Adolescence is a time of tremendous changes. Hormonal shifts, peer pressure and new responsibilities can create young powder kegs ready to blow. Growth spurts and other changes can cause all sorts of new stresses in any household. On top of all this, debates still rage as to which gender is more difficult to raise. Each have their advantages and drawbacks. Without picking sides, let’s take a look at some of the differences.
Physical Health Concerns
Growth spurts, while more common in boys than in girls, can cause eating binges of seemingly epic proportions. Also, most young men have few or no qualms about literally eating their parents out of house and home. Whole grocery bags can disappear in less than a day. Obesity has become a concern in our country, but some amount of gorging is to be expected at this age. Watch their waist line more than the amount of food on their plates.
Some young women who experience these same hunger pangs may become overly concerned with weight gain while others may allow themselves to indulge to true obesity. Most girls with eating disorders tend to develop them in the pre-teen and teen years, so while it is recommended to keep tabs on both a male and female child’s intake for nutritional content and to prevent obesity, females may require a more intensive monitoring if a parent suspects that their daughter is susceptible to bulimia or anorexia.
For young men, also watch for signs of excessive or chronic aches, especially in the arms and legs. Getting taller literally overnight can be painful, causing a boy’s very bones to truly ache. Some girls may succumb to this phenomenon as well, although it is not as common.
Teen boys, as previously mentioned, are most likely to be a drain on the food budget as they ravage the pantry. Growth spurts also mean clothing will need to be exchanged for the next size up, sometimes only a few short months after the last batch was purchased.
Girls have growth spurts, too, but not usually as drastic as their male counterparts. However, their taste in outfits tends to expand to pricier items and more of them. And not just with clothing but with all manner of accessories. This may sound sexist or cliché but it is still a fact for many, many households. Clothing, packs, shoes and other accessories along with make-up, perfume, cologne and other toiletries suddenly have to be just a particular brand or only from a certain store, too.
In regard to brand names, boys can be just as picky. There is a growing swell of metrosexuals, especially among the younger set, who now give the ladies a good run for their money in the accessory and personal product departments. They still tend to not need quite as many separate pieces for their wardrobes as the girls, though.
And then there’s increased insurance payments as your adolescent learns to drive and finally earns that precious license. Auto insurance companies charge more for your young man than your young lady because statistically teen males are one of the most hazard-prone drivers on the road.
Boys also tend to be more accident prone off the road. Be prepared to see higher medical bills as your young skate board or bottle rocket enthusiast takes on the latest dare from his peers or tries to show off for that girl he really likes. Or is just feeling invulnerable in general. Depending on your coverage, you could see an increase in your medical premiums as well.
While these are bound to occur in either sex and are often the result of hormonal shifts as much as outside pressures, there can be differences in how they manifest between the genders. Girls today are still more likely to burst into tears or fly into verbal tantrums. Males may attempt to verbalize, but are far more likely to become physically reactive when they are upset.
Doors are often slammed by either gender, although males have a higher chance of breaking his off its hinges. They may also linger far longer in their rooms than most females. And while approaching a girl soon after an unhappy episode tends to work out fairly well as they are allowed to vent, boys usually need more emotional space and calm down time. A long walk or some other physical exertion may help him sooth his ruffled feathers. Performing some menial activity involving hand dexterity may work better for her if a tender talk doesn’t work.
It should also be mentioned that needing a lot of sleep is normal for both genders, as their bodies are going through an intense amount of growing and changing. Not since they were babies have their bodies gone through so many changes. Sleeping an entire day away, however, especially if it happens regularly, could also be one of a number of signs of clinical depression.
Mood swings, too, while normal to some degree, should be paid attention to for frequency as well as what is said and how verbalized. Any indications of suicidal thoughts or feelings should be addressed immediately, perhaps needing professional counseling when the condition becomes severe.
This is all generalization, of course, and though much of it may seem old-fashioned, these tendencies are still very prevalent. In either case, this entire phase of development called adolescence will pass and your fledgling will eventually leave the nest to stretch those wings and go his or her own way. Somehow the family will endure the chaotic struggle that is teen development, no matter which gender or mix of genders you find yourself raising. It’s been going on for millennia and plenty of other parents have survived it. You can, too.