Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Timing is Everything...

My family made our first trip to Disney World in June.  This, of course, is a significant event in any family’s history and, given that my daughters were 10 and 9 at the time of the visit, made it even more special since they would actually remember their “Magical” Disney adventure.   

Little did we know how “Magical” this trip would be for my eldest daughter.  During our visit to Epcot, I patiently waited for my wife and 10 year old daughter to return to “Mexico” after an unusually long bathroom break.   Upon returning Claire informs me that our daughter, two weeks shy of her 11th birthday, had her first period. What a stunner- I was not ready for that news.  

I thought I had more time to prepare- at least another year or more.  Maybe it was all of the antibiotic laced milk she drank as a baby, or the chemical filled Chic-fil-a chickin’ minis that she consumed - that can’t be good for a developing body.  Regardless, it was here and now I felt a responsibility to have a conversation with her, one that we had never had.  

I of course did not speak a word of her period to her during the trip, nor have I since then.  After returning from the SC Campaign’s Annual Summer Institute, and hearing from Girlology creator, Dr. Melisa Holmes, I felt somewhat empowered with new information on how to start the conversation with my daughter.   

My first attempt was not met with the enthusiasm I expected.  I tried to start the talk with my daughter at breakfast one morning-not the best time for a sleep deprived pre-teen.  She, in return, ate her bowl of cereal so quickly to get up from the table that I became less worried about “the Talk” and more worried about her choking. 

I was discouraged that I, as a professional in this field, couldn’t start a “simple talk” with my daughter about love, sex and relationships, but that’s when I realized, this isn’t a simple talk.  This isn’t a time for me to lecture my daughter, or a time to instruct her, but a time to listen to her, answer her questions, and share with her our expectations and beliefs for her.  That means she has to be comfortable with it too.

Things haven’t gotten much easier, and I sometimes wonder if my daughter has a second sense about these “Talks” and goes out of her way to avoid them, but I am still trying.  I am still open to my daughter and prepared to answer her questions honestly and accurately.  So when she does decide that she needs to have a “talk” like the ones I have been trying to have with her, I’ll be ready, every time.

by:  Doug Taylor, Chief Programming Officer, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

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