I remember the ‘sex talk’ with my mother taking place before the talk on puberty. This was because I had forced my mother into a corner. You see it started off with me rifling through a dictionary and stumbling on a four letter swear starting with an ‘f’ and ending with a ‘k’. Horrified I ran to my mother going is this how babies are made? The most disturbing idea to my 9 year old self was the idea that my parents had to do what the dictionary described TWICE (one time each for me and my younger brother).
My frantic horror was first met with laughter and then the calm explanation of how reproduction works. With my initial sense of disgust leaving, the questions quickly turned clinical. From learning about everything from orgasms to fertility, I remember my mother being patient with me while answering all the questions I had.
A few months later, followed by an older cousin hitting puberty and starting to menstruate came the period talk. Here again my mother gently explained to me that I would bleed for a few days every month and that menstruation was key for reproduction. We talked about how I could use a pad during my period, and my mother showed me how to put one on. Roughly 2 years later when I did get my first period, all the credit for my rational response of finding a pad and putting one on, goes to my mother.
Looking back on how candid my mother was talking about sex and puberty, I realised that candidness had a far reaching positive impact. Here are 3 ways that those conversations with my mother impacted me:
1. I remember when I first got my period, I wasn’t afraid or nervous because I’d had the talk with my mother. I knew what to expect and so my period didn’t scare or frighten me. This approach has stayed with me in how I deal with my body and I tend to be less afraid and more rational when it comes to dealing with my body and any potential ailments.
2. Having an open and honest conversation about puberty and sex gave me a sense of confidence and positivity about my body. The most important lesson it taught me was that there was no need to feel any sense of guilt or shame about my body. In a time when so many young girls learn to dislike or hate their bodies, parents have the opportunity of combatting this dislike by having honest conversations with your children.
3. My last take away from the conversations with my mother was how those conversations played a role in me cultivating healthy relationships not just with my body but also with future partners. The culture of having honest conversations that my mother taught me was something I ended up replicating with my friends and partners.
Talking about puberty and sex with your child is always going to be daunting. But the positives that come from tackling that nervousness can have positive life long effects.
If you are looking for help in talking to your daughter about puberty have a look at our ‘Puberty Talk for Girls’ video below.