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


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?


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!


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jul. 2nd, 2011 10:14 pm (UTC)
Getting a physical.
I remember a physical I had when I was a teenager... Even though I had the same doctor for years, I remember thinking I'd prefer a female physician. I was really uncomfortable with the prospect of a guy touching my balls.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )