Wednesday, July 6, 2016

She's growing up too fast

I can still remember the day the nuns and teachers separated the girls and the boys in seventh grade to cover sex education. In retrospect, it was probably worse for the boys, since the monsignor was brought into the school to talk to them. We girls at least had the female science teacher in addition to the nuns.

At one point during the talk - which didn't actually cover the topic of sex - we discussed menstruation. It turned out that almost all the girls in the class had already had their period, making the puberty talk a little too late.

I've talked before about the need to openly talk about puberty and sex education in an age-appropriate way early and often. For girls, the talks may need to ramp up faster than most parents would be comfortable with.

In the latest longitudinal study, girls are experiencing puberty at a much earlier age than parents expect - before the age of eight for a lot of them. In addition to forcing parents to talk about body changes earlier than they would like, life is harder for girls who hit puberty sooner: They face a higher risk of obesity, body issues and even diseases.

There is no singular cause for the earlier onset of puberty - the study makes that clear. The important factor is that parents open the conversation with their daughters (and sons) well before it is needed.

Are you worried about the early onset of puberty in your children? Tell me in the comments.

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