Raging Hormones and Other Puberty Myths by Ron Powell
Teens Have Raging Hormones! –The speaker yelled out to a sea of nodding heads and knowing looks… but they were wrong.
In every error there has to be an element of truth to make it believable. And with some things, the harder that you try to disprove them, the more people believe the opposite.
The danger of perpetuating this myth is that it becomes a blanket approval for all kinds of behavior that isn’t moral or even healthy for development. The other downside to the myth is that places a negative label on students which lowers expectations and achievement.
By attributing almost everything to raging hormones, we also miss what is really going on in our son or daughter’s life. We can write every thing off as “raging hormones.”
Please let me explain why I reject this popular misconception that teens are out of control because of “raging hormones.”
The Part that is True
Like I said, in every error there is an element of truth or else no one would buy it. Without getting really technical, studies have shown that from the start of puberty in boys until the end of puberty, testosterone will increase between 15 to 18 times the amount.
In females, estradiol levels will increase 8 times the amount . These will result in all of the physical changes that we can observe and in males in increased attraction to the opposite sex (Cameron, J.I. 2004)
The other part that may seem true is that at different times of the day even, hormone levels in males and females with fluctuate and can effect moods.
The Parts They Get Wrong
The endocrine or hormonal system that impact puberty is a very delicately balanced relationship between 3 glands; the hypolthalmus and pituitary in the brain and the gonads. Scientists call this the feedback system the HPG Axis. These glands very carefully balance the levels of hormones and monitor them constantly for natural physical and sexual development.
Raging is not what this feedback system is doing. There is rapid physical change but if this system was anywhere near “raging” the body would be in complete chaos. Instead being out of control, the checks and balances regulated by these glands create a harmony with each other to bring about a carefully orchestrated transformation.
The goal of this process is that by adulthood physical development and hormone levels will reach full maturity. I guess you could say that if anyone has high levels of testosterone or estrogen it is actually adults. So who has “raging hormones?”
The Other Misleading Myth
A second myth associated with puberty is that teens are not responsible for their actions “because of all that they are going through.” Early theories of adolescence (by E. Stanley Hall and others) explained it as a time of incredible upheaval, stress and storm. More reliable studies show the opposite. For the majority of teens it is fairly uneventful without incredible drama.
Movies and music get a lot of mileage out of this myth. It really sells to portray all teens as at risk rebels who have eating disorders, multiple sex partners, and suicidal tendencies.
Wrong again. It sells papers a lot better to have stories about sexting, and gangs than to tell stories about average students who babysit and study for finals.
Why I care so much about this…
The reason I care about busting these myths is that I would want adults to see teens for who they really are. Rather than making excuses for them or limiting them by our negative labels, as sex crazed or drama queens, it would be good to see each as an individual.
I really care about teens becoming who God created them to be. I want parents and teachers to see them as the image of God coming into adulthood instead of a “walking hormone.” These low expectations and excuses can provide permission for teens to sow wild oats, or engage in sexual immorality. That isn’t God’s plan for this important time in the life of a teen.
As the body matures so should responsibility and morality. These negatives myths and labels set them off in another direction.