Talking Puberty with Your Child
Puberty is a messy topic for many parents. We know the discussion is something we must do but, it’s also something that can bring about anxiety since it can easily trigger all the emotions we felt when we were going through this awkward stage. Yes, nowadays schools take the responsibility of discussing many of the basic issues but, it’s still very important for your teen to have someone to go to, someone they can feel comfortable with and that should be you, the parent.
Maybe you are single parent and have a child of the opposite sex. This can also be a bit more stressful since you do not have personal experience of what changes occur during puberty. As a mom, you may have heard of things like wet dreams but, how do you discuss this with your male child if the father is not there to do so? Likewise if you have a daughter who will soon begin her period, how do you as a father explain things like pads and tampons?
The first thing you should do is make a list of the things you would like to cover. There are specific things that occur with both males and females. It’s a good idea to not only discuss the things that will affect your son or daughter but also include what occurs with the opposite sex as well. Make sure that you let your child know they are not alone and that everybody goes through changes during this growing cycle.
Topics for girls include the menstrual-cycle, hormone changes that can create mood swings or irritability, growing of breasts, and enlargement of body (discuss body shapes and image). For boys you will need to discuss the changing of the voice, wet dreams, and penis growth. Both sexes will have pubic hair, body odor, and acne.
Try to keep in mind that while these topics can be uncomfortable they are necessary for your child to learn so they can make sense of what is happening. In modern times our children are exposed to so much that it is only prudent that we are the first ones to discuss these topics with our children. It’s much better to face the topic and deal with it directly then to push it aside and ignore it.
It will be up to you to decide how much you are willing to discuss but, try to position yourself as a parent who is willing to answer questions your child has. Be sure to actively listen to your child and address the questions and concerns that they have. Be honest and direct. It’s also possible they ask something you don’t know. It’s okay. Just let them know you will find out and tell them later.
When it comes to sex, different parents have different ideas on what is considered appropriate. Some parents may decide to give their child prophylactics or pills. Some parents would rather teach their child the benefits of abstinence. It’s hard to teach your child one way and then discover other parents are teaching their child another way. Things can get complicated so whatever you decide make sure you give the best facts you can to your child so they understand why you have the views you do about sex.
Don’t try and scare your child with frightening statistics. For example, if you are interested in teaching the importance of your child keeping their virginity, you do need to discuss things like sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy but, don’t just stop there. Be sure to include the benefits of virginity which means having a less complicated life and waiting for that special someone and being with only that one person can be rewarding.
Keep in mind that your child may or may not live up to your desires and expectations. Remember they are their own individual who will make their own choices so the best you can do is help give them the knowledge and tools to make the best decisions concerning their sexual behaviors.
Don’t forget to discuss the differences between normal and abnormal. For example, it’s normal for a girl to have her period for 3-7 days but, it’s not normal to go beyond that so, if something like that does occur your child will need to alert you so that you can take them to the doctor. Your child needs to know they can feel comfortable alerting you of any abnormal issues. Advancements in medicine can easily treat most of these complications provided they are treated early.
There are also good things about sex that you should talk about. Having a close intimacy with someone is a blessing and ultimately can lead to bringing a new life into this world. So this type of powerful act should indeed be treated with respect and responsibility.
You know your child best so just be prepared and relax. Listen carefully, answer honestly, and remember to provide both risks and benefits.