One particular lunch break, I realized that all my peers had noticeable breasts but me. All I had was a lump. The girl with the next smallest breast to me already wore top bras. I remember the shame I felt. I remember how withdrawn I was. I remember how embarrassed I felt. I was the tallest in my class but it did nothing to comfort me. I felt even more ashamed because my body ensured that even with my incredible height, my marker for womanhood was barely existent. I had begun my period at this time but my breasts just refused to mature. I admired how our uniforms fit the other girls and desperately wished my height could have been traded for my breasts’ size. Anyways, I had no such luck! The end result? All my classmates had boyfriends but me. It was a stigma for me for so long. Until I eventually gave in to peer pressure towards the end of high school and had my boyfriend. Need I say I was very insecure in my new found relationship because I felt I was not feminine enough to keep a boyfriend.
That was my adolescence journey in High school. When I remember the emotional trauma it caused me, I sometimes cringe because we many times forget our own personal adolescence experiences when interacting with our adolescents. There is a general consensus that adolescence is an important stage in the life cycle. This is because our little humans are most vulnerable in this phase and understandably so. For girls who go through puberty early, the immediate consequences are that they tend to have greater independence, and they tend to be very popular with the boys. Unfortunately, it’s also a period of much more conflict than normal. Even though this can be totally minimized using our unconventional parenting tools available for free!!! We all know that puberty is not just the onset of height, for girls, they grow breasts, hips, and all sort of things like that. Early adolescence in girls predisposes them towards getting poorer marks in school, with some increased delinquency too. These girls tend to have earlier sexual experiences, and kind of like the boys, more substance use, more depression, and more body image issues. As parents, we strongly advise that before your female child hits puberty, ensure that you must have gone through all our TRAIN UP curricula [which is highly subsidized] so that you are better equipped to handle the demands that come with the early onset of puberty. On the other side of things, girls who go through puberty late, maintain their good marks in school, so they don’t seem to have that issue. They start dating later, possibly because they’re not as popular with the boys. Interestingly, this was my story. I was the best student right from Junior School till Senior School up until I got really deep in my relationship and lost my position to someone else. I couldn’t bring myself to focus on classwork because I was always wondering who else my boyfriend was seeing.
My grades dropped drastically as a result and I lost the position of the best graduating student. So, those are the immediate consequences that adolescents experience in the moment. As adults, girls who go through puberty early tend to have difficult social relationships, and lower levels of education completed. These girls tend to drop out of school earlier. And they tend to have more mental health issues and substance use issues. Again, some of this may have to do with where they were in the social hierarchy in high school, and if they carry those skills to the adult world, the adult world will kick them out. For girls who go through puberty late, one of the major consequences is that they complete higher levels of education. They maintain good marks in high school and then continue to do well academically later in life. How do you help your female child go through these pubertal changes with as much precision as you can muster?
- Be Open and Vulnerable: Nothing breeds trust and emotional safety like vulnerability.
- Be a Friend: It is amazing how the traditional model of parenting finds friendship with their adolescents as taboo. I have come in contact with parents who strongly believe that being friends with their adolescents water down the dominating effect they have over their children. While this is not only wrong, being domineering is one of the poorest ways to raise a child in the 21st-century social clime.
- Be Empathetic: Remember what your adolescence felt like. Bing back to memory what you liked and didn’t like. What you felt your parents should have done differently and weigh the consequences. Growing up in no way detaches you from your childhood and adolescence. The true art of ‘growing up’ is being able to make logical decisions without losing your sense of wonder.
As parents, what’s the biggest thing you’re struggling with right now that I can help you with? You can leave your comments or send me a mail at TBOG@tsageandtbog.com. If you enjoyed reading this, don’t forget to share it with other parents.