In a book all my friends and I read back in the 1970’s, "Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret" by Judy Blume, Margaret says, “Why do they wait until sixth grade when you already know everything?” A lot of you moms out there probably also read this book. These days, fewer and fewer school districts around the country even have any programming regarding puberty, development and sexuality. A lot of girls, according to research that we here at U by Kotex conducted, are getting their information about their periods and changing bodies on the internet. That’s why I’m proud to be a U by Kotex Advocate writing blogs and articles like this one, in the hopes that your daughters can find the information they want when they want it, and probably before sixth grade. A lot of you moms can hopefully be reassured that they are getting good, self-esteem enhancing, accurate information here, as opposed to the body-shaming stuff that seems to proliferate these days in the mass media.
I’ve always liked that Judy Blume’s name sounds like “bloom,” because “blooming” is of course what we call it when a child begins to enter puberty. For those of you with daughters who are developing at a very young age, I’m sure, in the hyper-sexualized culture in which we now live, the last thing it feels like is “blooming.” Both you and your early-blooming daughter would probably prefer to take that flower-stem body and sink it right back into the earth. But remember how the character of Margaret really wanted to get her period? She, like me, was a late bloomer. She felt left out of the club of flowers she saw that her friends were all in. So it seems like the timing of puberty really causes a lot of anxiety in both daughters and moms, either way.
As it turns out, despite a lot of popular press about earlier and earlier puberty, the average age of a girl’s first period in the United States has stayed right around 12.5 years for a long time. Some of you moms are worried that your daughters will get their periods much earlier than you did. For most of you, that is not the case. What has changed is that the first steps in the process have begun to “take root” earlier and earlier. The very first of these is breast-bud development (yes! they’re actually called “buds,” sticking with the spring-time blooming metaphor). More and more girls are getting breast-buds early in elementary school, quite a bit before sixth grade. Do you remember that kind of painful, kind of itchy, but kind of exciting moment of budding? I do. I do not remember it as traumatic because breasts have a lot of positive connotations. But for some reason, the culture has told us our periods are bad, embarrassing, or even shameful. So for those of you with very early bloomers who are getting their period as young as 8, 9 or 10 years old, they (and you) probably wish they weren’t blooming at all.
But let me reassure you that you can let your daughters bloom, no matter when their body decides to. For an actual flower to bloom, it needs healthy soil, sunshine, and water. Caring moms want to be the nurturers for their flower-daughter, yes, but if we have an early bloomer, we don’t want to go overboard and make them self-conscious. Help your early bloomer know that exercise, sleep, and a nutritious diet are important. Get her off her device and outside to explore and play. There are wonderful organizations springing up in communities across the country that help support young girls’ participation in healthy exercise. Try to help her eat a balanced diet of whole, not processed, foods. And, most of all, talk openly with your daughter about the stresses that the timing of puberty can cause. Indeed help her manage all the stresses that seem to be impacting girls at such a young age, and that are enhanced for early-bloomers. One important way to do that is to enable her be a savvy consumer of the body-shaming media that is sexualizing her. The 24-7 media are trying mightily to convince your daughter to dislike who she is, and to buy products that claim to “fix” her: jeans in fits like “toothpick,” adult-style makeup, even dangerous hair-removal or douching products. Don’t let them win.
Your daughter is developing in her own time. Sure it’s scary if she seems to be starting long before the other girls. As Margaret reminds us, timing is everything. But I promise: if she’s in a nurturing, open, trusting relationship with you, she’ll bloom into the beautiful flower you’ve always known she is.
Well it finally happened over the Easter break, Izzy came to me and said she had started bleeding, she was quite relieved as she has been wearing panti liners" - izzymom
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