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The ‘Birds and the Bees’ conversation is what Healthy Chats aims to ease and demystify. Whether you attend a seminar or not, once the day of the ‘big talk’ is over, there’s ultimately got to be some follow up. In this post, we’ll review how to approach – and survive – the next conversation.
1. Timing & Location
Hopefully it’s not an impossibility to get your daughter alone. Consider the car as a great, commonplace location where you could bring up a potentially uncomfortable topic. Why the car? It’s easy to avoid eye contact, and you have a captive audience.
2. Tell a Story About Yourself
Sharing your own story can make it easier for your daughter to relate to you and feel comfortable talking to you about her story. Let her ask questions, and be prepared with what you are and aren’t willing to share. Keep your stories lighthearted and positive.
3. Keep It Casual & Everyday
A trip to the grocery or drug store is a great, straightforward opportunity to start a follow-up conversation with your daughter about her evolving needs. Have her come with you so she can chose the pads/tampons/soap/deodorant/razors she prefers. Get some special body splash or fun cream to try out together.
4. Use Code Words
Certainly, you need to be true to the dynamic of your relationship with your daughter. But, since it is typical to end up in a situation where you and her may need to communicate about these issues, it’s difficult to say so out loud, deciding on a secret form of communication together can be useful. A family I know decided to call pads ‘petals’ and tampons ‘stems’ when they needed to refer to them in public or in front of male family members. These references to “the tulip” became their special code words and as the young girl grew older, a source of camaraderie between mother and daughter.
5. Incorporate Family Where Possible
While it’s not always the case, ideally, Mom is one of many females whom your daughter feels comfortable talking with. Big Sisters, Aunts, Grandmothers, and trusted female family friends can all help continue the conversation or be an included perspective in a group conversation.
These suggestions may be taken as direct advice, but they hopefully work just as well as a mere jumping off point. Your relationship with your daughter is unique, so please, modify and adjust and re-invent these ideas to fit your own situation.
Most of all, remember: a conversation is a back-and-forth. And this one is about her, not you! Listening is as important, if not far more important, than what you say.
Founder of Healthy Chats, Dr. Chrystal de Freitas is a pediatrician, author and mother of three children who has a special interest in health education. She completed her pediatric training at the University of Washington, in Seattle, WA, and has been in private practice for 22 years. She practiced with North County Health Services in Encinitas, for 6 years. In 2004, Dr. de Freitas opened her solo private practice of pediatrics, Carmel Valley Pediatrics in San Diego, CA.