Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Precocious Puberty?!


My friend wrote this thoughtful post about our responsibility as mature adults to talk to our kids about...ahem, you know, the birds and the bees. (Hello 1957.) She's absolutely right. Whether our children are educated in these matters at school or home, we need to provide them with the facts necessary for them to make safe and healthy choices—for their bodies and for their tender hearts.

I remember the "talk" when I was growing up. Back then these awkward talks were isolated moments in time. Instead of slowly doling out the details as our children mature, giving them age appropriate info as needed, our parents sat us down at the age of eleven-ish and dumped the facts of life into our laps.

My mum did a great job. She sat me down in our kitchen and told me what to expect as I developed. I didn't make eye contact as she explained about a garden and some kind of complicated seed planting situation. Despite the Better Homes and (lady) Gardens metaphor, I understood. I also felt reasonably comfortable going to my mum during my teen years with questions. Luckily, I didn't have many that couldn't be answered by my girlfriends—girlfriends who lucky for me had the facts fairly straight. Mostly.

As an adult I'm not terribly comfortable talking about these matters. Certain words make me cringe. I can type "making love," "menses" and "pubic" but just watch what happens when I try to say them out loud. *shudder* Ask me to say "vulva" and I'll explode into fits of laughter.

So how do I talk to my ten year old son about these things? Thankfully, he's quite happy to discuss and ask questions. Also, we bought him a great book. Plus my husband the Phys Ed teacher also teaches health. :) Our son knows what's what and I'm confident he's as prepared as he needs to be at this stage of the game.

My daughter is only seven so I won't be having any chats with her any time soon, right?

Wrong. I am rather stunned.

At her last neurologist's appointment the doctor asked if I'd noticed any signs of puberty. Surely he had to be kidding. Avery still has baby teeth for heaven's sake.

He explained that children with genetic mutations are prone to either late onset puberty or precocious puberty (early onset) which can begin years earlier than the norm.

Imagine explaining developmental changes to a child who can't possibly understand what is happening.

Thankfully precocious puberty can be slowed or even halted with drugs. This is important in terms of preserving growth. Children who undergo puberty too early experience stunted growth. Avery will never be tall, but we want her to at least achieve her full height potential.

So far my daughter is still a child. No signs of puberty and hopefully she will continue to grow and develop as expected.

What happens if that's not the case? I guess as always, we'll handle things as they come and try not to worry about Avery's teen years. The truth is, I do worry— about many things, not just the development of her body, but I worry about her sweet heart. Will she have a boyfriend? Will she get married? How do we tell her that due to her genes, she will never be a mother?

But like I said, we'll handle these things as they come. 

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