Aunt Flow is an especially sensitive topic in terms of tackling the larger subject of puberty. But it is essential as the onset of a girl’s menstrual period marks the beginning of her becoming a woman. Without proper guidance and information, it can also be a scary and confusing time for a young girl. As mothers, we have an opportunity to heal our own relationships with our bodies in how we talk to our daughters about their newly emerging monthly cycle. Talking with our daughters openly and honestly is a real opportunity for mother/ daughter bonding.
Start with the facts. This also may help you get over any discomfort that you feel that was passed down by previous generations of women. Give your daughter real information about her cycle and what that will mean for the months to come. Girls get their periods between the ages of 10-15 years old averaging around the age of 12. Help her understand what is happening from a biological standpoint. Get books with illustrations or go online together to explain the unfertilized eggs releasing with the lining of the uterus as a normal and amazing part of the process.
Explain to her that she already contains all the eggs she will have for her lifetime. Get an app for the phone to mark her periods frequency so she can can begin to track her cycles as they become more consistent to take away some of the mystery. Give her real information in terms of options. She may want to start with pads but you should talk with her about tampons as well especially if she’s in any sport or activity where the pad will get damaged or be visible. Be sure you talk about the use, regularity of change and relative comfort level.
Ask her how she feels about it. Ask her about what her peers are talking about it. Give her a chance to voice any fears or concerns. Give her room to process the hormonal shifts and the inevitable feelings of embarrassment. Back off if she indicates she may need some space. But make sure she know that you are a safe and reliable resource for her to speak about it.
Have conversations about her menstrual cycle early on, when appropriate. Allow it to be an open topic, ideally, rather than a one time awkward sit down conversation. Perhaps even let her know when you have yours so that it becomes a normal part of life. Your openness and candor will give your daughter permission to hopefully not go into feelings of shame or feeling surrounding this eventual big change.
Let it be a good thing. Give your daughter a reason to feel proud and happy with her changing body as she steps into womanhood. Celebrate this right of passage in some meaningful way together. Offer a kind of private celebration. Maybe it’s a spa day, a celebratory meal together or even a special trip together. As we create rituals, habits and dialogue regarding our menstrual periods, we can begin to change the dynamic of how young women feel about their bodies. By giving them permission to step into this amazing part of their own life journey knowing they are supported and free of shame.