Any mom of a little girl will tell you that one of the things she dreads most of all raising a daughter is puberty. It isn't that we don't want our little girls to grow up. We do. We just also want them to be smart and ready to deal with the changes, which is why last weekend's New York Times article on early puberty has many parents running scared.
According to the article, it isn't so much that girls are having their first period earlier -- 12.5 is still the average -- and more that the other signs of puberty, like pubic hair growth and breast budding, are starting earlier. Scary stuff, no?
The reasons are varied and not entirely clear. But the one thing that is clear is that girls as young as 7 are starting to grow breasts and that is terrifying.
The girls who start puberty earlier are at-risk children. They are often more promiscuous, have lower self-esteem, and risk eating disorders. They are also in danger of having their bodies be far more developed than their minds, which makes them easy prey to someone who would want to take advantage.
No mom wants this for her child. I look at my little girl who is only 5 and I think of myself at her age, just as innocent, just as curious and full of confidence and excitement and totally unaware that in a few short years, she will be full of angst and anger and confusion.
I would like, as a mom, to keep puberty at bay. I was a late bloomer, which at the time was awful -- starting your period at 15 is hugely humiliating -- but now is a blessing. I had all those years to develop my mind over my body.
Once I did grow breasts and all that, everything changed. That time before was a more innocent time. So I will make sure my daughter isn't exposed to BPA (the estrogen in BPA is one of the suspects here), ingests only organic, growth-hormone-free dairy and meat, and exercises as much as possible.
The fact that I was insanely skinny as a little girl may be the reason puberty was staved off since body fat is one of the culprits, according to the Times. It just makes good sense to try to keep my daughter young as long as possible.
When you are 5, it seems like it will take forever to grow up, but 30 years later, you know it happens in the blink of an eye and childhood is a blip in a (hopefully) 95-year lifetime. I want her to be young as long as she can.
Does this scare you?