Personally, I don’t remember much of my own puberty. I can recall begging my mother to allow me to shave my legs that looked like that of a gorilla. The awful feeling as if everything was the end of the world and the night I told my mother that I hated her guts. Thankfully that most awkward time in my development is a bit of a blur. I do however remember my children passing through that stage in life quite vividly. I have three girls, each one rebelling in their own way. Seemingly trying to go a little crazier than the one before. Testing my patience on a daily basis. It felt like one day they loved me to pieces and hated me the next. My sweet little girls turned into angsty little rebels who thought that they were in charge. They knew everything, and my wife and I knew nothing.
Puberty: is the time in life when a boy or girl becomes sexually mature. It is a process that usually happens between ages 10 and 14 for girls and ages 12 and 16 for boys. It causes physical changes, and affects boys and girls differently. (NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development)
My non-scientific definition would be; due to the release of new hormones through the body, it seems as if their brains are all scrambled up. It usually starts with a dramatic change in behavior for most kids. They begin to push their parents away and strive to have their own independence. Their peers become more important than anything else and feeling excepted by them is paramount. They become combative, withdrawn, selfish and angry at the world. Slamming doors, punching walls, beating on each other, screaming at the top of their lungs, then having a crying fit. Everything in their life becomes amplified and you could never understand what it’s like to be them. Life takes on a new kind of normal. Every minute of every day can be an emotional roller coaster. They are trying to define themselves and their place in the world. It can be a trying time for any family and immensely confusing for the child. Now change the image in your head from a pre-teen with purple hair and black fingernails, to a grown adult. Does that sound like some of the things that you and your partner are currently going through?
“Living with your partner going through transition, who is also navigating a second puberty is tricky territory.”
Living with your partner going through transition, who is also navigating a second puberty is tricky territory. If you have gone through this stage with your own children, then you have some experience in this area. If you have younger children not at that stage of development yet, than I hope you’re taking notes. However there is one major difference between the two. When children go through puberty, they don’t have major responsibilities other than school and chores at home. They don’t need to report to a job every day, pay the bills, support a family, make sure that everyone is fed or worry about the roof caving in. Our partners are simultaneously living two lives. Add on top of that bouts of depression along with dysphoria and you can see why they might be losing their mind.
My wife wants to go out and explore the world for the first time as her true self. Every experience is new and exciting. The pure joy she gets out of doing the little things in life as herself makes my heart sing and I love being a witness to that. Then there are the days that her dysphoria is so crippling that we stay home, rent a movie and snuggle on the couch. It’s about how you balance it all. The same goes for their second puberty. I try not to lose my patience and say something out of frustration that I don’t really mean. We all get irritable from time to time and that’s okay. It is part of life, as long as we don’t take it out on each other. I keep in mind what she is going through and I try to remember that this will not last forever. Just like my daughters, my wife will one day be on the other side of puberty and this will all be a bad memory. Patience, understanding and gentleness go a long way. As the old saying goes, “this too shall pass.”