How To Have “The Talk” With Your Daughter
By Lissa Rankin on August 10, 2011
Featured Member Post
The more you encourage open conversation, listen to her concerns, put judgment aside, and educate her, the more empowered she will be regarding her femininity, her body, and her life.
Breezy Mama: How heavy is the flow of a girl’s first period? Should we remind them to change their pads/tampons every X hour or would this cause them to die from embarrassment?
Usually, a girl’s first period is pretty light. In fact, she may get notice with a day or two of just light brown spotting, so if you warn her to let you know if this happens, you can help her avoid the humiliation of the embarrassing bright red stain on her white skirt that I endured as a 13 year old!
But every girl is different. She may not notice the lighter days and may wind up surprised with a heavy day of flow.
Should you bug her about changing her pad/ tampon? Talk to her! Ask her whether she’ll find that helpful or mortifying. If she doesn’t want help from you, encourage her to set a timer in her cell phone or watch the clock. This is a chance for her to step up the plate. Obviously, if she’s 8 when she starts her menses, she’ll need more guidance than if she’s 14. But biologically, she’s a woman. Don’t micromanage her too much or she might not come to you when she really needs you.
Breezy Mama: When a girl first starts getting her period, is it irregular? Should we show them how to track it on the calendar so they don’t get “surprised” when it comes?
Dr. Lissa: Most of the time, periods are irregular for the first year, so tracking on the calendar won’t necessarily help. Once regular menses are established, yes! Absolutely! Teach her how to avoid surprises. But in the beginning, it’s often hard to predict when her menses will start.
Breezy Mama: Lastly, it seems as if girls are getting their periods at a much younger age than when I was growing up. Is there a reason for why this is?
Dr. Lissa: We don’t know for sure, but we speculate that girls are getting their periods much younger because of a combination of xenoestrogens (chemicals in pesticides/ hormones in milk, etc that exert an estrogenic-like effect on the body) and the childhood obesity epidemic. Fat cells actually make estrogen, so heavier children are theoretically more likely to menstruate young.
Breezy Mama: Anything that I’ve missed or that you would like to add?
Dr. Lissa: Please, Moms! As an OB/GYN who just got back from a 20 city book tour where I spoke to women at universities, book stores, and women’s conferences all over the country about What’s Up Down There, I see the consequences of keeping these sensitive subjects in the closets. Dozens of women told me they weren’t prepared when their periods showed up, and they genuinely thought they were dying, which set them up to have unhealthy relationships with their bodies and their feminine selves. As I teach people at OwningPink.com, I think it’s vital to embrace and celebrate our feminine bodies as they change throughout our lives so we can heal, connect, and thrive. Having “the talk” with your daughter not only sets the precedent for an open, intimate relationship between you and your daughter; it also builds the foundation for her to develop a lifetimes of self-love and personal empowerment when it comes to her body and her life.
Have you had “the talk” with your children? What has worked well for you? What challenges have you faced? Do tell!
Encouraging you to help raise empowered women,
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.
Learn more about Lissa Rankin here.
Photo Credit: peem.
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