DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is only 7 years old, and I think he is experiencing puberty already. He explained to me what an erection is, but he doesn’t understand why it happens when it does. I have been so nervous about the coming questions because of his age. I’m worried that he will begin to understand what it means. He’s way too young to experience those types of feelings and urges. I was prepared to have this conversation when he was 13 years old. What do I do, and how do I explain what is happening to him, while ensuring his innocence for a few more years? -- Mama’s Growing Boy
DEAR MAMA’S GROWING BOY: I did some reading on this subject, and I am happy to report that you shouldn’t have anything to be worried about. Medical professionals say that it is natural for a young child to occasionally have an erection. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he is going into puberty prematurely.
The wisdom I gleaned suggests that you tell your son the basics about his body, starting with the fact that the penis (yes, call it by its name) has the primary function of urinating. That’s what it’s for. Add to that: occasionally it changes in shape and size. Just like an eye twitch or a kneejerk, it sometimes moves or changes a bit. It always comes back to normal after a while.
Experts suggest that you need not talk about what an erection is and how the penis functions as a sexual organ when your child is that young. However, they do suggest that you let your son know that no one should touch his penis other than himself; that he should keep it clean; and that because it is his private area, he should not expose it to others. For more information about puberty go to: pediatricgroup.com/puberty_boys.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I asked my husband if we could have a moratorium on watching the news during the holidays. He thought I was crazy. He is glued to political news, day in and day out. I want a break. I hate walking into the room and listening to the pundits drone on about the issues and how bad the other side is. What can I do to get some peace in my house? -- Turn It Off
DEAR TURN IT OFF: If you have more than one TV in your house, ask your husband to watch his news in a room other than the family room. If he watches in your bedroom, ask him to turn it off before it’s time for you to go to bed -- or better yet, in another room.
Acknowledge that you know that he is addicted to the news, but that you need a respite from it. My mentor told me that while she does listen to the news every day, she stops after 8 p.m. She said that if she continues watching into the night, it negatively impacts her sleep. Work with your husband to create boundaries around the TV. Perhaps that will give you at least some of the peace that you crave.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)