Being a dad By Kate Halim

If you are having a hard time talking to your son as he gets older, you are not alone. Many fathers often feel uncomfortable or embarrassed talking with their son about certain topics, like his body and puberty.

Some fathers don’t think they have the right knowledge to share with their teenage sons. But these boys need to be taught these things so that they don’t end up picking the wrong information from the streets or peers.

Boys get lots of information, some true, some false from their peers and the media, so they need Daddy’s help to sort it all out.

As a father, you have the ability to separate facts from fiction for your child. Teaching your son about his body should be an open, honest and continuous conversation, starting at an early age.

When boys are 8 or 9 years old, they are widely varied in their levels of curiosity and understanding. Some may ask lots of questions, while others may be wondering about things to themselves.

Respond to their questions, but don’t wait for them to come to you. And, if they ask you a question you are not ready to respond to, it’s okay to say, “Let me think about it.” Just make sure you follow through with an answer.

To help you feel more confident in talking with your son, here are some things to teach him about his body.

It’s normal to think about appearance and to want to be handsome and attractive. Be open to discussing unrealistic expectations of body image. Avoid calling your son ‘fat’ or ‘skinny,’ and avoid negative comments about your own body. Your son will pick up on them, affecting their own attitudes toward body image.

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Stress healthy eating and personal hygiene, as well as rest and safety practices. Emphasize the importance of safety, such as wearing a helmet or seatbelt, in all situations.

Stay away from euphemisms when talking with your son. Instead, use direct language. This means using anatomical terms to explain body parts and their functions accurately and factually.

Boys should know what physical and emotional changes are associated with puberty by the time they are 10 years old. That may seem young, but think of it as preparation. Boys should know what to expect with puberty before it starts.

Sex is natural and a part of the human life cycle. Talking to your son about it doesn’t have to be one formal, serious conversation and then you are done. Stay composed and conversational, so they can feel comfortable talking with you about sex any time.

And don’t be surprised if he gets quiet, starts talking about something else, or walks away. He definitely heard you, but he may need some time to let what he just learned sink in.

With the rise of social media, breaches of privacy should be guarded against. Talk with your son about the importance of privacy including bodies, personal space, and personal information, respecting his own privacy, as well as others’. Teach him about social media responsibility.

Teach your son to respect himself. This goes beyond taking care of the body. If someone is bullying him or touching him in an inappropriate or harmful way, help him feel comfortable with saying “no” and telling an adult. It will be easier for him if you already established an open, honest dialogue.

Your son will probably start to notice that girls’ bodies are changing, too. Be ready to discuss changes in their female friends’ bodies and how to respect them. Discourage harmful or disrespectful thoughts about girls learned from friends, media or other sources.