Australia prohibits entry to anyone convicted of domestic violence anywhere in the world.
Jo Eberhardt, a fantasy writer and mother-of-two from Australia, wrote an answer so relevant that it pops up on social media multiple times. When you nail it, you nail it – and this mother nails it.
“Ah, puberty,” she wrote, “it turns our adorable, wonderful little boys into adorable, angsty, eye-rolling, accidentally disrespectful, but still wonderful, young proto-men.” Yeah.
Eberhardt then described a discussion she had with her 11-and-a-half-year-old son when he started going through this stage – a conversation they had in the car, which is usually the best place to have discussions. potentially uncomfortable with children.
She told her son she messed up the way she talked to him about puberty, then told him exactly what was going on in his brain.
“I spent all this time telling you about how puberty changes your body,” Eberhardt told his son, “and what to expect as you go through the changes, but I completely forgot to tell you about what’s going on in your brain right now. Puberty is when your brain grows and changes more than at any other time in your life – well, except when you’re a baby, maybe. So I really let you down by not preparing for this. I am really sorry.“
Her son accepted her apology, then asked why her brain was changing.
“That’s the amazing thing,” she told him. “Did you know that your brain grew and developed so rapidly when you were little that by the age of five or six your brain was almost as big and powerful as an adult’s brain?”
“But here’s the thing,” she continued, “Even though your brain was super powerful, the instructions were for a child’s brain. And all the information about building an adult’s brain was a bit… let’s say blurry. So your brain did the best it could, but it didn’t really know what kind of person you were going to be at the time, or what shape of brain you were going to need.”
“Now we come to puberty,” she continued. “You see, puberty is amazing. Not only is your body transformed from a child body to an adult body, but your brain has to be completely rewritten from a child brain to an adult brain. “
“That sounds difficult,” replied his son.
“Yeah, it is,” Eberhardt replied. “That’s why I wish I had warned you first. plot energy to completely rewrite a brain. That’s one of the reasons you’re tiring faster at the moment – and that, of course, manifests itself in you being grumpier and less patient than usual.”
Eberhardt paused, then added, “That must be really frustrating for you.”
Her son looked at her, wiping his eyes. “It is,” he replied. Sometimes I feel really angry and I don’t know why.”
It’s amazing what happens when you explain to children the physiological reasons for what they are going through.
Eberhardt continued, “The other thing is that the amygdala is one of the first parts of your brain that gets super-sized to look like an adult. This is the part that controls your emotions and survival instincts. You know how we’ve talked about fight/flight/freeze before, and how sometimes our brain thinks being asked to speak in public is the same level of threat as being attacked by a saber-toothed tiger?”
His son laughed. “Yes. So you have to tell your brain that there is no saber-toothed tiger to help calm you down.”
“That’s right,” Eberhardt replied. “Well, that’s what the amygdala takes care of: saber-toothed tiger warnings and big emotions. So the problem with puberty is that all of a sudden you have a adult-sized amygdala hitting all your emotion buttons and saber-toothed tiger buttons. That must be very hard for you to handle.”
His son nodded and said, “Sometimes I don’t know why I say the things I do. They just came out, and then I feel bad.”
This is when what a parent says can make or break a child’s mind. But Eberhardt handled it with empathy and expertise.
“I know, honey,” she said before explaining:
“You see, the last part of your brain that gets rewritten is right at the front of your head. It’s called the frontal cortex. And that’s the part of your brain that’s good at taking decisions and understand consequences So you have this powerful adult amygdala hitting you with massive emotions, but you still have a fuzzy childish frontal cortex that can’t make decisions or understand consequences as quickly as the amygdala wishes. It’s kinda lame.”
“So it’s not my fault?” asked his son.
“No, it’s puberty’s fault that your brain works the way it does,” Eberhardt replied. “But that doesn’t mean it’s not your responsibility to recognize what’s going on and change your actions. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either. Your feelings are your feelings, and they’re still fine. But you can choose your actions. You can choose what you do with your feelings. And, when you make a mistake, you can choose to apologize for that mistake and make amends.”
Eberhardt said she then paused for dramatic effect. “That’s how you prove you’re becoming an adult.”
It’s also remarkable what happens when we empathize and communicate with our children instead of just scolding them.
Her son responded with a perfectly understandable and relatable, “Puberty sucks.”
“Puberty absolutely sucks,” Eberhardt replied. “I’m not in your head, but I can only imagine it’s a mess of confusion and chaos, and you don’t know from one minute to the next how you feel about things. “
Her son looked at her in surprise. “Yes exactly!”
“If it’s confusing for you to live inside,” Eberhardt continued, “imagine how confusing it is for me, when all I see is your actions.”
“It must be really confusing,” agreed his son.
She nodded. “Do you know what that means?”
“That means sometimes I’m going to make mistakes. Sometimes I’m going to get upset about things you do because I don’t understand what’s going on in your head. Sometimes I’ll forget you’re halfway to being a man and accidentally treat you like a kid. Sometimes I will expect more from you than you can give. This is my first time raising someone through puberty, and I’m going to make mistakes. Can I ask you a favor?”
“What is that?”
“Can you keep telling me what’s going on in your head?” The more we talk, the easier it will be for both of us to get through this puberty story unscathed. Yeah?”
“Yeah,” said his son.
When we let our children know that we are going through these different phases together, it is easier to work with them rather than against them.
Eberhardt said they “had a hug” before getting out of the car. She also said that this conversation didn’t magically prompt her son to always speak with respect or remind her that he was no longer a little boy. However, it opened up lines of communication and gave them a common language to use.
For example, she wrote, “He knows what I mean when I say, ‘Honey, I’m not a saber-tooth tiger.'”
Ebehardt concluded her excellent response by saying that she and her son are “falling through this madness of puberty” together, and that she is “completely confident that he will come out the other side a sweet, wonderful young man. “.
It’s always great to see examples of good parenting in action. Ms. Eberhardt’s answer is something all parents can put away for the appropriate time. It’s also a great reminder that our tweens aren’t trying to test us, they’re just trying to get used to their new, improved brain.