Today’s Moms and Coming-of-Age Conversations
Any Mom can tell you that time goes by at warp-speed with kids. One minute, you have a child with silky soft skin who smells of baby lotion, warm milk, and applesauce. Then seemingly overnight, that same child walks by, and filled with horror, you wonder, “What’s that smell?” Could it be body odor? Or maybe just her sweaty basketball socks? With summer here, you know a conversation needs to happen and fast, but here’s the catch. She’s just 9!
With young kids, puberty seems a distant, far-off milestone – somewhere between the early teen years and driving – but not any longer. Today, as many Moms discover unexpectedly, it happens sooner than in previous generations – as young as 8 for some girls.
For Moms, the transition can be tough. One minute, they find themselves planning themed birthday parties, while the next minute they realize they need to have conversations with 8-to-11-year-olds about bodily changes surrounding puberty – conversations they may not be emotionally prepared to have. Kids struggle, too. About 60% of Moms think their daughters felt awkward about these conversations.
It also causes Moms to change their interactions with their kids. As kids grow, they head in from sports or day camp and Moms now point them straight to the shower or laundry room! Moms quickly learn they face a host of sensitive, hygiene-related conversations with young kids, including oily skin and break-outs, body odor, smelly feet, and the need to shave legs or faces.
Today’s Moms know they need to talk with their daughters about growing up, particularly since 46% of Moms didn’t have a conversation at all with their own Moms. They just didn’t think it would happen so fast. Knowing that 80% of today’s Moms reached for the coming-of-age classic, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret? to get the scoop, this generation wants to keep lines of communication open and looks for resources to make the conversations a little easier.
Here are some of my favorite tips for Moms facing coming-of-age conversations:
1. Pick the Right Time: Before beginning a conversation, make sure you have adequate time to talk and answer any questions that come up – not 10 minutes before she heads out for a birthday party.
2. Keep Talking: Coming-of-age conversations aren’t “one-and-done.” You’ll find yourself having a series of conversations and needing to come back and revisit issues and answer emerging questions.
3. Go Slow: Girls now face big changes – and in many cases, lack the emotional maturity to adequately deal with them. Instead of one big conversation that deals with all puberty-related changes and how to address them, take it slow. Start with one issue, like deodorant for example. Then move on to others.
4. Keep it Light: A serious conversation, filled with statistics and bodily diagrams, can only increase anxiety levels for both Mom and daughter. Instead, keep the conversational tone light and share real-life examples and anecdotes.
5. Get Prepared: Before you sit down with your daughter, take some time to gather facts or check in with friends and family for advice. Also, a number of websites, such as Kotex.com/tween, offer tips and tools for talking with kids about sensitive topics.
Disclosure: U by Kotex is a client of Mom Central Consulting, and Stacy DeBroff is serving as a Kotex brand spokesperson.