My oldest daughter just turned 10 and it’s a bittersweet time. She’s hovering between being a child who still loves playing with dolls with her six-year-old sister and a tween who wants her privacy and has a crush on Chris Pratt. It’s a confusing time with both childhood and teen interests warring for her attention. I had been struggling with when to have “the talk” with her about babies and bodies (and all that comes with that) when a girlfriend informed me that her ten-year-old had started her period! Obviously, the time is now.
I have always been the mom who answers whatever questions I get. When my six-year-old was four she asked me how babies get out of the tummy. I told her you kind of poop them out or the doctors make a cut in your belly and takes them out. She squealed with squeamish horror and never asked again. I’ve always heard the best way to tackle tough questions is to give a small amount of information and then stop talking. If your child wants to know more, she will keep delving deeper.
For some reason, I thought broaching the subject of feminine maturation was going to be awkward and difficult, so I ran to Amazon for some help. Everyone I know recommends The Care and Keeping of You, which is an American Girl book. I am wary of these books after seeing several similar books written for kids that are darn near pornographic, with illustrations that look like something out of the the Kama Sutra. That’s just not necessary. But I bought this one and am thrilled to report that The Care and Keeping of You is exactly the right amount of information for young girls who need to know how their bodies work, but aren’t ready for the sex talk. It covers puberty, breast development, periods, emotional upheaval, and basic hygiene. Thanks to the sensitivity of author Valorie Schaefer and the creativity of illustrator Josee Masse, the conversation about my daughter’s changing reality was not awkward or uncomfortable at all. I will never forget the good laugh we had when she asked, “Mom, what are pads?” and I answered, “You know those things you and your sister use to make Barbie beds? Those are supposed to go in your underwear.”
How did you talk to your kids about puberty and what age is the right age? What books would you recommend?