Preparing our daughters for womanhoodWritten by Rhonda Robinson
How do we prepare our girls for womanhood? Although it may seem like it all starts with explaining how to manage her first period, it is much more than that. It’s an opportunity. Preparing our girls for womanhood and all that comes with it is such an honour when we look at it as something to celebrate.
With countless outside influences, there is no lack of information or influencers wanting the ear of our daughters. Author Robin Jones Gunn understands the challenges firsthand.
As a young girl, Robin felt lost navigating puberty with no guidance from her own mother. Now Robin is empowering moms as their daughters enter into new phases of physical, emotional and social development.
Build a bridge before it’s needed
Robin Jones Gunn, author of over 100 books, including the award-winning Christy Miller and Sierra Jenson series of young adult fiction books, sat down with Focus on the Family to discuss her newest book Before Your Tween Daughter Becomes a Woman. Her goal is to change the narrative for mothers and daughters. She explains, “Too many moms are intimidated or just aware that there’s not enough time.”
Her book encourages moms to see their vital part in guiding their daughters through the physical and emotional changes of puberty. When asked for advice on relating to dramatic mood swings and resistance, Robin says it is key for mothers to move past the outward obstacles.
“Her poor body is just going through so many changes,” the author explains, and encourages moms to be steady and take that initiative. And say, “I want to move our relationship on the way to womanhood.”
She urges mothers not to wait for their daughters to come to them, but to proactively “build that bridge” themselves.
Robin explains, “It’s the mom’s responsibility to build that bridge so the daughter can walk across, rather than the mom standing over here with this gap between them.”
Daughters are already overwhelmed navigating new feelings and pressures. Making the first effort to connect shows them the door is open whenever they are ready.
Robin points to the example of two mothers who decided to take their daughters to lunch together. The idea was to have an intentional talk about the coming changes and self-respect. The conversation felt awkward at the time. It wasn’t until later that the moms realized their daughters absorbed every word and were able to come to them when they needed more information.
Whatever works. The key is being proactive rather than shrugging it off until after the teen years have passed.
Welcoming girls into womanhood
Robin recommends treating girls to a special “welcome to womanhood” party. The best time is around age 9. The idea is to pave the way for more meaningful conversations later.
She recalls her own daughter’s delight at learning she would experience a unique monthly cycle, just like women throughout history.
“Rachel was just so stunned” Robin recalled when her daughter asked, “So boys don’t have anything like this every month? No angels can’t have babies? Only women can have babies? It’s an honour to be a woman!” Planting these seeds early helps combat the influence of social pressures that will come.
Her daughter embraced the womanhood news with wonder at age nine. “It was such power in that to her that when she started she had all her supplies. She had all her information and she was ready to see it as a good thing.”
Moving from influencers to mentors
Before Your Tween Daughter Becomes a Woman further counsels mothers how to discern between the many influencers in their daughter’s lives.
Robin notes, “There’s influencers who are everywhere – use this shampoo, look at this cute pair of shoes. So they’re always getting messages on social media, from friends, being influenced.” She reminds moms that while influencers provide impressions, role models demonstrate life examples, both good or bad. But a mother’s role goes beyond both to engage in an active mentoring relationship.
“It’s having conversations back and forth whereas, with influencers, you’re just getting the influence and role models you don’t really have a relationship with.” Mothers should see themselves as mentors who can provide guidance tailored to their daughter’s unique needs and perspective.
Though establishing this connection may be uncomfortable at first, Robin insists a mother’s efforts do not go unnoticed. The impact emerges in time, helping daughters know “the bridge is there” whenever challenges arise.
Overcoming communication struggles
When asked how mothers can push through dramatic reactions from daughters, Robin acknowledges the difficulties but urges perseverance. She insists “for moms, just kind of have a different view of their role as a sacred privilege.”
Many mothers, Robin explains, feel too intimidated and unsure of themselves to step up and guide their daughters through womanhood. The key is focusing beyond the outward moods and behaviours to see the root changes behind them. Meeting resistance or confusion with patience and calmness keeps the bridge in place until the daughter is ready to cross over in her own time.
Carrying the torch
While today’s fast-changing culture presents new obstacles, Robin’s guidance for mothers is timeless. By taking the lead to connect with daughters, mothers pass on a legacy of wisdom, support and understanding that girls can carry with them into womanhood and beyond. Though her own mother provided little guidance, Robin took up the torch for the next generation.
She says that after her own negative experience starting menstruation with no preparation, “I thought, I’m going to trust God that we can change this in this generation. Flip the script or change the narrative and that begins by opening up the conversation being the one to build the bridge.”
Despite discomfort or uncertainty, mothers can rewrite the story and equip daughters to meet today’s challenges with confidence.
When should I start preparing my daughter for her period?
Watch for subtle physical changes like a widening brown area around nipples. Body odor can signal the right time to initiate a conversation about the changes to come. Though parents today allow more privacy, staying observant and not waiting until after the first period is key.
Rhonda Robinson is a content producer for Focus on the Family in the U.S., an award-winning author, mother of nine and grandmother of 34. Rhonda lives with her high school sweetheart in Colorado Springs, where they are trying to adjust to an empty nest.
© 2023 Focus on the Family. Used with permission. Originally published at FocusOnTheFamily.com.
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