If you haven’t already heard, the movie adaptation of Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. hits theaters in the United States this month.
I remember this book being on our summer reading list, and to this day, it is still one of my favorites. I, like many, grew up in a home where certain things were never discussed. No one talked to me about my boobs growing or getting my period. The conversations about sexuality were nonexistent. Having a book that not only tackled taboo issues but had a character that most could relate to was very insightful at a young age.
Having three daughters of my own, I could not wait for them to experience a little piece of my childhood by getting to see the movie.
Some may argue about the religious aspect, although the book and movie never press it upon anyone. Rather it speaks on how teens can find their way of spirituality without it being forced on them.
Some may argue that it brings up sex, kissing, and cycles. Yet, as a middle school educator, I can guarantee you that they have already been exposed to it by their peers in ways in which you would probably not be too happy.
As for me, it is a way to open a conversation with my tweens. The story takes place at summer camp and is full of liberation – yet it dives into things that girls go through daily. From the dysfunction of families to trying to fit in, to finding out who they are and what their bodies are doing during puberty.
Here are some helpful ways I have found to have these conversations with my daughters about their bodies changing:
When should I start talking to my daughter about puberty?
You know your child best, but I believe that it is never too early. Using the correct terms for their anatomy and normalizing that bodies change.
Watching for signs
Growth spurts, breast developing, leg hair appearing, acne, and oily skin are all signs that usually begin right before their cycle shows up.
Look for teachable moments
Sometimes, the best lead to these conversations is initiated around something they bring up, perhaps a book they are reading, a chat they are sharing with you about a friend, or taking them to see this movie!
Keep it short
These conversations don’t have to be long, and it is essential to follow your child’s lead. Focus on what your child wants to know.
Talk in parallel
Kids can become uncomfortable and more self-conscious when sitting face to face. I prefer to chat in the car, on a walk, or while working on an activity together.
Having conversations about puberty is essential. There are many sources that they will hear this information from, and they are naturally curious. Having them listen and learn from a trusted adult makes things a lot easier in the long run.
It’s so important to have those honest conversations, and Judy Blume helped us do that!
Not only do we watch this kid navigate through the chances of her body, but we also get to see a transition in her intellect and spirituality.
They needed to keep the setting to the 1970s, as our kids can see that the same issues and questions were being asked decades ago. Many parents who want the book banned fear awkward conversations and questions that don’t need to be uncomfortable.
When can we normalize discussion about our body changing?
I remember reading this book and not feeling so alone; having someone similar made those weird pubescent years feel more normal.
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret is now speaking to the new generation, and it’s a great start to having that long waited-for conversation that so often gets easily forgotten.
As I remember so often chanting, “ I must, I must, I must increase my bust,” my chant now is, “You must, you must, you must think about seeing this movie that is so dear to so many hearts.