A young girl’s journey through puberty can come with an array of emotions: excitement, relief, embarrassment, confusion and even shame. While it’s often more comfortable for daughters to talk to their mothers about their first period, there are many households that rely on dad instead.
If you’re preparing to have “the period” talk with your daughter, take a look at these four tips to help you navigate the conversation smoothly and successfully:
- Know the signs and symptoms of puberty
As soon as your daughter is around 8 years old, you can start introducing the puberty conversation to her. Knowing this, make sure you’re prepared well in advance to answer any questions she may have. If you can identify the signs and symptoms of puberty and her menstrual cycle, you can start talking about them as they show up. These include:
- Unexplained mood swings
- Sore or developing breasts
Understanding the signs and symptoms of menstruation, as well as knowing what menstruation is and why it happens, can reduce any panic you may feel when she has her first period. This conversation may feel strange at first, but she will appreciate your knowledge as she’s trying to understand the physical, emotional and hormonal changes she’s going through.
- Educate yourself on the different products available
While you may know the basics about menstruation and the female reproductive system, you may not have had the chance to take a closer look at all the feminine care products that are available on the market today.
Knowing what’s out there can help you guide your daughter to make the right choice for her. She may feel more comfortable with pads or junior tampons that are easy to use for beginners. Or, she could prefer other products with different leak protection or comfort features. Letting her know that every woman is different can relieve any stress your daughter may be feeling about finding the right products and eliminate any awkwardness in your conversation. Do your research on the different types of tampons and pads available.
- Approach the topic carefully and confidently
Talking to your daughter about anything at this age can seem like a minefield. Just remember, if you’re sensitive to what she is feeling and focus on being responsive, not reactive, you’ll be just fine.
The more unsure you are, the more unsure she’ll be. So, prepare as much as you can beforehand and enter the conversation with confidence. Be confident in what you’re teaching her and be confident that she’ll be able to navigate it with grace and poise. If you start to feel uncertain, reassure her that whatever you don’t know, you’ll figure out together. Sometimes, she’ll just need to know that she’s not alone.
- When in doubt, ask for help
If you hit a roadblock, reach out to a family friend, a woman your daughter trusts, or even a female pediatrician. Any of these people can offer first-hand experience for her to learn from and can empathize with any girl problems or questions she has.
As her dad, you are a valuable part of her journey through puberty, acting as an advocate to ask for help on her behalf. You can also help break stigmas surrounding “the period” talk by engaging with your daughter and others who can help her understand her changing body. Don’t shy away when you don’t have the answers – be present and talk to others who do.
Even if mom is available to do most of the talking, it can help for you to be informed and engaged as your daughter’s father. The more support she can have as a young woman navigating this season of change, the better.