Since my daughter started in KS2 I have often pondered over how and when we will have the all-important “facts of life” chat.
She’s just coming up to 9 and for me, that seems to be about the right age, though I myself was certainly older. She’ll be having some sex education lessons at school in the summer term and I feel quite strongly she should know something before then. On the other side of the coin, my little girl still seems such a baby and I so dearly want to protect her childhood and innocence as much as possible, for as long as possible, however I am all too aware that other children may learn things before her and I don’t want her to a) feel silly or b) be given wrong information. I also feel that whilst school plays an immensely important role in sex education, I don’t think it should really be their sole responsibility to impart this information.
My own parents told me nothing, and what I did know, probably came from Just Seventeen, Chinese whispers and the very basic lessons we had at school around the age of 11. I definitely did not feel my parents were approachable when it came to talking about things like this and therefore when my period arrived (at the age of 12) I was hideously unprepared for it and had nobody to discuss it with. I really don’t want it to be like this for my daughter but I also don’t want it to terrify the bejesus out of her!
9 seems such a young age to worry about all of this stuff but a close friends now-grown-up-daughter started her periods at that age, and she herself said it was a horrifying experience as she had no idea about what was happening to her or her body. Seeing as the onset of puberty happens generally between 8 and 12 I suppose it’s really not too young to be having these conversations at all. Recent studies have demonstrated the puberty is starting earlier and earlier – consider that in 1860 the average age of onset of puberty in girls was 16.6 years and by 2010 it had dropped to 10.5 years.
I’ve always had a policy of complete honesty in our household – if my children ask me a question, I’ll answer it honestly. This means they know about all about boobs, they know about the hair that is going to grow in strange places, they know girls can marry girls and boys can marry boys, they know that (technically) you need a man and a woman to make a baby and they know how said baby exits the body. The last one was an accidental description and I won’t lie, she was pretty horrified at the time, because, like, HOW?! Yep. I know my love. That was my thought too when I was 9 months pregnant, heavily regretting my life choices… I’ve waited and waited for the questions about how babies get in their mummy’s tummy to come but so far, nada – yet. I’m not entirely sure she’s actually ready for the sex conversation but as it really is part and parcel of the whole periods thing, questions are bound to follow.
My current thinking is that the way forward is with a good book. You can’t beat a good book.
I’ve chosen What’s Happen to Me? by Susan Meredith mainly because it has good reviews on Amazon but also because it’s is presented in a nice friendly, childlike manner so shouldn’t be too scary. My plan of attack is to sit and read a little bit together every now and then, giving her ample opportunity to ask any questions that pop into her mind, however random (and they will be random, she’s her mothers daughter). Bitesize, management chunks of information to confirm what she already knows and introduce her to what she is going to need to know for the future is my strategy.
I don’t really know if my approach is the best way, hell I’m going into this completely blind, so I’d love to hear your thoughts about how to handle the puberty conversation? Is there a “right” age or is it more child-dependant? Should you go all-in or leave out the gory bits?
How much is TOO much information?