Unsure about the period talk? Read this …
Lottie: MUM! Sarah started her period at school today and she’s only 8!
Me: Whoa – yup – remember I told you that girls as young as 8 are starting to get their periods.
Lottie: Yeah, but that’s sooo young – she must have been really scared.
That was a real conversation between me and my daughter last year. Luckily (or unluckily, depends who you ask!) my kids have been brought up with the ‘Period Talk’ since they were about 8 and 10 respectively, so not much phases them. I have a son who is happy to hand me my menstrual cup in the shower and a daughter who regularly openly celebrates the arrival of her period undies in the post.
Now before you judge, I’m not talking about OVER celebrating or smearing myself or my children’s faces in their own menstrual blood. I’m merely referring to NORMALISING the conversation around menstruation with two humans, of which one will and does regularly bleed from her vagina and another, who will be around people that do or are, regularly bleeding from their vagina.
The earlier you have the period talk and normalise it with your kids, the better. First up, make it part of the body and puberty talk, no need to sensationalise anything. Heck, at the end of the day, it’s one of the most natural processes in the world, without which, none of us would be here.
In my experience, people only weird out about stuff when you weird out about it!
The scariest thing I’ve found over the years is just how little we talk about periods with our kids. Then, as a result, just how little adults know about even the simplest things, like the four phases of the cycle. Have you got any idea what happens in the luteal phase of yours, or even when that is?
The sooner our kids understand their cycle and what’s happening physiologically and emotionally at EVERY stage and phase, the more empowering it is as a woman and the more well equipped you can be as a bloke to support the females in your life.
There’s so much more to the topic than just a period. There’s the environmental impact, the hygiene side of things (are you a ‘binner’ or a ‘flusher’ for example?!), the different cultural and traditional taboos and the range of menstrual products available nowadays.
Understanding what the colour of your blood means, the fact that painful PMT isn’t something that ANY female should suffer from. Just because you have your period doesn’t then automatically mean that you sign up for some lifelong monthly pain debt that you may have clocked up in a previous lifetime.
HAVING THE PERIOD TALK (CONT.)
Then there’s period poverty (yup, that’s a thing) that (just quietly), is happening in your own backyard – it’s not just a ‘developing’ world issue. What about trans-gender bleeding? Athletes, women fleeing domestic violence, disabled women, women in the defence force – how do they all manage their periods?
You can talk about and download period trackers, you can myth-bust that all females living together bleed at the same time, or that the cycle has to last for 28 days. You could even take bets on how much blood you think you’re losing every period.
There’s so much fun to be had with the period talk whilst at the same time, EDUCATING your kids on something fundamental to their development.
Another important thing is to talk about how they feel discussing it with their dad – bearing in mind that they may or they may not want to. It obviously makes things a lot more complicated if they don’t want to. My research shows that the number one thing females wished their dads did when they were younger was to be able to at least talk about the topic and be happy to go and buy them the sanitary products they needed!
So, encourage the period talk where you can or else it’s over to you! Oh and remember you’ll both need to make sure there’s bins in the loos so your kids don’t have to come up with some ninja way of transporting blood ridden pads and tampons from the bathroom to the bin in the kitchen – ewww!
You may like to buy your daughter a small gift to celebrate the start of her period. If this is you, get some great gift ideas here: Gifts for teenage girls which have nothing to do with iPhones.