Have a girl, they said. It will be so much fun dressing her up in pretty clothes and hairbows. You’ll love taking her shopping and getting your nails done together.
But they forgot to tell you about puberty, and how it would turn your sweet daughter into a sassy, raging mess.
You’d think we would be prepared, having gone through it ourselves. But really, there is nothing that prepares you for it.
But I’m going to try by sharing some of my favorite resources to get you through the slap in the face that is puberty.
There are two books, one for younger girls and one for older girls, and they are great. My daughter is very introverted and shy, and it took a lot for her to ask me questions. This book answered many of the questions she had, and after reading, I came to her to talk about any that were unanswered.
You could also read these together and talk as you read. I’d also suggest checking out some of the journals that coordinate with the books. These books really prepared my daughter for what was going to happen to her body during puberty.
Start a Mom and Me Journal
If you don’t already have one, this journal will be a way to keep you connected when emotions get crazy. It’s natural for girls to start pulling away from their parents at this age, but it’s also a time where they desperately need us.
If I wanted to share something with her, I would write and leave it on her pillow. Then, she would do the same for me.
This can be as simple as a cute notebook you pick out together, or you can purchase one specifically made for this purpose. This one’s my favorite.
Period Resources You Need
Starting your period can be messy and embarrassing. Honestly, my mom didn’t do a great job preparing me, or teaching me how to handle it. I was young (11!) and actually hid my first period from her because I was too embarrassed to talk about it. I struggled to manage it at school because I didn’t know about different options and just tried my best. Luckily, girls today have so many better resources than we did!
Our favorite pads for teens are Always Radiant pads. They are thin and cut narrower to fit a tween/teen body, with wings for extra protection. It took a while to find the right size for her flow, but they wick away moisture and last up to 8 hours—less worry about leakage and fewer trips to the bathroom during school.
Several companies, like Thinx and RubyLove, offer period underwear and sleepwear. You can wear these as backup under a pad or tampon, or even alone. They are completely absorbent (they hold up to 2.5 tampons worth of flow) so you really don’t have to worry! RubyLove also has period swimwear we are going to try this summer since my daughter isn’t ready to wear tampons yet but hates missing out on swimming activities.
By the way, those first few months, I highly recommend a good mattress protector, and even “puppy pads” under the fitted sheet because she’s going to leak at night until you get things figured out, and you’re not going to want to scrub your mattress over and over.
To Tampon or Not?
Speaking of tampons, not all girls will be ready to use tampons (even though I think they are soooo much easier!) When they are ready, Tampax has some great resources on everything from education to how to insert a tampon properly.
When Should She Wear a Bra?
The answer to this question is, whenever she feels like it’s time. She might be self-conscious about growing breasts, or it might be that she just wants to be like other girls, even if it’s not “needed”. Once they start changing in front of each other in gym class, a lot of girls decide they need at least a sports bra to feel more comfortable. Again, let her take the lead on this. It’s fine to ask her how she feels about one, but remember, it is her body and her choice to use a bra or not.
Hygiene, Hair, and Makeup
When I was in middle school, I remember that hair, makeup, and clothes were so important to be accepted.
Now, as a middle school teacher, it surprises me how little effort girls put into their appearance. Basic hygiene is still important (thank goodness!) but practically every girl wears black leggings, a sweatshirt or oversized tee, and tennis shoes. Hair is natural, makeup is minimal.
So, I had to check my expectations for my daughter. I used to do tons of cute hairstyles on her, and I was so excited for her to wear makeup. Well, she wears her hair down every day, has no interest in makeup, and wears jeans and the same five shirts every week. I had to learn to be ok with the fact that she showers every day, wears deodorant, and takes care of her skin and teeth. (For some of you, that alone might be a fight). Hygiene is the only thing I insist on. Everything else I had to let be. She’ll decide someday to put a little more effort in, or she won’t. Again, her choice.
There’s a lot more I could write, but I’m out of space. What questions do you have about puberty? What resources do you need? Let us know in the comments.
If nothing else, just remember that like sleep-training, potty-training, and tantrums, this phase too shall pass, and with some help, you’ll come through the other side of puberty with a relationship with your daughter that is closer than ever.
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