I will give her my undivided attention. No judgment. No interruptions. No advice. I will look her in the eyes and consume her every word.
For a free-spirited tweenage girl whose aim is to conquer the world single-handedly, being told that she will soon wear a training bra and have periods for the REST OF HER FERTILE LIFE is like being sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole. She cannot believe she’s been dealt the “girl card” and she is OVER IT.
She’s tired of being called a “tom boy” because she’s the only girl in her class who enjoys a good game of soccer and is not obsessed with bubble gum flavored lip gloss and Hello Kitty. She has trees to climb and butterflies to chase and birds to feed and rocks to collect. She just finished making flyers for her dog walking business and her teleport gun invention is a work in progress. She has songs to write and books to read in her closet, turned reading nook. Besides, who needs all those poofy dresses that itch your legs and make you hot anyway?
So what’s a mom to do? How do we help our tween girls cope with the card they’ve been dealt when they are not quite ready or mature enough to handle it?
I’ve been contemplating this for some time now because my spunky, barrier-breaking pre-teen daughter is nearing puberty and the closer she gets, the further she runs in the opposite direction. I get it. I remember feeling like my life, the one I had known up until “the talk,” was a dream that I had been forced to wake up from. Having a period made me feel as though I was hiding a shameful secret rather than embracing a powerful life-bearing gift.
Rather than experiencing bodily changes and menstruation as an uncomfortable and annoying inconvenience, perhaps we can help our daughters experience it as a time to pause and honor themselves for the power they possess. No doubt they will follow our lead. Here’s how I plan to help my daughter embrace her reality and love her changing body:
I will LISTEN. I will give her my undivided attention. No judgment. No interruptions. No advice. I will look her in the eyes and consume her every word. I will even consume her silence and the messages that lie within it.
I will SHARE AND CONNECT. I will tell my story, the good stuff and the bad. I will connect with her by reconnecting to the tween girl in me. I will share stories of the mighty women who walked the path before us—back when girls were told nothing and thought they might be dying. How they made pledges, too, to do things differently when they became mothers. I will answer her questions honestly, yet thoughtfully, and I will provide her with the resources she will need to seek information on her own.
I will MODEL CONTENTMENT AND SELF-LOVE. I will honor ALL of myself—even the parts that I have struggled with in the past. I will do this with mindful awareness of how delicate self-image is, especially for young girls in a male-dominated culture where media is fixated on the attainment of an unrealistic beauty ideal, rather than true beauty, which illuminates from within. In doing this, I will give my daughter permission to do the same.
I will HELP HER CHASE HER DREAMS AND LET NOTHING STAND IN HER WAY. I will encourage her to choose her own path, and I will be her cheerleader—never doubting her ability to soar. When she stumbles, I will help her dust herself off and try again. I will not issue false warnings to play it safe or maintain the status quo. I will help her live her truth, find her own voice, and let her light shine.
I will WELCOME HER INTO THE CIRCLE. The Circle of Life overflows with the strength, determination, tenacity, intelligence, endurance, creativity, humor, faith, hope, and love of the collective feminine spirit. I will share these gifts with my daughter—the stories of the female history makers and everyday sheroes. Those who fell from grace and those who found their light. Guided by their stories, wisdom and inspiration, she will know that she is loved unconditionally, and she will know that there is a special place in The Circle reserved just for her.
Dee Marshall is a Mom on a mission to rekindle the glow, love more, fear less, and share and connect with other parents who desire to nurture and support their children as pioneers in pursuit of a peaceful new world. She is Mommy, chauffeur, chef, nutritionist, nurse, referee, and social secretary to two amazing tweens. When she is not juggling her many roles, she can be easily be found creating something beautiful, on her yoga mat or curled up with a good book. Read more of her posts at thespiritedtween.com.