Mom, Dad…We Need to Talk!….is the theme for this Tuesday Talk by Colleen Gardner. Colleen gives a straight talk about what you can expect as a parent and she gives a great guideline to navigate this talk with your pre-teen. You can watch the video, or, if you’re a reader read below:
Leah: Good morning! Good morning! Good morning! Welcome to another rendition of Tuesday Talk. This week’s topic, we are talking with Colleen Chase Gardner, we are going to talk about “Mom and Dad: We Need to Talk”. It’s about navigating ‘the talk’ with your preteen and your teen. Now this is a two-part segment.This week we are addressing the preteens and then our next Tuesday Talk, which is a month from now, we want you to join us then too. We’ll be addressing how to navigate that conversation with your teenagers. Now this is going to be good. So, what I want you to do is, I invite you to share this. Go ahead and click on that little share button and share it with your family and friends, your following because they may need this information as well. So, we’re going to get started with Colleen and we’re gonna navigate through this very important talk. Alright Colleen, thank you for doing this talk with us.
Colleen: This is my first live talk so, looking forward to it being with you and then being with you again in March. Today’s talk though is really going to be more about how to get the puberty talk going with your 8, 9, 10, 11 year old son or daughter. Everybody wonders how soon it should start, but let me tell you a little bit about how I gotten this to be such a passion in my heart.
It started probably twenty six years ago when I had my first daughter. And, over the years of being a nurse practitioner, which is about 28 years I’ve been a nurse practitioner in women’s health, I used to always address my teenage patients who were sexually active and asked them, why? I just always would want to do a census and figure out what is driving this early sexual activity for these teenagers. Quite often, there was really no reason except curiosity and that they thought that because their bodies were telling them that they wanted to, that they should. What I also realized was that many of these girls never got the talk from their mothers and I really wanted to make a difference. I wanted to be different with my two girls because I ended up having two daughters and try to make a difference of what could delay the sexual activity in these teenagers. So, puberty talks I think was one of them. My mom she gave me the kits, the Kotex kit when I was probably twelve and said here is this, this and this and if you have any questions ask. But, I always felt really don’t ask because she was afraid and nervous and scared that I might know things.
So, moms and dads what are we afraid of in having our children know what the truth is about their bodies changing? Are we afraid that if they know what sex is that they’ve lost the mystery? To be honest with you, most statistics say that you should start talking to your girls especially, at age eight. Some girls are starting to have physical changes happening at nine and even getting their periods at nine. So, let’s take it back to how do we get the talk going and what age? Again 8, 9 and 10 should be when we start navigating that talk. It is okay to tell them what sex is. Why are we afraid of knowing what a gift that God has given us, why are we afraid of letting them know what that is? But again, let’s take that back. Let’s start talking to them about the changes that could start happening with their bodies because it’s all normal. It’s all natural. It’s something if we talked about it, then they’re not going to feel that they need to go anywhere else to have the conversations because they’re going to be hearing it on the bus. They’re going to be hearing it on the playground. They might hear from their older siblings or cousins, but they might be hearing the wrong information. So, are you ready to start talking to your 8, 9 or 10 year old son or daughter about the physical changes they’re ready to have? I think that’s where you start, the physical changes.
Leah: Yeah, you know that is very important because when I grew up my mother tried to talk to me. I was like fifteen, sixteen and I already knew because my older sister told me. So, I had an older sister to go to. Where she got her information, I have no idea. But, you know it was as the saying goes; if you don’t teach your children yourselves, they’re going to learn it in the streets.
So, you want them to get the correct information instead of just anything.
Colleen: Anyway, we’re only talking about the changes that are going on in your body. You know for girls getting breasts and taking for their first bra shopping. That’s always a big deal. When you start addressing these things at eight and nine they haven’t learned to become embarrassed yet, totally. But, when they’re eleven, twelve and entering middle school, they know things now but, they all think it might be bad, dirty, wrong because they’ve heard so many different things. If it hasn’t come from mom and dad yet, they are afraid and they think it’s taboo. They probably can’t talk to mom and dad about it. Therefore, they don’t raise the questions unless we bring it up. Again, if you start at eight they’re still a little naive. I have many parents say but how can I tell my eight or nine year old when they still believe in Santa Claus?
Colleen: So tell me why does believing in Santa Claus still mean you can’t talk to them about puberty and the changes? How they were created? How they were made? Again, why has sex become a bad word? It’s not, if you bring it into the right context of natural, normal expected behavior as adults. Then hopefully a marriage relationship, but we know that doesn’t always happen. I’m not going to be preaching on that subject but, it’s more about having to deal with our own insecurities of it all and what we’ve been taught.
Leah: That is true.
So you start with the basics, go on Google a great anatomy chart so you can have your props for you on how to talk about the body parts. There’s a great book out there called, The Period Book that’s for girls. There is another set of books for boys and course for girls The Care and Keeping of You by American Girl, is a great book to start. There’s also d girls called What’s Happening to My Body for Boys, What’s Happening to My Body for Girls. There’s some great websites too, one is called Girl ology, G-I-R-L-O-L-O-G-Y and if you just google girlology you’ll get to some great information there on how to navigate the talk. Also, seicus.org is a
great site. Also, Advocates for Youth that’s another great site that will give you plenty of information for your preteen or for your teenager alike. So ,that you get the materials that
you want to make you feel comfortable and talking to your your child about an uncomfortable subject. But, hopefully it won’t it doesn’t need to be uncomfortable. I’ve done puberty talks for over 20 years for churches, for Girl Scout troops. I’ve done them for boys and their dads as well and they’ve always been a big hit. I go into people’s homes so it’s comfortable. I think they really help mothers navigate that talk and feel comfortable so that they’re continuing the conversations with their daughters afterwards. Like, I’ll tell the girls after puberty talk on your way home then you need to ask your mom how old was she when she got her first period and what was it like and if they have grandmothers what it was like for them. So, again it’s getting that talk in. If you start talking about their bodies and you say how babies are made, during this period of puberty you’re also talking to them about responsibility. Responsibility for the care of themselves from hygiene, brushing their teeth, washing their hair, washing their face at night.You know why is none of this really talked about? Eventually they’re going to want the keys to the car to drive. So, here we start now at eight, nine and ten teaching them responsibility and they earn responsibility as they continue to age by showing I’ve owned the right to wash my face and brush my teeth without you nagging at me. And, if they’re achieving that then they’re earning responsibility for benefits of that they can be trusted down the road. Those are simple tasks right now that make them feel good about themselves. You’re building up their esteem in ways of just not giving them a trophy. You are having them earn that respect and that trust by they can again without being nagged. Do you understand what I’m saying? Today, they’re going to earn that right right some simple things, even what if it’s called making their bed if that’s what you want them to do. So, those are all those things besides physical changes it’s the emotional changes that you’re hitting in puberty.
Leah: That makes a lot of sense. Well, can you set the stage for us? Like so, I’m a parent with an 8,9 or 10 year old. I haven’t had the talk you know? Can you set the stage for as to what this looks what this could look like in the home? For example, in your home where is the best place where you feel you will feel more comfortable? Like, where do you have this talk? Do you take them to Red Robin?
Colleen: Most parents feel more comfortable talking in the car because then you don’t have to face-time.
Leah: Oh okay!
Colleen: Or sometimes in bed at night with the lights off so that you’re not having to see each other. But, if you’re having materials to show them, you know? at the dinner table even you know? A lot of things get discussed at the dinner table if you have family dinners and so why not? I mean, I think my girls used to hear all my talks about different things at the office. So, they started hearing about the GYN stuff, of course when they were eight and they both got the talk and then they got it again at ten. They got it again at twelve. So, they came to my talks and the conversations then have continued on through their life. So now at twenty three and twenty six they really have no problem coming to talk to me. They even send their friends my way. You know you can send your daughters to me at any point for any help. You can call up the office. You know I’m hoping Providence will do a puberty talk for mothers and daughters sometime down the road here. But otherwise, I do do them privately. But, to set the table, be comfortable have your stuff with you. Have a book that if you’re going to give to them and just say you know it’s time to talk about the changes happening with your body. Even if they’ve started happening or if they haven’t they will. Remember moms for girls one of the first changes for the puberty time period is getting breast buds. Typically, when you first notice breast buds in your daughter about two years later is when they can expect their period. So, it’s called how can you be prepared for that. For boys you’re going to start noticing again hair growth and their voice starting to change and crack. It’s for you or dad to start having the conversation with the boys. Again, it’s teaching them respect for themselves and respect for each other. So, start with the physical changes; girls getting breasts having hair, boys voice changing having hair, having the wet dreams issues that can happen. That’s a very embarrassing and scary moment for boys too. That really needs to be talked about so they realized they didn’t wet their bed. So, again on both sides of the coin there’s those uncomfortable issues that need to get discussed.
With that, you’re talking about again hygiene, you’re talking about nutrition. That it’s time to really you know put into your body what counts and what matters. It’s not just about chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. You know where are we getting our vegetables from and
having good sources of protein. Again, making sure that they’re getting dairy in their diet for their bone health. This is an important time for boys and girls especially that they’re getting their bone mass because their bone health stops, their bone mass stops growing at about twenty four. So, now is the time. It’s important to be treating the bones well and exercising, having good cardiac activity, as well as some weight stuff to give them strength. Being active in a sport if needed; swimming, tennis, whatever that may be. It doesn’t have to be extreme, just as they’re physically active and just not being on their iPads and phones all the time.
Leah: How does activity affect the period?
Colleen: Well, you know for girls who are really really extreme in our Olympic athletes, sometimes they can have a delay in getting their periods because they don’t have enough estrogen hormones in their system to get it started. And, you might find some, I’ve had patients who were cheerleaders and again are on the extreme ends of of those sports and soccer players who again they have such a lean body mass that they may be delayed and older and when they get their period. The average age for periods is about twelve, eleven, twelve still, but you have those occurring as young as eleven and as late as sixteen.
Colleen: Again, we need to have a certain body mass of a little fat around us too because that’s what Mother Nature wants because once we get our period we’re supposed to be able to reproduce.
Leah: Yes, yes, yes.
Colleen: So again, that’s one of those things of you know there was always a bigger plan and how we’re created.
Leah: Yeah, it gives you something to think about.
Colleen: Yeah, it is. So again, we don’t want our patients too skinny. We don’t want our patients to chubby, but we want them like healthy and to be able to be there to support them as they are going through their development. What else was I going to say about that? So, with them hygiene, with nutrition then we also have friendships and what do we want to be known as when we grow up. Who do we want to be? You know not just the firemen and the policemen but how do we want others to know us? Again, do we need to point out to others who are growing up with us their differences? Whether it be their skin color, their hair, whether they are starting to have acne. Whether they’re shorter than, us taller than us, fluffier than us, you know do we need to like point those out? Can we not accept each other and appreciate each other for the differences that we have? You know, other words it’s also called bullying? Do we need to bully? That’s where we want to empower our daughters and our sons to feel good about themselves and that their very unique. There’s no one out there like them and no one is supposed to be the same. In that, you know with that uniqueness you know it just is a special gift that we have and to be appreciated. So, again the bullying if we’re talking to our daughters and sons about the beauty that we have and empowering them, then I think the bullying can stop also. We all struggle through the stage of puberty. We are awkward. We are navigating who we are. So, with all of that being said you know it’s called have the talk start now. It’s never too early and yes they can still believe in Santa Claus.
So, moms and dads don’t freak out though and if they ask you other questions be ready because you want them to come and ask you. You don’t want them to hear it on the school bus without you addressing it. Again, we are a beautiful creation. We have a lot to offer. We as parents, we’ve been there. So, guide your children to become the better self that they are and helping others, in serving and being responsible for their own self, for caring for themselves. Again, that’s part of growing up.
Leah: Yes absolutely.
Colleen: When they want the keys for the car they need to be responsible.
Leah: Right. Absolutely. These are really, really awesome nuggets that you want. Like, I’m sitting here learning a lot and I have two teens and eight year old, so.
Colleen: When I’ve done the group talks, we do it with the girls and the moms are there too or the boys and the dads are there. We do the anatomy lesson first and then we go into getting your period. I also have a video/DVD now that I use called The Rules. No sorry, that’s the other one. I am all sudden having a blank of what is called. But, it was from 321 Contact, What Every Kid Wants to Know About Sex and Growing Up and it is an awesome video. It took place in the early 90s, I got it off of GP TV. I taped it that way, videoed it that way first. Then I ended up buying the video. Then of course, I had to go back and buy the DVD. Again, it’s old the hairstyles are different and whatnot but the information doesn’t ever change.
Colleen: So, that is still the video that I use when I’m doing my programs because it goes into what goes on with boys during puberty. What goes on with girls during puberty and what sex is how babies are made. It is done so well with some great humor in it. So, we have that and then we come back and talk about getting your period and they’re not afraid. And then, they get a sample of a pad and a tampon and get to touch it and get to feel it and be comfortable with that. So, you know all of that it gives them a forum where then those girls who are together or those boys that are together have a bond that they’ve shared this information. They know though that they’re not supposed to be educators of everybody else now in their school because that’s up for other moms and dads to do. The same for boys, the video is very good for them. That way the girls and the boys get to appreciate what goes on with the girls and with the boys during puberty. So, they understand and it kind of goes down the line of, if this has happened to boys and this is happening to me, it goes down that line of; oh, so then this is what sex is and this is how babies are made now it all makes sense.
Leah: Right. Absolutely.
Colleen: So, it completes the package. So, I hope you’ve got to benefit from some of the suggestions. Please know to come and visit us anytime at Providence Women’s Healthcare. There’s myself and we have several other midwives in the practice who are also devoted to taking care of the teenage patient and helping navigate. Remember this and this will happen next month when we talk more about the high schoolers and navigating that talk about dating and relationships.
Leah: Absolutely. Now, we’re going to open up for questions, but we have one more question.
Leah: Well, actually two. For the conversation with the girls, where is the dad usually and how can we incorporate him into the conversation if that is necessary for a family?
Colleen: I think would be lovely to have the dads involved though too because then the girls know it’s very comfortable. Like, my husband didn’t come to the talk, but he knew the girls had the talk. And so, the girls and he had some banter about it afterwards. You know, this is what I always say then that when the girls get their first period, dads need to take their daughters out for dinner.
Leah: Oh, I like that.
Colleen: So, that they have time to celebrate getting their period and that their little girl has grown up.
Leah: I like that.
Colleen: So, yes dads can become a part of it. Yeah, I mean they can take them shopping. You know, there’s a lot of dads who are single dads.
Leah: Yes. That was my next question.
Colleen: And, need to me to then take them girl shopping for pads and tampons and for the bra, and clothes. You know what? You have a huge part in your daughter’s lives.
Colleen: Just like mothers have a huge part in their son’s lives of making them chivalrous and knowing how to treat a woman, it goes both ways.
Leah: Absolutely. Well, we’re going to open up for questions. Go ahead and put your questions in the comment section and if there is a question that you have that you’re not comfortable asking in this open forum, this forum is for you. So, anything that you need to ask if you’re not comfortable, send a private message and either Colleen or one of the other nurses or midwives can answer the question for you. So, we’ll open up for questions. Do you have a good, oh we did that one.
Colleen: For boys would be What’s Happening to My Body for Boys. that’s been around for a while and then there is What’s Happening to My Body for Girls. So, that’s one of the main ones I have four boys Nuria. Besides the websites that I mentioned as well, Advocates for Youth, Caecus and of course, the Girlology. I’m not sure if there’s a Boyology out there, that would be a wonderful thing to start. The video again is from 321 Contact, it’s what Every Kid Wants to know About Sex and Growing Up.
Leah: You know, we’ll do a Facebook post with these awesome suggestions. So, if you come back to the Facebook page, if you have not liked the Providence Facebook page go ahead and like us so that we can get this information to you and continue to feed your feed with awesome information. So, let’s see if there any more questions.
Colleen: Don’t think so. Thanks Natalie and Nuria and Amanda and Sharon for being on here, appreciate the support, and Amanda Sims as well. Thank you girls and appreciate your feedback. I will look forward to part two at the end of March. That’ll be fun to help navigate that next part of the talk.
Leah: Yes. I’m prepared for this part of the talk. So come back and join us in, February 20th.
Colleen: It’s a Tuesday again.
Leah: So, go ahead and look for the event page. In about a week or so the event page will be up for that Tuesday Talk . We thank you for joining us and we look forward to seeing you next time.
Colleen: Start the conversation now.
Leah: Start the conversation these were some good tips you all. So, you don’t have an excuse at this point. Go start that conversation. Bye
Colleen: Bye you all.