We Need To Talk About Puberty
It’s hard to start a conversation about puberty. So I watched a few videos to see how YouTubers were diving into and engaging in such a sensitive, intimate topic with their audience. Yet what struck me wasn’t the amount of information they were divulging or how they were doing it, but the very candid comments left behind by young girls. The more comments I read, the more disheartened I was. The underlying message was clear — we are not doing enough for girls when it comes to puberty.
Girls are asking for their parents’ involvement.
According to researchers from Columbia University, girls want parents and other trusted adults to be their main source of information when it comes to puberty. It’s often difficult for girls to even approach adults about this issue given the taboo of speaking about this publicly. It’s on us adults to go the extra mile to discuss it with them; Helping a girl learn how to wear a bra or use a tampon is much easier (and frankly more efficient) than trying to console an embarrassed teenager because they didn’t know how to use those things properly.
Girls are trying to find answers to their normal struggles.
UNESCO reported that girls experience stress, shame, embarrassment, confusion, and fear due to the lack of knowledge and inability to manage their menstruation and body changes. Children nowadays are hitting puberty as early as 8! Can you imagine living like this on a daily basis as an 8 year old? Beyond the basics of puberty, adults need to check in with girls to ensure they are getting the individual support they need. It’s our job take some of that burden off their shoulders, and teach each girls what she need to know about her body at different stages.
Girls are actively seeking reassurance and companionship.
It’s quite amazing that girls are able find peer support over the internet today. In studies done by the American Academy of Pediatrics, we know that girls who develop too early or too late often feel different and are rejected by their peers. Besides educating girls on how to manage their physical changes, adults needs to be aware of how girls are handling it emotionally is well. Helping girls establish self-confidence at a young age will only increase the chances of them living a more positive path in the future.
It’s pretty clear how vulnerable and afraid young girls can be when unguided about puberty. As a female parent, please make an effort to guide and support young girls through this critical stage of their lives. As a male parent, be open to talk about puberty or find someone who is capable of providing your daughter with this support and education that she needs. For females everywhere, don’t be shy to step up to the plate when it comes to young girls; we were all there once, so we should all know that a little encouragement through puberty will go a long way.