In this episode, I have two special guests to talk about puberty and the changes our kids experience during this time.

First up is Rachael E. Gibson, PhD, MPH, MS, MEd (she/her/ella), the Senior Program Manager of AMAZE Education at Advocates for Youth. Dr. Gibson is an AASECT Certified Sex Educator based in Miami, Florida and Cape Town, South Africa and has taught comprehensive sexuality education all over the U.S. and the world. 

Dr. Gibson talks about the specifics when it comes to puberty, the changes our kids go through on a physical, emotional and mental level, and how to help them navigate these changes as parents.

Our second guest is my teenage daughter, Maxine, who shares her experience getting her first period, going through puberty and having a ‘red party’. 

We cover:

  • [3:45] Defining ‘puberty’
  • [4:40] Average ages of puberty today 
  • [5:30] Common challenges kids have when going through puberty and how can we best support them
  • [8:10] How hormonal changes affect our kids’ emotions 
  • [10:05] The social changes that come with puberty
  • [13:20] Helping kids understand ‘am I normal?’
  • [14:15] How we as parents can help our kids when they are getting unwanted attention
  • [17:55] Tips for talking about puberty with your kids to prepare them
  • [22:15] How to answer your kids’ puberty questions 
  • [26:40] Celebrating ‘coming of age’ in different cultures
  • [29:25] Rachel’s advice to her younger parent self 
  • [31:25] From my daughter’s perspective: what to keep in mind if you’re scared about your kid going into puberty
  • [33:10] Are you worried your kids are going to turn into unrecognizable people?
  • [34:20] Does Maxine remember first learning about puberty
  • [37:20] ‘Red parties’ and why you should consider one
  • [40:20] What made it easier for Maxine when getting her first period

Dr. Gibson has over 20 years of experience in the health and sexuality education field, and currently serves on the SHAPE National Health Education Council. Prior to joining the AFY/AMAZE team, Dr. Gibson was an Instructional Coach and Content Specialist in the NYC Department of Education, Office of School Wellness Programs. Dr. Gibson also spent 17 years as a secondary health education teacher in California and New York.

In addition to her work with AMAZE and AFY, she is an adjunct professor in Widener University’s Center for Human Sexuality Studies.  Dr. Gibson’s research examines the interactions between teacher and learner identities. Her most current work titled Learner experiences of teacher gender: Associations among gender and comfort in the sexuality education classroom, offers recommendation for pre- and in-service teacher training that includes strategies for meeting the perceptions of students in affective and culturally responsive ways. 

Dr. Gibson holds a B.S. in Health Science from the University of Arizona, an MPH from California State University, Long Beach, a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from the City College of New York, and a MEd and PhD from Widener University’s Center for Human Sexuality Studies.  In her free time, she is an avid hiker, dancer, and traveler.

Download the episode transcript HERE

Resources mentioned in this episode  

Connect with Dr. Gibson  

Connect with Sarah Rosensweet  

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