Raising your daughter

Sugar and spice and all things nice... or moods and malice and meanness? What is your daughter made of? How can you support, guide and enjoy her?

My daughter doesn't want to talk about growing up...

Written by Karan Hopkinson on 06/03/2013

Q. My 11 year old daughter gets incredibly angry when I mention anything to do with sex and puberty. Obviously, I am keen to allow her to feel comfortable with talking to me about anything, and particularly want her to understand that I am open to discussing any aspect of sex and personal development, but she refuses to talk about it and even gets quite aggressive if I mention it. Obviously, I am concerned about this and worry that there is either something disturbing her, OR that she won’t be able to talk to me about it in the future.

A. I understand your concerns and can see that you have your daughter’s interests at heart; yet your daughter’s response to this particular subject sounds like she is embarrassed to discuss it at this time. Each girl develops at her own unique pace, and although your daughter is 11 in years, it may be that she is younger in her development and perhaps not ready to discuss or accept these changes yet. Some girls are much more private too, compared to others who may be very open. It is possible for girls to have a lovely close relationship with their mother, but still find it very difficult to discuss these issues.

Your daughter may feel that your willingness and openness to discuss these things with her may be highlighting an area of her privacy that she has yet to process herself. The fact that she is putting up a shield suggests that you may be better taking a relaxed and reassuring approach. Continue providing her with the love and support she needs in other areas, as this will allow her the opportunity to let her guard down and involve you more. Close communication between you will stand you in good stead for when the time is right for her, she will feel reassured and know that you’ll be there for her. Empathising with her and reminiscing about your own experiences can make the detail behind it light-hearted; however the timing and frequency of this will need to be thought through, as too much focus on this may cause her to become upset again. There is a really good, light-hearted book available by Babette Cole regarding puberty (called Hair in funny places) that would allow your daughter the chance for discreet reading and the opportunity of raising questions with you.

Find out what her school have already covered, so you feel informed and able to reinforce an age appropriate discussion when the need arises. It’s possible that her peers maybe discussing things at school that she has difficulties in comprehending. This is an opportunity to talk to her about friendship or school in general, as this could give you an insight as to how she’s feeling about lots of things.

Most importantly of all, enjoy your daughter while she’s young, time will pass so quickly over the next few years for both of you. I wish you the very best of luck; she is very fortunate that you care and want to support her and I know that will make a big difference to how your daughter feels.

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