Adolescent Roosters and Junior HIgh Boys

When you buy chicks at our feed store you have the option of purchasing either “straight run” or all females. Straight run chicks are mixed females and males, just as they hatched. That’s fine if you are planning on eating the young roosters and keeping the hens, but if you want layers only, you want the “female only” chicks. Newly hatched chicks are sex-segregated at the hatchery by someone who endlessly peeks at rear ends of baby chicks. (What a job!) Most of us ordinary folks don’t have the faintest clue how to differentiate between a baby rooster and a baby hen.

Well, apparently chick-sexers aren’t infallible. This spring we purchased a dozen “female only” chicks. After losing two early on to a tragic smashing incident and a dog, we’ve been looking forward to gathering eggs from the remaining ten, five of whom are Araucanas who lay green-ish to blue-ish eggs. If all goes well, they should start laying in the next month or so.

However, several weeks ago Peter noticed something funny with one of the Araucanas. “Mom, one of the hens is making a really weird noise,” he said one day. I went down to investigate. You guessed it – the funny “hen” is not a hen at all; it is a rooster. And not just any rooster, but an adolescent rooster. We’d obtained all our other roosters as full-fledged adults. Our teen-aged rooster is such a funny guy. He tries to crow, but since his voice is changing he can’t quite manage to get the right vocalization yet. I don’t know if he is embarrassed or not, but he ought to be. Sometimes he sounds like he is being strangled. He’s also trying on his rooster role by trying chasing the hens, scaring the hens away from the feed, and making the girls cry. (“Braaahhh!”) I do have to say this for him, he sure is a beautiful fellow, and we like the idea that he might sire some chicks next spring that will be minimally ½ Araucana.

Our juvenile rooster reminds me in some ways of junior high boys. A junior high boy is also going through an awkward adjustment. Just a few years ago he was a cute little boy, and in a few more years he will be a man. More than his voice and body are changing. His interests, abilities, and emotions are also changing. He wants to be a man, not a little boy. Junior high boys often chafe against their mom’s authority. Right now we have two boys this age, and have only raised one son totally through this time. Hopefully I’ll have more wisdom on this in a few more years, but here are some of the things I remind myself of when I look at my young roosters, er, I mean, young men.

1. Young men need more adult responsibilities and more autonomy. He doesn’t need his mom looking over his shoulder every minute. And we have to allow him to experience consequences and failure as well. If he doesn’t get his paper written on time, he should suffer some real consequences, not have mom bail him out. Too many times moms, especially homeschool moms, want to protect their children from failure, so they supervise every detail and micromanage their sons’ lives. This is doing your son a great disservice.

2. Hard, physical work is excellent, nay, essential, for growing boys. One of the reasons we have chickens and other animals is to provide our boys with lots of good, outdoor work. It does my heart good to look outside and see my 12 year old (with a broken arm) hoist a 50# feed sack to his shoulder to carry down to the barn. As our boys get older we look for opportunities for them to work with Tim. This summer Jonathan, 13, spent many days working alongside his dad. We always need to be teaching our children to work hard, but this is an especially key time for this.

3. This is an age when Dad needs to step-up his involvement in giving guidance and daily instruction. If you are homeschooling, Dad needs to take a more direct role in setting the path for his work. Few dads are able to assume much daily teaching, but sons need to know that Mom is teaching what Dad has laid out. (Dad also needs at this age to vigilantly make sure his son is respecting his wife, since sons sometimes start challenging their mothers at this time.)

4. Look for opportunities for your son to lead, as appropriate. If Dad is not home, then have your son lead your family in prayer before a meal or at family devotions.

5. Adolescent boys are goofier in groups. With this age group I think often of the Proverb that says, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” (Proverbs 13:20).

6. And remember, this won’t last forever. By God’s grace, he will grow through this time, becoming a man ready to take on the mantle of leadership in his home, work, and church.

Proverbs 10: 1 A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish son is a grief to his mother.


Kim Berner said…

I've enjoyed getting to know your son, Peter this past summer in youth group. I wasn't with Jonathan for very long, and he is naturally much shyer than Peter, so I didn't get to know him as well. I can guarantee, that every Wednesday night Peter is there, he will bring a smile to my face. I love his enthusiasm. (He too has a hard time keeping a straight face. Just ask him about last weeks game.)

Also, while in South Africa, we spent a lot of time at and American couple's house, JD and Barbara Borgman. They had a rooster, who now I realize was probably an adolescent. When he would try and crow, it was sound quite pathetic. (Erer *cough*) Maybe he was old though. =)
Anne said…
Dear Kim,

We are so thankful for the care you and the other youth leaders give to our kids. (I almost wrote that as another point in the post - this is an age when it is important to get other godly men and women involved in the lives of your kids.)

And yes,I know what you mean about him being unable to keep a straight face. Peter has been a very happy kid from his very earliest days.
Hind's Feet said…
I wish I knew Jonathon a bit better, however, I have been blessed to know and to teach Peter. He was a delight in our class, and ever the gentleman. He loves scripture and was quick to share. An excellent example.
Not to swell anyone's head mind you, but on occasion it is a blessing to hear good opinions (of a truthful nature) about your children.
Blessings, Kim
Mrs. Wegener:

Thanks so much for your wisdom on child-rearing. Even though this post was about boys (esp. of the Jr. High type), it was quite useful to me as a father of two-under-two girls.

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