This Week’s Word is “Puberty”
Most of what I write about for GeekDad leans towards the first part of our name. Rarely do I write about parenting, but this week’s Word Wednesday channels straight into the looming unknown in my parenting life: Puberty. The thought of which sends me into a tailspin. Not because of my own (that was all dice and dragons and a very long time ago) but because I have a twelve-year-old, and it feels like we’re on the threshold of everything changing.
Fortunately, those clever people at DK books have produced a manual to help families through it: Help Your Kids With Growing Up.
Note: This is the UK edition. The US edition appears to be called Help Your Kids With Adolescence.
What is Help Your Kids With Growing Up?
It’s 250 pages of helpful guidance and advice on the changes that inevitably come with teenage years. For those who have yet to go through it (or at least for their parents), it’s a comforting manual on what may be around the corner.
The book is split into 12 Chapters, each one examining an area of teenage life. These sections are:
- Growing Up
- Female Puberty
- Male Puberty
- Healthy Body
- Healthy Mind
- Achieving Potential
- Digital Life
- Wider World
The layout of the book is excellent. It’s very easy to find what you’re looking for. Key points are arranged in color-coded boxes that direct you to read them. Some are aimed at your teen, others at you, but all of them are worth reading, whoever you are, because they usually give perspective to the other person’s point of view. There are also other text boxes, entitled “Alert!” and “Good to know.” These bits of general information are aimed at any reader of the book.
The book’s graphics and the way its text is laid out, I would say, is appealing to teens too. It’s cool and clear without trying too hard. There’s nothing embarrassing in the style of the book, even if (inevitably) some of the content may be awkward for your teen to read, knowing that you’ve read it too.
The book strongly promotes the importance of the development of a sense of self and the teenage transition to finding an identity separate from their parents. The book stresses the importance of a good mental health and the evolving emotions of teenagers. There are sections devoted to building confidence, self-esteem, and resilience in our modern, connected, extroverted world.
The book also contains vitally important sections on gender and sexuality. Attitudes, terminology, and understanding in these areas have changed hugely since I was a teenager, and it’s extremely helpful to have things laid out in a clear, dispassionate, and factual manner, one that stresses the importance of acceptance.
The biggest change, of course, from my teenage years to my sons’ is the digital revolution. Again, the chapter on Digital Life is excellent. In our family, it’s easy to see that use of technology and social media is likely to be one of the biggest causes of friction in the next few years. The Digital Life chapter examines where the clash points might be, and suggests mechanisms for helping reduce them. Again, it dispassionately examines each party’s point of view, enabling both sides to understand the other’s position. This may be vital in damping down potential flashpoints.
The Digital Life section looks at the importance of the internet for teenagers, but also its pitfalls. Not just the obvious super-scary bits like online grooming, but also practical aspects, like good password etiquette or the effect of too much screen time on sleep patterns. It stresses the importance of reality checks and regrounding in real-life, if the whirl of social media competition becomes too much. It should help your teen see that it’s not just their parents on their case, that they are not alone when facing these issues.
Should You Buy Help Your Kids With Growing Up?
I’m the sort of person who loves to absorb information from books (it’s probably why I write these posts), so I’m predisposed to like this sort of book. Nevertheless, I think this is an invaluable guide to any family with teenagers or who are about to have them. It’s hard to imagine anybody begrudging the $20 (or £15) that the book costs.
Even if you don’t ever show it to your teenager, the book is wonderful just for grounding whirling thoughts and worries about the forthcoming years. I think, shared with your child, it becomes even stronger, assuming they are happy to look at it too. By breaking things down in a dispassionate manner, and without judgment, the book is excellent for building bridges and understanding between parents and teen. I’ve read and reviewed a great many books over the years. Help Your Kids With Growing Up may well be the most important.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book to write this review.