Tag Archives: Puberty

Dad’s Role In The Family

Dads matter.

That seems like a no-brainer these days, but for much of the 20th century, the role of the father in family life, especially the rearing of children, was assumed to be minimal.

Note that word there — assumed. There really wasn’t much in the way of research done on the effect a dad has on his children’s growth and development. After all, Freud Himself enshrined the role of the mother as vastly important to the personality of the child so who were they to argue?

More recently, researchers have been turning their gimlet eye to dadsdads_best_1 and finding out what I’ve known all along: Dads matter.

Did you know that a healthy father can ease the impact of a mother’s depression on the children, while a depressed father is a risk factor for excessive crying in infants? That fathers can suffer from hormonal postpartum depression?

Or that fathers’ early involvement with their daughters leads to “a reduced risk of early puberty, early initiation of sex and teen pregnancy”? We’re not sure exactly why, but Bruce J. Ellis, of the University of Arizona, has noted that exposure to fathers’ pheromones can slow down pubertal development.

In a review of Paul Raeburn’s “Do Fathers Matter?” in the New York Times, Mark Oppenheimer reports that numerous researchers are finding that fathers have some surprising effects on their children.

Older fathers are more deeply involved with their children’s schools, more likely to attend ballet classes or know their children’s friends. On the other hand, the children of older fathers seem to have stronger genetic predispositions toschizophrenia and autism — so much so that older dads should get genetic counseling, Mr. Raeburn argues, just as older moms hear about the risk of Down syndrome.

On yet another hand, the children of older dads are taller and slimmer. So there’s that. (Nobody knows why.)

That nobody knows why there at the end is a familiar refrain in a lot of sociological research of this type. We’re able to find the effects, but because the initiating incidents are so intertwined with multifarious actions by multiple actors, it’s difficult to sort out which cause is the, well, cause.

For instance, research shows that dads are the dudes who have a bigger effect on their children’s vocabulary than do moms. One prevailing theory for this has to do with vicious stereotyping. Because, the theory goes, the mothers are around the little dudes and dudettes more (because women stay home and men work outside the house of course), they tend to tailor their vocabulary to words the kid already knows. Fathers, however, because they’re absent for more time, don’t know their kids as well and so introduce words that are novel to the child.

Does it surprise anyone to think I might disagree with this theory. I know the reason my young dudes have great vocabularies (and they do. No question.) is because I actively worked at it. I wouldn’t use baby talk with them and didn’t dumb down my vocabulary when I talked to them.

I did explain a lot of words, but I made sure to expose them to the variety of vocabulary victuals I liked to serve up on the plate of life. Even when the metaphor is horrifically strained because of atrocious alliteration.

Dads matter. We’ve always known it, but now it’s up to science to start letting us know how and why. And it’s up to dads like us to make sure we matter because of our presence, rather than our absence.

Share on Facebook

Atomic Batteries To Power, Engage Hyper Speed

Happy birthday, Hyper Lad!

Today’s the big day for him, the day he moves deeper into the teens. Even though he’s only been a teenager for a year, he’s already moving well along the Path To Puberty! His voice keeps cracking every time he speaks, mostly trending deeper and deeper, but still hilariously high on occasion.

He’s learned to sleep late. Well, later.

For the first twelve years of his life, Hyper Lad would get up with the sun so he could get out and get moving. He didn’t want to miss anything. He figured all the really great stuff was happening only after he’d been asleep for a while. He wasn’t wrong. Still, it was annoying to want to sleep late, but find a somewhat bored Hyper Lad shaking my shoulder and wondering if I wanted to go do something now that it was light.

That was, however, for the first twelve years of his life. I kid you dudes not, but the first day that he was thirteen, his first day as a teenager, he slept until noon. He’s been like that ever since, for the past year. Not sure why he suddenly decided it would be fun to get dynamited out of bed by an increasingly irate father every single morning, but he did. And, of course, like every other new teen, he’s now advocating for a much later bedtime.

So far, he’s had it pretty easy. But he’s about to run into the bedtime buzz saw that his older brother, Zippy the College Boy, did. Zippy the Monkey Boy loved to sleep late and would constantly slip back to bed on school mornings and have to be yelled out of bed. Constantly. And he would constantly say he was too old to have a bed time. Constantly. And I got to tell him the same thing over and over and over: If you can’t get up on time, on your own, then you’re probably too tired so you’re going to bed early.

Eventually, after more than a year and a half, Zippy the Monkey Boy finally got the message and, for his senior year, actually got up on his own the entire time. Except for one or two accidental overslept mornings. Now it’s Hyper Lad’s turn.

Won’t that be fun?

I’m not really looking forward to this seemingly inevitable confrontation. For some reason, he and I have always had a relatively easygoing relationship. He’s done what he’s supposed to do, I haven’t had to yell. I’ve let him get away with with a few things when it wasn’t all that important. It’s worked out rather well.

Not this sleep thing, though. I can feel this one is going to lead to some harsh feelings, dudes.

I just have to remember, this is the little dude who I dragged from his womb. I was the first person to see him, standing between his mother’s knees, my own shaking; gowned and gloved and realizing that I was nowhere near prepared for what was about to happen.

But it worked. I pulled him free, smiled into his shocked face, wiped a bit of the gunk away and then handed him to his mother. Mine was the first face he saw. Poor little dude. At least the rest of his life couldn’t help but go up from there.

Things certainly have changed since then. For one thing, he likes to go out and shoot people on his birthday now, as opposed to playing with toy trucks in the back yard. By that, I mean he has gone to paint ball for the last two birthdays. I always get shot at close ranger during those events. Small price to pay, I guess.

One other thing that’s changed lately is that we can’t actually call his birthday buddy today. He was born on the same day as my maternal grandmother. They were birthday buddies and it always tickled his great-grandmother to share that special day. Now that she’s passed, the day belongs to Hyper Lad alone. Sensitive young dude that he is, he always lets me and my dad know that he misses talking to that great lady on her birthday.

So, yeah, there are bound to be some changes and some conflicts as Hyper Lad moves deeper into the teen years. But, all in all, he’s a pretty spectacularly good kid. It’s going to be worth the effort. He’s going to be worth the effort.

Happy birthday, Hyper Lad. Here’s to you. We’ll cheer as you rocket into the future.

Share on Facebook

Before We Begin. . .

So while we’re getting ready to get serious, I thought I’d check back in with Barry before we start the seriousness in a serious manner for serious people. Or something like that.

Barry? Over to you, Barry.

. . .

Barry?

. . .

What’s going on? Does anyone know what’s going on with Barry? Barry?

–ody well fix this thing before I come over there and stomp on your.  . . er. . . um. . . well.

Yes.

I can see we’re all better now. Thanks for handing back the mic, Richard. I appreciate it. I wanted to drop by and let you know about a horrific new threat we’ve been experiencing over at my house. It’s a little thing I like to call Manopause.

And, no, it’s not me going through this.

My 13-year-old son has begun suffering from a horrific disease that can, after extensive research and untold hours of imaginative leaps and counterintuitive logical progressions, be called accelerated menopause, rule 63 variant.

Yes, that’s right. He’s a teenage boy, suffering from a syndrome most notably known for affecting women in their 50s and signaling, among other things, the end of their childbearing years.

Now, I understand that you dudes might be a bit hesitant to accept this diagnosis for the reasons outlined above. I understand that. However, let me run through a couple of the symptoms and you tell me what you’re reading about. Fair enough?

My son is burning hot and sweaty and then, one second later he’s cold as ice and demanding a sweater. He might walk into a room whistling and feeling like he’s on top of the world, but within the five steps it takes to cross the room, he’ll sink into the most red-tinted rage imaginable. He’ll be playing nicely with his younger sisters until he snaps and begins berating them and searching for dolls so he can snap their heads off.

I do not mean any of these in a metaphorical fashion. Dude is suffering.

And it hurts me to watch it. I feel for the pain he’s going through, not having a handle on his emotions, feeling like his body is having a party and he’s going to have to pick up the bill. It’s inconceivable that he’s going through this.

Although, now that I think of it, I do not think that word means what I think it means. And I–

What?

No, really?

Huh. Well.

Ah, so it seems, if my wife the pediatrician is to be believed, that what the little dude is going through is perfectly normal for boys his age. Apparently it’s not Manopause, which would be a totally new syndrome that would need somebody to get out ahead of it and be the face of Manopause prevention and be on talk shows and sign lucrative endorsement deals and be invited to red-carpet movie premiers. It’s apparently puberty, which everybody knows about and goes through. And certainly doesn’t need someone going around warning people about it. Which is no fun at all.

Well, poo.

Even worse, if this is puberty and my oldest little dude is, indeed, going through it, that means this isn’t a one-time deal and I’ve got to face one more little dude and two little dudettes going through it.

Oh. Oh, my.

I need a vacation. 

Share on Facebook