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Start the Conversation about Puberty


Your daughter is between two worlds—childhood and adulthood—and everything is changing. Her body is different. So are her friendships. She’s got new responsibilities and more schoolwork. She may have sports or other activities after school. And her feelings seem to change every minute.

Whether or not she’s asking them, you know she must have questions about what’s going on with her changing mind and body. The good news is that you don’t have to already know every answer to every question. But you can listen. You can share and be supportive. You can help her make decisions that are safe or smart, or that feel right. And when you need to say no or set a limit, you can do so in ways that tell her you respect her growing independence. More than simply answering a question or solving a problem, your goal is making a habit of comfortable communication.

But how do you begin? When there’s something on your mind—or you can see there’s something on your daughter’s mind—how do you start a conversation with her? All kinds of things can make it hard . . .

  • Maybe you feel awkward or embarrassed when talking about the body or private matters.
  • Maybe you know your daughter feels uncomfortable talking about it, too.
  • Maybe you’re worried your daughter will react negatively, and you’d rather avoid it.
  • Maybe you’ve tried to talk about something before without success, and you feel discouraged.

Here are some icebreakers that can get a conversation going:

“I can tell something’s bothering you. Would you like to use me as a sounding board? I’d be happy to listen, and maybe if you talk it through you’ll come up with some ideas or even just feel better.”
“It’s been a while since we talked about __________. I’ve had a chance to think about it and maybe you have, too. Let’s go for a walk and share our thoughts.”
“This probably feels really embarrassing to talk about. I remember feeling embarrassed with my mom when talking about it. But I can see you’re worried, and I’d like to help.”
“Let’s go out for lunch this weekend, just you and me. We’ve been wanting to try that new pizza place, and I’d love to spend some fun time with just you.”

When you show your daughter that you’re there for her—whether it’s to answer an awkward question, to help solve a friendship problem, or even just to listen while she vents, she will keep coming back for more conversations and your relationship will continue to grow.

Adapted from The Care & Keeping of Us ©2015.

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