Sex, and puberty…
Before you go any further, don’t panic, this is a family blog. This is an honest, but clean post, I promise.
We have a tweenager, in the house, and she is rapidly growing up, both emotionally and physically. The two tie together, and we have HORMONES aplenty because she is hitting puberty.
As much as this mum would like to live in utter denial that her baby is growing up, she can’t, so we are facing puberty and all it entails with honesty, and trying to keep it simple, but also maintain our sense of humour. (that can be tricky with tweenage meltdowns aplenty going on!)
My mum was not a person who, I think felt that comfortable talking about puberty and sex, and body changes. She did talk to me about things, but it was in a very reserved way and because I was away at boarding school through most of my adolescence and teenage years, puberty kind of happened and I dealt with it mostly myself, with some support from peers and staff at school. I did write to my mum, and we were better with written communication on matters of what was going on with my body. We also grew up Catholic, which put a certain slant on things, in terms of what was acceptable to talk about or how things were viewed.
My mum handed me this book when I was 11, and I read it, and some of it horrified me, and I mostly decided that I was having NONE of it. Of course, I couldn’t avoid it.
Anyone else have this book as a tween/teenager? Yes, I am THAT old!
So, with my own daughter, (and eventually my son, although the husband will also be involved) I am working on doing things a little differently.
We are pretty open and honest about bodily functions and what our bodies do, and also using proper terms for body parts, and we have of course taught the children about what personal body space and autonomy is and about being safe in terms of what other people can and cannot do/touch etc but now we are facing a whole new stage, with bodies changing, hormones, and what happens next.
I don’t hide or sugar coat stuff and we don’t have silly expressions or cutesy phrases. We have been open with her about sex and what it is, and why. She knows about menstruation, and why it happens and what to expect, and I am prepared for that to happen, and we have talked about it. We have always answered questions about how babies are made, born, why males are different from females and how our bodies work, which I think has helped to make the slide into talking about puberty easier. I also want to teach my children about sex, puberty and body changes myself and not just rely on the school or their peers to educate them. I feel strongly about this.
I have an open door policy. She can come and ask me anything she wants, or if she has any worries or concerns about what is happening to her body, and her emotions. We try to find time to talk about things in a way she feels comfortable (kids can be curious but it’s also helpful to not overload them with information, and to try and gauge how they react when you are talking to them) and she knows that even if it seems silly to her, that she can come and ask me. If for some reason I don’t have an answer, we try and look up answers together to find the information she needs. She is less keen to talk to her Dad about stuff (which is understandable) but I have prepped him to be open and honest with her and also gentle and not make her feel silly, or embarrassed. Although I am not planning on going anywhere, I want her to be able to at least be able to ask her dad if she needs for help, or advice, if for some reason I wasn’t around to be there for her (my own mum dying as I hit adulthood makes me aware that sometimes this happens)
We have bought some good books, that she and I can read, and if I think we need to talk about something I try to broach it gently and in a way that navigates that she isn’t quite eleven yet, but is growing up and needs that input.
So far, so good, and whilst I would cheerfully like to be in denial that my girl is growing up, I think I am coping, and she seems to be too. Of course this stage is not without it’s bumps and I am sure there will be things that we will struggle with, but I think I am ready, and I hope, I am doing my best to get her ready for it too. It’s a whole new world of parenting, and like most of it, so far, it seems to be a figure it out as you go thing. Anyone else find that?
If you have a child facing puberty, how are you as a parent handling it? How are they coping? How do you approach talking to them and helping them face the changes coming?