A friend told me recently that their daughter had gotten her period for the first time ever, and just…didn’t…mention it. OK. That got me Thinxing. As in, I’d been meaning to order some period underwear for myself to try, and then learned there were right-sized options for tweens — meant to order those for my girls — and then got distracted. Until I was reminded. Oh right, and when was the last time I spoke to my own kids about this? Yup, that too.

My kids are 8, 10 and 12 as of this week. And while open-minded and always open to conversation, I hadn’t really taken the time to intentionally have long, well-thought, informed conversations with my kids about body development, puberty, periods and sex (other than when it comes up conversationally), since well…back when we read the Little People books on things like ‘what we call our private parts’, and ‘why we call them private’, and ‘this is what they do’ and ‘your body is your body’. Since then, it’s been ad hoc. It’s been answering random questions as they arise. And with so many things to focus on simultaneously, well, I for one, dropped this ball for sure.

Once reminded, I did what moms do: I phoned a mom friend who is a bit ahead of me and asked…”are you on this? And how?” She shared a few books, and the fact that she reads them with her daughter. Thank you, J!

Right after I ordered that short list of books, I wrote to my 10-year-old daughter’s closest friends’ moms, and said “hey, are you on this?”, and shared my new short list of books. What I got in return, thankfully, was another list, one for the boys (oh right, them too,) one for kids in general (better yet), and one for the adults (thank you!)

Pause.

Let’s Talk About Sex: Books + Resources For Parents & Kids

In considering our own short-and-growing, recently collected-lists-of-books-and-resources, I noted the void. In our little family, gender identification aligns conveniently with gender assignment, so far. We do have non-binary conforming friends, transitioning and transitioned friends. We have heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual friends, and friends at all the points on the spectrum of sexuality for that matter. And while I’ve had the privilege of sitting through very interesting talks on gender assignment, and its neutrality and range, my children have the privilege of living with friends in real life who have been brave from very young ages, and live their true selves in their young lives, which is to say that what I learned in a talk, my children seem to just know through their own experience with friends.

And they too help bring me up to speed, regularly — my kids, my kids’ friends, and my kids’ friends’ parents. I do not yet have any experience in working through that, as a parent, with my own children — but I note the void in our own books and resources here. This is not the end of this conversation—this is not a conversation where we leave that void, void; rather this is a conversation starter…one that will absolutely be continued and broadened. And I’m starting this with my personal life and my own binary, gender-conforming kids, and tagging a personal note to circle back to resources on this broader topic one day, too. We’ll happily take a volunteer if anyone wants to partner with us on that—and if we don’t find one right here, we’ll work to find a willing voice in our community.

I’m writing this post, in the same way as we start many conversations around here; it’s not so much a “here is the answer” as it is ‘here’s what’s on my mind’, and ‘these are my own questions and a few resources I’m looking at.’ I’m new at this. I was hoping for a book or two, and my mind was expanded by just a few of my friends. So I guess my hope, given that this blog is nothing shy of a tremendous resource, is that those of you who have either gone before us and/or maybe even are experts in this area, will engage the rest of us, and share some more resources and great ideas for how to have these conversations, better. For now, for those who are also new at this, here’s where I’m starting these more intentional conversations with my own kids.

Also, please note, that while I linked to the books through Amazon, if you are interested in supporting Black-owned businesses, independent bookshops, and/or an alternative to Amazon for whatever your personal reason might be: Uncle Bobbie’s and Semicolon Bookstore and Gallery through Bookshop.org both also seem to stock the majority of these books also and have reasonable shipping. Most of them can be located through a simple search on their sites. When I peeked to be sure, I found that Uncle Bobbie’s is local to Philly, and we like that, but Semicolon (Chicago) does seem to have slightly better prices, and we like that too.

Conversation starter, here. We're ready to talk bodies, puberty, reproduction & consent. Books & period panties + a little help from our friends. Deep breath.

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Let’s Talk About Sex | For Parents

1 For Goodness Sex | 2 Voice Lessons

When a friend recommended these two books, I paused, and had a back-it-up mom moment of reflection. As previously stated, I’m new at this, so yes, some fresh perspective on addressing these topics specifically with children, but geared toward their adults is helpful. I’m working my way through both.



Books About Boy Bodies

3 I’m A Boy My Changing Body | 4 I’m A Boy Hormones | 5 Growing Up Great | 6 Guy Stuff

What a gift it was, when my daughter’s friends’ moms also included a few boy books in her recommendations. A light went on for me. Yes, I have a son too, and since he’s my eldest, um, yeah-catch-up time. And a few other thoughts went through my mind as well, namely: we’re going to do a book trade in this house. He’ll read his, the girls will read theirs, and then we’ll trade. Because why shouldn’t we all understand one another better, how all bodies work, and how to support our brothers, sisters and friends? By the time we’re through with these, I’m sure I’ll have a favorite. For now, they are all easy reads, so we’re just going for it.



Books About Girl Bodies

7 The Care And Keeping Of You 1 | 8 The Care And Keeping Of You 2 | 9 Celebrate Your Body

The Care and Keeping series was the rec of the first friend I reached out to, and truth be told, I’m that sucker that always just clicks on the marketing pop-up that says, “you might also be interested in this.” Yes, yes I am interested in this too, #addtocart. Admittedly, for no good reason, I was slightly biased against the Care and Keeping books when I realized they were American Girl—but I trust that friend more. And I quickly learned that my no-basis bias was wrong. The books are great and take a holistic approach to everything about your young and growing body. Things that for those of us who have been in our bodies for 40-something years seem super-obvious, but well, there was a time, that we didn’t know all the things that these books manage to touch on. Things I wouldn’t even think to talk about, but are super-helpful. The girls are genuinely enjoying reading them, and we’re just about to move on to the Celebrate book, and looking forward to that too.



Period Underwear

10 Innersy Cotton Extra Protection Undies | 11 Thinx (BTWN) | 12 Anna & Eric Extra Protection Undies

Absolutely genius. Where were these genius panties when we were kids? Well, they’re here now. We made little bags of tampons and pads for my 10-year-old’s bathroom drawer, one for her dad’s house, and one for her backpack too, but we also ordered some of these new fangled period underwear. And I ordered some for myself too. We’re still in the trial phase, we’re not necessarily in love with any of them for everyday, but for period days, they are kind of amazing and alleviate what otherwise would be stressful situations, and leaking and would be stains, seamlessly. Size up, but not too far up, they need to be snug-ish to work, right? But if you are b/n sizes, choose up, and for C, who is 10 years’ old, tall, thin athletic build, can fit in an 8, but is more comfortable in a 9, and not quite a 10 in normal clothes, we went with the 9/10 first, and they were too small, so then we told G congrats, you get some too now, and ordered 11/12 for C, and those are great on her with a bit of room to grow. Oh, and the Innersy are cotton, which C and I agree we appreciate, however they aren’t replacement, but rather extra protection. Same with the Anna and Eric set. The only ones that actually are intended as replacement, of these, and which have the absorbing quality, are the Thinx.

*And oh hey…by the way/that way, Thinx, is thinking, speaking, and acting at least about social issues and last week, they made a donation to the NAACP Legal Defense And Educational Fund, and also, as part of their regular mission, they do this: they educate and give back, toward equality. No, this is not a sponsored post, I’m just calling a few things out, where they might need be overlooked, if otherwise not called out, right here.

Books About Reproduction & Consent For Kids

13 It’s Perfectly Normal | 14 Consent For Kids | 15 It’s Not The Stork

Remember the first time your kids asked where babies came from? Mine are of an age, where that conversation happened earlier on than the consent conversations that thankfully came after. Explaining sex to kids only seems like a challenge until you need to help them appreciate consent. Thank goodness for books like these to help and guide those conversations.



Books About Reproduction & Consent For Tweens + Teens

16 Consent The New Rules Of Sex Education | 17 S.E.X | 18 Embracing The Awkward

I’m so relieved that we came across these books in these conversations as well. I personally appreciate looking ahead rather than scrambling to catch-up, and I feel like it’ll only be a matter of time before we get to the next steps of this. For my eldest, we might even be close if not there already, and so we’re starting with Embracing The Awkward (wouldn’t we all have been well-served to have a little guidance in that area back then?)



Are we all singing a little Salt And Pepper yet? Let’s talk about sex baby…

OK, back to reading all the books, and having all the discussions on this and so much more right now, like it’s a mom’s job. Send us your favorites, advice and lessons learned too, please! We’re all ears.
xoxo,
A

PS: Follow along with me on Pinterest for more Home Inspiration and other random distraction via pretty visuals. xo, A

8 COMMENTS

  1. Great post! Can’t believe that I started reading this blog when I was trying to figure out how to dress post-partum and now I’m swapping puberty book recs! I had the same unfounded bias about the American Girl books and also had a good friend who told me that they’re much better than I thought they’d be! My 9yo kiddo LOVES the Celebrate Your Body book. Reads it on repeat like a favorite novel. Two other GREAT ones you missed: Sex is a Funny Word and What Makes a Baby. Same author I believe. What Makes a Baby is great in that it’s appropriate for the youngest of kids and the other is good for ages 8/9+ I’d say. Very inclusive and representative of many identities and backgrounds. Thanks for this post – so necessary and so rare and really look forward to future posts as well (My Name is Jazz is a great book too.) And yes, I’m singing that song to myself now too!

    • Thank you Nicole! Adding those suggestions to the reading list! And felt on the time warp. My 12 year old is creeping up on me not so slowly but surely. So many times over the past few months have I just paused in moment of stunned silence over how did we get from you in my belly to looking me almost in the eye, and where on earth did that decade+ go in such a seeming blink? Here’s to supporting one another through all the conversations yet to come…something tells me they just get more interesting along the way and that we all stand to learn a whole lot- xoxo A

    • Thank you Steph! Will add that site to my distractions for the day list! I took a quick peek and am looking forward to checking them out! xo A

  2. I love this! Thank you! Keep these posts coming. Sex education is near and dear to my heart. And I’m totally there with you about how we started the conversation about sex early and where guided my our kids’ questions, but they have sort of fallen to the wayside in the past few years and now I need to intentionally pick them up again.
    TME could do a whole series of posts about this. Something a bit more specific to age groups would be great.

  3. Hi- I don’t want to criticize, merely continue the discussion. Regarding the recommendation on the “My Name is Jazz” – it has a very simplistic view of a very complex situation (not sure situation is the correct word) and can be very confusing for kids who are likely binary but non -traditional in their appearance , i.e. TOMBOYS (and yes, I realize some loathe that term but my daughter strongly identifies with it)! My experience with that book was when my daughter was in 3rd grade. One of her classmates transitioned and that was the book read to the class. It brought up a lot of questions about girls who chose to wear boys’ clothes, have very short hair, and play sports like a beast (side note, most girls, given the opportunity are very physical and beast like!). I wish society was more progressive and less about labels, especially when it comes to kids’ clothing, but we aren’t there yet. I did look up numerous videos on talking to your kids about transitioning, watched those, and picked out a few that I thought were less confusing for my non-conformist – but I don’t remember where I found those videos. All this to say – there are good resources out there for talking to kids about transitioning but maybe not in book form (yet).

  4. I second the recommendations for the books by Cory Silverberg, especially “Sex is a Funny Word.” That book is phenomenal. We are also fans of the American Girl books and the “Guy Stuff” book in our house. Other great books for girls are “HelloFlo: The Guide, Period.: The Everything Puberty Book for the Modern Girl” by Naama Bloom and “The Girl Guide: 50 Ways to Love Your Changing Body” by Marawa Ibrahim. (btw- if you haven’t seen the First Moon Party video from HelloFlo stop what you’re doing and watch it right now- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEcZmT0fiNM)

    One thing that a good friend of mine did for my daughter that was AMAZING was to create a “first period” gift for her. She gathered a variety of both fun and useful things such as: samples of different teen pads and tampons, a red towel, a microwavable heating pad, a cute pouch for her period supplies that she can keep in her backpack, “girl power” socks, fun scrunchies, stickers, and some moonstone earrings. She then put all of it (except for the towel) in a pretty and sturdy red gift box that my daughter now uses under the sink in her bathroom to hold a stash of her period supplies. She gave it to me as soon as it was remotely possible that she could be getting her period so I had it hidden away and ready to go. Even though we’ve had numerous open conversations about puberty and periods when my daughter got hers she was so upset when she came to tell me. It was almost magical to be able to be able to respond with a “Congratulations! That’s so wonderful- I have something special for you!” It completely turned her attitude around and really made it a positive memory for her. It was also a good way to naturally reopen the conversation as we discussed the various items as she took them out of the box. If you think that’s something your daughters might even remotely appreciate I would highly recommend it, but beware that it might not work for all girls. My friend’s oldest daughter loved when she did it for her, but her other daughter wanted nothing to do with it.

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