Surprise, it’s here! And she’s not the only one who’s terrified! Perhaps the most obvious sign that your daughter is growing up has just knocked at your front door and you better be ready to let it in…welcome to the world of menstruation! If you’re a mom, then you’ve been there, done that. But for dads, this can be a tricky (and terrifying) subject. So here’s what you need to know.
For most girls the average onset of menstruation is 12. During this phase of her life, your daughter’s will have lots of conflicting feelings as her body begins to change and develop into a young woman. Some girls accept these new changes with grace and ease, but most struggle with cramping, pain, and the unsettling reality that they are growing up.
Parents also struggle with this enormous change. Suddenly, you realize that she’s no longer your little girl and that someday, she may be someone else’s. In addition, there are physical and emotional issues that become exacerbated by menstruation. The hormone surge that occurs around the time of her period can make her moody, cranky, and downright nasty to deal with. Saying the right thing (or anything) to her can seem like an impossible task.
Yet, despite her surliness and protests, she really does need you now more than ever. Whether your daughter admits it or not, she’s probably anxious and scared about the sudden and abrupt changes happening to her body – she may even be angry. Here’s how to help.
How to Support Her:
Give her a book or DVD. Books or DVDs are great because they often helps break the ice between you and your daughter and make it less embarrassing for both of you to talk about it.
Time for a Q & A session. It’s normal for girls to hear rumors about their period and get misinformation about what really happens to their bodies. Do you homework ahead of time. Find out what her questions about menstruation might be before you try to talk with her. Start “the talk” by asking your daughter if she has anything she wants to ask you. That way, the ball is in her court. Then you can begin with your oh-so-fun presentation. Before you begin, check out the common list below and make sure you are prepared to answer her deepest, darkest questions!
- Why do I get a period?
- How long will it last every month?
- Do boys get them?
- Will I have my period forever?
- What does PMS mean?
- Can I still play sports when I get my period?
- Do tampons hurt?
- Why do I get cramps?
Just the facts, PLEASE! When approaching this subject with your tween or teen, it’s best to keep it simple. Your goal is to give your daughter enough information so she understands what’s happening to her body, but not so much that she freaks out. Use the correct language and names when talking to her (i.e. ovaries, uterus, estrogen, etc). And always be truthful.
Break it up into mini-talks. Throughout childhood, your daughter will give you windows of opportunity to talk with her about physical and emotional issues. By the time she hits puberty, she should have a general idea of ‘how things work’ in terms of sex. If you seize upon the moments early-on to give her age-appropriate mini-talks, then all of the information about menstruation will not seem so overwhelming to her.
Reinforce “It’s Normal.”Your daughter may be concerned that she’s the only one going through this horrible thing. Explain to her that every girl goes through menstruation. It’s a normal part of development.
Get the right supplies. Discuss the different feminine hygiene products and how they work. Let her know the difference between tampons and pads and let her try whatever is most comfortable for her.
Lend her a shoulder to lean on. Let’s face it, talking about menstruation or anything remotely related to sex or sexuality is embarrassing for girls – especially when their talking with their parents. So if she protests or bulks at some of the information you try to give her, back off. Be sure she has the supplies she needs and let her know that you are there for her if she has any questions or needs help.