It’s happened. I’ve entered that part of life where I have one of my kids morphing into an adult. My oldest turns 12 later this month. She grew 4 inches in 9 months. She gained just shy of 13 pounds in that amount of time. She started shaving her legs. And then, a few months later, under her arms.
Yup, full-spin puberty going on around here.
As a Natural Family Planning (NFP) touting momma, sometimes I feel like my responsibility to my children with regard to teaching them about their bodies and their reproductive systems is even greater than it would be if I ascribed to the contraception/sterilization mentality. That seems weird to say, though. Our society would have us believe that the responsibility to teach our children about taking contraceptive pills, using condoms and ultimately, having one or two kids and one partner getting sterilized is the most important as a parent.
Mostly, I try to answer her questions or give my opinion when she asks for it. Recently, I switched her over to seeing my doctor because I know I will have the support I need with regard to how Craig and I want to teach our children about sex and fertility awareness.
So far, here are the things my oldest and I have discussed with regard fertility awareness as she has begun to mature:
1. Puberty and physical development There is no one right time or way to develop. We are all unique, some girls start to develop when they are 10 or 11, some girls when they are 13, some girls when they are 16 or 17. Nothing is wrong with if they develop earlier than their peers and nothing is wrong if they develop later than their peers. It happens when it happens.
We’ve talked about what the physical changes are or have been — mostly from her perspective. She can see the changes in her body now, but before they were evident, she told me she was having trouble sleeping sometimes and I informed her that her hormones were probably kind of crazy and were most likely interrupting her sleep patterns. These explanations can help ease some of the annoyance she feels.
2. Periods and mucous and cramps If she knows what to watch for by way of mucous, there’s a good chance she’ll know when her first period is coming (and every period after that). Cervical fluid, little abdominal pangs/twinges to pay attention to, headaches, cravings.
3. Acne Birth control pills are NOT the way to treat it. She will most likely experience some level of acne irritation, but there are other ways to treat it without affecting her fertility.
4. Cycle lengths will vary Even after almost 30 years of menstruating, my cycles vary. Talk about hormones — estrogen, progesterone and how they work within the cycle. We talk about my cycles and we talk about how sometimes daughters can take some cues from mothers with regard to fertility — not always, but it’s good to know if there’s a history of anything (for me, that would be the progesterone problem).
5. Different Methods I tell her that I’ve used three different FAM over the years. I’ve shared with her what I’m using now, but that starting out, just regular old cervical fluid checks and noting the start of her cycle is probably the best place to start.
That’s about it so far. She’s only about to turn 12, so I’m sure there will be more to come. The past year has been a whirlwind in the way of development for her physically and emotionally. I’ve been pleased to be able to address her concerns and these changes in a natural no-nonsense way. These changes are natural, and by letting her know that I experience them, too, still at the age of almost 40, she can see there are natural ways to handle the changes and there’s nothing to fear.