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(Photo unrelated to post topic, for reasons that shall become clear. But look! Floors are done and lazy-cat-approved!)

It's an...interesting time to be the mother of a 12-year-old boy. Puberty has hit our household like a ton of bricks launched from a Death Star. Stuff is changing. Girls are suddenly a thing. And we're having a lot of frank and honest conversations about hormones, boundaries, consent, and social cues. Also, butts. 

Meanwhile, every time I read the news I can't help but think that, hey, some of these grown-ass men clearly missed out of some of this SUPER BASIC INFORMATION back when they were 12 years old, because JESUS CHRIST. We might not know entirely what we're doing as we navigate this brave new phase in parenting, I can at least pledge this to my son's peers and fellow grown-ass women of the future: We're trying. We're really, really trying. 

So presented without further context (because none is needed, I think you get the gist, safe to say that if this list is intended to be useful for you, YOU GET IT, YOU KNOW, YOU FEEL ME DAWGS), here are my Current Top Best Book Recommendations:

American Medical Association Boy's Guide to Becoming a Teen

Let's Talk About S-E-X: A Guide for Kids 9-12 and Their Parents

It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health

The Manual to Middle School: The "Do This, Not That" Survival Guide for Guys

I F*UCKING LOVE WINE: Adult Swear Word Coloring Book

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(And the unrelated rest of them, happy to have their couch nest back.)



ZOMG I <3 you so hard right now.

Mine's 13 and holy facepalm Batman!

Thanks for the resources.



Your floors look super nice. Kitty is doing the class Norma Jean/Marilyn Monroe pose. Thanks for the book list; my kid will be 12 before I know it (gulp).


"Classic" pose, sorry!


I'd love to add a book to your list... My son has read "Guy Stuff: the body book for boys" by Dr Cara Natterson over and over. Hes almost 10 and it a good intro to puberty and body/emotional changes and has sparked some good conversation in our house.

Ashley Haugsjaa

So when I pin this for my not yet close to puberty son with a cat photo, will I be able to remember why in 10ish years? :-p


My boy is 10. Adding all these books to my cart right now. Especially the last one.

Sue W

Never having kids, I can only imagine! I know what hell it musta been for my poor dad and four wimmens raging hormones when my 2 younger sisters and I were going through it.
I may have to look into the final book on the list just for my own shits and giggles though!


Good. I hate to say it, but a lot of moms of sons right now have told me their greatest fear is that their son will be falsely accused of inappropriate sexual behavior. Because of course none of their darlings would be guilty. Since false accusations are much rarer than true accusations, I'm even more worried about my daughters now.

Miz Middling

From a middle school teacher, thank you for having these honest conversation with your kid! Makes our lives a lot easier (because we're having these conversations too-- especially bodily autonomy, consent, and bathing... oh my gosh, bathing).

I will say, in my classroom, the kids are SO much more open and honest than I ever was at their age. And they know SO much more. During a social justice class recently (yes, I teach social justice as a class to middle schoolers; yes, they're ready for it; yes, they're the best), I asked them about stereotypes around the ideas of men/boys/masculine and women/girls/feminine. A 5 minute planned activity turned into a 45 minute conversation, including the kids throwing out such stereotypes as "boys are into porn and masturbation, but girls aren't and don't;" "everything is about how the guy feels-- female orgasm isn't really seen to be a thing." SEVENTH AND EIGTH GRADERS, FRIENDS.

And yeah, the kids who take social justice are a special breed in that they're willing to say the word "masturbation" in front of their teacher and classmates. But they are NOT unusual in the messages they are getting.


Thank you for sharing these! My oldest two are girls and I feel like I found books that I love for them, but I'm still looking for good resources on puberty, maturity, etc for my son who is younger.

Amy X

(Slow claps) Seriously, bravo. I have a son (a teeny, tiny one-year-old who will never, ever hit puberty - FACT) and I can't even fathom guiding a child through puberty in times like this. I know I'll be there soon enough, but I'm ever so glad I have several more years before I have to think about it.

Shelly A Kroll-Hancock

My daughter is 15 and from what a I can tell, a lot of parents of boys around here did not buy any of those books for their kids. It's still awful out there. My daughter has already been sexually harassed in middle school and high school by her peers. Oh and the swearing! Holy Shit Batman!


A new book for boys about puberty just came out this year, and it's great: GUY STUFF: The Body Book for Boys. We love it at our house!!


A book recommendation for the little ones curious about anatomy and where babies come from: It's Not The Stork.


I just had to stop by and ask... Is that cat floating??


Great post! My son is still 4 so I have a few years to wait on this... thankfully. I have heard stories that kids (boys esp) suddenly develop terrible BO in the pre-teen years. Is this true for your oldest?????? Have you had to discuss showering and deoderant application rules? My little man smells so sweet I am dreading the day if he turns man-stinky!


How do humans sit on your couch if it’s so so close to the coffee table I’m so confused.


Our (public!) school district literally uses a sex-ed curriculum that is religious-based, talks about how uncomfortable condoms are for men, slut shames girls with a handy sticky tape demonstration (if you use the tape too much it can't stick - bond - to another thing - person - as it ages) and if that lesson wasn't enough, there is a water cup demonstration where everyone spits into her "cup" and doesn't address consent in any other way besides a video from a stupid comedian that basically says if a boy hits you it's because he likes you. YES, parents have been begging for this to end for years.

This is in many public schools, so find out what your kid is taking. Because that permission form they send out home looks totally legit and like everything is science-based and totally great. My second son came home crying, sobbing hard tears, because they told him that unmarried parents and adoptive parents can't love their child the right way.

So for all we were doing at home about consent and equity and sex ed, these people are trying to undo.

(Another good resource: Scarlateen.com.)


Melissa, that is horrifying. My kids' school allowed parents to preview the video they showed to 5th graders. I definitely recommend asking if this is an option.

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