What I’ve learned about ‘the talk’

My fifth grader came home with a permission slip for the infamous “growth and development” lesson … also known as the puberty talk. She asked me if she needed to go, not because she was embarrassed, but because she already knew about puberty and reproduction.

My daughter and I started talking about maturation years ago. In case you think I am some sort of progressive or modern parent, let me take a moment to clarify, I am not. I have learned and adapted my parenting style over the years, and she is benefiting from her place in the family as the sixth child.

With my oldest children, my husband and I avoided talking about puberty and sex. We said things like, “we’ll talk about that when you get older,” or “you don’t need to worry about things like that.” I wasn’t comfortable talking with my kids about puberty and sex. I wasn’t even comfortable saying the words “sex”, “period”, or “menstruation”. I finally agreed to talk to my kids about maturation the week before the school talked to my kids about it. As you can imagine, the conversation was awkward, filled with pauses and illusive descriptions. I’m not proud of how I handled the talks with my older kids, but I did learn from them.

I learned to answer questions, rather than avoid them. Any question, at any age.

I learned to teach and use the proper names for our body parts.

I learned that if I’m embarrassed, my kids will think that discussing our bodies is something to be ashamed of.

I learned to talk to my kids about gender and orientation.

Now my family talks openly about puberty, sexuality and reproduction. My kids know it is a safe place where they can ask anything and we are more than comfortable answering.

When do you talk to your kids about growth and development?

What do you wish you would have done differently (if anything)?

Melanie Flake

Melanie Flake

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