Taking Care of You: Parenting Through Puberty
Paula Chapman

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This post is part of our Taking Care Of You series in partnership with HelloFlo and VProud’s Master Classes. Master Classes were born out of the belief that all women should have access to vetted health and parenting information via doctors and experts, rather than search engines. This post contains affiliate links.

With a thirteen-year-old boy in our house and all the craziness that entails, the Parenting Through Puberty class was perfect. Our son shot up in height dramatically right before he turned 13 and suddenly grew a mustache and a lot of leg hair. None of his friends were going through these changes, and other adults were making comments about it in front of him, which was such a hit to his self-confidence. While I couldn’t stop all of these comments to him, I could better prepare myself to help him build up that confidence.

What I loved about this class was the reassurance that the first-hand changes we witnessed from body hair to moodiness to stinky feet are normal. As parents, we assume this is normal but then societal pressure and commentary make us feel that there is a timetable for these changes. The speed of my son’s bodily changes was pointed out as unusual and attributed to everything from growth hormone-laden milk to hidden GMOs in the pasta I fed him. None of these things were true, yet I still carried the guilt that it must have been something I did. This course did a lot to correct that perception and show how every child is different in the timing and range of the changes they face.

Another fascinating fact that was discussed was the science of puberty. The development of the frontal lobe and limbic system of children’s brains during puberty means that their decision-making abilities are years away from being fully formed, and in some cases that development is not finished until they are 30 years old. Because of the development of their limbic systems at this stage, children are highly influenced by peers. Telling them not to worry about how others see them? It may not work at this age because their brains are engineered to respond to how others view them. Our involvement in bolstering their decision-making skills and self-confidence during this period is crucial.

When decision-making is still under development, it is also crucial to remember our role as vigilant parents regarding access and use of technology. Children today are more likely to Google the answer to their embarrassing questions rather than ask their parents. I shudder to think about the first five words my son might put into a search engine and what images that would pull up.

Even for parents who feel they have a handle on what puberty means, this class is an eye-opener and offers some great practical tips to ride out this roller coaster ride.

Learn more about Parenting Through Puberty on HelloFlo and join the conversation on VProud.


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A Colorado native who set down roots in San Francisco for many years, Paula Chapman is now an official Minneapolis transplant with her husband, son and two dogs. She was a contributing author to Mamas Write:29 Tales of Truth, Wit and Wisdom and has shared her personal essays at Listen To Your Mother Twin Cities, LitQuake, The Mama Monologues and on her blog.
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