We are waist deep in raising teenagers at our house so conversation about bodies, puberty, consent, respect for others, and sex are fairly common. But the conversations didn’t start yesterday. We’ve been talking in age appropriate terms since my children were toddlers. We’ve kept a variety of age appropriate books laying around the house to allow the boys to do their own research, as needed. My personal philosophy is that the more I talk openly, even during the stages or about topics that have been slightly uncomfortable for my kids, the more they will see me as a resource when their questions arise. There are too many resources at their fingertips that aren’t necessarily trustworthy and I believe sex and body shame are two of the most avoided topics in homes.
Sometimes, especially when my kids were upper elementary and middle school age, they would tell me that the topic was irrelevant or embarrassing. While puberty can be an exciting transition, it can also be really weird to talk to your mom or dad about. I have found that short, concise explanations about things during casual conversation is a great way to get through during these stages. On the occasion that one of my kids has told me that the topic was embarrassing or irrelevant I politely thank them for listening and remind them that I just want to make sure that they know that, even though it might be embarrassing for them, it’s not embarrassing for me and when the time is right and they *do* want someone to talk to, I will be there.
Below are some great resources to support parents and students aged 9 and up, as 9 years old tends to be the time when many kids prefer to avoid these conversations with parents AND when some noticeable body changes start to take place. It’s important to determine, based on your families needs, the right time, topics and atmosphere for opening these conversations in the home and to ensuring our kids don’t experience shame about their bodies. When all else fails, leaving age appropriate books around the house has proven an effective form of education in many homes.
- Planned Parenthood: Puberty 101 for Parents
- The Talk Institute- “The Talk” What is Puberty?
- The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls (8 and up), Valorie Schaefer (Author), Josee Masse (Illustrator)
- The Care and Keeping of You 2: The Body Book for Older Girls (10 and up), Cara Natterson (Author), Josee Masse (Illustrator)
- It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health (The Family Library) Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley
- Does This Happen to Everyone?: A Budding Adult’s Guide to Puberty Jan von Holleben, Antje Helms
- “What’s Happening to Me?” A Guide to Puberty Peter Mayle, Arthur Robins (Illustrator), Paul Walter (Illustrator)