Tag: teen

Why Your Teen Needs a Sex Fairy Godparent

Everyone who’s read a fairy tale knows the role fairy godmothers play in these stories. From Cinderella to Snow White, they swoop in with gifts, wisdom and charms, designed to ease the path into adulthood and new adventures.

Outside of famed fantasy tales, godparents still exist, and in most parts of the modern world they are more pragmatically viewed as people chosen by a child’s parents to play a slightly more impartial, yet positive, role in their life.

Godparents take an interest in the child’s upbringing, support their personal development, mentor them, and in some cases even claim legal guardianship if anything should happen to the child’s parents. And, no matter how open a family may be, there are some conversations that will never happen between parents and their children.

Discussions about sex, body developments, contraception, bullying, and self-esteem are challenging chats, no matter how good the relationship is.

Teenagers are developing and asserting their privacy. This is totally normal, and should be encouraged, as these are the times when they truly start to learn who they are. It can certainly be a challenge to insert ‘the sex talk’ into that mix.

Sex education conversations need to be had around biology, consent, savvy social media use, safe sex, sexuality and so much more. So, who does it? And how does a sex fairy godmother fit in? The parents of every teen (or soon-to-be-teen) should be encouraging open, frank discussions around sex education (pro-tip: lots of smaller talks are much more effective than one big chat about ‘the birds and the bees’).

If these parents also choose a ‘sex fairy godparent’ or three for their teenager, such as an aunt, older cousin, family friend or even a trusted teacher, this does some amazing things, like:

  • Lightening the educational load for parents
  • Giving the teen a safe outlet for questions or conversations that they’re not comfortable having with their parents
  • Removing any over-reliance on schools and teachers.
  • Opening up the lines of communication.
  • Respecting the teen’s privacy as they start to navigate their bodily and sexual health.
  • Teaches appropriate boundaries and communication skills.
  • Ensures if a parent needs to intervene, that trusted friend or relative knows when to hand it over.

When teens have questions about sex and their bodies, data tells us that teens speak to their friends first, look it up on the internet second (hello there, PornHub), and about fifth down the list are their parents.

Ideally, a sex fairy godparent can take more of a friendship role, while giving parents a greater share of voice when their teens have questions, and can
slow down the interest in asking Dr Google.

There is a powerful need for accurate sex education today. STI (sexually transmitted infection) rates among teens are currently very high, and there is a raft of very inaccurate sex information online.

Parents need to step up any way they can in today’s online environment, and a sex fairy godparent can play a powerful, safe role.

Talking To Your Teen About Menstruation and Consent

Explaining Menstruation

The first period can be very scary if your teen doesn’t know what it is upon its first arrival. There is a lot to learn about periods, and it’s a good idea to have this chat sooner rather than later – seeing as most girls get their period between the ages of 10 and 15.

Explain what a period is and why it happens. It generally happens on a monthly basis, but in the first two to three years after the first period, they can be fairly irregular. Periods usually last around five days and can come with cramps and discomfort. Explain how to use pads, tampons, a cup or period panties (whichever they prefer), and give them pain killers or a heat pack if they are experiencing pain.

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The Importance of Consent

When your teen starts to show interest in relationships, talking to them about consent is not just important but necessary. It may not seem it, but there are many vital reasons as to why it’s so important.

Bring up the topic in a casual setting, such as when you are cooking dinner or driving together. Explain to your teen that they don’t have to do anything they don’t want to do in a relationship setting, whether that be kissing or being intimate, if they don’t feel comfortable doing so. Everyone has a choice in whether or not they’d like to engage, and they have every right to say no.

Reiterate with your teen that consent is a two-way street, and it may not always be in the form of saying “no”. Tell them to pay attention to non-verbal signs as well, such as when their partner backs off, tenses up or is too intoxicated to give consent. Be open and ready to answer questions.

For Foxes’ Sake by Row Murray

Everyone needs a sex fairy godmother – that person you can ask all the embarrassing questions. For Foxes’ Sake provides practical advice and guidance on topics as diverse as consent, body confidence and sexuality for secondary school-aged girls. It’s warm, honest, funny and accurate. Row understands what girls of today are facing and aims to arm them with self-confidence, digital smarts and self-respect. Available for sale on Amazon or www.booktopia.com.au

WIN a copy of For Foxes’ Sake by Row Murray worth $19.95! Visit www.pakmag.com.au/win for your chance to win!
*Please note that this book covers very diverse topics that may not be suitable for younger readers.

5 TIPS FOR HAVING THE PERIOD TALK WITH YOUR DAUGHTER

5 TIPS FOR HAVING THE PERIOD TALK WITH YOUR DAUGHTER

I’m not sure who dreads “the period” talk more – daughters or their parents. When it’s finally time to sit down with your daughter and talk about puberty and menstruation, everyone may feel a little awkward at first. However, if you keep a few things in mind, you can empower her to have everything she needs to get through this major transition in her life.

Use these 5 tips when communicating the basics to get her through her first cycle:

1. Research and prepare

Puberty happens over the course of a few years, so it’s wise to begin the conversation with your daughter well before she gets her first period. This will help alleviate any embarrassment she may feel when the time comes. If you start the conversation early enough, she’ll understand what’s happening and be prepared. Then, you can build on that understanding over time to make sure she feels confident entering puberty and her post-puberty years.

Also, be ready to answer any questions she may have. While you can’t anticipate every single question she’ll ask about her changing body, the best tampons to use and reproduction, you can do a bit of initial research on your own to be informed. The more you refresh your own knowledge of the menstrual cycle, the more easily you’ll be able to navigate the conversation.

2. Let her know she’s not alone

 Mothers can certainly relate to getting your first period and all of the scary, confusing and isolating feelings that come along with it. Chances are, your daughter will have friends that haven’t gotten theirs yet, so she’s likely feeling very vulnerable and “different” than her peers. As her mum, you can provide valuable insight and reassurance by making sure she knows that this is something every young woman goes through, including you.

If you’re a dad navigating this conversation, you have unique power to break the stigma surrounding men and menstruation. Stay engaged and don’t back away. Do some research together and she’ll feel less alone and you’ll help her see that there are plenty of people who have the same questions and feelings she has.

3. Utilise tools and resources

In the age or smartphones, laptops, tablets and unlimited data, there are infinite resources available to help you have “the period” talk with your child. Search for informative videos, blogs, research and even medical professionals online who can help fill in the gaps. These tools can not only teach you and your daughter about what to expect; they can also help determine if she’s experiencing symptoms of PMS or other related complications, which may save you a trip to the doctor.

Have the right products on hand as well. There are plenty of beginner pads and junior tampons available that make it easy for girls to find what works for them. If she sees the unlimited options, she’ll feel more comfortable knowing every woman’s cycle is different.

4. Explain the purpose of your period

I think every woman can relate to feeling frustrated and inconvenienced by her period from time to time. Your daughter will likely feel it, too, especially as she’s just getting started. However, there’s obviously much more going on with your daughter’s body than a monthly disruption to her routine. Sometimes, it can help to explain why women have periods at all – ultimately, women have periods so they can have babies and produce new life.

Explaining the big picture of menstruation can sometimes help relieve some angst and frustration surrounding her first cycle.

5. Be patient

 Finally, be patient and loving with your child as she learns how to navigate this transition. She probably will not know how to handle or even identify all of the changes she’s going through – hormonal, physical and emotional.

Be patient with yourself and your partner as well. You’re about to be the parent of a teenager, and that’s intimidating! It’s not uncommon to be a little clumsy at first during conversation. Just remember that ultimately, you are your daughter’s biggest advocate and she will rely on you to help get her through this.

Helping our kids through the many changes they’ll go through during their life is both difficult and rewarding. It’s one of the greatest joys and challenges we face as parents. Remember, as a mum or dad, you are the go-to cheerleader, resource and friend for your kids, which is a pretty special place to be.

Story Jenny Hart

TALKING TO YOUR TEEN ABOUT ALCOHOL, SMOKING AND DRUGS

TALKING TO YOUR TEEN ABOUT ALCOHOL, SMOKING AND DRUGS

A common concern for parents is whether their teenagers are drinking alcohol, smoking, vaping or taking drugs, since teenagers often feel pressured to experiment with these substances.

Even small amounts of alcohol can impair judgement or provoke antisocial behaviour. Smoking can turn into a lifelong addiction and lead to a multitude of health problems including cancer. There are many different types of drugs that can damage the brain and other parts of the body.

You can help your teen by talking to them about peer pressure, supporting them, encouraging healthy friendships, knowing their activities, establishing rules and consequences, discussing reasons not to join in, debunk myths about the topic and be prepared to answer questions truthfully. It’s also important to set a good example; if you drink, do so in moderation and explain to them why it’s okay for adults to drink responsibly.

CONVINCING YOUR TWEEN YOU’RE STILL COOL

One day you are your children’s everything – their best friend, their favourite play mate, their constant entertainer. You can literally do no wrong.

Then the next. Well, you’re still their everything, but behind closed doors only. In public it’s a whole other story. When kids get to a certain age (ahem…TWEENS), they realise something – turns out, their parents aren’t really that cool.

I’ve known for years I’m pretty unhip. Unless all the cool kids these days spend their Friday nights in front of the telly, folding laundry and preparing for their big weekend of grocery shopping AND going to Kmart.

But my kids thought I was cool so I went with it.

Well, the façade is over folks. Lately my eldest would much rather ditch me for his mates. Any day of the week. EVEN when I bribe him.

This is all part of the ‘parenting tweens’ fun. On the plus side, it’s great to watch our kids grow independently and to have some freedom back. But it can also be a bit sad. Truth be told, I miss being my son’s BFF. I miss hanging out with him.

Be Seen with Your Tween

Recently we have introduced a parent-child outing into the routine – a chance for me and my main not-so-littleman to enjoy one-on-one time outside of the house. Yes. In public.

Essentially, these outings are similar to a date. But with your child. And without the awkward conversations about who is paying. Because, we all know it’s going to be you!

Child-Parent Date Ideas

So book in some time, choose an activity, leave the phones at home and enjoy these parent-child date ideas.

• Get active – go for a bike ride, a scoot or a skate along the beach. Grab an ice cream at the end.

• Hit some balls – Head to the driving range and take a few swings together.

• Take a class together – A painting class, cooking class, a cupcake decorating class.

• Play a round of laser tag – Indoor, outdoor – both are great fun for tweens, teens and adults.

• Get competitive – Go bowling or play mini golf. Winner pays for donuts after.

• Go to the video arcade – There’s heaps of great games that you can play together – car racing, zombie shooting, basketball, skeeball, air hockey. Old school fun.

• Take in a show –Book some tickets and see a show!

• Head out for a meal – Sure, it’s a classic date, but it’s also a good one! Follow it up with a movie and popcorn.

• Go to a game – Check the Cowboys’ schedule and book tickets to a home game.

The purpose of these little adventures is simple – to give you and your tween or teen a chance to connect, catch up and share some laughs. But, a word of advice – whatever you do, DON’T refer to it as a date. Unless you want your child to run for the hills before
you even get out the door. After all, dating your mum is so NOT cool.