Private Parts, Public Display and Parenting Boys: A Mom’s Perspective
He Drew a WHAT?!
A mom of girls recently posted a question to me as a mom of boys, “What is the allure in drawing penises? I just don’t understand!” She was shocked at the large “thing” drawn on her driveway by a high schooler at her daughter’s party.
As a school counselor for 10-13 year olds, I routinely have to talk to boys about inappropriate things pertaining to private parts – pictures on post-its, sculptures in art classes, and conversations on the play ground. I vividly remember the note stuck in my locker as an 8th grader by a classmate who talked about gross stuff.
That was far from romantic.
In answering my friend’s question, here’s a counselor-who’s-a-mom-of-boys perspective on private parts and other inappropriate things to talk about.
- Boys are going to talk about the one-eyed snake. As their bodies change at different stages, they’ll be curious with what’s happening. A boy’s penis is part of who they are. Different ages will bring different curiosities. While girls talk about their menstrual cycles, boys talk about their “stuff.” Just as “First Moon” party video is hilarious for girls, boys find humor in their coming of age package as well.
- Sexual talk or images need to be checked out. While its common for boys to talk or joke about their “stuff,” there are times it needs to be checked out. Beyond natural curiosity, sexual images or talk, especially in younger boys and teens, can be a sign of sexual abuse or exposure to pornography. As a counselor, when sexual images are found in at school, I talk with the student. Sexual images or talk may indicate a child is being molested, groomed by a predator, or involved in pornography. I would also do the same as a parent.
- Boundaries about sexual things need to be established. Even the most vocal high school boy knows what he says isn’t appropriate for public display. Kids will say things for shock value, looking to adults to call their bluff and set the standard. This true whether its at a party, in class, or with your own kids. Simply saying, “That’s not appropriate” is sometimes enough.
- Teach your sons to be gentlemen. I’m sure my sons have their share of conversations with friends or in the locker room about “stuff.” I’ve had the awkward conversations about what’s appropriate, what’s not, and the importance of being a gentleman with my students and sons. It’s still important. They don’t have to give up their character to be respected by peers. When lived out, it speaks loudly.
- Honorable manhood is important to their generation. If men and sexuality were defined by TV, news, video games and social media, I wouldn’t let my daughter out of the house and I’d feel doomed in raising boys today. These outlets portray men with negativity, disrespect and lack of sexual integrity. It’s still possible to raise good men. Be diligent, teaching sons your values about sexuality, violence, manhood, and respect for women.
While boys will be boys, men who are honorable men will be powerful leaders in their generation. What are your thoughts, observations, or comments about this topic? How to you approach these subjects with your boys?
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