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The Parent Buzz
A Newsletter for Parents from Let's Be Honest
February 2008 - Vol 1, Issue 9
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Welcome to The Parent Buzz, an e-newsletter designed especially for parents and caregivers of middle school-aged children by Let's Be Honest, the Parent Education program of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.

Sometime between the ages of about nine and sixteen, girls and boys do more than just grow taller and bigger as they have done since birth. Girls start to become young women and boys start to become young men. Puberty and adolescence both refer to the span of time between childhood and adulthood. During this time, hormones cause boys and girls to develop and change in many ways - socially, emotionally, mentally, physically and sexually. These changes do not take place at once. Most of them happen slowly over a few years' time and a few happen quickly. They often take place in a specific order. As a parent helping your child negotiate this often challenging time, it is important to normalize the multiple changes your child is experiencing. It can be reassuring to remind them that:
  • Puberty is a process, not a single event, and EVERYONE will go through it.
  • It is a time when a person's body and feelings begin to change from a child's to an adult's.
  • Puberty generally occurs between the ages of 9 and 16; HOWEVER, it can happen before or after that as well.
  • Regardless of when puberty begins or ends, the entire process is very NORMAL.
  • The more information youth have about their bodies enables them to make better and healthier decisions and increases self-esteem.

At the same time, we can help our kids to notice the many similarities, as well as differences that exist between boys and girls. By doing this, we help our kids build empathy, respect and understanding in their peer group between boys and girls.

Some changes that happen to both boys and girls include:

  • Skin and hair get oilier, increased sweating
  • Hands and feet get bigger, body grows quickly
  • Bones in the face grow larger and longer and the face looks less childlike
  • Shoulders and chest grow bigger (girls' breast and nipples gradually grow larger and fuller)
  • Voice gets deeper (eventually, boys' voices usually get deeper than girls)
  • May feel confused or moody
  • Begin to get hair on face and armpits, hair thickens on legs and arms
  • Soft, darkish pubic hair grows and later becomes curly, thick and coarse
  • Has sexual dreams, gets sexual feelings and has physical response to sexual arousal
  • Hips change structure (girls' bodies begin to look more curvy)

Changes that happen to boys:

  • Penis grows
  • Testes begin to grow and scrotum turns a darker color
  • Sperm production begins

Changes that happen to girls:

  • Ovaries gradually grow larger and ovulation begins
  • A tiny bit of sticky whitish fluid may come out of the vagina (is normal and helps keep the vagina healthy)
  • Menstruation begins

To learn more about puberty and how to speak with your kids about its many changes, read " What Happens During Puberty" at http://www.plannedparenthood.org/ma/what-happens-during-puberty.htm.

To learn more about other Parent Education workshops and resources from Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, visit http://www.plannedparenthood.org/ma/for-parents.htm.
1. What percentage of US teens say it would be easier to postpone sexual activity if they were able to talk more openly about sex with their parents?
  1. 55%
  2. 10%
  3. 87%
  4. 33%

2. According to a recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey in Massachusetts, what percentage of students reported that they had sex before the age of 14?
  1. 12%
  2. 5%
  3. 30%
  4. 1%

3. Teens spend more time in school than in front of the television screen.
  1. True
  2. False

4. Breast development is common among boys during puberty.
  1. True
  2. False

5. What are the passageways that carry an egg cell from an ovary to the uterus?
  1. Urethra
  2. Fimbria
  3. Fallopian Tubes
  4. Labia

6. What is the number of sperm in an average ejaculation of semen?
  1. 25,000
  2. 100,000
  3. 30 million
  4. 300-500 million

Answer Key:
  1. 3
  2. 2
  3. False
  4. True
  5. 3
  6. 4
  • http://www.profamilia.com
  • http://www.decidir.org.mx/
  • http://www.mexfam.org.mx
  • http://www.gentejoven.org.mx
  • http://www.infosida.es
  • http://www.cesida.org/
  • http://www.latinainstitute.org/
  • http://www.teenpregnancy.org/espanol/default.asp
  • http://www.hijasamericanas.wordpress.com
The Talk: What Your Kids Need to Hear from You About Sex, by Sharon Maxwell, Ph.D. Penguin Group, 2008. A practicing clinical psychologist and sex education expert, Dr. Maxwell powerfully explains the need for better communication between parents and children regarding sex and sexuality. Maxwell helps parents define their own values about sex and shows parents how to make the connection between values and behavior. She addresses the social power that comes from looking sexy and helps teens accept personal responsibility to use that power appropriately. In addition, Maxwell tackles the potential dangers of the Internet and helps set family guidelines for safe use.
When faced with an adolescent's first invite to a dance or party, it can be a joyous yet challenging experience to watch our teens grow up! We want to protect them, inform them and help them make healthy and safe decisions related to relationships, self-esteem, sex and sexuality. Sometimes we need to take a pause, take a deep breath, and find those right moments to keep the conversations going.

My Daughter at 14: Christmas Dance

Panic in your face, you write questions
to ask him. When he arrives,
you are serene, your fear
unbetrayed. How unlike me you are.

After the dance,
I see your happiness; he holds
your hand. Though you barely speak,
your body pulses messages I can read

all too well. He kisses you goodnight,
his body moving toward yours, and yours
responding. I am frightened, guard my
tongue for fear my mother will pop out

of my mouth. "He is not shy." You giggle,
a little girl again, but you tell me he
kissed you on the dance floor. "Once?"
I ask. "No, a lot."

We ride through the rain-shining 1 A.M.
streets. I bite back words which long
to be said, knowing I must not shatter your
moment, fragile as a spun-glass bird,

you, the moment, poised on the edge of
flight, and I, on the ground, afraid.

"My Daughter at 14: Christmas Dance" by Maria Mazziotti Gillan, from Winter Light. Chantry Press, 1985. Reprinted with permission.

Don't forget to visit our website at http://www.plannedparenthood.org/ma/for-parents.htm. Our website is updated regularly with helpful tips for talking, information about workshops, and much more. Don't miss an opportunity to be the primary sexuality educator for your children. Need help? Call our Parent Education Team at (617) 616-1658.


Parent Education
Planned Parenthood League of MA

phone: (617) 616-1658
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