How do I have “the talk” with my daughter about puberty and menstruation?

Whether you are a mom or a dad – or a stepparent or guardian, initiating “the talk” about puberty and menstruation with your daughter may seem daunting for fear of blushing faces and the rolling of eyes. Although she may truly want to know what’s going on with her body and learn what to expect from this change, she may likely be too shy to approach you. That’s why it’s important to let her know you’re there for her to talk about these things. If she pushes you away, don’t let it discourage you – she may just feel embarrassed and not quite ready to face it… just yet.

Test the waters with her from time to time but keep it casual and light so she’ll feel more at ease. You know her best. What does she like to do for fun? Perhaps an activity she enjoys will help break the ice for “the talk”.

If you’re her mom or stepmom, let her know you’ve been there and that it wasn’t so easy, but you got through it. Share some of your stories from that ‘tender’ time. She’ll probably be amused and it could bring on some laughs and warm things up for a deeper conversation.

No matter what, it’s important to re-assure her that you know what she’s going through and that you’re there for her. Sometimes you just have to say it out loud so she knows it for sure. And while you’re at it why not share what you’re appreciating about her? These are all the things that help us build intimacy and trust with one another. It may even bolster her confidence at this tricky time of life.

If you find she’s just not having any of it, and she keeps shutting you down, it could mean she finds it too awkward or too personal a matter to discuss with you. Although this may hurt you, try to accept this and suggest that she find another adult she’s comfortable with for this conversation. It could be a family member, stepparent, teacher, coach, nurse or guidance counselor. Let her know your feelings aren’t hurt (despite how you may really be feeling) and that what’s most important to you is that she gets the answers she needs.

Re-assure her that you’ll buy whatever feminine hygiene products she needs each month, until she’s comfortable enough to go into a store to buy her own. Perhaps you could write a note and tell her which products you use and she can write back and check off what she wants for now. You may even want to put together a “period essentials kit” for her with:

  • A Playtex® Sport® Combo pack, Playtex® Sport® Pads or Playtex® Sport® Liners
  • Chocolate or her favourite snack
  • Ibuprofen
  • A travel-size stain-remover stick
  • A heating pad or hot water bottle
  • Her favourite book or movie
  • A discreet pouch or pack for carrying some of these items on-the-go

It’s not an easy time, but you’ll get through it. Perhaps one day she’ll even look back at this time and appreciate the space and the support you gave… in your own way.