As a Mom, we all remember that moment from your childhood when it all changed. The day you became a WOMAN. How did you feel that day – Scared? Excited? Full of shame? Or did your Mom skip the “puberty talk” altogether?
More than likely, those feelings were driven by the preparation you received for the big event. Whether we like it or not, as the parent of a daughter (or son), that day is coming. Mastering preparation for your child is key to making this event a parental success.
3 TIPS TO INSURE A SUCCESSFUL PUBERTY TALK:
1. Find the RIGHT TIME
It is coming before you know it. Please don’t wait until you have a tearful young lady who thinks that she is dying before your eyes. That is the wrong time. A better time is when you begin to see signs of puberty. Signs of body changes come way before menstrual periods. When you see armpit hair or breast buds developing, notice the smell of gym socks when your little one enters the room, or when your son’s voice begins squeaking. These are all signs that hormones are in play. This can vary by age. Earlier is fine, too.
2. Find the RIGHT PLACE
This is going to be an awkward conversation no matter what. Try to make it fun. A girls afternoon getting your nails done or short road trip to celebrate “All Things Girlie”. A special basketball game or round of golf with your son. Think of their interests and make it special. They are going to remember this for life no matter how you do it. You might as well attach something positive to the experience.
3. Be prepared with good, age appropriate information
This discussion is a part of what I do for a living. It still felt strange for me to discuss with MY daughter. I love the American Girl Book “The Care and Keeping of You 2” for girls and “Guy Stuff The Body Book for Boys”. Both address not just body changes but also self-care and issues that arise socially. They are an appropriate reading level for age 10 and up. Having a book ready will divert that awkwardness of them not wanting to look at you and will give them a resource to refer to going forward.
Here’s how my Mom had the body talk with me: Still waiting, it may be a little late now. There was no body talk. I grew up traditional Catholic and that was not a popular discussion amongst our parents. We did get education at school – I know now it was essentially Natural Family Planning and period tracking. We charted cycles with cervical mucus. It still freaks me out to think about.
So here’s how I had the “Puberty Talk” with my preteen daughter:
I had planned a spring break road trip to visit a good friend from medical school. Our “Auntie Manny” lived in Nashville at the time. She loves my daughter and is all things girlie so I knew it would be the perfect week.
The drive itself was 12 hours – plenty of time to venture into puberty with my unsuspecting 10-year-old. The car is a great place to have the discussion – as long as you don’t get too nervous to drive. There is no one else to overhear and embarrass your child and they have few distractions. Just make sure to lock the doors in case they want to jump out.
I opened with reminding her of all the fun that “being a girl” brings and we discussed the fun things that we had done that week. Then I ventured into what being a woman means. As I started to talk about body changes, I could see her eyes move away and a nervous giggle began. That’s when I gave her the book. It allowed her to browse while I talked and made the one-on-one interaction a little less awkward for her. She looked distracted but I knew she was listening. As I finished, I told her I loved her and that I was here if she had any questions. She declined (as expected) but did look through that book for another hour and still has it in her library. Don’t expect questions at this awkward age – any bone they throw at you is a bonus.
I chose to separate this discussion from the “Sex Talk”. I’ll post more on that one later – that was a doozie. If you prefer to do both at once, that’s fine. Just don’t get so nervous thinking about describing sex that you forget to describe the physical changes that he or she is going to experience.
Having the “puberty” talk is awkward for all but so important for your adolescent. Finding the right time, the right place, and being prepared with good information will make that process easier for you and more effective for your child.
To read more about Girls Concerns with Puberty: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/gradeschool/puberty/Pages/Concerns-Girls-Have-About-Puberty.aspx
To read more about Boys Concerns with Puberty: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/gradeschool/puberty/Pages/Concerns-Boys-Have-About-Puberty.aspx
For more Blog Posts on Preparing for Teens: https://doctormome.com/worried-about-your-teen-and-drugs/