Last week I had the honour and pleasure of being invited to a mother-daughter event hosted by P&G. It was designed for moms and girls aged 7 to 14 to discuss puberty, so myself and Big A attended.
Now, to be honest, I do tend to be suspicious of big-business and their motives, so I am pretty convinced that these types of events are primarily for marketing, but I am also willing to concede that the corporate world can sometimes do worthwhile things. This is one of those things.
They broke us into groups with the moms' discussion being facilitated by parenting expert, Kathy Buckworth, and the girls' discussion led by Degrassi Next Generation star, Melinda Shankar. Big A has not yet seen Degrassi, however, she recognized Shankar from a show on YTV. Erica Ehm and her daughter were also in attendance as were a number of media folks from various magazines and publications.
Our mom group discussed how we have talked, or plan to talk to our daughters about puberty. The girls discussed who they would like to get information about puberty and their bodies from, and how they would like the discussion to go. Fortunately, when we re-grouped, we were told they want to hear this stuff from their moms (rather than peers!). In our group, most moms admitted that periods, breasts, body hair, etc. were not as distressing issues to address with daughters as is sex and the idea of our children becoming sexually active.
Afterwards, a light lunch was served. I was anticipating unhealthy food aimed at kids, but instead, they went the other way and served tiny, fancy hors d'oeuvres that weren't really kid-friendly. Actually, I was pleased because Big A, who was really hungry, was forced to try new foods that she wouldn't have otherwise touched. She picked at most of it except the beef brisket sliders, which she loved. Then they had an ice cream buffet with all sorts of candy and cookie toppings. I wasn't thrilled about that, but, of course, let her have some along with all the other girls.
Next we were separated into groups and sent around to explore different stations focusing on skin care, periods, personal hygiene (deodorant), shaving, and oral hygiene. This part was mostly about promoting P&G products, but the tampon/maxi-pad station was actually instructive and educational.
Big A and I also got to do a little video talking about the best part of being a girl, etc., which may be featured on P&G's Beinggirl website this winter. Now, even though this site is clearly for marketing their products to teens, it does provide a forum for girls to ask questions and get accurate information about puberty and their bodies. They also have a site for parents with tips for talking to your kids about their bodies.
They generously paid the tabs for our taxi rides to the elegant downtown venue where this event was held, and Big A and I each got a massive swag bag full of P&G products including razors, feminine hygiene products, deodorant, lip gloss, gift cards for Well.ca and Big A even got an electric toothbrush!
I actually think it was a great experience for Big A and I, even though I didn't really enjoy it (I'll talk about that in another post), but it totally normalized a lot of things for her that might have been scary or embarrassing before. That night before bed, Big A asked me to go through her gift bag with her. She was very comfortable talking about the tampons and pads and told me she still felt she had no clue what to do with them. I reassured her that when the time came, I would be right here to help and show her what to do. My own mother's handling of my puberty wasn't stellar and didn't leave me feeling that confident about all the changes, so I am determined to do a better job with my girls. I want to protect their confidence and lack of self-consciousness as much as is humanly possible.
We put the bag on the top shelf of her closet since, at age 7, she probably (hopefully) still has some years before she needs most of the stuff. It was also to do something together just the two of us that made her feel really special. It reminded me just how important it is to have one-on-one time with each child once in a while.