By Sally Torbey
About this blog: About this blog: I have enjoyed parenting five children in Palo Alto for the past two decades and have opinions about everything to do with parenting kids (and dogs). The goal of my blog is to share the good times and discuss the ... (More)
About this blog: About this blog: I have enjoyed parenting five children in Palo Alto for the past two decades and have opinions about everything to do with parenting kids (and dogs). The goal of my blog is to share the good times and discuss the challenges of having a satisfying family life in a community where parents set a high bar for themselves, their children, and the schools and organizations that educate and socialize them. I grew up in the Midwest, attended a small liberal arts college on the East Coast and graduated from medical school in Chicago. I left a pediatric residency to care for our then infant son and spent the next dozen years contentedly gestating and lactating while having four more children. My husband grew up in the Middle East, came to the US for graduate school and works in high tech. Our eldest son graduated from a UC, and after working in the Middle East for a few years, now attends law school in NYC. Our eldest daughter graduated from a Midwestern Big Ten University and is a journalist in Texas. Our middle child studies engineering at a UC. The youngest two girls are in middle and high school in PAUSD. We are celebrating 20 years as PAUSD parents! I volunteer in the public schools, our church, and scouting. (Hide)
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Sharing the facts of life
Uploaded: Apr 28, 2014
My preteen daughter and I spent the last two Wednesday evenings at Lucille Packard Children's Hospital at Heart to Heart: A Seminar on Growing Up for Parents and Kids
. The seminar covers physical changes of puberty, sexuality, and sexual reproduction. Before I became a parent, teaching my kids the facts of life was not something I thought I would need to out source. I studied biology and took a psychology course in human sexuality in college. I taught high school biology, including a unit on human development and sexual reproduction, and in medical school I completed rotations in sexual wellness and adolescent medicine clinics. Yet despite, or perhaps because of, a fair amount of knowledge and professional experience in this field, the responsibility of sharing this information with my own kids had me in a cold sweat!
Our approach with our eldest son was to provide information on a need to know basis, an approach encouraged at the time. The advice was to let their questions be the guide and not to overwhelm them with too much information. Now the assumption seems to be that if they are asking questions they want to know more than they know how to ask, so while you have their attention keep talking until they tell you they have heard enough.
So, our son heard the facts of life doled out piece meal fashion, with time to ponder. But during a trip with my husband and two younger siblings to Southern California, our son suddenly became impatient and needed all the details. He pressed his dad for more complete answers as his dad navigated heavy traffic on Interstate Highway 405. With two younger kids listening in, and my husband driving an unfamiliar car on unfamiliar roads, it was not an optimum time to delve into this topic, so my husband handed our son the cell phone and told him to call me at home, where I had remained with the baby and toddler, and ask me his questions. I suggested to my son that we talk in person when he got home, which we did. I thought our discussion went well, he listened intently while nodding earnestly. Then he asked me in a concerned manner, "Does Dad know about all of this?"
My oldest daughter, on the other hand, never asked a single question about where the new babies in our house came from, and refused to discuss it when I brought it up. I bought her a lot of books and told her I would be happy to talk when she had questions. She did not have any questions. Ever.
The process has gone more smoothly since we started attending the seminars at Packard. The very best thing about the seminar is that the health educator is hilariously funny. Being self-conscious ties up a lot of brain cells. Humor is an extremely effective way of easing the self-consciousness that would otherwise prevent most of us from remembering a single fact from all the excellent material she presents.
The second thing I like is that she emphasizes to the preteens that the adults who accompanied them to the seminar really, really want puberty to go well for them, and are there to answer their questions and help and guide them. I appreciate that my kids hear that, even though I have a hard time telling them myself!
What is it worth to you?
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