Wherefore Art Thou Puberty

you may have to resort to booksQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I have an embarrassing question. I am sixteen and I haven’t gone through puberty yet. What’s wrong? Do you know? Please, I hate it! Thanks.


A Dear Justin:

Don’t be embarrassed, young man! I believe that Gladys Cox, author of Youth, Sex, and Life,can help ease your teen angst. According to her, you’re completely normal. At least in when it comes to puberty.

1946: Puberty and Adolescence

Puberty is the time when the sex organs are reaching maturity ~ when the production of ripe ova and sperms from the sex glands begins. It marks the end of childhood, and the subsequent period of transition to manhood or womanhood is known as adolescence.

Puberty in girls begins at about the age of fourteen, and in boys a little later, at about the age of sixteen; but in both sexes it may occur two or three years earlier or later than usual. In both sexes rapid growth is taking place at this period, and mental and physical changes ~ the secondary sex characteristics ~ develop that change the girl into a woman and the boy into a man. The powerful sex hormones or “chemical messengers” of the sex glands, and an increased amount of the secretions of other glands, are circulating in the blood, affecting the whole body and mind, and it takes some time for harmony to be restored.

Puberty and adolescence, then, are times of great physical and mental strain. It is not uncommon for periods of restless activity to alternate with times when the slightest effort, mental or physical, is irksome; and grown-ups who lack understanding are apt to become irritated with these spells of what appear to them to be sheer laziness ~ when the young people sit about crouching over story books or just day-dreaming.

This apparent laziness is, of course, due to the fatigue of mind and body when a great deal of energy is being used in growth and adjustment to the physiological changes that are taking place.

It is during adolescence that the sympathetic understanding of parents, teachers, and older friends can be of the greatest value. If you yourself are passing through this difficult stage, if you are perplexed by the unaccountable moods and emotions that overwhelm you at times, don’t think that it is the world that is wrong; it is just the same old world that you knew in the happiest moments of your childhood. It is you yourself who are developing. There is probably just as much happiness ahead of you when your body and mind has made its great adjustments and settled down to harmony again.

Don’t be afraid of talking freely with your parents. Really understanding parents won’t force your confidence ~ but they will meet you more than half-way if you show that you need their sympathy and help. The older generation often understand far more than you suspect, and they are only too anxious to help you; but they, too, suffer from a certain shyness and reserve, and you must do your part in breaking this down by offering your confidences.

If, unhappily, your parents fail you, there may be older relatives or friends, or the family doctor or clergyman, who will step into the breach; or you may have to resort to books. Here let me warn you that some people and some books, even when they have every intention of being helpful, may be worse than useless to you.

Source: Cox, Gladys M. Youth, Sex, and Life. London: George Newnes Limited, 1946.
~ pp. 149-50 ~