Many of our friends, who are parents of daughters, have asked us, how they can talk to their girls about periods and puberty. Very often it is a subject fathers feel is better handled by the mother, but are worried about the impact of ignoring the 'elephant in the room'.
Talking about periods shouldn't be one big talk at a particular age. Instead, start the conversation early and slowly build on your child's understanding. Girls and boys need reliable information about periods. So make sure you talk to your sons, too.
Fathers can and should talk periods
A shout out to ALL fathers of daughters IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO PARTICIPATE IN THE CONVERSATION ON PERIODS. This is a moment in your daughter's life she will never forget. Be a positive part of it. Don't shy away, be supportive. That little girl you held in your arms is becoming a woman, it's scary (for both of you), hold onto each other. Help her grow into the confident woman she will become and you want her to be.
If you can handle it, so can she.
50% of the population can clearly remember one particular milestone in their life, yet most have never spoken about it or shared it with anyone; their first period.
Ask any women you know if she remembers her first period and you will get an affirmative answer, and if you are lucky perhaps you’ll get a few details.
This means that your little princess, who now is fast approaching or has hit puberty is about to have an experience that will deeply imprint on her for the rest of her life. You, her Daddy/Dad/Papi/Pappa CAN help her. Her grown-up life will be dominated by the cycles of menstruation and the positives and negatives that come with it, but the fact that it is a healthy, normal biological recurring event is very important for your daughter to understand. If you allow the conversation about periods and the pubescent changes she is experiencing to be a positive and natural one - you will help her grow up confident and strong, feeling in control and empowered.
As a father, you can help her realise that the changes she experiences are natural. If you are a single dad being a bit more proactive and organised is even more important and whilst you may find it a little awkward it is not difficult, read below for some tips.
10 Top Tips for talking periods with your daughter
If nothing else take note of these, my top 10 tips on talking about periods with your daughter:
Don’t wait to talk about puberty until puberty, the earlier you bring it up the easier it is, and more useful for your daughter (but naturally better late than never!)
If they are old enough to ask a question, they are old enough to hear the answer
Don’t drag out the conversation, but do persist
Stay casual - ‘don’t obsess’
Keep your conversation and that you did/didn’t have this conversation to yourself
Privacy is key, think about where you are and who is around
Listen and take her seriously
If you don’t have all the answers it’s ok - talk about who might be able to help (mother, aunt, cousin, good family friend) or research together
Invest the time in your daughter, be interested
Don’t start the conversation because your dog is in heat…. but do have a sense of humour
Topics to Address
Ups and Downs: The flood of hormones is going to cause your daughter’s moods to fluctuate . Crying for no reason is one effect that is very difficult to deal with for both of you. A hug, a cup of hot chocolate or tea or watching your favourite comedy show will help. She will also feel more sensitive about things that normally wouldn’t bother her and would have made her laugh before. This isn’t her fault, but knowing this may help her (and you) maintain some perspective and treat these events as ‘growing pains’.
Her Cycle (that's the menstrual cycle) and Vaginal Discharge: Not put here purely for the shock value. She needs to know what to expect so she’s not left alone in fear and confusion when it happens. Tell her; because no-one else will. Discharge is completely normal and will change in terms of consistency and volume during the menstrual cycle.
Spots, Braces, and Breasts: All delights of puberty, I am sure if you try hard enough you may remember you experienced these (well hopefully apart from the breasts) during puberty. These changes are natural but they will likely make her feel more insecure, particularly if she develops earlier or later than her friends and classmates. Your reassurance and empathy are both essential here. Let her know that she is beautiful.
Boys, Boys, Boys: Boys move from annoying to attractive. It will be reassuring and enlightening for her to know what changes the boys are experiencing. Talking to her how you behaved and felt around girls when you were a teenager this will give her a good insight into the differences between girls and boys, from a male perspective.
Easy, Practical Things You CAN Do
Once you have started the conversation there are a few easy and practical things you can do, they will make a world of difference to your daughter.
Know the Facts
Prepare yourself with the period facts, by reading our blog 'Period Essentials' Forward on the link to your daughter.
A First Period Kit
Buy some period panties to have in the bathroom ready. Easy to use, reusable and absolutely comfortable, period panties are the easiest way to introduce your princess into the journey of monthly periods.
Menstruation: Bleeding that is part of a women’s monthly cycle
8 - 16: The age range when a girl can get her first period (known as Menarche)
3 - 6: Average time in days a period lasts
6: The average number of years a women will spend menstruating in her lifetime