I was, once again, perusing the vast wasteland of time known as Facebook, when I happened upon this hysterical ad:

First Moon Party

Okay. I know. Pretty funny, huh? I bet you’ve even seen it already.

(If you are intrigued about this company, please click on this link for more information: Hello Flo)

I know this is about starting the menstrual cycle, but what really gets to me in the ad is the little princess’s snarky attitude. Like you, I certainly was NEVER like that to MY mother, however I am betting you, as a parent, have witnessed something similar to this with your children.

What happens to our precious, loving, adorable, little children? Where do they go when they hit about 11 or 12 years old? Will they ever return to us as they were just a few short months/years ago?

I can tell you from experience….yes. Yes they will. But having a grasp at what is causing their eyeballs roll uncontrollably – and what you can do to keep your sanity…oh, i mean be there for your child…can help these fascinating adolescent years become a memorable experience…and I mean that in the best sense.

When our wee ones grow into young children, they pretty much think we are amazing. Whatever we say is true and real. (“Yes, Honey, Mommy DOES have naturally blond hair.”) And they actually want to do stuff with us. (“Dad, can we go see a movie today?”)

But in early childhood, before we can even see the stirrings of puberty, underneath that sweet exterior, something sinister is happening….hormones are revving up. The pituitary gland, the gland that pretty much bosses all the other glands around, starts sending meaningful signals to a few key reproductive glands.

The first gland to be hit by these signals is the adrenal gland. This guy starts sending out hormones which begin the process of change. A few years later the real fun begins when the pituitary tells the testes and ovaries to do their thing….release testosterone and estrogen, respectively….initiating P-U-B-E-R-T-Y.**

How do we know when these changes are going to occur? We don’t really, but we can make a pretty educated guess.

Briefly, genetics are a significant factor – how old were you when you started puberty? The environment factors in as well. Stress level, access to adequate health care, nutrition, and family environment can all impact the onset of puberty, especially when considering the start of a young girl’s menstrual cycle.**

Those are just the basics……….for now.

But what the heck is going on inside their heads?

Well, it’s really not as bad as you think…………There are a lot of studies that can be found about the psychological processes within the brains of adolescents. Apparently a lot of researchers have raised adolescent children and wanted answers as well.

So, here is a little information you may find helpful.

Snarkiness, I mean puberty, may begin in girls at about age 9 or as late as 15. In boys it typically begins between 12-16. These changes start to effect their self-esteem. They wonder if they are developing too early – or too late. They start comparing themselves to other kids, especially the girls.** This is demonstrated in the ad when she brags to all her “blood sisters” that she is finally in the “cherry slush club.” She doesn’t want to be different. She wants to go through this rite of passage with her BFF’s.

As their bodies are changing and hormones are dancing around, their school environment and social circles begin to evolve, too. Moving from grade school to middle school, where they are introduced to a new gathering of pubescent humans, they need to reestablish themselves in a comfortable group of friends – which takes time.** It’s pretty stressful – even for an adult. That would make anyone cranky.

Just check out this Gyno-Wanna-Be in the following Hello Flo ad. Notice how she deals with trying to fit in with new camp friends:

Camp Gyno

Gotta love it!

And another thing….

How many have heard their kids say, “You don’t understand!”?
Yup. I thought so. All of you.
Early adolescents pretty much center their thinking around themselves.**

  • They feel as if no one has ever “felt like this” before. (“You don’t know what it feels like to be in loooveeeee like this, Mom!”)
  • They assume that everyone is looking at them, like when they trip over a twig or have a bad hair day.
  • They also believe “it won’t happen to me.” ** (This one scares me the most: “I won’t get pregnant.”)

The good news is, they will grow out of it eventually.

Another interesting find is these delightful adult-wanna-be’s tend to be most crabby around adults, not so much around their peers. (No kidding, right?) The structure and expectations adults set on them kind of stresses them out a bit. And the reason their moods fluctuate so often? Because between school and activities, they flip-flop between adults (who sometimes annoy them) and peers (who usually delight them) so much more frequently.**

Yes, as our kids start going through these life-altering changes, they do tend to become moody, less lovey-dovey, hide in their room more often, argue a bit more….and want to hang with their friends rather than you.** (What? You’re going to the movies WITH me? You’re ruining my life!”)

That’s okay. You know why? They are starting to form their own identity and are learning how to navigate some independence…and that’s a wonderful thing. But we’ll talk about that another time.

In the meantime, what can you do? Well, as I’ve said before, just be there.

  • Give them some room to grow as a person.
  • Discuss and set reasonable boundaries and expectations with them. Have them be part of the conversation – it will communicate to them that their thoughts and opinions are valued and respected.** (Be sure to follow through on the agreed upon discipline if they choose to break the rules.)
  • Be interested in their lives. They may blow you off, but trust me – it matters to them that you care enough to ask and to show up at their activities.
  • Try to spend some alone time with them. It builds a foundation of closeness and trust for future conversations.

In the ad, I love how the mom wraps her arm around her squiggling daughter to demonstrate that she loves her and cares for her. I also love how she taught her daughter valuable lessons about being respectful, telling the truth, and how to have a sense of humor..despite the look of horror and annoyance on her daughter’s face.

Just as important, take care of yourself!

We all need a little time to decompress. So, call a friend and grab a glass of wine or beer, a piece of chocolate, a freshly baked cupcake, whatever it is that helps calm your soul. (Oh, wait, I’m a health teacher. Call a friend and go for a walk while eating a banana.) Not only does it do you good mentally, but you will model healthy ways to cope with daily stress.

A final reassuring thought:

Interestingly, a worldwide study was done about adolescents and their relationship with their parents. From Bangladesh to the USA it was found, overwhelmingly, our kids actually love us and know we love them. They also respect our values and advice.**

So, you see? It’s really not that bad. Just a little bumpy here and there. I’ve been through it three times, and have survived the roller-coaster myself. Trust me, those sweet little innocent angels are no longer, but rather have been replaced with some pretty remarkable and kind young adults that enjoy spending time with me – and I with them!

Until next time…….

Just so you know…..

*Videos were produced by a company called Hello Flo. TWC is not endorsed by them (nor any other product or company mentioned in any blog.) Videos were used with permission. Their videos are really cool and the information they have about menstruation is pretty great, too. It’s just another resource for you to access

This textbook is a great resource:

**Kail, Robert V., and John C. Cavanaugh. “Chapter 8-9.” Human Development: A Life-span View. Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2007. N. pag. Print.

And a special thank you to Dr. Carolyn Mills – A true and genuine Gyno!!