If you have tween girls (or soon-to-be tween girls), this post will make you laugh. It will also make you afraid. It least it did for me! We all have to decide what, where and how much to share about sex, puberty and all things grownup with our tween daughters. But it’s not as easy as it might look if you haven’t actually been there yet. Trish Bittman is in the thick of it. And she’s here to let us know the kinds of questions to expect – and where you might struggle with telling the whole truth.
As mothers we often find ourselves saying things we never imagined we would, “Don’t lick your sister.” “You don’t know where that frog’s been.” “Get your finger out of your sister’s nose!”
And all those questions our children ask us! “Why is the sky blue?” “Where do trees come from?” “How does a plane stay in the air?”
But being the mother of a tween girl comes with a whole new set of questions and answers you thought you’d never be giving. From the time my girls were little I have answered their questions honestly, even when the older two wanted to know at 3 and 4 years old how their baby sister got in my tummy. (And by honest I mean I told them their father and I wanted a baby so we did the baby dance and no I can’t show you the baby dance it’s top secret stuff!) I’d like to continue to be direct and honest with their questions, but that’s becoming a little harder to do.
Sex has a smell? (Thank you, Rhianna, for that) I told my daughter: Yes, sex has a smell. End of discussion
How old were you the first time you had sex? I was not at all honest with this question. Listen,that’s super personal and no one’s business but my own. but also, my daughter is really young and doesn’t need that information right now. When she’s a teenager and in love I *might* give her the real answer. Until then I was 25, people. Stick to that story for me.
Is there anything I can do to control my crying? I had to break it to her that there really isn’t much you can do to control your emotions when hormones are involved. I also made it clear that boys get emotional as well, and even tween and teenage boys have been known to break into tears from time to time. Just know it’s normal and try not to fall down the rabbit hole of tears and self-pity. Ride the wave as best as you can and know that there will be times when you aren’t so emotional. Again, I was mostly honest with her – I just left out the part about it lasting your entire life and being worse when you’re pregnant, postpartum and menopausal. She’ll figure that out soon enough.
What do you do when your pubic hair starts to annoy you? OMG, the pubic hair? I don’t remember it bugging me when I was her age, but that was a very long time ago. It certainly has bugged me throughout my adult life. We’re slavic, we’ve got a lot of hair. But am I going to tell my tween about waxing your bush? Of course not! I did tell her that no matter what she should never ever shave her pubic hair, that would be a big mistake. I told her she could use the tiny manicure scissors to clip it if she wanted (I just have to say here, I don’t care who you are or how cool and laid back a mother you are, it’s extremely disconcerting to look at your young daughter and see her with a full bush. The boobs and arm pit hair just aren’t on the same level).
If a 17-year-old boy bought condoms, would someone try to stop him? It’s interesting to me that she would think you have to be 18 to buy condoms. She has had sex education and we’ve talked a bit about birth control, but at her age we haven’t really delved into it. She’s still convinced she won’t have sex until she’s in college or married. So I was surprised that she’d be thinking of this. I just very simply told her no, no one would stop him. If she were older I’d probably add that girls can buy condoms too and you can get all kinds of birth control as a minor.
Is it really that bad to have your period? The period question is such a hard one. I know, you’d think it would be the sex having a smell question. But girls this age and my daughter in particular, are really looking forward to starting their period. My daughter has tampons and pads she’s been carrying around with her just in case. I’d hate to be the one to tell her it sucks. You dread getting it. You get blood on your pants. In public. You are doubled over with cramps some days and it can go on for a solid week. So, I just told her it’s not that bad and you can take some Advil if you need to. I told her it’s exciting to know you are becoming a woman. Because that is true. Just not the whole truth.
Trish Bittman is a freelance writer and social media consultant living on Bainbridge Island. Her writing has been featured in many publications including Bainbridge Island Magazine, Inside Bainbridge, and Real Moms Guide at SheKnows.com. Trish is also the creator of 3 Kids and a Breakdown, a humorous blog about motherhood, martinis and other mid-life crises. As a social media manager, Trish works with several companies to help build their social media platforms to market businesses, events and creative endeavors. Trish can help you develop a social media marketing strategy for your company and teach you to maximize your marketing efforts through social media. Please email Trish at trish@3kidsandabreakdown for your free consultation. Follow her on Twitter @trish3kids,