On Tuesday, I told you why you shouldn’t put off talking to your daughter about puberty and sex. Today I want to give you some specific ideas and resources. (Disclaimer: My girls are tweens. I don’t know if what I have done is a best practice. Time will tell. The suggestions below are from personal experience and the dozens of blogs and books I read about raising girls.)
Use books to guide your discussions if you don’t know where to start.
I like books. I think diagrams are helpful. They help me cover all the bases (sorry…what a pun given the topic). My favorite resources are Nancy Rue’s Body Book and Beauty Book. Nancy Rue has a new book out that appears to be a compilation of both books. It’s called You! A Christian Girls Guide To Growing Up (win a copy next week!). It includes quizzes, spaces to write goals, answers to all the common questions, fun facts,and quotes from tween girls who interact with Rue on her tween blog. It looks like a book but reads a bit more like a magazine. It doesn’t cover sex but it does cover all things puberty (even a diagram of the female reproductive system)and beauty issues like hair, skin and nail care. I also like the American Girl books, The Care and The Keeping of You, books 1 & 2. Use book 1 in 3rd and 4th grade and book 2 in 5th grade and beyond. The American Girl books are excellent but they do not highlight God’s role in the transformation into womanhood and to me, that perspective is essential. You can get any of these books at the library, but I like to buy them (rare for me). That way, if my girl has questions, she can return to the books and look up the answers. I wish I could give you great books for the sex part of these conversations but I have never found one I love. We used a series from Focus on the Family, but it felt childish even though we were talking about grown up things. If you know of great resources for the sex end of the growing up conversations, let me know.
Relax and return.
However you approach this topic, relax. Let your girl know you are willing to answer her questions and never express shock or shame when she asks. If you don’t know the answer to her question, be honest and then find the answer. You want to be the one she turns to for truth about her period, boys, and sex. Once you relax about discussing puberty it will be easier for you both to return to the topic. And return you must. Learning is a process and puberty is gradual. She won’t know what her questions about periods will be when she is eight and none of her friends have had one yet. Only a small percentage of girls have personalities that will initiate conversations on these issues. If you want to win the battle against the world’s warped perspectives you must initiate and keep talking. Use movies, events at school, or books she is reading as opportunities to bring up issues. Ask her opinion and ask her what girls at school say about boys, their period, etc. Asking questions and reacting kindly to her responses will be keep the conversation going and help you mold her view of the world.
Use the correct words and the slang ones too
I know, I used the phrase “Birds and the Bees” in the title of this post. When I write about growing up, I worry that men with sick minds who are googling girls and sex will find my blog if I use sex in the title! But for you, talking with your daughter, use proper terminology when you talk about these issues. Vagina. Sperm. Penis. Use them so your daughter understands. Also, when it is time, explain slang words like blow job.
Bird had a friend over for dinner last month week. Her friend was laughing and groaning about the boys in her class and their immaturity. She mentioned how they burst out in loud, obnxious laughter every time the word balls was mentioned. I’d taught Bird the meaning of swear words, body parts, and when or if these words were appropriate. I forgot balls. Probably because I am never around young boys. Bird looked at me with a question mark which quickly switched to the , “Mom, NOT NOW” look. I returned to the topic later when her friend was gone.
You will never cover every slang word or myth associated with puberty and sex. But if you start talking, teaching and answering questions without batting an eyelid, she will come to you with her questions. That’s the goal. You don’t have to get these conversations perfect, moms, you just need to keep having them.
Talk about the scary parts
As soon as your girl starts developing breasts, you need to talk to her about sickos because men might start looking at her. Tell her about rape. Tell her about her internet profile and why she should never post pictures of herself in sports uniforms, swimsuits , etc on the internet. Tell her why she can’t meet a boy in person that she met online. The goal isn’t to scare her, but to educate her. If someone wants to violate her, knowing in advance what she might say and do will help. Teach her when to knee a man in the balls. This part of the growing up conversation wasn’t standard when I was a kid. It needs to be. If you need a starting place, try reading A Smart Girl’s Guide To the Internet together. This book will cover some internet safety issues, but not the real crimes. I haven’t found a great resource for discussing these topics except, sadly, the news. If your girl is in her late teens and knows too much about date rape, you could read Beauty Restored: Finding Life and Hope After Date Rape by Me Rah Koh. Me Rah shares her story and how her faith helped her heal.
Now tell me, what are your favorite resources/strategies for these growing up conversations?