Being an Askable Adult
“My daughter is 9 almost 10. She has questions about her body. How do I talk to my kid about puberty?!”*
The short answer: It’s great that your kid has come to you with her questions! It’s great that you even WANT to talk to your kid about puberty! That means you are already being an “Askable Adult”.
Options’ Education Director Kristen Gilbert describes being an Askable Adult as: “Someone who welcomes questions, even when they are tough, and engages thoughtfully and with kindness. Their kid knows it’s OK to ask questions, and that the adult is a reliable source of information.”
At Sex Sense we get a lot of questions like this from parents/guardians/aunties/uncles/grandparents/trusted adults. They are looking for age-appropriate, factual, scientific information for young people and good advice about how to talk to kids about puberty.
Whether you are helping to raise a preschooler or a teenager, a non-binary child or a son or a daughter, and are fielding some tough questions about their bodies or feelings or gender or sexual orientation, check out the resources below and feel free to contact us. (You can also ask me questions about STIs, abortion, contraception, pleasure, clinics, sexual difficulties… well, you get the picture! Everything under the sexual health sun).
Gone are the days of having “The Talk”. It can’t just be a one time, stand alone downloading of facts on a kid! We know now that the conversation needs to be ongoing and the channels of communication kept wide open.
Young people also need access to reliable resources that they can dig into and process on their own time. And adults need resources too, to help them consider how best to talk to the kids in their lives and what information to provide. Here’s a sampling of what we might share.
Resources on how to talk to your kid about puberty
First off, for any parent or guardian, we’d recommend the book Talk Sex Today: What Kids Need to Know and How Adults Can Teach Them by Saleema Noon and Meg Hickling, 2 local BC Sexual Health Superstars! The book covers the “needs to know” from preschoolers to teenagers and you can find it at your local library or bookstore.
Here are some additional amazing online resources:
Like so many of us, you may feel at a loss to answer questions yourself because your sex ed growing up was, well, a little lacking. If you feel like you, yourself, could benefit from understanding more of the science of and culture around periods in order to answer your kid’s questions, and you like listening to podcasts, here is an incredible one:
Welcome To Your Period from the Vagina Museum podcast (Episode 1 from 2022)- yes. (There is a Vagina Museum and yes, there is a Vagina Museum podcast! It’s one of our faves – more on that in another blog post! I digress!). This episode takes period positivity to a whole other level and we are here for it! The special guest and expert is no other than Tara Costello, writer of Red Moon Gang, a book we will recommend in a moment!
Here are a couple awesome websites for adolescents/“tweens” and their parents which may also be of use:
Resources for your kid about puberty
Now, for the 9 year old or anyone in the age range of 8-12, we’d recommend the following books (We will do our best to cover other age ranges in future posts):
Red Moon Gang: An Inclusive Guide to Periods by Tara Costello. “Inclusive, accessible and shame-free period talk.”
Sex is a funny word by Cory Silverberg. “A comic book for kids that includes children and families of all makeups, orientations, and gender identities, Sex Is a Funny Word is an essential resource about bodies, gender, and sexuality for children ages 8 to 10 as well as their parents and caregivers.”
The Corey Silverberg book You Know, Sex (for age 10+) “You Know, Sex is the first thoroughly modern sex education book for every body, covering not only the big three of puberty—hormones, reproduction, and development—but also power, pleasure, and how to be a decent human being.”
Celebrate Your Body (And Its Changes Too!) The Ultimate Puberty Book for Girls by Sonya Renee Taylor. “Puberty comes with a lot of changes. Celebrate Your Body (And It’s Changes, Too!) will help girls understand (and love) their bodies now and as they continue to grow.”
You-ology: A Period Guide for Every Body by Melisa Holmes, Trish Hutchison, and Kathryn Lowe. “What if learning about changing bodies wasn’t secretive or shameful? And what if it could even be inclusive, fun, and, well, kind of adorable? A new kind of puberty guide, You-ology embraces an inclusive approach that normalizes puberty for all kids.”
The Every Body Book: The LGBTQ+ Inclusive Guide for Kids and Sex, Gender, Bodies, and Families by Rachel E. Simon. “This vibrant and beautifully illustrated book teaches children sex, gender and relationships education in a way that is inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities.”
The library and the school
Gosh, there are so many excellent books we’d recommend. This is just a selection!
We’d suggest checking out the puberty section of your local library. Just keep in mind that some older books may use out dated or non-inclusive language. No ONE book is going to be the perfect resource for your family, but you can always discuss those “not-perfect” aspects of sex ed books through the lens of your family’s beliefs and priorities.
We also recommend that parents check in with their kids’ school about the plan for sexual education for the year. Sexual education is mandatory curriculum in B.C. schools, but the quality and the consistency can vary widely across districts and school.
It can be helpful to check that comprehensive sex ed is happening where your kids go. This way, you you know you’re not the only Askable Adult to talk to your kid about puberty!
Schools may have their own teachers provide the curriculum or they can choose to bring in an expert, like those from our Options for Sexual Health Education Program (either in person or virtually) and/or organize an Askable Adult workshop. Check out our website to learn more:
And of course, any aspiring Askable Adult can contact us directly to learn more!
*please note: all questions we’ve received have been altered to maintain the confidentiality of our clients.
Sex Sense is a free, pro-choice, sex-positive, and confidential service. Our team of registered nurses, counsellors, and sex educators offer information and resources on sex, sexuality and sexual health. You can find our hours and contact info at www.sexsense.org.