I vividly remember the afternoon I asked my mom, ‘Where do babies come from?’
After quickly steering our vehicle back onto the roadway, she paused and replied, “Well, we went to God and told him we wanted children. And, He gave them to us.” Naturally, I believed her. Why shouldn’t I? She’s my mom, I thought. In my 12 year-old mind, I visualized my parents walking into heaven – eight times – and leaving with a baby! She did give a creative answer – false but funny!
Such was my belief until one of my sisters decided it was time for me to know the truth. She handed me a phenomenal resource on the subject that answered my inquisitive questions. My mother is the greatest but when it came time to talk to my own child, my husband and I made a clear decision to discuss male puberty stages with our son often. It wasn’t a comfortable topic but we know he’ll thank us later.
Whatever we, as parents, choose to call it – “the talk” or “the birds and the bees” – talking to your son or daughter about puberty can be challenging. But, it is inevitable. If you are unsure about how to break the ice, here are a plethora of articles including Understanding Puberty and A Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Teenage Years from KidsHealth.org. KidsHealth.org is an informative source about health, behavior and development from before birth through adolescence. This website is divided into four informative sections for parents, kids, teens and educators.
So, how do we talk to our kids about this subject?
Know the Signs. This is a time when growing girls and boys undergo sexual maturation involving a series of physical, emotional and psychological developments. Both girls and boys go through similar changes such as growth spurts, acne, possible weight gain and increased perspiration. Keep in mind that every child matures differently. According to an article published by MedicineNet.com – a medical site that provides in-depth, authoritative information to consumers – the onset of puberty usually occurs in girls between the ages of 10 and 14, while in boys it generally occurs later, between the ages of 12 and 16.
Be Open and Honest. Just as we were curious about bodies, so are our children. They deserve facts – not falsehood. The Always Changing® Program offers educational videos to watch, along with your kids, as you discuss this topic. You can view Puberty Video for girls or Puberty Video for boys. Share your story, openly, and allow them to ask questions. Don’t allow their friends to misguide them. Dad, nonchalantly, mention how you felt as an adolescent and how you improved hygiene. Mom, casually, explain how to deal with frequent hormonal changes like mood swings. Parents, as a family, eliminate the elephant in the room and celebrate this exciting yet daunting milestone. Most importantly, be transparent, honest. They can handle it. If not, they will tell you (especially if they are as vocal as our son)!
Offer Guidance and Reassurance. Your guidance and your reassurance is of the utmost importance. Simply being available is comforting. I felt awkward asking my mom for help with utilizing tampons but she guided me – step-by-step. At times, I avoided social outings because of my raging acne. She reassured me this too shall pass – and it did! Avoidance can be problematic. Our children need us to help them navigate this seemingly overwhelming part of life, to gently remind them all is well. Rest assured, when the time comes, you’ll know; trust your instincts.
Seek Help. If you are uncomfortable – as many are – seek help. At Woman’s Foundation, Inc., we can help begin the conversation. Our Let’s Talk: Puberty Series give parents and their children an opportunity to begin a beneficial dialogue. It is our hope that participants gain awareness and greater confidence to embrace adolescence.
The first class in this series, Body Talk, is focused on puberty. It is held separately for boys and girls (ages 9 – 11) with knowledgeable instructors who provide age-appropriate information. Depending on age, topics range from hygiene and body development to consequences of risky, sexual behavior and making positive choices. One of the advantages of taking part in our classes is that participants leave with a book on puberty for future reference.
Click here to learn more, register and view schedules on various programs. Or, give us a call at (337) 988-1816.
Growing up is tough; we can help.