Having "The Talk" with new 11 y.o. DSD - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-15-2002, 10:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My 11-year-old DSD moved in with us about 2.5 months ago. We're doing really well---with the occasional awkwardness one expects when meeting a step-daughter-to-be for the first time on their 11th birthday.

It's increasingly looking as though DSD might be with us a long time--definitely through this school year and possibly more permanently. DXW is on the other side of the country.

Anyway, long introduction to my question. Yesterday DH gently told me that he thinks I need to have The Talk with DSD.
He doesn't think DXW has done this.

I come from a super dysfunctional family and have been working very hard on cultivating healthy attitudes and parenting behaviors. My own mother never told me a thing. She handed me a pamphlet (perkily entitled Growing Up and Liking It) and I learned everything else from The Godfather books and my parents' supposedly hidden copy of The Joy of Sex .

My own DD is only 10-months-old so I thought I had some time... Have any of you ever had to deal with anything like this? I'm tempted to call DXW and see what she's told DSD, if anything.
It feels too early in our relationship to be having this talk. But it might be fine. I just don't know. I do think I need to if DXW has done this yet.

Any tips and thoughts on this?
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Old 09-16-2002, 04:31 AM
 
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The talk. What an honor to be able to discuss this with her. I immediately thought you could take a mentoring role. It is in both your interests to just ask her what she knows, where she learned it from and take it from there. I don't think it would hurt to tell her a little of what you are feeling and why. Talking honestly about it with her could save her from what you've been through. I'm talking from experience! Try and think how you wish you had been told about this stuff and just go for it. She may not want to discuss much right away, but it's important to follow up a day or two later "Remember our talk the other day? Did you have any questions now?" It's hard sometimes for kids to bring up that stuff, so we gotta help them out. Good luck, let me know how it goes.
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Old 09-16-2002, 10:00 AM
 
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I moved in with my step mom right after I turned 11. My mom never talked to me too much but she had been battaling cancer for a while (we moved to my dads because she died). No one ever talked to me. My period started a few months after I moved there, I didn't tell anyone (it was a new town too so I wasn't even talking to good friends very often) just took pads/tampons out of the cabinet or asked the school nurse.

It would have been nice to talk to my step mom, but he just sitting down some day and starting "the talk" would have been worse. I mean I didn't know her and this was stuff I was only starting to talk about with my friends, I would nont have talked to a stranger about it. I know you are really thinking about sex, but I think periods are a less intimidating topic. Start by just showing her where you keep your stuff or if you are not going to share (I can't imagine using my moms tampons in the beggining (they were so big), but we did use the same pads) buy some for her or take her shopping and find a spot for it in your house. I am not sure how but I hope this discussion grows into what her body does to get ready for a baby and what to do when you want to have sex or how to keep a baby from starting. I also think that any talks that my step mom and I had for a long time were about someone else- a movie that we were watching, something my friend said, something she heard.

Good Luck
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Old 09-16-2002, 12:18 PM
 
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How about using a book to start the process? I highly recommend "It's Perfectly Normal", it is really excellent. It covers everything from puberty (for boys and girls) to sex, to STDs in a really down-to-earth, non-condescending way. I also like it because it represents all body types/cultures in its illustrations. You could either read it with her or give it to her to read, knowing you'll discuss it with her later, or are available to answer questions. Just a suggestion.
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Old 09-16-2002, 03:41 PM
 
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I like the idea of giving her a book, and the idea of explaining how this is difficult for you. Maybe you could say, "I saw this book in the store, and it's one that I wish I had had when I was 11. It's about growing up and sex, and nobody in my family ever talked about those things, so I was afraid to ask questions. I really want things to be different for you. Did you ever talk with your mom about growing up and getting your period?" or something like that, to try to find out what she knows already.

Going shopping together for menstrual supplies (if she wants to use cloth pads, you could shop online) is a great idea. I really appreciated that my mom both encouraged me to order a "starter kit" advertised in a magazine (and when it arrived, sat down w/me to look at the different kinds of pads and talk about how to decide which kind to use) and showed me where her supplies were if I wanted to try them.

Another approach is to look for an opportunity to bring up the subject in everyday life. For example, one of my friends saw her mom write "SP" and circle it on her calendar; friend said, "What does that mean?" and her mom said, "Started period." and explained about menstruation and Natural Family Planning and followed her daughter's questions from there for a very comprehensive education!

Good luck, and good for you for being willing to take on this task at a less-than-perfect point in your relationship!

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Old 09-16-2002, 05:44 PM
 
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Another good book is "The Care and Keeping of You" There is also a journal that can go along with it. Very streight forward, positive and not too heavy. It covers all the changes going on in her body, personal hygene and care, diet, nutrition and exersize, eating disorders, how to use a tampon, choose a bra, and shave your legs. Not much about sexual feelings and such but it will at least open the door to this sort of disscussion.

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Old 09-23-2002, 03:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for the wonderful responses. You've all helped me---good ideas and new perspectives. Much appreciated!

Susan61: Thank you for reminding/telling me what an honor this is. I'd been feeling so nervous and ill-prepared that I'd lost touch with what an honor this really is. Still trying to unlearn the lessons from my own mother--who always referred to menstruation as "The Curse."

Mallory: Your story moved me to tears. I'm so sorry that you had such a difficult experience. I'm trying hard to be a good step-mother---but stumble and awkwardly falter all too frequently.
Your story makes me all the more committed to having our conversation soon.

3BoysMom, EnviroBecca, and Lilyka: Thank you so much for the suggestions! Helped a lot. I'd been having trouble envisioning how I could introduce the topic---it's so hard to know how to give what you've never received.

I'll let you know how it goes. I'm going to go book shopping later this week.

Thanks!

Sharon
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Old 09-23-2002, 04:04 PM
 
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Good luck StillForest - she's lucky to have some one so caring in her life. Let us know how it goes
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