My daughter just started high school and as you can well imagine, she & her friends have been developing into young women for quite some time now.
There are the visible physical aspects, the attitude and the mood swings- YES- the mood swings.
And then there’s the period.
For some it has happened and for some it’s still looming, but at some point after age 10, there’s an AHA moment when you realize that a tummy ache may not be a tummy ache anymore and we catch ourselves asking nonchalantly (so as to not set off any alarm bells): “Is it a tummy ache actually in your belly? Does it feel crampy or do you feel like you have to throw up?”
Just recently, my daughter & I were fortunate enough to be the guests at the #BeingGirl event hosted by Procter & Gamble, more specifically by the Always & Tampax brands
The idea was to bring moms & daughters together in a forum where they could openly discuss issues related to puberty.
The group had a point where the Moms had their own little huddle together with the fabulous Kathy Buckworth, while the girls chatted with Degrassi’s Melissa Shankar.
While the Moms were with Kathy, the running theme seemed to be that often as parents, WE are the ones more freaked out about talking to our kids than the kids are about discussing these issues up with us. The consensus was, however, that the more comfortable you are speaking to your kids, the more open & honest that you are, the more likely that they will come to you with the harder questions.
For some though, the period is a “THING” that needs to be discussed. We discussed that in some cultures, it’s just not spoken about as freely. For others, the conversation just flows… pardon the pun!
Fortunately in our home, the period didn’t have to be a big discussion. Since my kids have been little, they’ve taken the liberty of wandering into the washroom when I’m there and inevitably have asked “what’s this?” about my pads. At first I just said that it was a pad and with time I have explained to them that Mommy’s body prepares each month to receive a new baby by creating a cushy lining and that when there’s no baby the body gets rid of the lining, which comes out as blood and Mommy puts on pads to catch it.
Glamourous? No. But it is what it is. And telling it like it is has taken the heebie-jeeebies out of it for my eldest. She just sees it as part of “Being a Girl”.
And there are other parts to becoming a woman: hair removal, body odour, skin care, makeup… We got a chance to touch upon each at the #BeingGirl event.
We visited various booths related to shaving, facial care and deodorant. There was also a super-fun booth with a ton of tinted lip balms- the perfect transition from “no makeup” to lipgloss…I think my daughter loved that one the most. They’re called “Smoochies” – I liked them too
There was a “SPOT” (pun intended) where we spoke about periods, pads & tampons. While admittedly the least comfortable of the booths to visit, it was the most informative.
The girls from P&G literally cut different types of pads in half to illustrate to the girls how different pads can have different thicknesses, absorbencies and comfort levels. They explained that there are tampons and pads designed especially to fit tweens & teens. Good to know.
In fact, what’s really good to know that P&G actually hosts a website called BEINGGIRL.COM where both girls & their parents can go to get reliable information on issues related to “being a girl”. It’s a great resource for tweens and there’s a lot of information regarding periods and even an instructional video on how to insert a tampon. Kind of beats your friend providing you instructions through the bathroom door….
I guess the greatest takeaway (besides all of the fun swag) was that if we want our kids to be open with us, we need to be open with them.
Years ago I heard Dr. Laurie Betito speak about talking to our kids about sex & sexuality and she correctly explained that if they sense that a topic is taboo, they will pick up on that and will be hesitant to discuss it, even when they need to. So as difficult as it sometimes is, we are open & honest with our kids when they ask questions.
Some guidelines that can be helpful are:
- Listen to the question- and answer that question. Sometimes we think they are asking more than they are and we give out too much information
- When they are surprised by your candor in answering uncomfortable questions, remind them: “I want you to always know that when you ask Mommy (Daddy) a question, we’ll always tell you the truth AND if we don’t know the right answer we’ll help you to find it. Your friends may think they have the right answers, but often they don’t.”
- Use “teachable moments” to open up a conversation “What do YOU think about how that girl is dressed?”, “What do YOU think about how your friend behaved at the party last night?” (Another tip from Dr. Laurie that has stayed with me through the years)
- If you’re really uncomfortable speaking face to face- try speaking in the car: You can avoid eye contact & you have a captive audience 😉
So really, I think the best way to think about it is that it’s not just about talking periods with your daughter…It’s about talking with your daughter. Period.
Wishing you a wonderful day, with an opportunity to chat 😉
Although my daughter & I were flown to Toronto courtesy of Procter & Gamble (Always & Tampax), I was not compensated to write this post. As with all of my posts, all opinions contained within are my own .