Dear Savvy Auntie,

My niece is 12 years old and has hit puberty. I want her to know she can talk to me about anything if she doesn't think she can talk to her mom. She has a great relationship with my sister-in-law but I want her to know I'm another trusted grownup she can turn to. The problem is, what if she asks me things about sex I don't know if her parents want me to discuss with her? And even if I know what they may not approve of, what if she presses me for answers? Where do I draw the line?

Puberty Time Auntie

Dear Puberty Time Auntie,

The first step on this delicate topic is to talk with your sister-in-law and ask her what her thoughts and feelings are about when, how and what you say to your niece. Don’t be surprised if she wants to be the only one to talk with her daughter. Try to not take it personally as most moms want to be front and center with their daughter about puberty and also sex. You are setting up a negative atmosphere when you talk about if your niece can’t talk to her mother. I am sure she knows you are available, that doesn’t have to be stated.

As to information about sex, there are many good books available for teen girls. I suggest you look through them on Amazon or your local Barnes and Noble and build your lexicon so you feel better prepared.

Do remember that a hallmark of the teen years is pushing away from family adults, even all adults. Since you are close to your niece, the push could be painful and rejecting. Try to be understanding.

I wish you the best,
Natalie Robinson Garfield
The Sense


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