When your daughter was a little girl, she probably peppered you with questions, but as your “baby” morphes into a teenager, it might be tough to get more than a “fine” out of her. But she does still have a lot of questions, especially as she deals with puberty.
We asked a few of our providers who specialize in adolescent medicine - Erinn Hokanson and Dana Abney, nurse practitioners in Carilion's Adolescent Medicine Clinic, and Brooks Michael, a Carilion adolescent health educator - to share the top questions they hear from their young, female patients.
1. How tall will I be?
2. What is normal vaginal discharge?
3. How do I use a tampon?
4. What do I do about body odor?
5. How do I lose weight?
6. What kind of bra should I wear?
7. Should I go on birth control?
8. If my mom and dad suffered from depression, will I?
So how do you answer these questions, some of which can be uncomfortable for both parents and teens to talk about? According to Brooks Michael, honest and direct communication is key. And it is ok to let your teen know that you are nervous or uncomfortable talking about such subjects, too.
“It is important not to shy away from tricky or uncomfortable topics,” explained Michael. “Teens need accurate and useful information so that they can be sexually responsible adults.”
And don’t be afraid to ask your daughter how she is feeling about her changing body and her values.
“Parents have the MOST influence on their children's decisions regarding any risky behavior,” noted Hokanson. “Research has proven this time and time again!"
Also, these conversations are not one-time conversations.
"Start the conversation early and repeat it often," said Abney. Most of all, just remember to listen to your daughter’s point of view, and most importantly, talk to her. "Even if your teen looks uninterested, she is listening to you,” Abney added.