Dear Dr. Cara: How does a single father talk to his daughter about puberty?

Dear Dr. Cara: How does a single father talk to his daughter about puberty?

Our expert: Dr. Cara Natterson

Our resident expert on all things girls. She’s a board certified pediatrician, author of the best-selling book series The Care and Keeping of You, and travels the country speaking about health and wellness issues to both kids and parents.

I’m a single father, what’s the best way to talk to my daughter about puberty?

Dads are often nervous about speaking with their daughters about puberty because they don’t share the same equipment. You might feel like you cannot help your daughter through something you have never experienced.

But the truth is that you have experienced puberty, so you have lived many of the same emotions and general experiences. Even though periods probably weren’t on your radar way back when, you can remember everything that went on inside your body (from changing moods to skin breakouts) and your world (from social shifts to peer pressure).

When it comes to the stuff you didn’t actually experience – things like growing breasts and getting a period – there are lots of resources available to help you understand what’s going on for your daughter. READ THEM.

Educate yourself. Learn a little bit about what is happening to her so that you can be a reliable resource.

Tell your daughter that you have been studying up on puberty so that you can help her. She may be embarrassed, but she will also be deeply grateful and far more likely to open up to you in the long run.

It really helps to enlist a female friend as a trusted advisor for both you and your daughter. Having a go-to person can make all the difference… for both of you.

By far the most important thing to do is to establish an open line of communication. You want your daughter to share with you so that you can help guide her. When you don’t know the answer to something, tell her that you don’t know and you will get back to her. Then look it up and follow up. Our kids don’t expect us to know everything about everything – they just want to know that we have their back. Saying “I don’t know” is not a sign of weakness but rather a statement of honesty, and this can strengthen your relationship with your daughter immensely.

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