IF your son is 14 years old, six years ago he was a mere eight-year-old angel-faced child, but look at him now? Now he is an adolescent on the brink of adulthood. If you haven’t spoken to your son yet about puberty and the changes that, no doubt, are taking place in his body, it is not too late, although this is a talk that should have taken place around four years ago when your son was 10 years old. Ten years old is a good age to speak to boys about puberty, because most boys begin to have ‘nocturnal emissions,’ better known as ‘wet dreams,’ around 11 to 13 years old.
If parents do not prepare their sons for this event — which will be a regular occurrence in their lives for a while — when it does happen they may think that something is wrong with their bodies, or that they have wet their beds. When on the contrary, the reason they have ejaculated during the night (while their bodies are relaxed), is because they are growing into healthy young men.
As their bodies become pubescent they think about sex and their own sexuality. It is not strange or unnatural for them to explore their bodies and to want answers to the many questions about the way it works.
Talking to an adolescent or pre-adolescent boy about ‘wet dreams’ and other adolescent bodily functions, works better when the information is coming from a man, preferably the boy’s father. Failing that, an older brother, an uncle or grandfather can impart the necessary information. But it should be someone the boy trusts and respects. Mothers can try to educate their sons about their changing bodies, nocturnal emissions, and general hygiene, if they choose, but women may find it difficult to answer questions about symptoms they have never experienced.
So many mothers live in denial or dread about their sons’ developing sexual feelings or having wet dreams. They find it almost embarrassing to accept this natural development in a boy’s life. However, living in denial is a catalyst for disaster. When young men cannot rely on their parents (or a trusted adult) to give them relevant information in a timely manner, they turn to their peers. Information passed among adolescents can be inaccurate and fictitious, sometimes even painting the picture that sexuality is all about conquest and domination or just about having a good time.
Boys need to learn responsible penis ownership and this can only happen if a trusted male adult takes the time to explain to the young man in question the facts about the circle of life. Nocturnal emissions are simply surges of testosterone; it means their bodies are preparing for procreation.
Adults, just like all living creatures on earth, possess the ability to procreate and such is the circle of life. As people grow old and pass on, young people grow up and make babies to replace them. This is only one aspect of an entire existence, but it is important that it is put into context early on in a young man’s life and especially long before he becomes sexually active.
Children change right before our eyes, physically intellectually, emotionally and socially. But sometimes parents do not care to acknowledge that their child is developing on several levels and that their development needs support.
A woman once remarked that while passing through Stabroek Market unexpectedly one afternoon, she found herself walking towards a group of secondary school boys. They were bantering and joking as they passed her by. It wasn’t until she had gone a little way down the road that she did a double take. Hold on, she thought, that boy at the front of the group I just passed, that was my son. The boy had quite a different persona, while amongst his peers and his mother, who was used to seeing him in her own ‘light’ and mind, did not immediately recognise him.
It is important for boys to learn about control: how to control their urges, their desires, their bodies and eventually their lives. Of course, they will not learn all these things overnight, but helping them to understand their bodily changes during adolescence and the reasons why, is a useful start.
They may have been only eight years old six years ago, but six years from now they will be 20 years old and there is no need for them to embark on fatherhood, either prematurely or by mistake, due to misinformation or a warped notion about sex and/or relationships, which may have been inspired by their peers or worse still, the internet.
Try not to be scared or nervous if your son asks you any questions about his changing body or puberty. Just take a deep breath and answer as truthfully as you can in an age-appropriate way. Even if you say, ‘I’ll have to get back to you on that one’ or ‘we’ll sit down and have a real good talk about that soon’, your child will feel satisfied. Just don’t continue to use delay tactics; do your research and choose words with which you feel comfortable, but if you procrastinate, it is the child, who eventually will become a man, who will miss out in the long run.
If you are concerned about the welfare of a child call the CPA hotline on 227 0979 or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDCARE AND PROTECTION AGENCY, MINISTRY OF SOCIAL PROTECTION