With two girls in our house, I have spent a bit of time thinking about girls on the cusp of puberty. It also is a pretty hot topic amongst my parent friends who have girls this age, and is getting quite a bit of attention in even the mainstream media. Here is one article from the NY Times called, Puberty Before Age 10: A New Normal? I believe the study of over 1200 girls mentioned in this article is this one in the medical journal “Pediatrics”.
We can argue all day long about the causation of early puberty. Is it the estrogens, phytoestrogens, and other hormone disrupters in our food, water and environment? Is it the levels of different things within our own bodies at the time we got pregnant with the children who are now growing up to be girls on the cusp of puberty? Is it something we just haven’t figured out yet?
WebMD details a few of the possible medical causes and signs of puberty and notes that the difference between early puberty and “regular” puberty is not in the signs , but in the timing. I find it interesting that in this article the signs of puberty for girls is detailed solely as breast development and the onset of menstruation, but when I talk to parents about the signs of puberty they are worried about it can be about breast budding as well, but many times it is more about the moodiness/fluctuating emotions, talking back to parents that may be presumed due to hormonal change, pubic hair developing or body odor or even just their daughter wanting to wear a bra.
Here is what I am finding most of my parents friends and readers to be doing:
- Having talks with their daughters about bodily changes that are layered over time. (And yes, some families do use the American Girl books about bodily changes and emotions)
- Many are trying to include not just the physical signs of puberty, but the emotional and relational aspects of growing older. You can see back posts about some of the tea and conversation I have had with my own oldest daughter.
- Dealing with things that come up as they come up and not projecting too much ahead to their children, even if pubic hair and breast budding is coming up faster than expected. Trying to take it as it comes a bit.
- Meditating on their own sense of feminine power and what it means to be a woman, especially if this bodily change is occurring at an earlier age than we expected and we are feeling uneasy about it
- Putting together a kit of things to be used – perhaps making or purchasing a natural deodorant, figuring out what kinds of bras would be comfortable to a young woman, looking at what types and kinds of natural feminine products would be most welcome to the individual girl. If you have products or recipes you would recommend, please leave them in the comment box below. I hope to put a comprehensive list together at some point.
- Many of the parents I have emailed with and spoken to have talked about separating the “sex talk” from talks about bodily changes, especially for those who are experiencing onset of the menstrual cycle before age 10.
- Sharing their daughter’s excitement about changes and working to keep their daughter’s image of her body as positive as possible during these changes
I would love to hear from you and how you feel about changes in puberty, early puberty, and what you are doing to prepare yourself and your daughter/s.
Many blessings and love,