Our ritual included cheesepuffs, root beer, a missing sister (at soccer), and Nancy Rue. Once a week during the summer after third grade my oldest girl and I snuggled on the couch and read a chapter of Rue’s The Body Book. It has quizzes and Q&As and facts about puberty (not sex). The cheesepuffs and root beer were treats we don’t normally eat and we laughed hard as we ate our junk food and read the chapter on taking care of our bodies and how to eat healthy. We bonded and talked and I tried to answer every question honestly and completely because it was time. Sometimes I would exclaim, “I didn’t know that!” as we read. Because even as a grown woman, I didn’t remember or maybe I never knew, that a foot spurt growth was an early sign of puberty.
Moms, you are not protecting your daughter if you put off teaching her about her body and how God made it. Puberty, sex, and romantic love are part of God’s design for us. They show creativity, brilliance and a reflection of God’s love for us. But if you don’t start this conversation, she won’t know God’s role in her development. She might get a few correct facts from friends or bus whisperings. More likely she will myths and slang.
It doesn’t matter if your daugther attends a small Christian school with all conservative families. Older siblings, cousins, kids on the soccer team all talk. Help your girl feel knowledgable and safe. Teach her the facts and correct name for body parts, teach her the slang, and teach her that how our bodies change are part of God’s design (isn’t that comforting?). Delaying these conversations (note the plural, this is not a one time only conversation) is not protecting your girl.
The puberty conversation needs to happen before fourth grade. Sex talks can wait a bit longer. Find out what kids say on the bus, eavesdrop on friends’ conversations in the car, and pay attention to the books she is reading. You will know when the time comes. But if you still aren’t sure, just go for it. Really, the body changes we go through are as intricate and amazing as the metamorphosis of a caterpillar and sex is God’s design, not an evil topic. Avoiding these conversations because you are uncomfortable will only make it more mysterious and will put your daughter in awkward situations where she feels ignorant. You don’t want her Googling her questions.
I once accompanied a friend to visit the school district nurse. We went to view the school’s puberty curriculum that my friend’s fifth grade daughter would soon be viewing. The nurse expressed dismay that the curriculum started in fifth grade. She said each year there were a very few third graders who started showing all the signs of puberty, with some getting periods as early as fourth grade.
Don’t put these conversations off….
Tomorrow, resources to help you talk about these issues. (Next week some Nancy Rue books to give away!)
Tell me, when and how did you talk to your daughter about puberty and sex?
*graphic above (words are mine) from suphakit73/free digital images