neighborhood. It helps to look at the Boy Scouts as the largest gang ever: Survival skills, divided into packs, and a large number of solvable goals. Something to consider...

Mental Territory

This is generally the more applicable territory. The boy needs to define himself, and he can't exactly carve out a piece of the local landscape; the obvious alternative is to define himself as important, and the best way to do that is to carve out a niche for himself. The other reason that boys run as a pack is that it allows them to specialize in a particular skillset while at the same time being able to access different skills. You can develop the leader, the charmer, the brain, and the muscle, as well as other or more specialized niches, without really losing access to those skills.

It should be noted that the more academic types seem to be immune to this, but they tend to specialize into specific areas of study, with status based on how esoteric that specialization is. It may not seem logical to an outsider, or that it seems to be based on making oneself more useless, but keep in mind that those fields tend to be in  a weird situation: They have a practical application, but it's extremely limited. This is because boys tend to think in terms of physical skills, and so any skill that doesn't involve physical expression (lifting thing, making things, breaking things, or moving things) is basically useless anyway. Thus, going after the esoteric is just an extension of that; academic skills are useless, so let's just make it as useless as possible. Suffice to say that engineering is a great compromise between the physical and mental. Especially if you can make it engineering of some extinct race that built pyramids, like the Mayans.

This can provide a bridge as well as conflict. It can provide between father and son, as the son wants to learn everything about the skill from his father. This can thus be a great bonding experience. However, it can be a problem when the kid moves; he not only needs to find a pack that needs that skill, but also one that allows him his niche. It's because of this that boys don't like moving; there is no promise that they will find the right pack.

This also explains a lot of the rebelliousness, literal-mindedness and talking back that seems to accompany the teen-age years; the best way to establish your own niche is by destroying someone else's. If he's gong to be The Authority on something, then he needs to establish that there is a need for it, and so he needs to eliminate the current authority on something. Although the negative connotations are obvious (conflict always results in damage of some sort), there is an advantage: By pushing the current authority, norms are questioned and are therefore justified or changed. Allowing the boy to challenge authority should therefore be allowed, but limits should be placed on it; as such, that gives the boy the position of questioner, giving him a niche that is both valuable and extremely annoying. What boy wouldn't want that role?

[As a side note, this also explains boys that are extremely conservative: Not only is it a valuable niche to fill, it's also one that few want. It's also a form of rebellion in and of itself, but against the idea of teen-age rebellion instead of grown-up complacency. Every group should have one, because it keeps the pack grounded and out of the worst trouble, especially if he's not just the conscience of the group but respected for that.

Problems with The Pack

Once the boy has defined his territory, it becomes a second skin, and gives him the base that he needs to grow from. However, there is the potential for catastrophe, as he doesn't think for himself when he's part of the pack. There is a sort of  groupmind, where the group does what the group wants, and may not be what the individual wants to do. In a way, the boy needs that vacation from decision-making; he's having to make a lot of decisions that may have tremendous effect later on and he is unable to even visualize those effects. Even if the kid is a great chess player, he is most likely unable to realistically conceptualize himself even a few years in advance, and so he needs a way in order to relax the decision-making part of his brain while allowing for the learning process.

Can you think of a better reason for half of the stuff that teen-age boys do? Streaking, smashing mailboxes, and basically being jerks have their beginnings in establishing their niche and their pack. This is also where experimentation with drugs and sex begin, as well as bad garage bands. As a parent, you need to do one of the hardest things you will ever do: You need to allow this, as long as it doesn't start doing irreparable damage. It's like a vaccine: A little rebellion now, establishing who he is, will help eliminate a lot of soul-searching and rebellion later on, allowing the kid to concentrate later on (highly useful during college, for example). I hate saying it, but you need to let boys be boys; they will be no matter how much you try otherwise, so you may as well as enjoy the ride. Let them control the wheel, don't forget that you control the brakes and that gas pedal should always be up to negotiation.

The Risks and Rewards of Fatherhood

A father's son represents his immortality; not only the kid represent his genetic immortality, but also that of what he values the most. He teaches his son what he hopes will survive to the next generation, and instills in him that which he hopes will help him However, he is most tempted to take out his son during adolescence.

There are several complaints that seem to follow every generation:
  • This generation is more disrespectful than mine.
  • This generation will destroy itself.
  • This generation has so many more problems to face than mine.
  • The music of this generation is the worst ever.
  • This generation is far more selfish than mine ever was.
  • How can the kids of today ever hope to deal with the world of tomorrow?

The most amusing part is that every generation has had the same issues with the generation following it. It's almost scary how regular these complaints come up. Adolescents are always going to come off as being disrespectful; if you had to boil down the essence of what an adolescent, does it is to push boundaries, and being disrespectful is part of that. However, keep in mind that they will learn respect the hard way, and thus learn respect; just give them time and the hard knocks that come with it. By the same token, bear in mind that they will get over their apparent selfishness as they learn better teamwork, and to value the strength that it gives.

Just as generations past have risen to deal with the problems that they were presented with, so shall the current generation. They will probably use different solutions than your generation did, but they also have more technology than your generation did, and each generation tends to think in different terms than the generation prior, just as that generation did the generation prior to it. In essence, the new generation is just as unlikely to destroy itself as was the generation prior to it, and yet we're all still here. Sorry about the music, but there are worse things that could have happened, right?

However, one constant is that fathers and sons will always come into conflict. It's simply that the son has to establish his independence, and he thinks that, at some level, he has to rebel against his father at some point. This should not be seen as some form of regressive behavior, but as a natural consequence of growing up. It's not just the hormones (even though it may be fed by it); there's also psychological reasons for it as well; the boy doesn't see himself as able to stand on his own unless he is able to stand up for himself, and obviously the first person he needs to stand up to his father, who represents repression of his independence. As such, you should not only allow for the rebellion, but encourage it a bit. It's the first few steps into manhood, and as such marks an important part of the journey.

Some fathers will seek to decrease or eliminate the kid's need for conflict; this is poor parenting and the sign of a weak father. This is an important part of childhood, and should not be seen as something to be ignored or put aside. Although I appreciate that some fathers don't like conflict, and don't like it, they need to realize that conflict is part of the human condition and is a necessary part of growth. It's interesting that people try to eliminate conflict because they think that humanity would be better without it, but don't bother to understand why it happens.

It should be noted that victory is not important, only that the father recognize that the boy has a different opinion than the father. The point of the conflict is not for the boy to win, but for the boy to advance. By changing his father's perspective on him, the boy gets what he needs. At the same time, so does the father; he gains an extra pair of hands and eyes, as well as the first glimmers that he is raising a man and not a mere automaton. The father also gains someone who is not afraid to contradict him, and that can be just as valuable, as it keeps the father from becoming too staid in his decisions and willing to try new things at his son's request.

That's something that you need to meditate on, that rebellion is an important part of the boy establishing his own place in the order, outside of his father's. It's not just a need for territory, but a need to establish himself as an entity apart from his parents. And that's an important step for the son as well as for that father....

Education Begins With The Parents


[Yeah, yeah;  the next couple of weeks are parents...then it gets interesting...] 


The Parental Pardox

The Parental Paradox is that the moment of purest joy and pure grief for parents is the same moment: When you realize that the kid doesn't need you anymore. In a lot of ways, it's the day that you work towards as a parent, but the realization that you aren't needed anymore wouldn't sit well with anyone.  Puberty marks the biggest leap to that moment, and is the sign that the time relatively peaceful days of parenting are almost over. In other words, if you think things are chaotic now, just realize that you will soon remember the current situation as the "Good Old Days".Marks measuring height will soon be replaced by countdowns until when they go to college.


Too many parents feel guilty about wanting to get rid of kids. You've spent a lot of time and effort raising the kid, and now you want to have nothing to deal with him. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT THIS. It's a perfectly natural part of being a parent. You're going to feel that the kid is leaving you, and you may resent that. Some parents deal with this by taking more control over the kid's life; if you do react that way, note it and back away. The more control you take, the more he will depend on you as an adult, the less functional of an adult he will be, and aren't you trying to raise him to a functional adult?


The kid should be making more of his own decisions, and if you prevent him from making those decisions, you're hampering his ability to make decisions as an adult. Your kid should be making more decisions, and you should be encouraging him to do so. Don't be afraid to advise him, but try to limit your advice to when asked for it. Obviously, don't be offended if that advice isn't always asked for; he needs practice making decisions on his own, and he won't always be able to ask your advice. More importantly, you may not be the best person to ask, and it's good to see that he is looking for people that can actually help him.


That independence is what you are trying to instill in him. It's just part of the way things work out; you will find, if you haven't already, that not controlling the kid is a big part of parenting. You should now be helping to push him ever so slightly out of the nest, not pull him to the center of it.



Changing Expectations


A major issue that will come up is that your expectations need to change, as the boy's abilities are radically changing. In other words, he's capable of far more at thirteen than he was at ten; his technical skills are going to phenomenally increase as he realizes that the computer isn't just a research tool, and that he can learn to drive in a few years. He's also stronger, faster, sturdier and capable of concentrating longer than he could just a few years ago, once you allow for daydreaming (and you know you can't help smile a bit when you read that!). Look at it this way: He may be capable of using that power mower now that he couldn't a few years ago. That his abilities are changing means that you need to recognize that, no matter how nervous it may make you.


As a parent, you need to challenge your son in order to properly raise him; even if he messes up, would you rather him mess up now, or when you have no ability to slap him if he screws up? You need to allow for increasing amounts of responsibility, and holding him to those responsibilities will make him more likely to respect you, especially when he starts realizing that those responsibilities are actually important. After all: You are no longer at the stage where he will respect merely for bringing home the bacon; he's at the stage where he will respect you more when you respect him. You need to learn to enjoy that he doesn't need you as much, as it allows you to do other things that actually do require your notice (like other kids or starting that internet business you were thinking about).


Realize that his capabilities are changing, and respect those changes, or you will make things more difficult. The road ahead is going to bumpy enough; why add speed bumps?

Parental Warnings

Obviously, this is not going to be a blog about to raise your boy; you've read plenty of those, and so this entry more to act as a warning label for your kid. Just a real long one…with lots of words.


Generic Warning

Okay; first off: This is not a book written by someone with a degree in childcare, psychology, or anything even related to mental health (in fact, it could be argued that a journalism degree is the exact opposite, but I digress). Rather, this is written as an uncle's advise to his nephews. When it comes to children, parents raise them, grandparents teach them, and uncles corrupt them give them practical experience in the mentioned topics. In other words, Daddy teaches them the basics of how to ride a bike, Grandpa will teach them all the tricks (without hands, wheelies, basic jumps), and Uncle shows them how to build a ramp. As such, this book is probably the last thing you want them to read.


When it comes to puberty, uncles have an entirely different perspective. Fathers are aware that puberty may come with a lot of rewards, but there are a lot of hazards. Being responsible  parents, they are going to do their level best in order to minimize the hazards, so that the boy can become a man. The father and son will come into conflict, and most of those conflicts are because the father is trying to protect his son. Expect a lot of conflicts; if the boy never disagrees with you, and you never at least shout at each other, then you just haven't done your job as a father or your son is a Vulcan. He needs to know that he can yell at you in anger; it's an almost physical need, and will actually help him adjust. Of course, keep in mind that you can yell back; learn to look at this as a perk, or at least a way of dealing with a bad day and you should do fine.


Grandfathers are going to their level best in order to make sure that the two of you don't kill each other. Occasionally, he will back off and just let you two go at it, but he will try to intercede. This is going to be one of the trickiest part of being a grandfather, as he is still raising his son (the boy's father) while at the same time teaching his grandson. Above all, he doesn't want to see the two yell at each other. As such, I'm telling grandfathers the key to dealing with the situation: Let them at each other. You can deal with bruises physical and emotional afterwards; they need the chance to sort things out, and, well, sometimes the best way to deal with two fires is to let them attack each other. Just like any firefighter, contain the damage, recognize that there will be collateral damage, and deal with the damage afterwards. And don't be apologetic; the grandson needs the chance to blow off some steam, and isn't quite at the point where he can do any real damage to the father. The father, of course, needs to establish order, and being the lightning rod for his son's anger is exactly where he needs to be.


[Note that I'm not trying to okay any violence that happens. I'm just saying that the boy may occasionally flare up due to the hormones coursing through his system, and lacks the maturity to deal with that. As such, things may get stormy; just ride it out and deal with the damage afterwards.]


This is why medieval kids were apprenticed out; if they stayed home, they could have gotten killed by the fathers. Getting the boy out of there is now the role filled by the uncle; he gives the father a chance to cool off and prepare for the next flare-up, while at the same time giving the boy a chance to figure out what he did wrong, as well as tips on how to deal with that anger (and yes, I will be dealing with that). In other words, the father deals with the flare-up itself, the grandfather limits the damage, and the uncle enacts measure to limit the flare-up.

Mothers, of course, have a need to ensure domestic tranquility; adolescence will disrupt that tranquility. Be advised that the best thing you can do is to let it happen. If you're raising the kid alone, you will need to take on the role of the father; the best advice I can give is to remember your own puberty, and bear in mind the times that you barely kept your anger in check, as your son is now undergoing his own version of that. Also, keep in mind that his respect for you will keep him from attacking you physically; you'll still need to deal with the anger, but you should be able to weather it fine.

All of that said, realize that this blog is not politically correct by any stretch of the imagination. This is not because of any inherent racist, sexist or other limited mentality; rather, it's an attempt to look at a very confusing time of a boy's life realistically, and to help him through it. I will be talking about a lot of topics that you would never want to talk to your kid about, but you know needs to be discussed on some level. As such, I expect a lot of people to use my name as a new swear word. Sort of look at it this way: Would you rather someone bring it up and give them both sides, or would you like it limited to locker room discussions? Yes: I'm going to discuss masturbation, hazing, and homosexuality at length, and in very specific terms. A lot of other things are going to be brought up, but I figure those are the ones that will scare you the most.

In other words, it's going to be frank and honest, and liable to annoy just about anyone. You have been warned.


This is not The Talk

And don't forget: Do not use this blog as a substitute for that one great moment of total humiliation between father and son. This blog is meant to supplement that discussion, not take them over. I may be able to suggest some topics, but it's ultimately you that will need to direct him. Read: I am trying to avoid taking a religious stand in this blog, even though religion will most definitely be touched on. It's up to you to give direction in that regard, and to watch what he's doing. Be aware that this blog will take interesting stands; it's up to you as parents to determine if this site is acceptable.


And it's definitely up to you to take the first steps in recognizing that your son is becoming a man. This means that you need to take that all-important first step, and realize that he is just as embarrassed to discuss his bodily functions as you are. But…not only is it a bonding experience, and one that needs to happen, but it sets the stage for further dialogue, and keeps you in the loop when important things happen in his life. On the other hand, not talking to him demonstrates that you aren't interested in him, and so he's not likely to consult with you, and any questions about his activities will be met with hostility.


In short, I'm not trying to step on anyone's toes, and that you have every right to disallow this blog. I hope that this will help...

Werewolves

Moonlight streaming through the clouds hits a man. Hair grows denser and longer. Muscles bulk up. Teeth and fingernails grow longer and denser, becoming fangs and claws. In moments, the man is transformed into a raging engine of fur, muscle and claws, hell-bent on destroying any and all that he encounters, the countryside falling to his appetite.

Werewolves are one of our most enduring myths; there is not a single culture that doesn't have some legend of lycanthropes, and most have a number of creatures. Scientists have even gotten into the mix, with several explanations of how the myth could have started, with several theories running around. I'm going to look at another.


You need to consider that the changes wrought by lycanthropy are the same as those wrought by puberty, just not as dramatically. The boy becomes hairier, as well as gaining muscle mass. There is no question that the boy's temper becomes worse, as hormones take control and change the boy into a man. During this, his appetite increases to fuel his change.

Consider that for a moment. A boy at ten and that same kid at eighteen are physically different enough that it's hard to believe that they are the same person. The ten-year old is basically hairless; the eighteen-year old is virtually covered in the stuff, and in places that the ten-year old doesn't have any. The eighteen-year old is definitely smellier; the ten-year old could go for days without a bath, even with hard play, without really smelling as bad as the eighteen-year old does after a few hours of laying around. A ten-year old is a wimp compared to most eighteen-year olds, where even the weakest teen-ager is capable of feats that the younger boy would find hard to reproduce. Not to mention that the ten-year old just isn't capable of the raw anger that the eighteen-year old is; maliciousness, sure, but in a cold calculating way rather than raw anger.


In short, could it be that every culture has werewolves is because they all have teen-age boys? The transformation may be in years rather than mere moments, but the effect is the same: You take a meek, mild-mannered hairless boy, and puberty transforms him into a raving hairy monster. There isn't some mysterious disease or weird condition; it's just a metaphor for something that happens to all guys around twelve years of age or so. I'm not trying to de-mystify it; I'm trying to point out just how important it is. It's important enough that people have created myths about it, and it's something that scares everyone: Ever heard of a pleasant old myth about werewolves?


But that it happens to all guys is an important detail. And rather than trying to look at it as something new, you need to realize that what you're going through is the same thing that all men have gone through, as well as a number of older boys. So, yeah, you should be afraid; you should be very afraid. But let's see if I can help you walk through the Big Stuff.


This blog is all about the boy's transformation into an adult. Not only are there going to be some scary periods, there are going to be some fun times as well. I'm not going to be nice about this; it is going to be a scary time. However, any period of dramatic growth can be scary. I can only hope that this will be of some use to not only the boy, but the boy's family as well.


But I guess I should deal with the parents first. After all, they need some guidelines on how to deal with the kid...