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Becoming a young woman

Puberty and the associated development steps are a great challenge for all children and their parents. While girls who are nine or ten are often strong and self-assured, by the time they are thirteen, fourteen or fifteen they are often confused, agitated and insecure. 

This usually has less to do with parents than with the new role expectations they are facing. 


The problem of adolescence and early adulthood cannot always be solved by girls and their parents together. At this age, girlfriends, favorite teachers, godparents or other trusted adults are often more suitable helpers. The process of puberty through to emerging adulthood is the critical one. Soon afterward, your new adult daughter will be leaving home. This is one of the most important steps in every person’s life, and doing it with love on both sides is crucial. If this separation does not go well, there will be a lifelong dependency; we then talk of ‘Mummy’s boys’ or ‘Daddy’s girls’. These young people cannot detach themselves from either their mums or their dads; they continue to be dependent on them; instead of strengthening their own ego and developing their own personality.


But let’s go back to puberty first. What does it mean and what happens at this stage of life?

The word ‘Puberty’ comes from the Latin pubertas, meaning sexual maturity. The root of the word is related to the Latin pubes, meaning pubic hair. However, before this starts appearing, the female body is increasing its generation of sex hormone estrogen. This sometimes happens at the age of eight or nine. How does the body know that it is ready? Why do some girls reach puberty sooner than others? Body weight plays a significant role in this. At about 38-43 kilograms, the hormonal control system signals that it’s time to being the move into womanhood.

Hormones act in a similar way to yeast or baking powder. They stimulate physical growth and help us carry out certain behaviors more easily and with more relish – nursing a baby, for example, is made possible by the action of the hormone prolactin, which causes the breasts to produce milk. Steroid hormones bring about the growth of the brain during puberty; they boost thinking and questioning. Estrogen activates a girl’s body to become rounded and to grow, to feel adult sexual pleasure and desire and to seek sexual satisfaction. 

Book: Raising Girls

Author: Gisela Preuschoff 

Foreword by Steve Biddulph

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