It’s the conversation that every parent dreads - the puberty talk.
If your child is about to hit or is already at the start of their teenage years, then it is almost guaranteed that they will have a lot of questions about this next stage of their life. Although they may have picked up some pieces of information already from school, their friends or even TV shows, they will probably still have a lot of unanswered questions - and it is your responsibility to solve them!
We know that for many parents, this situation can be an awkward one. However, there are a few things that you can do to make the conversation go as smoothly as possible. Below, we have listed our top pieces of advice to help you through this tricky topic. Thank us later:
Keep your cool
Above all else, it is crucial that you keep your cool during the whole conversation. If your child notices that you are feeling nervous or awkward, then they will only begin to feel like that, too. Instead, showcase a calm persona, as if this is no different to any other conversation that you and your child have had in the past. Cool vibes all around!
Beat them to it
If you know that this conversation needs to happen imminently, don’t wait for your child to bring it up, because there is a chance that they never will! As an adult, you must be the one to take control of the situation and open up the conversation yourself. You don’t need to directly schedule it into your calendar or to-do list; it can be brought up in a natural, off-the-cuff chat if you prefer. Regardless of how you do it, just make sure that you are the one who approaches the subject first.
Cast your mind back
One of the easiest ways to help your child during the beginnings of puberty is to think back to when you were their age. What were you most curious about at that time? Was there anything that your parents failed to mention to you, that you wished they had? Is there anything that you would like to do differently? You may not realise it, but your own experiences can be incredibly helpful when it comes to supporting your own child.
Honesty is key
We don’t mean to scare you, but this is probably one of the most important conversations that your child will ever have in their lifetime, so we need to make sure it goes perfectly! The key ingredient in this chat is trust and openness - don’t hold anything back from your child. Likewise, your child should feel as though they can completely confide in you and ask any questions that they may feel embarrassed about. Create a safe space for both of you, and the conversation should then be able to flow with ease.
It’s not a race
If you are feeling especially uncomfortable about having this talk with your tween, then you might feel inclined to rush through it as quickly as possible, firing the information out at them. Don’t do this! Instead, allow as much time for the conversation as you can, ensuring that both you and your child have enough time to thoroughly discuss all of the important details, and also so that you can give your tween sufficient answers to any questions that they may have.
Separate or together
Occasionally, some parents will choose to have two chats with their child - one about the effects of puberty, and another about sexual relationships. Other parents prefer to wrap all of the topics into one conversation. Of course, there is no right way to do it and it is up to personal preference, but we would recommend discussing everything with your tween within one chat. Telling your child everything in one go gets any awkwardness out of the way, and your child can walk away with all of the knowledge they will ever need. Of course, if your tween is the type of child that gets easily overwhelmed with huge pieces of information, then perhaps it would be better to break it up for them into smaller conversations. At the end of the day, do what works best for both of you!
Offer all the support
Lastly, this can be a very scary time for your tween, and you need to keep this in mind during your talk with them. Reassure them that they are not alone, and that everyone else their age has the exact same worries and are going through the exact same changes. Let them know that you will always be there for them, and that they can continue to ask you any questions that might pop into their head in the future.