Oftentimes as parents, we find ourselves at a point where we have to broach the puberty topic with our kids and young ones. Many parents still find this an “uncomfortable” topic.
I remember years back when I first started menstruating, all that talk was done by my mum; when going back to boarding school and we had to make a list of items we needed for school, we were made to take the list with the “girlies” (such as underwear, sanitary pads etc.) to my mum, while the other bulk was given to my dad. When I think back now, I wonder what would have happened if my dad had been a single parent with three adolescent girls.
Dads sometimes feel that the puberty talk is for the woman to do, I know single dads that have had to ask their sister, or colleague to talk to their daughter about puberty. Some do not even want to be around that talk. Today, I found an article on Fatherly, which can help single dads, pull through the puberty talk. It’s important for dads to be able to talk to their kids about their health and talking openly to your kid about menstruation will make her feel that it’s just like anything else that can happen to her body. It’s de-stigmatizing.
On this segment, Fatherly shares a few steps to guide you towards having that talk and here they are:
Before you have that talk
- Don’t Wait Until Puberty
If you start discussing the body early and call a spade a spade (and a vagina a vagina), she’s going to be a lot more comfortable the first time you bring up her ovaries. “Keep everything matter-of-fact and start young, and they’ll know you’re open to having this conversation,” Bloom says.
- Know When Puberty Begins
A few dead giveaways: Body odor, breast “buds”, and acne. Even if she’s a few years from experience her menarche (Bonus Step 3: Know that “menarche” refers to a girl’s first period), what matters is that you tee up the conversation before it actually happens. “I would hate for a girl to get it before she knew what it was,” says Bloom. Somewhere, your daughter is nodding her head furiously in agreement.
When it’s Time for the Talk
- Choose A Low-Key Location
Bloom is giving you the benefit of the doubt that you know exactly where not to initiate the topic of menstruation with your kid (i.e. in front of her soccer team), but there are places that can actively make it easier. “The car is a great place because there’s no eye contact,” she says. The couch provides a similar dynamic, and it kills 2 birds with one stone if you happen to hate her taste in TV shows. Nothing kills an episode of The Kardashians like saying to your daughter, “I want to talk to you about your period,” right as the title sequence starts. The main thing is to identify a moment when there’s no outside pressure.
- Make It Normal
Here’s a stat you can use to blow her mind, make her laugh, and totally break the ice: “One quarter of all the women you meet are on their period right now. When you think about it like that, it doesn’t feel as scary,” Bloom says. If the location allows, play a few rounds of “Guess Which Random Female Stranger Is On Her Period” before abruptly announcing, “Ok, now let’s talk about your uterus.”
- Admit That You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About
While Bloom absolutely thinks you should read up on the topic beforehand and have the basics nailed down, don’t go memorizing the Wikipedia entry. “Admitting you don’t know everything is incredibly empowering and builds a lot of trust,” It also gives you the opportunity to pull a “Let Me Google That For You” on her, which always kills.
Nothing kills an episode of The Kardashians like saying to your daughter, “I want to talk to you about your period,” right as the title sequence starts
- Give Her Some Options over How This Goes
Whether you pick up one of the Hello Flo starter kits or pull together some printouts from the interwebs, let her know that you’re happy to just leave some information with her to digest on her own. In addition to making her feel slightly better about the fact that she’s (most likely) going to run away from you so fast she might sprain something, it also ensures that she understands you’re open to having tricky conversations without putting pressure on her if she’s not.
Finally that understanding will be invaluable a few years later when you have to talk to her about the horizontal tango, although you’re going to need an entirely different expert for that conversation.