I've been a gynecologist and obstetrician for almost two decades. Throughout my years in medicine, whether it's been during my time in medical school, residency, or private practice, I've always been fascinated by the topic of the health, sexual development, and emotional well-being of adolescent girls.
In fact, for nearly 20 years I've extensively researched this topic, attended numerous presentations, written and lectured about it, conferred with a multitude of my medical colleagues, and served as the physician for so many teenaged girls that I've lost count. However, only recently did I undergo a life-changing event that brought all of the dry information, the impersonal clinical data, and the cold, antiseptic facts into a whole new perspective.
My own daughter entered her adolescent years.
As a mother of an adolescent daughter yourself, you know exactly how I feel. The "experts" are good at talking about complex theories, academic statistics, and broad generalities. But when you're personally confronted with the many challenges that arise during your own daughter's adolescence, what you want more than anything else is practical advice and solid information. And that's why I've written this book.
In these pages, I provide you with a lot of medical information. But what's more, I've distilled for you the knowledge, insights, and tips I've learned over the many years that I've concentrated on issues facing adolescent girls. I cover not only issues such as birth control and sexually transmitted diseases but also topics such as how to pick out a girl's first bra, how a girl can learn to easily insert a tampon, and what every girl needs to know about body piercings and tattoos.
In this book I also talk about how you can help your daughter make the right choices during her teen years. My goal is to make your daughter's adolescent years a little less perplexing. And in the end, I hope that means they'll be a whole lot more fun—for both of you.
When my daughter turned eight, I first began to see brief flashes of the woman she was likely to become. Although I absolutely cherished her sweet innocence at that age, I also knew that when she asserted her independence, that was the right course for her to take. After all, butterflies are meant to take flight.
But at the same time, my protective side as a mother was always just beneath—and often, fully above—the surface. Girls today face tremendous pressures. Our society often imposes stressful and unrealistic expectations on them. As a consequence, they can lose their self confidence, and they can also lose their way.
That's when we moms need to make sure that we are an integral part of our daughters' lives. It's a pretty daunting world out there for girls and young women, one that constantly barrages them with thoughts, words, and images of sex, sex, and more sex, but then completely ignores the critical facts about sexual development, sexual health, and sexual protection. Therefore, as mothers, we need to make sure that our daughters have the proper tools and knowledge so that they can become safe, self-confident, and self-fulfilled young women in these difficult times. And we can only do so if we, ourselves, know the facts.
So just remember, even when your young daughter looks all grown up on the outside, on the inside she's still just a vulnerable girl who is facing an often hostile world and who needs your wisdom and guidance. And also remember that even when your teenaged daughter seems to keep pushing you away, she still needs—and wants—your advice and support.
I realize that providing information and assistance to your daughter won't always be easy for you. However, as I always say when I give talks on this subject, being a mom to an adolescent girl reminds me of the slogan they use for the Peace Corps: "It's the toughest job you'll ever love."