Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Excerpt from Start Talking: A Girl's Guide for You and Your Mom about Health, Sex or Whatever

Mary Jo Rapini and Janine Sherman teamed up to write the book Start Talking: A Girl's Guide for You and Your Mom about Health, Sex or Whatever with the hope that mothers and daughter would feel more at ease speaking with each other about such topics. The following is an excerpt from the introduction of the book:

Teens today, more than ever, face a myriad of issues involving sex and sexuality, self-esteem and body image. They need education; they need guidance; they need support to make the right decisions at the right time.

In our profession as women's health care providers, we've found that teens experience greater success through these difficult years when they have open communication with their mothers.

But we've also found that's not quite as simple as it sounds.

As women's health care providers we understand that daughters are commonly reluctant to approach their mothers for advice, for fear of punishment or lecture, or simply because they are embarrassed of the issue itself. They instead turn to their friends or the mass media, or avoid the issues all together, creating greater problems for themselves in the future.

And as mothers ourselves, we also understand that many of us are embarrassed to admit that despite our best intentions, we hesitate to engage our daughters in health-related dialogue. We either feel shy, inadequate, and poorly informed, or we have been so looking forward to such interactions with our daughters--anticipating with cherished thoughts how our conversations will go, only to discover that our teenage daughters are disinterested, busy, or outright offended.

So where are teen girls getting the little information they do have about health and sex? And what is it that they are concluding about health and sex and their bodies from these information sources? Adolescent girls learn about sex primarily from their conversations with their mothers, interactions with their peers, participation in school programs, and exposure to mass media, yet not necessarily in that order. All contribute to the knowledge our children receive about sex and their bodies; all are potential sources of conversation with our daughters....

As our children become more inquisitive and their lives become more complicated, these tasks can become far more challenging. Most of us find it uncomfortable when our daughters ask us questions about sex and their bodies. We often have difficulty teaching our daughters about sex because of our own discomfort and/or our own lack of knowledge. This uneasiness with the subject is often a reflection of the way that we were taught about sex by our own mothers, years earlier....

Peers. Adolescent girls exert a huge influence on each other. This is a time in a girl's life when she desperately wants to "fit in." Peers help each other "figure it all out." Teen girls can also be a fabulous resource for inaccurate information.

Young girls also get a lot of inaccurate information from their boyfriends -- whom they want to please -- about the risks of sexual activity. For example, a common myth believed by boys is that girls can't get pregnant "the first time."

Never underestimate the influence girls have on each other regarding the issue of body image. It's been noted, for instance, that eating disorders can "run in packs." Girls teach each other how to "do it" and encourage each other to stay skinny. The concern to "be popular" or "fit in" is far more important than taking care of their bodies. They find out what it means to be popular and to fit in, first and foremost from their buddies....

The goal of this book is to empower mothers and daughters with accurate and comprehensive knowledge so that they can have the open, relaxed, and informative conversations about sex and female health that every young woman needs and deserves. Mothers have the chance to directly shape their daughters? thought processes regarding their bodies, life choices, health and well being. The book also highlights the mother-daughter connection in helping girls to explore their passions and to focus their energies on self discovery.

For you mothers, table talk is a way of comfortably inviting your daughter into your beliefs and thoughts, and learning from her as well. For you daughters, table talk is a way of comfortably inviting your mother into your beliefs and thoughts, and learning from her as well. This book is designed for both moms and daughters alike. The information is meant to be shared. It is deliberately meant to spark conversations. Getting started with table talk can happen almost any place or time, just as this book describes.

Young girls deserve accurate information presented in a relaxed way by people whom they trust. They deserve straightforward answers to their questions. Moms deserve a chance to have engaging conversations with their daughters about life-critical issues.

Visit the book's website at http://www.starttalkingbook.com.

Visit author Mary Jo Rapini's website at http://www.maryjorapini.com/

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