Understanding childhood development in the context of donor conception – three part series

Dr Avital Pearlman has spent her career supporting children, families, individuals and couples throughout their fertility journey and beyond. In her work with children and adolescents, she has often worked with children who are donor conceived, adopted or are no longer in contact with a biological parent.

Avital joined me for a series of webinars as we consider the development of identity throughout the different stages of childhood, being mindful of all the factors that contribute to a sense of self and what we as parents can be aware of as we parent our donor conceived children.

Age 3-6

Starting with the younger years, in this webinar we focus on the age of 3-6 as we explore how we might introduce the topic of donor conception to our children early and often. We discuss common questions such as:

  • Do I wait for my child to be able to understand before talking to them about donor conception?
  • At what age is it recommended I start talking to them about their conception and family structure?
  • What is age appropriate language at this age?

We also explore the stages of child development that are taking place during these years, any challenges that may be faced and how transitions such as school might need to be considered.

Age 7+

In this webinar, we explored how the conversation might change from age 7+ up to the teenage years. We touched on how age appropriate language might evolve, how we can keep an open dialogue going with children of this age when that storybooks might not be as prominent and how their understanding and questioning might begin to shift.

As we look to the future this session will allow us to think about how we might maintain a safe space for open conversations and what might be important for us as parents to be aware of as they become more aware of the concept of DNA and what that means for them.

The Teenage Years

For our final session of this series we explore the age that I know I hold the most fears about – the teenage years. A time where hormones are dominant, identity formation is more at the forefront and we might expect to hear the words “you’re not my real mum/dad/parent” thrown at us at some point, a fear that I’ve heard many times that can be much more prominent for parents who don’t share a genetic link. So what is happening to their development during these years? How might this play out? And what can we do as parents to maintain that safe space and to really understand the developmental phases at this time in their lives?

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Speaker Bio

Dr Avital Pearlman

Avital has spent her career supporting children, families and individuals and couples throughout their fertility journey and beyond. Avital has worked across CAMHS, Paediatric and peri-natal settings. In her work with children and adolescents, Avital has often worked with children who are donor conceived, adopted or are no longer in contact with a biological parent. Within this context Avital considers the development of identity throughout the different stages of childhood and is mindful of all the factors that contribute to a sense of self.

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