Great conversations about sex | Amy Johnson

Many parents dread talking to their children about the puberty part of growing up.

Perhaps it’s because we remember so fondly the rapid, strange and sometimes unwanted changes in our bodies. Or maybe it’s remembering the awkwardness involved in navigating increasingly complex social situations, the pressure to be a certain way, the absolute certainty no one else felt the way we did and the conviction that everyone was staring at us.

How do you, as a parent, prepare your child for all that in a loving, positive way?

Enter Great Conversations. Since 1988, founder Julie Metzger has been helping Seattle area parents navigate the murky waters of body changes and emotional shifts with their 10-12 year-old girls. Her business partner, Rob Lehman, MD, heads up the program for boys and their dads.

Julie, Rob and their faculty (which I’ve recently been invited to join) help normalize the enormous changes that going through puberty brings to young people, their parents and families. They manage to do this with an informative, warm, humorous program that leaves parents and children feeling normal, listened to, and more often than not, laughing. Their programs also model the importance of parents, guardians and children talking together about these important topics, and open the door for future conversations.

This spring, their signature program, “For Girls Only: A Heart to Heart Talk about Growing Up,” is coming to Federal Way.

“Our primary goal is to provide important information helpful to understanding the experience of adolescence in a fun and engaging format with parents and youth,” says Metzger.

“We believe that equipping families with the resources and tools they need to engage in conversations together will strengthen communication, provide a base of important health information for decision making, and encourage healthy relationships.”

The two-part class is recommended for girls ages 10-12 along with a parent or trusted adult. The first class covers puberty changes, what girls experience during puberty, practical ideas and problem-solving common concerns of puberty, and tips on staying close through healthy communication in families.

Class two, which happens about a week later, covers social, emotional and cognitive changes of puberty, how boys experience puberty, how babies are made, decision-making, relationships with friends and peers, and finding trusted resources to answer questions on growing up.

The two-part class will be held May 29 and June 6 from 6:30 o 8:30 p.m. at Federal Way High School. To register, go to greatconversations.com. Registration fees cover one girl and one adult, plus a special gift for girls after each class.

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