As a father, how can you talk to your daughter about menstruation?
Your daughter is growing up. You were for her during her first day at school. You will be there during her first picnic with friends, her first school trip, her first award, her first failure, and her first period. You are her dad. Periods will be an indelible part of her life. They will happen sooner or later. You will deal with it, and so will she.
Talking about periods, especially for dads, has been considered painful, awkward, and seemingly incomprehensible, but it does not have to be. Periods are normal, and they should be treated normally. I know as a dad, it might be hard for you to imagine your little girl growing up, but if she is between the ages of 9 and 15, then you need to have the period talk immediately because they can happen to her any moment. Trust me, there is nothing worse than waking up in blood one fine morning and thinking you’d die. You don’t want your daughter to experience the same. Talk to her. It is important.
But how do you talk to your girl about menstruation? It is definitely not wise to wait for the last moment to talk to her about it. I believe that children should be told about menstruation the moment they start asking about sanitary napkins and tampons. You don’t need to elaborate it a lot, just a simple ‘ you know, women bleed a little from their vagina or private part between their legs
every month, and then they use a pad or tampon to absorb the blood. It is a period. It is not a disease or an injury’. Children take such answers more casually than we expect them to. Your daughter might ask if she’d get it, to which you should always reply in affirmative, and also add that whenever this happens to her, you should be the first person to know.
When your girl is nearing puberty, then you can tell her about periods again, and this time it can be elaborate. You can tell her about the hormonal changes that cause periods. When the ovaries release the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, they cause the lining of the womb to build up. This lining provides a suitable environment for the egg to fertilize and develop. But if there is no fertilized egg, the lining breaks down and we bleed. See, it is simple and purely scientific. You do not have to make a big deal about it. If you explain to her in a scientific manner, it will help relieve the awkwardness.
This topic sounds awkward because we have made it awkward, by stigmatizing it and not talking about it. As explained in the preceding paragraph, if you stick to biology and treat it like any other biological event, it would not be so awkward. Moreover, these period conversations will further strengthen your bond with your daughter, as she will be able to open up to you about almost everything.
You can also ease the awkwardness by buying tampons and pads for her, but do not overdo it, else she might feel embarrassed. You should also take her to a gynaecologist to ensure if she is healthy. Again, do not make a big deal out of it. The gynaecologist will test her to ensure if the flow is not too heavy or too light. This will help her take care of herself in a better way. Support her in her path to womanhood. With you by her side, she will deal with periods and any other thing that comes her way.
Periods are a natural part of a woman’s life. She will survive the initial discomfort, and so will you, but the bond that you might form will remain forever and strengthen further.