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Dec 5, 2013

Healthy Living takes a look at puberty

Children of today are bombarded with a wide array of messages on a daily basis. Television programs, music and the internet are the new teachers in our modern societies. For parents, this then presents a  very daunting task of ensuring that they are the first to educate children on matters of life, or at least quick to correct an mixed messages. Tonight’s parenting segment is focused on opening the lines of communication with your young boys – in even the most uncomfortable of topics.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

By the time children hit puberty, many of them have been exposed to the complexities of sex and relationships. Yet, parents are still hesitant to broach the subject with their children. Shawn Vargas, has worked with the department of human services for the past 12 years. He has interfaced with countless Belizean families and is passionate about parents opening the lines of communication with their children.


Shawn Vargas, Human Development Coordinator, Dept. Human Services

Shawn Vargas

“It’s important for parents and children to have communication. Children learn from home. When children do something parents say: they don’t ;learn this at home; but then in another breath  you’ll hear parents stating otherwise and when the child models that behavior then you would spot the parents and say that’s from you but we never tend to see it the way we want to as parents. Some social workers may be upset when I say there is no such things a difficult conversation. If communication is present; you should feel free and be open to discuss with your children. Something that is happening; if you have a difficult conversation than that should be two adults communicating and God forbids talking about a divorce. Then you are going to call that a difficult conversation if you want to put it that way but in terms of personal development with your children inside then household; then it shouldn’t be a difficult conversation because you should pick conversation with your children even when they are watching television or when they are doing homework or look at certain things that is normal within the household. Driving with them you should pick conversation look at certain things that you know is going to raise your eyebrow then you look at that child to see if they are at that level to explain what it is that he or she is seeing.”


Puberty begins before physical changes. Girls, start earlier than boys do. Timing is of extreme importance, talk to your child, before any changes occur. Make it an age appropriate, straight forward talk. Shawn gives some advice on talking to young boys.


Shawn Vargas

“It is important for us to be open. I don’t really see the need of shading certain things when the media that we are accustomed to will put out what you don’t’ want your child to know. They are going to school, they’ll learn raw words so tell the raw words and tell them it’s inappropriate to say that. Use the proper word so you start from that level. You don’t want to talk about erection at puberty level but you are going to have spontaneous erections. Talk to your boy child and tell him that is okay, there is nothing wrong with having spontaneous erections, that is a normal part of the process. The ever dreadful discussion of the wet dream, you don’t want to have that discussion with your child when that happens or the morning you get up and go inside the bedroom he is hiding. No, you say this is going to happen to you because of a, b,c and d. It is important because young men are endangered specie. They are easily influenced, they are not going to school as they need to be going to school. They want things more than what can be provided at home and if you don’t have that level of discussion at that stage, that important stage. The child is going to stray.”


Another tip is to use the example of older boys in the family, so the child can understand what changes he can expect. Fathers, of course, play an extremely instrumental role.


Shawn Vargas

“As a social worker, when a father comes to department and that father breaks into tears, being he becomes embarrassed. I say no that is normal, don’t worry about that, this is showing your emotion. And then I would use that as a teaching moment once the child is there in the office. I say you see this, this is telling that the passion your father has for you; it’s superseding his manhood.”


While talking about puberty with your 9 year old son may seem a bit intimidating; it is one of the most important roles you have as his parent. Don’t be surprised if he has lots of questions; simply answer them as honestly and thoroughly as possible.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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