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Usually in a home, the mother will teach her daughter about menstrual periods, but consider this following situation:

In my neighbor's home the father takes care of his daughter (at present the child's age is 10), and his wife is gone. He has the responsibility to teach his daughter everything now. He is worried about how to teach his daughter about menstruation.

What is the best way for him to teach his daughter about menstrual cycles?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 19 down vote accepted

As a male who previously worked customer service for feminine care products, I think I might be able to provide some advice here.

Get familiar with the different feminine hygiene brands. Assuming you are in the US, that's Kotex, Always, Stayfree, Tampax, Playtex, etc. Don't just assume that having the talk is the end of it. There will be an adjustment period (no pun intended) as the daughter gets accustomed to wearing pads and finding which one works best for her flow needs. In the meantime, there may be some embarrassing leakage incidents which will need to be handled with understanding and maturity. Don't make this any harder than it already is for her. If he's the primary launderer as well, make sure that he can identify and properly launder the staining and adhesive residue that will likely occur with some of her clothing during this process.

Spend some time in the feminine care aisle. Understand the difference between the different products. You're probably going to end up in this aisle trying to find the one product your daughter says that "works", and it isn't fun to get back from the store with the wrong ones.

The internet is your friend here. In addition to lots of product information, some feminine care product websites like Always and Kotex brands also contain information about different women's health issues like menstruation, body changes during puberty, as well as suggestions for parents that are bringing up the subject for the first time with their daughter. Some of this information is printable so you can use hand it directly to the daughter and allow her to read it at her own pace. The Kotex site also has period planners and message boards for asking questions that the girl isn't comfortable enough asking face-to-face.

If the internet isn't your thing, pick up the phone and call the consumer services departments of these companies directly. There are people there whose sole purpose is to make you feel comfortable with choosing, buying and using feminine care products.

Don't try to do it alone. There are people around that would be happy to help.

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This is terrific. The only thing I'd add is to start off asserting that you don't know everything about this subject and that it'll be a learning process for both of you. –  Charles Nov 26 '12 at 21:16

I would suggest the following strategy:

  • Learn the facts. Do a bit of reading to make sure you know the whole story, perhaps by talking to female friends.
  • Then give a frank and honest account of what will be going on in the girl's body and why.
  • Make sure the girl has tampons or pads available for when the event happens, and make sure she know how to use them.

Do not:

  • Delay telling the girl about these facts of life. Imagine how she would feel if she had her period, but did not know what was happening.
  • Don't make menstruation seem anyway mysterious or dirty (in spite of what the bible says) or anything to be ashamed of or that needs to be hidden. It's a fact of life.
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The parent might want to provide pads as an alternative to tampons... (Is pad the right word?) –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Aug 28 '12 at 13:11
    
Answer adjusted. My own ignorance was shining through. –  Dave Clarke Aug 28 '12 at 13:17
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I salute you for even posting. Did you see my answer? Me neither :-) –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Aug 28 '12 at 14:11
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As a woman, I recommend pads for beginners! –  Christine Gordon Nov 26 '12 at 2:17
    
@Christine - absolutely, it will take awhile for most girls to warm up to the idea of the tampon as well as actually figure out how to use one comfortably. –  balanced mama Nov 26 '12 at 3:36

In addition to the other wonderful recommendations, I would suggest to the father to cultivate an atmosphere of open conversation in his home:

Don't make menstruation the only topic that you talk about with your daughter, because then it will be strange and uncomfortalbe for both of you. Begin by talking about how you feel and how you live life in general. Make it a habit to share your thoughts with your child. I don't mean to burden your child with the worries of adult life by abusing her as an emotional outlet. Just show her that you regard her as an growing person worthy of sharing your life instead of living side by side in different worlds. Talk about politics, you wish to find a new partner and the problems that you face, what you like about your job, etc., and make sexuality, conception and love one topic among many that you talk about.

That way, your daughter will talk to you about her worries and aspirations, and you don't have to force your knowledge on her or draw her secrets out of her.

Also, accept that some things your daughter might not want to talk about with you, so encourage her to talk to her peers or female adults that she trusts, if there are things that she is more comfortable discussing with a woman. Just as a boy needs men to grow up into a man, a girls needs women to grow up into a woman. No one parent can be everything to his or her child, but you can help your child find the help she needs, by being open and supportive in general.

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I taught Middle School health for a number of years and had to have these chats with boys and girls. In addition to Zoot's wonderful answer, I would suggest to this neighbor of yours, having a few extra resources on hand. The first of these would be a good "girl's stuff" book. The American Girl's company offers a number of wonderful "girl issue" books that aren't only about menstruation but ALL of the pecularities to being a girl in US society. I'm not sure who makes, "The Care and Keeping of You" anymore, it might even by American Girls, but it is a wonderful resource when it comes to feminine hygiene.

The second resource would be a female mentor. As Zoot also recommends, don't go it alone. Does she have a "godmother," special aunt she is really close to or female neighbor you trust and feel comfortable speaking with about girl things and having her speak with? There will be issues other than starting her period that she will likely see as "girl things" about which she will likely want a female to speak with. Boys, makeup, frustrations about gender roles and expectations, financial decisions are actually impacted by our gender at times, fashion, even career decisions can sometimes have aspects related to being a girl. The father should, try to hook her up with a female mentor with whom she can have an open relationship and so can the father (I mean platonic here). That way if she really wants a girl for something, she has an adult the father trusts to go to rather than just her girl friends (that might have highly inaccurate or counterproductive information). The relationship can start with a few trips to get nails done, a shopping trip for school clothes or other "girly" things. Perhaps she and this mentor figure can even go to a few "girl power" movies together over her high school years that the father won't be interested in seeing but she will be.

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My advise would be to get her a book meant for children which teaches about menstruation.

The book should be filled with non-frightening pictures of the human body with a simple-to-understand language.

The reason is that she might feel embarrassed to ask questions about this to her father. The good book will answer her questions in her privacy.

Moreover, she should be given a desk/wall calendar in which she can mark her due dates. This will prevent her from forgetting the date of her next period, and thus avoid getting into embarrassing situations if she is out of home during the next menses' date.

She should be told to always carry two pads and a tight underwear in her purse (many girls have irregular periods). This will give her a sense of self confidence that there is nothing to worry about even if the periods start a week earlier than the due date.

I also think that the father should forget that she's a "girl". If the father feels awkward/ashamed to talk about blood coming out of the vagina to her, the girl will sense it, and then she might also start feeling embarrassed and ashamed about the same. This will add to her miseries since she already has no one to share her pains with.

The father should talk to her as he would talk to his male friends. If he feels that the girl is shying away from him, he should strongly tell her, "Why are you shying about this? This is normal and it is a sign that you are healthy. In fact, if it doesn't happen then you should start worrying. See, the book also says the same"!

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:( I didn't read balanced mama's answer before posting this. Seems she has already talked about the book! –  TheIndependentAquarius Apr 3 '13 at 5:41
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+1 for suggesting to avoid treating is as an embarrassing topic. It's normal and should not be awkward. (Although of course it is.) –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Apr 3 '13 at 7:53

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