Family

Q&A

Dear Diane, My 15-year-old son has no interest in his physical appearance and has to be nagged every day to do things like take a shower and clean his teeth. Luckily

he wears a school uniform, but on weekends he simply grabs whichever clothes he sees first in his cupboard. At that age I was getting very keen on the opposite sex; but he shows no curiosity whatsoever. Is this because girls mature faster than boys, or is 15 too soon to be expecting these things?

I dare say the day will come when I wonder why I worried, but I think I just assumed that it would be “all on” when the old testosterone kicked in! Should I be doing anything or encouraging him to change his ways?

Ruth C, by email

Dear Ruth, There are many parents out there spending a fortune on their 15-year-old boy’s clothes and various male beauty and grooming products, and who are worrying what their sons are getting up to and with whom. They would no doubt be very, very envious of you and would suggest that you enjoy him just the way he is.

You are quite correct that girls do physically mature faster than boys, but that is not the only explanation.

Some teens – both male and female – are simply not interested in their appearance or what the latest fashions are. Others may work very carefully to achieve the “I don’t care and didn’t try” look. Whatever the explanation, the most important thing is to let your son be who he is and give him the space to discover his identity. Letting your child be comfortable in their own skin is one of the most valuable things a parent can do. Your relationship with him and support for his experimentation as he finds his own identity is what counts at his age. By all means continue to insist on basic hygiene until he discovers it for himself. Since he grabs the first thing he sees in his

cupboard, you could (sneakily and without ever letting on) make sure that what is dead centre and easy for him to get out looks respectable and appropriate – and of course freshly cleaned!

**Diane Levy provides expert answers to your parenting queries. Send your questions to: [email protected]

Diane’s parenting books are available in book shops.**

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