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My Changes Copyright 2008 by Mark Oestreicher and Scott Rubin Youth Specialties products, 300 S. Pierce St., El Cajon, CA are published by Zondervan, 5300 Patterson Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI
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My Changes Copyright 2008 by Mark Oestreicher and Scott Rubin Youth Specialties products, 300 S. Pierce St., El Cajon, CA are published by Zondervan, 5300 Patterson Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI ISBN All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, Today s New International Version. TNIV. Copyright 2001, 2005 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher. Web site addresses listed in this book were current at the time of publication. Please contact Youth Specialties via to report URLs that are no longer operational and provide replacement URLs if available. Cover design by Gearbox Interior design by Mark Novelli, IMAGO MEDIA Printed in the United States of America X_mychanges_int.indd 2 6/6/08 4:23:55 PM CONTENTS INTRODUCTION 1. The Difficulty of Naming This Book 10 SECTION 1: ON-RAMP TO CHANGE 2. Everything s Changing This Is Good It s God s Plan for You Why Is This Happening? A Little History What Are the Teenage Years About? Others Expectations You re Now a Massive Marketing Demographic When Am I Grown Up? 28 SECTION 2: PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT 10. What Is Puberty? Smelling Bad Am I Normal? What Is Normal? Periods and Wet Dreams Growth Pain Body Shape Zits The Importance of Sleep Eating Disorders Comparison 52 SECTION 3: MY BRAIN AND MY THOUGHTS 20. Brain Development Why All the Aha s? Why Does Everything Seem So Complicated? Abstract Thinking Left Brain/Right Brain X_mychanges_int.indd 4 6/6/08 4:23:56 PM 24. Are All Guys Good at Math and Science? Are All Girls Good at English and Social Studies? Different Learning Styles Speculation The Good and Bad of Daydreaming 70 SECTION 4: IDENTITY 28. What Is Identity? Why Is My Identity Important Now? Trying Everything Identity Shopping What Shapes My Identity? Do I Really Have a Choice? Or Is It Fate? It s Okay Not to Have It All Figured Out Interests Taking Responsibility/Blaming Others Individuation (Differing Opinions from Parents and Friends) What to Do When Someone Labels You 96 SECTION 5: EMOTIONS 39. What s Happening with My Emotions? What s Good about My Changing Emotions? Why Adults Might Downplay Your Emotions Why Do I Feel Sad All the Time? Where s All This Anger Coming from? Can Emotions Be Controlled? Drama Intensity Loneliness My Friends Emotions X_mychanges_int.indd 5 6/6/08 4:23:56 PM SECTION 6: FAITH CHANGES 49. What s Changing? From Childhood Faith to Teenage Faith Doubt What to Do with Questions? 130 SECTION 7: RELATIONSHIP CHANGES 53. Why Are My Friendships Changing? Leaving Elementary School Friends Behind? Guy Crazy/Girl Crazy Independence My Changing Relationship with My Parents My Changing Relationship with My Church Introverts and Extroverts Different Relational Needs A Change in How I Choose Friends Why Are People So Mean? 150 SECTION 8: DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GIRLS AND GUYS 62. Why Are Girls Taller Than Guys? Why Are Girls So Emotional and Guys Not So Much? Why Do Girls Talk So Much and Guys Not So Much? Are Girls Really More Mature Than Guys? 162 SECTION 9: QUESTIONS GIRLS ASK ABOUT GUYS 66. Why Do Guys Act So Stupid? How Do I Know If a Guy Likes Me? Why Doesn t He Like Me? Why Are Guys So Obsessed with Girls Bodies? The Weird Stuff to Talk About: Spontaneous Erections and Wet Dreams 174 SECTION 10: QUESTIONS GUYS ASK ABOUT GIRLS 71. Why Do Women Go to Special Doctors? Why Do Women Have to Carry a Purse? And Why Is It So Private? What Is PMS? Why Do Girls Whisper and Giggle So Much? A Final Reminder: You re Going to Be Okay Change Is Good X_mychanges_int.indd 6 6/6/08 4:23:56 PM SECTION 1 ON-RAMP TO CHANGE X_mychanges_int.indd 13 6/6/08 4:23:57 PM 2. EVERYTHING S CHANGING MY CHANGES BODY FACT: YOUR STOMACH HAS TO PRODUCE A NEW LAYER OF MUCUS EVERY TWO WEEKS; IF IT DIDN T, YOUR STOMACH WOULD DIGEST ITSELF. There are really only two times in life when everything changes. When you were born (awwww we bet you were cute!), your little body and brain went through massive changes for a couple of years. Think of the difference between a newborn infant and a two-year-old. The newborn can t do anything but eat (with help), sleep, cry, and fill a diaper (with the occasional cute gurgle thrown in). But by two years old, they re miniature walking, talking, toywrecking wonders. The other massive time of change? You re soaking in it. Or you re about to enter it. Or you ve just gone through it. You ve probably heard this word: puberty. It s not just about sexuality and stuff. It s the word to describe a short period of time, usually during the middle school years, when your body and mind kick into high gear, changing, morphing, shifting, becoming less like a kid and more like an adult. And it s often a bit freaky. Your body s changing. Your brain is changing. Your emotions are changing. Your friendships are changing. Your relationship with your parents is changing. Your faith is changing. Really, this is the reason we (Marko and Scott) totally dig working with middle schoolers. We love helping students understand all these changes and how cool it all is (or can be) X_mychanges_int.indd 14 If you re feeling a bit weird these days, it s probably because of all these changes. That s why we wrote this book (to help you understand all that stuff), and we hope that s why you re reading it. ON-RAMP TO CHANGE X_mychanges_int.indd 15 MY CHANGES 3. THIS IS GOOD IT S GOD S PLAN FOR YOU We have two promises for you: one good, one not so good. Let s start with the not-so-good promise. We promise you that sometimes, probably a whole bunch of times (maybe even all the time), you re going to feel lousy during your middle school years. You re going to feel like the changes you re going through stink. You re going to feel like something is just off and wrong with your body. You re going to feel really frustrated with how easily you feel frustrated. Newsflash: That s normal. In fact (here comes a big secret ready?), we (Marko and Scott) aren t really all that smart; we can only make that promise about how lousy you re going to feel at times because every middle school student feels that way from time to time. Here s the other promise, the good one: We promise that all this change is a good thing. Here s how we know it s good: God invented it. That s right. It s not like God stood back at the end of creation and said, Ah, my creation is very good except for those middle school years. I kinda messed them up. No, God s creation is always good. And God designed this time and process of change so that you could grow to a place where you can really experi X_mychanges_int.indd 16 ence life to the fullest. See? That s God s loving motivation for all this messy change stuff. So why is it such a pain? Well, truly deep change is usually difficult and messy. Otherwise it wouldn t be truly deep change; it would only be surface-level change. Have you ever seen a chick come out of an egg or a butterfly come out of a cocoon? In both cases they have to work like crazy. But if you help them, then they probably won t live. They have to go through the hard work it s part of what makes them strong enough for the next part of their lives. The same is true for you. The changes you re going through can be really difficult and annoying and not a lot of fun to experience. But these changes are preparing you for the rest of your life. ON-RAMP TO CHANGE X_mychanges_int.indd 17 4. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? MY CHANGES Can you picture us showing you an old-school film right now, in black and white, with some dude wearing a dorky suit and standing at a chalkboard with an outline of a boy and a girl? He d say, in a deep voice, Change. You re really changing a lot, aren t you? Let s take a deeper look at these changes and try to understand why all this is happening. Uh, yeah. We don t have that movie. And you wouldn t want to watch it if we did. But the question is a good one. Why? Why is all this happening to you? The answer is both simple and not so simple. The simple answer: All this change is happening to you because you re growing up. Duh! Now for the not-so-simple answer. Really, you ve been changing every minute of every day for your entire life. And you ll continue changing every minute of every day for the rest of your life. Things grow, things get stronger or saggier, thoughts and emotions develop or fade. But what s unique about your middle school years is the massive quantity of change. If a normal amount of change for a human is like walking up a tiny little hill, then your changes are like climbing a 10,000-foot mountain. Blindfolded. Without any equipment. Or any clothes. Okay, maybe we exaggerated a bit. But you get the idea X_mychanges_int.indd 18 We don t really know why God planned for young teenagers to have all these changes all at once (rather than a little bit at a time, over a longer period of years). But we do know that if you didn t go through all the changes we talk about in this book, then you d have a not-so-great life as an adult. Really! If you lived as an adult with the body, mind, faith, and emotions of a little kid, then your life wouldn t be the full life that Jesus talks about in John 10:10: I HAVE COME THAT THEY [I.E., YOU!] MAY HAVE LIFE, AND HAVE IT TO THE FULL. THAT S what this change is all about! ON-RAMP TO CHANGE X_mychanges_int.indd 19 5. A LITTLE HISTORY MY CHANGES BODY FACT: THE MUSCLES IN YOUR HEART HAVE THE STRENGTH TO SHOOT YOUR BLOOD 10 METERS IN THE AIR! Here s something strange that you might not know: The word teenager was never used until fewer than 100 years ago. The more formal word for the teenage years adolescence was invented just after That might sound like a long time ago, but it s a pretty short time when you consider how long humans have been around. In fact, hundreds of years ago there was no such thing as the teenage years. Kids were kids, and then they were considered young adults. Every culture around the world used to have these things called rites of passage. They re ceremonies or tasks that people your age went through in order to be considered an adult. But about 100 years ago, our culture started to change. We started to understand the importance of education beyond elementary school, and high schools started to pop up. (They weren t required until a little more than 50 to 60 years ago.) And at the same time, our culture started to create some space for teenagers to be teenagers instead of rushing them into adult responsibilities. At first, the teenage years were viewed as a couple of years long, around the 15th or 16th year. Then, when high school became required, people started thinking of the teenage years as being from 13 to 18 years old X_mychanges_int.indd 20 With those societal changes, teenagers started creating their own culture their own clothing styles, language and slang, music choices, and stuff like that. There are still changes taking place in all this cultural stuff. Like, when we were in middle school, the things we were exposed to were probably a lot closer to what you experienced in fifth or sixth grade. And these days, most experts would say the teenage years are about 10 to 15 years long, from about 10 or 11 years old to the mid-20s. So when your grandparents, or even your parents, talk about how different things are for teenagers today from when they were your age they re right! ON-RAMP TO CHANGE X_mychanges_int.indd 21
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