Puberty – It’s a necessary evil. Or at least that is what some think. The trauma of your first surprise period or the embarrassment of random, unexpected voice cracks makes the preteen and teen years a hard season. As parents we can help set a more positive tone for this uncertain and ever changing time of life. It is crucial that we help our children navigate their changing bodies and help them gain the right perspective on what it means to be a woman or a man.
Puberty is a good thing, something God created so that we can continue to have life!
Growth is Good!
We feel it is especially important to lead from the positive not the negative. God created our bodies perfectly and purposefully. He knew exactly what our bodies needed to be capable of at different seasons of life and created them to go through the changing process at the correct time. We need to reassure our children that these changes are good and exciting. Instead of using the scare tactic or make a list of punishments if you don’t do it right, explain the God-given purpose for body changes and for sex. Both are a beautiful thing and can be fully enjoyed and celebrated when used as God created them to be used.
Ages and Stages
From toddlerhood on we can lay the foundation that they are made in the image of God. Each one of them displays who God is to others. And as we learn more about who God is we can more accurately represent Him to the world. (Genesis 1:27, 2 Corinthians 3:17)
Another foundational key we can teach is that God made them male or female on purpose for a purpose. God doesn’t make any mistakes and He has a plan for each individual child. They are important and needed to fulfill His specific plan for their lives. (Matthew 19:4, Mark 10:6, Psalm 139:13-18, Ephesians 2:10, Jeremiah 29:11)
As your child gets close to double digits you should begin to have conversations about what changes will occur in the next few years. Knowledge and understanding helps to set a mind at ease and helps to cut down on the surprise factor. Both which are helpful in navigating the rollercoaster of emotions that accompany the changes.
We have two Parent Connect Podcasts that can help you have these conversations with your child. These are Parent Connect: “The Talk” Resources and Parent Connect: “The Talk”. Check out these conversations now to help you get started.
Today we also wanted to share in more detail what we actually did with our own children as we started having conversations about puberty.
For the Girls:
For one daughter, we had a spa night in my bedroom – foot scrub, nails, pampering. With my other daughter, we had a picnic in a park. For both girls I put together a gift basket with hygiene products, feminine products, spa products and chocolate. I brought along Dannah Gresh’s book, “It’s Great to Be a Girl” to aid in our discussion.
(side note: Dannah’s book “Raising Body-Confident Daughters” is a must for tween moms! It is the companion book to the girls. “It’s Great to be a Girl” would be a great Bible study to do with your daughter over the summer. When you do it as a study, then you can take your time with each chapter and really dive in.)
During our date we talked about pages 18-22, the three facts about puberty every girl must know and pages 45-56, products and supplies you will need to take care of your body. As we talked, I pulled out the different items out of their gift basket and explained how to use each item.
We then moved into the actual changes that will occur in their body and talked about pages 99-108, Your Body, a Sacrifice. This is where we dove into what their period was, why it happens and how to take care of it. I walked through the different products she could use. I gave them the first and very basic introduction into what sex is and then allowed their questions to continue the conversation or end it with just the base layer. The focus of this time together was more about their changing body than about having the sex talk.
I ended the conversation reminding them that I wanted to be her source of information, especially for this important topic. We talked about the fact that her friends will only know about as much as she does and that it is important that she gets accurate and truthful information. I reassured her that no question was a bad question and that I was willing to talk about anything and everything. I encouraged her to always come talk to me whenever she needed to get clarification or had a question. We ended our time talking about whatever they wanted to talk about while enjoying a special treat.
For the Boys:
Nathan had the first round of this conversation at a park, where they could sit side by side and occasionally shift their focus to squirrels or other interesting distractions. For the first talk, Nathan went through the books God Made Your Body and How God Makes Babies by Jim Burns. This was to give the basics of how boys and girls are different, and the basic concept of sex. They didn’t really get into much conversation, but he kept moving through the book to make sure they covered everything. Nathan asked if there were any questions, and made it clear that he is comfortable talking about this uncomfortable topic. He tried to keep some humor in the midst of the awkward, and didn’t belabor the points. He kept the conversation moving along.
For the second round of the conversation, they talked more about puberty and changes. They went through Guy Stuff and It’s Great to be a Guy. For some of the sections he had the book and just talked through it. For other sections Nathan had the son read it, and then asked some questions about it to see if he understood and if he had any more questions. We love “It’s Great to be a Guy”, because it helps you to weave God into the conversation, and highlights His role in creating our bodies. They didn’t cover every section in Guy Stuff, which is more like a reference guide for the physical changes of puberty. Again, the focus was to keep it moving, to stay casual, and to make it clear that this stuff is important, but it’s not that big of a deal. We left each conversation with the important fact that they can talk about any of this at any point.
Depending on your child you can flip flop the talks, the order doesn’t matter. What matters is that the conversations occur! As the boys get older, Nathan will revisit these conversations and talk more in-depth about the topics.
What are your favorite resources? Comment below!
If you haven’t already, check out this weeks podcast Episode #3 “The Talk” for more conversations on this topic.
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