Teen Boys and Teen Girls And What Makes Their Brains So Very Different

The challenge of parenting teenagers

Parenting teenagers can be challenging, and unfortunately, there’s not a quick, fix-all formula for parenting your unique teen the “right way”. The physical differences between men and women are pretty obvious, but the differences in emotional development during puberty, often referred to as “the awkward stage,” stand in stark contrast. When I look at gender differences in the brain during teen years, I can’t help but say, “really God, what are you thinking?!

Teen boys: how much testosterone can they take?

When testosterone is being released into a teenage boy, his body is altering and expanding structurally. This tsunami of testosterone is coursing through his body stretching vocal cords, enlarging the testicles, thickening and lengthening the penis, increasing hair follicle growth in new places, activating muscle and bone growth, and causing the sexual-pursuit circuits to become twice as large as a girl’s. That’s a massive amount of restructuring!

Louanne Brizendine, M.D. puts it this way:

“If testosterone were beer, a nine-year-old boy would get the equivalent of about one cup a day…by age fifteen, it would be equal to two gallons a day.”

A 15-year-old boy is daily “intoxicated” by the amount of testosterone his body is producing—no wonder our teenage boys need so much sleep! Their bodies are working hard to receive the changes coursing through them.

Teen girls: why do they have so many words?

Like testosterone changes a boy’s body, estrogen changes the structure of a teenage girl’s body. At the core, this influx of estrogen is an unfolding of the ancient biological manual embedded in every woman to become sexually desirable. This rewiring is why humankind has continued to create and the continuation of life is hinged upon this process.

As estrogen makes its way through a teenage girl’s body, breasts begin to appear, emotions are heightened, awareness of the perception of others is increased, pubic hair begins to grow, and a monthly surge of estrogen-progesterone causes menstrual bleeding to begin.

Teen girls often have a lot of words and the amazing ability to talk all day (and sometimes all night) with close friends. As a girl develops, language and speech often activate the pleasure centers in their brain. This is different from a boy’s brain, where language and speech do not produce the same effects. During teen years, a girl’s language area of her brain can be twice as large as a teen boy’s.

What can these differences teach us about God?

While the knowledge of these differences is important, I believe we still need to address important questions like: how do we view differences? Do we value these things as good and designed by our Creator with love?

As a mother who has successfully made it to the other end of those parenting-teen years, I know the teenage years can be filled with many frustrations. However, I believe these years are vital in exploring the mystery of man, the mystery of woman, and the mystery of God.

When we make space to allow these male and female differences in our teens to show us the creative hand of God, we are given the chance to marvel at the depth of what we have yet to discover.

~ becky

One Night Stands: 3 Surprising Ways Your Brain is Affected

Does casual sex exist?

Countless times I sit across from men and women as they share their sexual portfolios—they mention choices that mean nothing and are completely in the past. As I watch the same people wrestle with trust, forgiveness, and commitment, I can’t help but wonder: do those choices really mean nothing? Are they truly in the past? If they are meaningless, why do I continually see people struggle with the ramifications many years after the choices have been made? 

Do one night stands last more than one night?

The truth is, one night stands and casual sex leave an imprint that’s carried with us long after the morning after. When we try to convince ourselves that sex is a casual act, we are going against God’s intentional design for sex. Our brain, and our body, gives us cues to God’s original purpose for sexual union.

  1. Men and women can have different emotional attachments after one night stands

Each person takes away a different emotional attachment. For men, their sexual drive leads them into a physical attachment, which then turns into an emotional one. For women, the possibility of an emotional attachment leads them into a physical one. This can create greater feelings of guilt and depression in women after they have a one night stand because their initial reason for having a one night stand is immediately broken.

  1. One night stands can damage our ability to bond with one another

When two people have sex, the brain releases a neurochemical called oxytocin, a chemical that creates feelings of bonding between two people. When we have casual sex with multiple partners, our brain becomes confused and puts up barriers in order to protect itself. Initially, the brain will continue to produce the neurochemical due to its natural drive to do so, but over time the brain will harden itself to the chemical in an attempt to protect itself from the emotional pain of losing that bond.

  1. Our body remembers things we often seek to forget

When our body is inflicted with pain, a scar or mark is often left as a result of the incident. Long after the initial pain is forgotten, a mark is left as a reminder of the pain that occurred. In the same way, there are chemicals in our brain that carry imprints of what our body has experienced. When we exercise, our brain releases dopamine, and our brain becomes conditioned to remember that exercise. If you were to stop working out for a period of time and then return, your brain would remember the pathway it created and you would remember how to complete the exercise. When we have an intimate relationship after a period of making sexual choices that “mean nothing,” our brains can remember something that happened years ago and trigger a negative memory.

Our brain is the largest sex organ we have and it is crucial to understand its workings in order to have a fulfilling and intimate sex life. If you ever find yourself looking for a safe place to speak further about past choices you’ve made, I’d invite you to reach out.

~ becky

I am a woman…but am I wired like a man?

Such a great question one that I hear often when the scientific element of men and women’s brain structural differences are noticed and named.

This hits me from a personal place needing to explore and understand my disordered view of gender.

Let me explain.

From an early age, I noticed and experienced the differences of how men and women engaged in relationships and made decisions. Personally, I internalized that men’s view had value and I under-valued the view of women. Common statements like:

“You are thinking too much like a woman.”

What does that mean? Is thinking like a woman somehow bad?

“Becky, take the emotion out of your decision, think logically.”

Does this mean that emotion is bad and in thinking more like a man I will not have emotion?

Is logic something that only men possess and emotions are exclusively for women? A message I learned early is that if I reduce my emotions and elevate my logic, than I could often be heard and my view valued.

To understand my own questions I had to look at some deeply embedded perceptions that I carried somewhat unknowingly:

1) Strength, logic, reason seemed to fall under the category of men.

2) Gentleness, emotion, relationship  seemed to fall under the category of women.

I valued one over the other, I saw one as strong, the other as weak. Really? I hope this makes you uncomfortable because even writing this causes me to cringe.

Let’s pretend we are sitting face-to-face, because I need to ask another question. In what way do you relate more to the description of a man’s wiring? And if it is from perception of value, might there be something more to value of being a woman? If in anyway we use a measuring system of valuing one over the other, we could have hidden complexities of gender elevation.

The simple fact is that science tells us that women’s brains are wired differently than men’s. The two side of a man’s brain are more different whereas the two sides of a woman’s brain are more the same. This is not better than or stating any value – just that women’s brain process information through more avenues, while men process information through a more central compartmentalized avenue. Thus I often use the description of a six lane highway vs. a one lane dirt road.

Both have:

emotions…

logic…

It makes no logical sense why this gentle tender flower would grow in the center of this rock, but it did it anyway…

Do we value both? Does each hold a unique purpose? AND most importantly what might they both have to teach us?