You just don't understand
As the self-described "authority on all things manly," Old Spice remains committed to making sure that all men smell fabulous, according to a spokesperson. Of course, that invites the question: When exactly does a boy become a man?
Is it from the very first armpit stink (as many moms might be tempted to believe, according to mom of four boys Deborah Gilboa, MD. (aka Dr. G), parenting expert, author, and board certified attending family physician at Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill Health Center, who partnered with Old Spice to parse and present the results of the survey)? Or is it the day he begins showering without being asked (as believed by the largest group of moms surveyed)? Or is it the day he gets his driver's license? Shaves for the first time? Gets his first job?
There's no right answer, but at least now we know the truth: Moms are clearly aware of the stink in their homes and look forward to the day their boys are mature enough to wash it away without being asked. Whether or not boys can tell that they smell, they're looking forward to shaving, driving, and going to work, and they don't put much stock into their desire to bathe as a litmus test of manliness.
Please talk frank about the stank
That puts the ball back into Mom's court, explains Dr. G. Ultimately, boys are more comfortable opening up to Mom than to Dad (the Wild Guide puts the difference as 51 percent being more comfortable with Mom versus 49 percent being more comfortable with Dad). Besides, as Dr. G says, "Moms always know best."
A rank stank's no match for a prank
The majority of both moms and sons believe that humor is more likely than anything else to grab a teenage boy's attention in an advertisement. Humor is also more likely than anything else to distract a teenage boy from the awkwardness of a conversation about body odor, says Dr. G. In other words, when you think it's time to talk about the stink, it's best to make a joke out of it. "When your tween high fives you after a soccer game, point out the greenish gas emanating from his armpits," Dr. G suggests. "If it's even a little bit funny, he's less likely to feel embarassed and more likely to hear what you're really trying to say."
Did you know that smart people tend to have a dark sense of humor?
Make it about being manly
"Try to present good hygiene as a grown-up practice," Dr. G advises. "Everyone starts smelling funky as they mature. Yeah, it's awkward, but own the awkward. There's simply no reason for shame." And no room for it either. There are benefits to being kind to ourselves, and this is a teaching opportunity.
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Then head to the store and make a "study" out of trying out different products. The Wild collection offers four different scents, for example. "Have your son try each one with his eyes closed," Dr. G suggests, "and then let him rank them and pick out his favorite."
Did you know you can smell better just by eating better?
Enlist a pro for stuff you don't know
And when it comes to getting into the nitty gritty of what puberty is all about, including its stages and what boys can expect at each stage, don't be a hero, Dr. G advises. If you don't know, call or email your son's pediatrician for advice. In fact, it's a good idea to ask the pediatrician to talk to your son about puberty.
Puberty is more difficult for boys to talk about with their moms than even dating and peer pressure, according to the Wild Guide, and Dr. G concurs. Most moms (81 percent) believe that their tween sons don't understand what's happening to them during puberty—even if they've had "the talk." And 68 percent of boys surveyed admitted this is true. A majority of both moms and sons (73 percent and 59 percent, respectively) see it as harder to talk about than even dating or peer pressure.
Take it on the road
Treat him like the man he's becoming
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Recognize his autonomy even while you're checking it
Secret social media accounts, also known as "Finsta accounts" (as in "Fake Instagram") are social media accounts that are kept secret from parents. So, a teenage boy may have a Facebook account that his parents know about, and then an entirely separate Facebook account under a nickname (which his parents don't know to look for). Finsta accounts are where boys feel they can show their "wild" side, explains Dr. G, which includes having contact with friends Mom doesn't know—or whom Mom doesn't approve of, but also includes more harmless activities for which privacy is desired, such as interacting with crushes.
So how is a mom to balance her son's own desire for Mom to be aware of his social activities, on the one hand, with his need for autonomy, on the other? The answer involves setting boundaries while also making it clear that he has a "choice" in the matter. "You pay for his cell phone," Dr. G points out. "and you pay for Wi-Fi. Your son is using them because you allow him to do so. For those privileges, there are guidelines in place, and he needs to follow them."
Ask him for advice
Social media is one area that a teenage boy likely has more expertise than his mom. So, ask him for advice on how to use Instagram properly, but then go a step further and ask him if he's ever seen it used poorly. Take the opportunity to point out to him that the internet holds no real secrets, and even if he's got a Finsta, he shouldn't believe that there's anything truly private about the Internet. Then maybe ask your son if he is aware of the weird negative effects of social media.
He wants you to give him a curfew
There's an OK way to PDA
If your son is uncomfortable with public displays of affection (PDA), you can ask him if it's OK for you to text him an "I love you" instead. Or perhaps you can come up with a code-phrase that means the same thing but sounds a lot like "Go Yankees" or the equivalent. Respecting what your son says on the topic is not only great for your relationship, it's a great way to "model consent and validation," Dr. G adds.
If you and your son have differing views on PDA, you're not alone. Even the Prince William and his mom, the Queen of England, don't necessarily see eye to eye on the topic.
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