Each stage of parenthood has its own challenges and adolescence is no different. As a mom to a girl entering this new territory I like to think I leave myself open for conversations with my daughter about anything and everything but according to our Junior Style Blogger Verity, there are some topics and questions pre-teen girls just aren’t comfortable brining up.
When asked why, Verity cited two main reasons she and her friends don’t approach their moms on questions about sex, body changes, and being a teenage girl:
- Their moms will start to get judgmental, thinking their daughters are only focused on boys, sex and physical appearance. The girls worry their moms will look at them differently, questioning them more about what they are doing in their free time.
- Their moms will blow a simple question into a huge deal, talking at length and asking questions, getting into areas and details that the girls just don’t want to hear about yet. Not to mention they don’t want to conjure up images of their mom in these scenarios.
As moms we have all gone through the confusing stage of puberty and pre-teen angst. Some of us cherished this timeframe; some dreaded it, while others may have put it out of their mind. I have an idea what questions my daughter might have when it comes to puberty but that was some time ago. I asked Verity what sort of things her friends were talking about at school, the things they were curious about but would never think to ask their mom, and here are the top 4 responses:
1. How do I tell my parents I like a boy?
The boys in class who were just kids you daughter played with now evoke flip-flop feelings in her tummy. That first crush can be sweet to us parents, a sign that our little girls are growing up, but avoid the cute references to their feelings. And if your daughter isn’t as boy-crazy as her friends, let her know that’s okay too.
2. When will I get breasts? Why does the girl younger than me have them and I don’t?
It’s not just boys that seem obsessed with breasts during those early teen years. Girls worry about size and shape and when they will start to grow. We often remind our kids that everyone is different, whether it’s being faster on the basketball court or quicker at solving math problems puberty and body changes are no different. Reassure your daughter that how her body grows and changes may be different than the girls around her but it will happen.
3. What if my period starts when I’m not at home?
Like most firsts, waiting for that first period can be stressful. Although most girls get their first period between the ages of 12 and 13, it can start as young as 8 or as late as 16. Sharing your first experience might reassure your daughter since genetic history also plays a role. Knowing the signs of her period can also help. Having the knowledge and being prepared will help your daughter deal with her first period whether it’s at home or at school. This video from beinggirl.com shares some great information on being prepared for that first period, including tips should it happen when they’re anywhere but home:
4. When do I use a tampon and how do I use it?
According to Verity and her friends, there’s some speculation in the schoolyard when it comes to using tampons versus pads. Some girls feel that you have to use them when you are older, that pads are like period training wheels. Remind your daughter that the choice is a personal one. It is probably easier to transition into a tampon from a pad but there’s no rule that says girls need to wear them. Beinggirl.com shares a step-by-step pictorial that might help your daughter understand how to insert a tampon should she want to try wearing them. Reassure her that practice makes perfect so not to stress if she doesn’t get it the first few times. While your daughter is getting comfortable with her cycle you could suggest wearing a liner with her tampon until she is more familiar with her flow.
After speaking with Verity about the questions and worries pre-teens may have around puberty I’ve come to 4 conclusions about having the talk:
Don’t wait for your daughter to come to you. You may not want to feel like you are pushing an agenda or invading her personal space starting the conversation but that might be just the cue your daughter needs to start talking.
Don’t turn it into a lecture. People joke about having ‘the talk’ with their kids. Avoid the eye rolls by having a conversation instead of a lecture. Next time you are out with your daughter (when friends and siblings aren’t around) just casually ask about feeling different or kids behaving differently at school. Ask what the girls are chatting about in the schoolyard or what they’re talking about in health class. Don’t make it a big deal.
Don’t push the conversation. If your daughter has opened up, asking how to tell a boy she likes him, don’t stray into areas she’s not yet comfortable about. This may not be the time to start talking about sex and STDs. Read her body language to ensure she hasn’t tuned you out.
Don’t be her only source of information. You know the girls are talking about these questions amongst themselves at school, sometimes sharing false information. Whether your daughter is open to talking to you or not, direct her to other resources that offer trusted information, such as the book Girl to Girl or the website beinggirl.com].
Ultimately be there for your daughter and celebrate the girl she is now and the women she is growing into. Puberty might just be a small step in your daughter’s overall lifepath but it can feel like mountains and valleys to her. You can be her guide.
This post is sponsored by Always and Tampax but all opinions and experiences shared her are my own. Image provided by P&G Canada.