Q: How can I help prepare my daughter for the physical, emotional and psychological changes that adolescence brings?
A: While navigating a young girl through the emotional teen years might seem daunting, it can be a beautiful experience for both parent and child.
First, open communication is the key! You need to help your daughter understand the physical changes her body will experience. Girls need to know about breast development, new hair growth and the reproductive cycle. The first menstrual period should be viewed in a positive light, as a passage into adulthood rather than a burden or a “curse.”
It’s also important to talk to your daughter about her increasing interest in the opposite sex. She’ll need to be prepared to deal with attention from boys. This is an important time to review specific guidelines about relationships, affectionate touching, the progressive nature of sexual contact and the spiritual, physical and emotional advantages of saving sex for marriage.
Ideally, you want to create a home environment where talking is the norm. Plan on having a series of conversations with your prepubescent girl, perhaps at age nine or ten. Some parents plan a special weekend away from home in order to have undistracted, one-on-one time during which these discussions can take place. If you’re a single dad who feels uncomfortable discussing these matters with your daughter, consider seeking help from an adult woman who not only shares your values but has enough rapport to talk with her about these topics.
Other issues to talk about might include the importance of friends, the need for independence, and your daughter’s desire to form her own identity. If you will stay in communication about the changes she’s experiencing, the teen years have the potential to deepen your relationship considerably. Remember, you’re on the same team!
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