A boy holds a hand mirror up to his face to see a large, shining zit smiling back at him from his forehead. A second boy looks confused as he questions his body shape in comparison with the male bodies he sees in movies and magazines. A third boy raises his hand high in class, completely oblivious to how the odor emanating from his armpits has offended the student next to him. These are just a few of the quirky, comic-like illustrations included in Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys by Dr. Cara Natterson.
I bought this book for my sons to help them learn about the changes their bodies would go through as they entered puberty. As a mother of four boys, I’m often confronted with questions about “guy stuff” and I wanted a lighthearted but matter-of-fact resource for filling my sons in on the details they needed.
What first attracted me (and my sons) to the book were the vibrant and hilariously awkward illustrations. At second glance, I found the guide to be packed with totally useful, easy to understand information on how boys can navigate the many changes that come with growing up.
Written in a positive, conversational tone for kids, Guy Stuff covers serious health and body care topics for puberty and life, including:
- What puberty is, when and why it happens
- Habits for overall good health
- Body privacy and consent
- Attitude and confidence
- Hair, mouth, ears, nose and eye care
- Acne, sweat and body odor
- Body positivity
- Nutrition and exercise
- Hormonal changes
- Pubic hair, penis growth, wet dreams, and erections
- Different kinds of male underwear
- Importance of rest and sleep
- Feelings, mood swings, peer pressure, and more!
I greatly appreciated that throughout the book children are encouraged to talk to their parents for deeper questions and discussions. “No question is too silly or too embarrassing to ask. Remember, the grown ups in your life were once your age, too, and have experience and wisdom to share with you,” advised Dr. Natterson.
This approach helps keep the topic of puberty, and all that comes with it, a family affair.
I find this to be especially important as Muslims because many of these discussions need to be followed up with the Islamic perspective and traditions on how to manage them. But if our sons are not comfortable talking to us from an early age about puberty, or their body in general, it’s unlikely they’re going to talk to us as teenagers when they’re growing extra hair in new places and don’t know what to do about it.
Muslim fathers feeling shy to discuss puberty with their sons can use Guy Stuff as a fun starting point to build connection before diving into more private matters.
For example, the sections on hair and skin care can be a catalyst for father-son bonding while shopping for different products at the store. The chapter on shaving can become an opportunity for fathers to teach their sons how to properly comb and trim their beards instead. There are many ways for Muslims fathers to get involved and share their own experiences with puberty while also modeling the healthy habits they’ve adopted as they grew into men.
For me, Guy Stuff took a lot of the awkwardness out of puberty conversations with my boys. Sometimes we put off having these talks because we think it can wait until the kids are older. But puberty for boys can begin as early as 9-years-old! And understanding how their bodies work and what’s going to come next is important for our sons to be able to grow and adapt with confidence, maturity, and compassion, inshaAllah, God-willing.
Recommended for ages 9-12 (or grade levels 4-6), Guy Stuff broaches the topic of puberty in such an easy way that even young children can understand puberty to be a normal, natural rite of passage for growing boys everywhere.
Melissa Barreto is a homeschooling mother of five children and the Co-Founder of Wildflower Homeschool Collective, a homeschooling organization based in Northern New Jersey.
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