I'm a single dad of 5 and I know it's all woman here but I could do with some advice that other dad's can't give so here goes..
Although probably not technically a pre-teen, my oldest is 9 tomorrow and I was wondering when is the right age to do the whole talk about periods and puberty etc. Her mum isn't around so as awkward as it's going to feel (though we do have a very close relationship) I know all the growing up stuff will be happening soon and I was wondering is just turned 9 too early? Should I wait until 10? 11? and how should I approach it with her. I don't want to embarrass her more than is neccessary
Any advice will be appreciated
For us, little bits of information came out along the way during normal conversation both with my DD and DS. Even at close to 11 and 14, there has been no "big talk" and yet they have all the info they need. Certainly, it's time to start opening up with your DD about upcoming changes but I'd sprinkle it about matter-of-factly. The puberty process in girls starts about 2 years prior to first period. The average age for menstration is 11 so really, your DD could be heading in that direction sooner than later (it may have already started, it may be years away like it was for my own DD.)
Most schools offer puberty classes to girls starting in 4th grade. For my DD, this was age 9 and while she had a pretty good idea of all that happened, it was really beneficial for her to take the class with her classmates.
Answer questions as they come. Always ask what they know first. You might be surprised at home much she already knows. The animal kingdom offers a good and comfortable starting ground for such conversations. I think most of those "talks" happened during our regular zoo trips when they were younger lol. Do something while having such conversations like unloading the dish washer, sorting coins, ect. It lends to more open and comfortable conversation.
Definitely treat it as normal and matter of fact. I think it's fine to start talking to her about these things now. Tell her you're going to do some research on it so that you can help her through it all when things start changing. You can even ask her to help you do the research. That way she knows you're in it together. It will help her not feel so lonely when the time does come, she'll know that you have an understanding.
You might want to get some books to read with her. I'd recommend "It's So Amazing" by Robie Harris for an in-depth, but age appropriate look at reproduction. It does include a lot of info so you might want to pre-read and skip any sections that aren't right for your family. They have another one called It's Perfectly Normal which would also be good, I'm sure. We have "It's So Amazing" and have since my oldest was about 5 or 6 and my youngest was 3 or so. My dh and I read it with both of our girls many times. I really recommend you go ahead and read it to your younger kids, too. It's so much easier to have this conversation with them when they're little and then it becomes just part of everyday life like potty training or how we breathe air, etc.
For your 9 year old, she might also enjoy "The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls" put out by American Girl. My 10 yr old loves it and doesn't want to share it with her almost 8 yr old sister. I think it's been very validating and valuable for her as a girl and has relieved a lot of anxieties that she might have. This one is totally girl-focused. The Robie Harris ones talk about both boys and girls. My dd1 doesn't like dad to read "The Care and Keeping of You" as much because she says it's for girls, but sometimes she does let him read some sections. It's really a great growing older and changing book so it has a lot in there about things like how your hair gets greasier in puberty and you might need to shower more often and things about keeping fit and exercising and eating right, but it definitely has a big section on getting your period and what to do if you get it at school, etc. I couldn't recommend it more highly.
She also might like to talk to another woman about it all even if it's not her mum. Does she have an approachable aunt or grandmother or even a family friend? Older cousin? I remember talking to my older cousin about it all (8 yrs older than me) and it was very helpful. I would definitely still have the convo yourself, but if you could find an older female that she could talk with too that might be comforting to her.
"All you fascists are bound to lose" — Woody Guthrie
The earlier the better, IMO. I've heard of girls getting their period before they knew what it was. Imagine how scary it must be to suddenly have blood oozing from your private parts and you have no idea why! Yikes.
The average age for menarche is something like 13 I think, but 10 years is pretty common, and 8 isn't unheard of. Since her ninth birthday is coming up, this seems like a good milestone for giving her a heads up about what it entails and to start storing some sanitary napkins in your house.
You've gotten lots of great advice so far. You know your child best but IMO she is more than ready and capable to hear about the whole topic of periods. It's up to you whether or not you feel she is ready or wants to know any more than that. I actually had a talk with my 7-year-old last night about what sex exactly was. My husband had that talk with my sons when they were 9 and 10. My daughter learned a lot about pregnancy during my last pregnancy and was asking me a lot of questions last night. Finally I said "Do you really want to know how the egg gets fertilized?" She gave a big sigh and said "YES!" because I think she knew the "beginning" part and the "made a baby" part but there was a big question mark for her about what the hell happened in the middle.
I do agree about just being straight forward, find out what she knows and what she'd like to know, and ask her if she wants to talk to you or a female trusted adult.
Good for you for being proactive, Daddy!
Hey Dad, I know it's been almost a whole week, I hope you're still around. Just wanted to say that I don't think you should wait for your daughter to ask questions, you should bring it up yourself. Some kids just won't ask! I know I never asked my parents about those subjects. But I had success with both my kids when I simply asked, so by the way, I was wondering what you've heard about girls and menstruation. What have you heard about how babies are made?
And this is just for you, one of the funniest comedy routines I've ever seen. I had my 16 y.o. daughter watch it and she was (exaggeratedly) horrified.
Someone moved my effing cheese.