What We Learned Making the Boy’s Version of The Whole Story

by | Oct 29, 2018 | Parenting Teens | 22 comments

Funny thoughts from two women who created a course for fathers and sons during puberty.

As of midnight tonight, The Whole Story for Boys will officially launch!

This whole past week we’ve been celebrating the pre-launch period with a great sale (including the ability to make up the difference if you’ve already bought one version of the course but want to upgrade) and a 5-day series to help parents feel prepared to talk to their kids about sex, puberty, and all the awkwardness that comes with those topics.
It’s Rebecca here on the blog today, and to wrap it all up I thought I’d share some thoughts I had while coordinating The Whole Story for boys. Since I was the one who managed the girls’ version of the course, I was also in charge of the big-picture planning and creation for this version, too.

1. Guys have it pretty easy when it comes to puberty

My entire life I’ve believed that both guys and girls have it equal when it comes to the trials of puberty. No, we really don’t. Girls have it 10 times worse. I scoured pediatric health sites trying to find evidence that guys go through something–anything–that is comparable to what girls do. There’s nothing.
Did you know most guys don’t even really notice puberty starting? Like they notice little things, but nothing as climactic as getting your first period. Everywhere I read, the most embarrassing things guys have to deal with are body odor (girls also have that, by the way), voice cracks (really not that big a deal compared to being worried about someone noticing your enlarged nipples), and spontaneous erections (still not as bad as a period, sorry guys). The biggest concern that parents raised with us about their sons and puberty was if they were a late bloomer or an early bloomer. But guess what? Girls have to deal with that, too!
As well, they just don’t go through as much. For the girl’s course, we had an entire unit on just periods alone. And then a whole unit on the other changes that come with puberty!
The guys have just one unit on the changes that come with puberty. And at first, I panicked. “How are we going to make a course if I’m missing a whole unit’s worth of materials?”
But then we talked to Sheldon about it (the face of The Whole Story for Boys) and he had a real passion and desire to dedicate a whole unit to character development and studying what it means to be a man of God. We looked back over the comments and emails and thought, “That’s a great idea!” And it’s one of my favourite units of this course.
Here’s the thing: girls need a ton of information. They need to have emergency kits prepared, they need to feel prepared for their period months before it comes for the first time because once stuff starts happening, it happens fast. But for guys, puberty is much more gradual. They need the information, too, but what they really need is a space for good, honest conversation.
It’s a lot easier to get girls to talk about their hopes and dreams and who they want to become when they grow up than it is with boys. It’s easier to get girls to talk to you when you’re driving in the car or doing dishes after dinner. Boys, when they do talk, often find it difficult to naturally cross over into emotional communication.
So the goal for The Whole Story for Boys was this: Give the boys all the information that they need (like in the girl’s version), but then also challenge them and their fathers to have real, meaningful conversations about not just puberty but what kind of person they are growing up to be. Give a place for those much-needed conversations to happen, since they’re often difficult to start.
These young boys are rapidly becoming young men, and having conversations about where God has gifted them, how you pray God will use them, and the not-as-fun stuff like the dangers of getting roped into the world of pornography will prepare them to not just get older, but to really grow up.

Are you terrified to give your kids “the talk?”

Last year we created The Whole Story for Girls–an online video-based course that helped moms tell their daughters about sex, puberty, and growing up.

And now we’re launching the boy’s version! 

The course officially launches TONIGHT at midnight EST. But if you enroll now, you can get the course at a discounted price (the girl’s course is on sale right now, too!) and you’ll get a chance to help us shape what materials we create next for the course.

2. It’s incredibly difficult to not accidentally use innuendo

These are some actual titles that I wrote and then realized, “Maybe not a great idea”:

  • How to Handle Your Erections
  • Sex: Talking About the Hard Stuff
  • Getting a Handle on Masturbation

Yup. So glad I had proofreaders.

3. I needed a lot of outside help

I have no idea where to start when it comes to teaching guys how to clean uncircumcised penises. That particular gem was brought up when we had men go through the course to find things we were missing or needed to include. I also have no idea if there is a specific kind of underwear guys during puberty could wear to help keep unwanted erections in check. Thankfully, we are surrounded by a bunch of amazing men who were able to review the course and say, “Yep! Looks good!” or “Yeah no, not so much.”
After a few rounds of it being proofed, we finally got the finished product. But the VIP version isn’t quite finished yet because during this launch season we’ve been asking people who buy the course to tell us: What do you want additional help with that the course doesn’t cover? We’ll be adding that unit in the next month or so, and we’re excited to see what it is that you want!
To finish off for today I want to remind you of this: you don’t have to have it all together when talking to your kids about sex, puberty, and growing up. What they really need is just a parent they can talk to and who has shown them, “I want to hear not only about the good stuff, but the bad stuff, too.”
But having the right information really really helps, too.
Our mom did an awesome job of being an easy person to talk to. The information side? Not so much. That’s really what inspired us to create The Whole Story. And if you haven’t heard us talking about what we learned after it was too late when it came to puberty, watch this video (it’s pretty funny):

Thank you so much for your encouragement over this last week especially–it’s been wonderful seeing your comments and getting your feedback these last few days.
I want to leave you today with this question:
What is your prayer for your children as they grow up? What kind of giftings do you see already at work in them? Let’s brag about our kids for a bit in the comments below! 

Interested in checking out The Whole Story?

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Melissa

    My three boys are all still 4 and younger, but these things are already on my mind. What, do you think, is a mother’s roll in teaching her sons things in this course? Or, is it better to simply leave it all to dads?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Melissa! I think it’s good to leave a lot of it to the dads, but when boys are younger, moms definitely have a role! I think a big part of that is just using the real words for things, and showing boys what a good relationship with a woman is. We do have some extra info in the VIP version about how to handle sex talks when kids are younger, too!

    • Sarah O

      I think privacy from opposite-sex peers is important, but my husband and I have sons and daughters and we both plan to participate in both conversations. I would think it’s a good thing to have responsible, loving adults of both genders.
      It seems to me that if sexuality is primarily a means of expressing intimacy and relationship with the opposite sex, then it would be helpful to have first-hand information from both sides of that. It’s not that there will be NO dad/son, mom/daughter conversations, but unless there’s a clear purpose I plan to be there for the periods and the spontaneous erections. It’s my hope that being there, not grossed out and available to answer questions will doubly reinforce that sexuality and sexual parts aren’t something shameful.
      My two cents – SO SO glad you have provided this resource, Sheila!

  2. Natalie

    I just think it’s funny how men’s and women’s puberty experience vs libidos are inverse: women are the ones who often take time to warm up getting in the mood for sex, while men have a gradual puberty experience that isn’t defined by one life-changing event. Men are often ready for sex the minute they start thinking about it, and women are thrown into full-on puberty when they get their periods suddenly one day. I often find things in life that make me wonder why God did something or designed us the way He did. Thankfully, we don’t have to know all the why’s because He’s in control. I think men and women really are each other’s inverses in many ways, each other’s complement as we were designed to be.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s so true, Natalie! And so funny. One thing I did find really funny talking to so many men about puberty as we got started doing this was that they couldn’t tell you what age they started puberty. Every woman I know can tell you–almost down to the month (It was 3 weeks after my 12th birthday! It was while we were on spring break when I was 11!). I thought, “How can you NOT know?” But it is so different. And I think that’s why teenage girls are often so frustrated with teen boys. They seem so oblivious about everything at that age! 😉

      • Rosie

        If you’re defining the start of puberty for girls as first period, sure, I know exactly when and where I was. 🙂 But things were definitely happening before that, and I couldn’t tell you e.g. when my breasts started growing.

  3. Trisha Moller

    Hi Sheila and girls!
    I think the hardest part for boys (or being a mom raising two sons) is that I’d like to talk to them about the “boys’ version” AND also talk to them about what girls have to go through — so they are not naive, surprised or insensitive. I want them to understand what their female classmates are going through now as well as for their future wives etc.
    So do you think that regardless of the gender of your kids, both versions would be beneficial? Or is it too much info for the boys to view the girls’ version? (If so, can you make a “lite version” of each for future cross reference?)
    Does this make sense? THANK YOU!!!!!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, great question, Trisha! The boy’s version has a unit on what girls go through, so they do hear about periods, etc. And the girls version does talk a bit about erections, etc. I don’t think listening to the other version is all that helpful, but it says enough in their own version that you can have those conversations! Hope that helps.

  4. Phil

    HI Becca! In keeping up with the exercise suggestion I will participate:
    My Prayer for my kids is this: God please help me and Grace bring Jesus to our children. May they find you and seek you. Help us as parents to do our best in carrying the message to our children.
    Recognized gifts in my children:
    Tucker 14: Obedience
    Addison 10: Awareness
    Cole 8: Intellectual Recognition of life and what is important
    As for bragging – eh – I will just say that I am proud of my children for who they are and what they are working on becoming.
    As Grace and I continue to improve ourselves through strengthening our relationship with Jesus and working on our parental being, we can only hope that our children will grow into Jesus loving, smart, responsible adults who can have fun on their Journey of life.
    And thanks for your work on THE WHOLE STORY – It really is a unique product and there isn’t much out there like it that I am ware of. I have yet to get to deep into the material myself although my wife has gotten to an appropriate point with my daughter. I have come to realize how important it is to get the proper message to your kids before the rest of the world screws it up for them.

  5. Mandi

    As a mom of three boys, 18, 14, and 10, I think you have missed the mark a bit. It is not a “who has it worse” comparison. Boys puberty experiences are just as life changing as girls – just as emotional, just as embarrassing, just as awkward. Their bodies are flooded with testosterone and that alone carries tremendous emotional changes – the sudden onslaught of anger and aggression. They don’t automatically know how to handle that. And, if the parents are not in tune with why their previously calm, sweet, easygoing little boy is suddenly screaming, they will not be able to help him handle those new, powerful emotions.
    You noted the drama of periods, but no one, unless you share the information, knows when you have your period. If you suddenly get an erection in math class, everyone may know about that!! Talk about embarrassing! The rapid physical changes are just as difficult to adjust to – like girls, they are uncomfortable in their own skin. I think you know a lot about being a girl because you are a girl with sisters. I strongly feel you are dismissing what boys go through.

    • Melissa

      I agree with you Mandi, boys have testosterone which is why teenage boys do so many foolish dangerous things. They’ve been known to jump out of cars, get in fights, steal, all kinds of ridiculous things often because they lose control of feelings and also to show off to girls. My husband was a late bloomer and was picked on do badly in middle school. Whole boy puberty isn’t as physically painful for boys as it is for girls I think many things have been glossed over. boys get sore nipples during puberty, goofy facial hair or a lack of facial hair, sudden erections, uncontrollable strange lustful thoughts they don’t really want, wet dreams , sudden anger, that strange daredevil attitude are all things they go through.

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      You’re totally right that boys also have a lot to go through! But the reality is that although psychological studies have shown that you’re completely right in saying that boys are more likely to engage in risky behaviours, those same studies also found higher rates of internalizing behaviours such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation among girls than among boys. What I’m talking about in saying girls have it worse is the physical changes that come with puberty. Obviously they both have a lot of emotional turmoil, too. 🙂
      But I do want to stress: it’s definitely not a “one has it great, one has it horrible” situation. Both need understanding, both need a sympathetic ear. But especially because of boys’ risk-taking behaviour, they need to have a relationship with a parent who can be their mentor. That’s why we focus so much on meaningful connection and parent-child conversations in the course.
      I just think we can be really sympathetic about what girls are going through without it having to take away from what boys are going through. Just because one person’s suffering is worse doesn’t discount the other’s. This was just a lighthearted post talking about my experiences. 🙂

    • Ashley

      It’s ideal that no one will know you are on your period unless you tell them, but that’s not really how it plays out. During my teens, one of my best friends was on her period and a GUY from our church told her she had had an overflow. She was horrified. And when I was in the first few months of having my period and still figuring out how long it would last, I had an incident. I thought I was done, so I stopped using pads. I wasn’t done, and I ended up with a stained skirt. I still remember which skirt it was, too. I’ve been on this “womanly journey” for almost a quarter of a decade, and I still dread the idea of ever sleeping in a bed other than my own on my period in case it gets messy. In my teens I cancelled sleepovers numerous times.

  6. L

    Our daughter is visibly not biological to us so our prayer specific to when she hits puberty and the potential confusing time that may bring is that she will be confident of her identity in Christ and confident of our love for her.
    It pains me to think of any circumstances she would feel left out of or times where she might question her worth, so our prayers surround those issues.
    To brag about her; she is simply amazing! She is confident right now. She has the gifting of a leader and initiates alot of creative ideas in our home and with friends, she makes many people smile with her words and joy in life. She’s a very thoughtful girl. I sit in awe of God’s redemptive plan for our girl and the gift she is in our lives.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that’s lovely! She sounds amazing.
      And she also sounds very secure in your love, so maybe it won’t be that bad at all. She’ll likely have a little bit of confusion, but she knows that she was chosen by you, and that’s special, too.

  7. Rosie

    My prayer for my daughter (6) is that she’ll have the trust in God and confidence in herself to fulfil her potential and become the woman she’s meant to be, and that she’ll find good friends to support her slong the way. Right now I am really proud of her thoughtfulness, in two senses – the way she thinks of and tries to care for other people, and the way she takes time to think about big questions. And her vivid imagination, and her love of reading, and her persistence even when she’s scared, and – oh, a whole lot of things!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s lovely, Rosie!

  8. Bobthemusicguy

    I’d like to throw one thing in about boys and puberty, as a man who had a really difficult time then, not physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The problems stemmed from the rush of testosterone that sexualizes EVERYTHING in a boy’s mind.
    My problems resulted from having no connections with positive male role models, in and outside my family. Also, my parents NEVER talked about sex, nor about spiritual matters. I had no guidance at all. Couple all this with early exposure to pornography (age 5) and being molested, I was so confused. The testosterone storm in my body, along with all this, convinced me that I was homosexual.
    Most men who consider themselves homosexual follow a similar pattern: lack of role models, lack of healthy male relationships, lack of information about what was going on in their bodies, and some sort of warped sexual experiences. I assume that women who consider themselves homosexual have some sort of parallel experience, but I can’t speak to that.
    God freed me from that bondage years ago, before we married, but the scars are still there. I agree that comparing “who has it worse” isn’t helpful. But my experience is that the lack of sound, Godly counsel is damaging to both girls and boys. I’m glad you are tackling this issue in a way that parents will find helpful. I wish we had had this when our boys were that age. I tried to rectify things by “having the talk” with them. I probably did a bad job of it, especially since I had not had “the talk” with my dad. But I hope that trying to build relationships of trust with them has paid off in them having a healthy view of their sexuality as young men in their late twenties.

  9. Brievel

    My son is only (give or take) ten months old. But never too early to start thinking ahead! My prayer is that his father and I have the wisdom to train him up in the way he should go… I’m sure more will be added later but right now that’s my greatest concern.

  10. OKRickety

    “… he had a real passion and desire to dedicate a whole unit to character development and studying what it means to be a man of God.”

    That’s a good idea, but just why would it not be important to do the same for girls and dedicate a whole unit to character development and studying what it means to be a woman of God?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, we talked about character development, too, especially in the older version. It was mixed in. But to tell you the truth–there is just so much more to teach girls about puberty! So much more. And we wanted to keep everything to 5 units. Girls have a LOT more to deal with and to figure out how to handle, especially at 10 or 11 than boys do.

      • OKRickety


        “Girls have a LOT more to deal with and to figure out how to handle, especially at 10 or 11 than boys do.”

        I disagree that the difference is as extreme as you (and Rebecca) state, as I stated in my other, now-deleted, comment.


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