Just yesterday we finished our second week of class, Talking To Your Teenager About Sex class with parents from Church of the Open Door community. I loved getting to see and engage with you around the topic of teenagers and sexuality — specifically around our topic for this week: gender differences.
Gender differences seem quite obvious as part of being man and woman as an adult, but when we look at gender differences in the brain during teen years…whoa! I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it countless times again, “Really God, what are you thinking?!”
Let’s start with teen boys.
Testosterone is skillfully coursing through a teen boy, altering and expanding his body structurally while also being akin to his body being “drunk.” Oh let me explain that one for those of you who were not at the class!
This tsunami of testosterone is coursing through a boy’s body stretching vocal cords, enlarging the testicles, thickening and lengthening the penis, increasing hair follicle growth in new places, activating muscle and bone growth and causing the sexual-pursuit circuits to become twice as large as a girls. Think about it. That is a massive about of restructuring going on in a teen boy’s body!
Louanne Brizendine, M.D. puts it this way: “If testosterone were beer, a nine-year-old boy would get the equivalent of about one cup a day…by age fifteen, it would be equal to two gallons a day.” See? Drunk on their own testosterone. Really God, what were you thinking??”
No wonder our teenage boys need so much sleep during this stage of development! Their bodies are working so hard to receive the changes coursing through them.
What about teen girls?
Estrogen is also flooding through and altering the structure of a teen girl’s body. At the core of estrogen’s purpose is an unfolding of the ancient biological manual of becoming sexually desirable. This rewiring is part of why humankind has continued to create and it’s key to the continuation of life!
As estrogen makes it’s way throughout a teen girl’s body, breasts begin to appear, emotions are heightened making teen girls recognize how they are perceived (thus the susceptibility to media influence), and a monthly surge of estrogen-progesterone will cause menstrual bleeding to begin which also creates growth of the pubic hair.
Teen girls often have a lot of words, talking all day (and sometimes all night) with close friends — one reason this is often the case with teen girls is because language and speech are activating their pleasure centers. Fascinating right? During teen years, a girl’s language area of her brain can be twice as large as a teen boy’s. That’s why relationships are so vital for teen girls in these developmental years.
How do we view differences?
Do we value these things as good?
Designed by a Creator, with love?
As a parent, I know the teenage years hold many frustrations, but I honestly believe these years are rich because they have something profound to teach us about:
- the mystery of God…
- the mystery of man…
- the mystery of woman…
- the wonder of what we have yet to discover, if we make space to allow these differences to invite us to see the creative hand of God in our teens.
Kind of intoxicating to think about…right?