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Talking about growing bodies

My son likes to tell me about all the things he will do when he turns nine. He has big plans. I like hearing his thoughts about what he thinks he will be ready for. But as I listen to him go through his litany of new responsibilities and privileges, I have to remind myself to have another talk with him about how his body will continue to change.

Mostly this talk is about how he will continue to grow and he may see his body shape change slightly or get more hair in places that he didn’t have it before. He usually takes this information in stride, because he is used to asking me about body stuff (oh…if only my anatomy teacher could see me now.)

What I do need to start considering is incorporating information about how the girls in his class are also changing. I don’t want him to think that only boys go through body changes every year, and if I start incorporating both genders into our talks now, it will take some of the mystery out of puberty for him.

I remember my Catholic school separating out the boys and the girls in our health class to have a talk about puberty, but we were in eighth grade at that point and most of the girls had already had their period. We had no idea what the boys were discussing, and it was only a few days later on the playground that we had a class-wide conference that shared all the details from the separated talks.

While I am not looking forward to discussing all aspects of puberty with my son (and research shows that parents aren’t comfortable discussing menstruation with their daughters either), I will chalk this talk up to one of those things in life that I would rather he learn from his parents.

The key is to think about it all ahead of when it will really be needed.

How do you prepare for discussions about puberty with your child? Share your tips in the comments.

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