Mother Talk Blog Tour - Cycle Savvy - The Smart Teen's Guide to the Mysteries of Her Body
My oldest daughter will turn eight this spring, and I've found myself wondering how much longer I can delay having some of these "Talks" with her about the changes ahead. I've had my head firmly in the sand, and while I try to be matter-of-fact about body issues, I haven't been challenged to explain anything beyond the rudimentary differences between boys and girls. When I was offered the chance to read Cycle Savvy, I jumped at it, knowing that a discussion of ye olde menstrual cycle can't be too far in my future.
I'm already a big fan of Toni Weschler. Her groundbreaking book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility was an eye-opening, empowering read for me. Ms. Weschler notes in the acknowledgements:
The most consistent feedback I've gotten since TCOYF's release continues to reflect a theme along the lines of "Why didn't they teach us this when we were teenagers?" or more specifically, "I wish I had known then what I know now."
With a target audience of girls aged 14 to 18 years old, this comprehensive but light-hearted approach is a fantastic resource for young women (and their mothers who don't know how to even start the conversation.) Weschler speaks directly to her readers, in the reassuring voice of a knowledgeable friend. Her anticipation of eye-rolling moments: "I can hear the groans already: "Biology? Snoooooze." But trust me -- you're not going to want to skip this!" and her casual acknowledgement of some of the gross-out moments in learning about your cycle:
(I know, I know --Eeeeeuuuu!) give Cycle Savvy an authentic vibe.
Weschler draws her readers onward with fascinating information and empowering anecdotes. Each chapter features illustrations, comics, quizzes, bulleted lists and personal stories from women of all ages. These often funny, sometimes painful recollections add to the whole sisterhood vibe of Cycle Savvy. While I did some eyerolling of my own at some of the chapter headings: those hip, happenin' hormones had me snorting in my tea, for the most part, Cycle Savvy speaks the language of today's young women, and is never condescending.
I'll admit, I was skeptical about the need to explain the Mysteries in such depth. I can't imagine my 15 year old self charting my cycle. My mom had explained the basics, and showed me the stash of Kotex. There was Tylenol if you had cramps. Boo hoo, every woman has one. Suck it up.
Same thing with the sex talk, from what I recall. We did a bit of talking about it, and I know there were a few books, and of course the school stuff. Amongst my peers, there was a lot of discussion about who was doing "it" but not a lot of discussion about what "it" consisted of. There was a lot of misinformation floating around, and plenty of angst.
Since I was already familiar with Taking Charge of Your Fertility, and the contraceptive rules of the Fertility Awareness Method, I was also pretty tepid on teaching teens to identify their fertility signs. The alarmist prude in my head started freaking out. What if those kids have unprotected sex! What if they become sexually active at an earlier age because they got all empowered and stuff! Oh no! Oh no!
And then I calmed down and read the chapter. Quite simply, I was blown away. Rather than quote facts and statistics, Weschler breaks it down in a very realistic, honest and topical way. Rather than using scare tactics, she illustrates her topics with personal stories from women in a variety of stages of life. There aren't judgements here, just solid information for young women who have questions, may be considering a sexual relationship, or who are already sexually active. Considering that I was devouring trashy romance novels in high school, I think this information would have been easily digestible, and certainly pertinent. From body image and birth control methods to date rape and STIs, Cycle Savvy puts it out there in straight-forward, informative terms.
Cycle Savvy is a fantastic source of information for young women on its own, and will undoubtably spark some interesting and enlightening conversations, both mother/daughter, and friend to friend. Thinking back on my own reluctance to discuss some of the finer points with my daughter, I acknowledge that this is new territory for many of us. In A Note to Moms, Weschler has this to say:
When we were teenagers, these topics were rarely, if ever, taught, much less discussed. But I imagine you would agree what your own teenage daughers deserve much more. I hope that with the help of this book, they will become part of the first generation that's truly "cycle savvy."Toni Weschler reminds her readers again and again - Knowledge is power. Cycle Savvy presents age appropriate information that can help our daughters respect their "Amazing and Awesome Body" (snort) and help them demystify these fundamental parts of womanhood. I recommend it highly.