I have an amazing power that was only recently discovered. I don’t twitch when the word puberty is said. I not only don’t twitch, I get happy and love to talk about it with parents and girls. Girls only. I have no idea about the boys.
Armed with this new super power I recently worked with a teen counselor and we put on a program for some local Girl Scouts. We held it around Valentines Day and called it Loving Your Growing Body. It was complete with snacks and door prizes and I have to say it was a huge success. I was elated afterwards that twenty girls ages 9-16 knew how and why their bodies were changing, that it was healthy and normal. Also that ten of them attended with their moms and a continuing conversation was started that day for some of them.
Remember that I always encourage parents that there is no “The Talk” if you want to have healthy communication with your kids. There needs to be several small conversations over several years that make parents and kids comfortable with each other so that when and if a big topic or issue pops up, the scene is set for loving and supportive communication.
I am excited to be working on a similar program at the hospital where I work. I want to develop a program for girls to attend with their mom/grandmas. I believe that knowledge is power. Girls (and boys of course, though I know nothing about them and frankly they scare me sometimes!) armed with the knowledge that they are healthy and normal are going to make better decisions. I hope they will delay having sex, will feel better about themselves and not take abuse, have open communication with parents. I feel that the current programs that are in place for this age group are very lacking in that they do not encourage communication with family -- and when it comes down to it the family is responsible for passing on their values and those values are what is going to form the child. If you are secretive about bodies with no communication your child will most likely have a lot of unanswered questions or obtain incorrect answers from other sources, this may lead to very bad choices.
At the end of the program, the evaluations were all positive. I had one mom who wished I hadn’t talked so much about menstruation, but others were asking for more. They want a class on sex and a 16-year-old was asking good questions about her cycle. Kids want to know, they just need a trusting place to ask. Hopefully that place is at home.
To clarify here, there was no talk about sex or birth control. Girl Scouts don’t go there as they are about empowering girls through fun and educational program activities and building self-esteem. This program was simply about feeling good about yourself and knowing the changes that happen to our bodies are normal. The moms who stayed really loved it and learned things they needed to know about helping their daughters prepare for what is to come.
All of this said, only one of my own daughters came and she admitted it was just for the great goodie bag (several places and people donated beauty and hygiene items). The older two helped me put together the packets and said that they had seen it all. I am mom. They don’t want to watch me talk about boobs and pads to other kids. I get that. Frustration was felt, but I get that. My baby at age seven is not ready for a class like this and I am happy about that. I want kids to be kids as long as they can.
Just today my almost ten-year-old was asking why her butt was so big when she was only a kid. My answer was truthful. “Your butt isn’t big, it’s a woman’s butt. Your body is going on 16 while your mind is about 8 or 9. One day your mind and body will even out, but until then, the process can be trying.” No easy answers, but compassion and understanding and hopefully we will get through this oneday!
Photo Credit: ecastro.
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