Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon: Parents Get Help Talking Puberty, Sex With Daughters
Or maybe that topic was too taboo for your parents to even touch.
Chances are if they broached the sex talk at all, they were red-faced and unable to make eye contact. Those who couldn't muster the courage to speak relied on books or pamphlets -- or worse yet -- the health teacher.
Many of today's mothers want to do better with their own daughters, not to mention the fact that it's harder to avoid the subject when pop culture is constantly gyrating with in-your-face sexual images. More and more moms are now attending classes and consulting with professionals when it's time to tell their daughters about pubic hair, menstruation and intercourse. Hospitals around the country have begun offering "transitions" classes for mothers and daughters to help jump start The Talk.
"It's scary for parents," says Kathy Pickus, one of the founders of dotgirlproducts.com, which provides products and information to help girls better understand their period.
Kristen Chase, author of "The Mominatrix's Guide to Sex," says taking about sex is one of the most challenging parts of parenting.
"Talking to kids about the birds and the bees isn't the most comfortable thing for parents," she tells ParentDish.
Parents still get sweaty palms and tongue-tied when it's time to broach these topics, adds Dr. Chrystal de Freitas, a pediatrician who offers classes for moms and daughters in San Diego.
"The mothers were just dying for this information," says de Freitas, who also offers advice on her website, healthychats.com. "They don't mind talking about periods, but they're always afraid of that dreaded question, 'Where do babies come from?' "
Janice Sherman says she was "in total denial" that it was time to start discussing puberty with her almost 11-year-old until her friends told her about de Freitas' classes.
"It empowered me to talk about it in an educated way," the San Diego mom tells ParentDish. "I don't think it was fun. But I think it was worthwhile."
Many mothers are reluctant to discuss the issue with their girls because "they don't want to damage their innocence," de Freitas tells ParentDish. She prefers to look at it as "breaking their ignorance" and recalls her own mother offering her some sketchy details and then asking her to share them with her cousin.
"And she was a nurse," de Freitas says.
Many of the moms who enroll in the puberty classes offered by Affinity Health System in Appleton, Wis., say they had similar experiences as girls.
"We give the grandmas a pass on that. That was the culture of the day," instructor Lori Deering tells ParentDish.
After hearing about how her mother's mother handled the topic, 11-year-old Makenzie Boettcher says she was "proud" of her mother, Cindy, for signing them up for the class.
"The class was very enjoyable," the Appleton, Wis., fifth grader tells ParentDish. "At first, I was kind of nervous, and then I calmed down."
Most of the girls leave the class smiling and mothers are "relieved," Deering says, adding that she finds today's mothers are eager for "an opportunity to open up the lines of communication" with their daughters.
"Steering your teenage daughter through the minefield of puberty is difficult and open communication doesn't always happen," adds Sonia Neale, author of the blog "Therapy Unplugged" and the book "Death By Teenager."
She sees the classes as a way to give kids information "without being the actual embarrassing party disseminating all that yucky facts of life business. The added bonus to all this is that you get to sit back and watch your daughter squirm when all the disturbing words like periods, tampons, breasts, pubic hair and sexual intercourse are mentioned."
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.