“Self-knowledge is the first step to maturity,” says prominent English author Jane Austen. Physical, mental and emotional awareness is both an individual and social concept. So, there is a need to encourage certain conversations with the boys that promote self-awareness. Because these conversations strengthen the roots for healthy social development and maturity of decisions, this optimizes human growth in all aspects.
Conversation about physical changes in boys
Boys, right from birth, go through altering developments in their bodies. They begin to recognize external physical differences between different sexes. Often they place themselves in the context of this biological differentiation. Yet, people avoid the talk about private body parts and the changes associated. So, most boys end up recognizing these changes by themselves. Moreover, this behaviour includes a slip of control and the urge to know more about sex and attraction.
But talking about them reduces the emotional burden of guilt towards normal adolescent behaviour. A healthy parent-child relationship must include talking about the human body. Parents must talk to their boys about puberty and hormonal changes during adolescence. Growth of hair in the private parts, the change in voice, the onset of facial hair, cracking of voice, disproportionate body growth are all indicators of major changes in a boy’s body. So, these topics are not as taboo as they are thought to be. Physical changes also include physical attraction to particular sexes.
How do these conversations help
The parent-child conversation here creates a space for acceptance and understanding. When parents talk about changes to the body in the right way, boys will be less confused. They will be able to respond and react with themselves and those around them suitably. Moreover, they will be able to accommodate their new self. Even acts like watching porn, masturbating, making intimate friendships with the ‘attractive’ sexes will have clear thought and conscience.
Conversation about mental health in boys
Gender stereotypes have for a long time denied boys a fair share of the talk on mental health. The stereotyped attitude expected of boys has made it difficult for boys to have a clear idea about their mental health. From a very young age, parents must recognize that boys also have emotions and express them. Through conversation, boys, with an assurance of the family, be free to express emotions. They can feel cry, happy, sad, and angry express it without reluctance.
Communication is the most important in this aspect. Vocabulary from the very beginning must not set rules for boys to behave. Conversations about mental health can reduce social insecurities among boys. When boys talk about what they feel, they will get much better clarity about solving and sorting mental tensions. It will refine their response to physical changes and their social interactions. They will find a friend in their parents, who would have gone through the same troubles in their time.
How do these conversations help boys
When boys talk about what they feel, they can reduce the risk of developing depression and anxiety. The most important in a conversation about mental health is listening. A parent should listen to the boy child and grasp the language, tone, pauses and words used. They reveal much more about the actual state of mind. The pandemic has further stressed the need for conversations with boys on mental health.
Conversation about consent and permission
It is important to assess the way a boy interacts with social relations in society. Their demeanour to their peers and while making friendships needs proper direction. Consent is a very powerful emotional and lingual tool that defines relationships. Consent includes both yes, and no. Conversations can teach boys to the difference between the two. Relationships and the exact nature and extent of their expression need to be clear and simple.
Parents with boys children should practice inculcating consent from a very young age. The best way to have a healthy conversation about consent and permission is by way of reason. The reasoning is a very effective form of communication. Parents should give reasons when they talk with their children. Moreover, they should answer all the questions that their children ask. Conversations should encourage topics considered taboo and avoided. In a respectful environment, interaction points towards the better growth of children. At the same time, reasoning and interaction, to a large extent, should be free from any bias or personal opinions.
For example, a boy should understand with reason if a girl is about touching people. Talking about consent and permission will help a boy to understand the other person’s point of view. These reduce misinterpretations of behaviour. Parent-child conversation builds a better emotional quotient for both. Parents will be more understanding and involved with their children about their bodies and minds.
Conversation about behaviour
Not only girls, but when the boys enter into the larger social world, they face different people to deal with. Ragging, idolizing, being “cool”, or “hot” among the peers assume importance among boys. This constant social competition that they become part of should be tolerable to a boy. How much a boy is able to converse with the family shows the level of involvement. It has an altruistic effect on the person. They reveal the social expectations that a boy understands and wants to portray.
When parents converse about behaviour, boys will have a sense of emotional security. Boys will be able to better place themselves in society. When talking, one should keep in mind not to make it scary. This would make a boy overcautious about interacting in the social world. The conversation should be more shaping for kids and about sharing with young adults. The conversation is not about imposing opinions but interaction. This can create a better family environment.
Conversation with a boy child is a need of the hour for a better parenting society. It is important to build a foundation for the growth of a boy that gives space and impetus to the growth of thought. Thought in the right direction while knowing possible wrong decisions. It is important to normalize these much-needed conversations in recent times.