Last month we were delighted to announce that we're U by Kotex Tween Ambassadors. To read our introduction please click this link. The topic for this month is initating the discussion about physical changes, the first period inparticular, with our tween daughters.
I feel so blessed to have daughters with whom I have the opportunity to help create an open and supportive environment with regards to the subject of feminine health. I expect by starting now, when they are young, they will have the tools, language and understanding of what it is to be a woman as they move forward in their lives and someday have their own children.
Initiating the conversation can be intimidating for our daughters and ourselves, but a helpful first step if this is the case is to try to get comfortable with the topic ourselves. I've found it immensley helpful to check out the U by Kotex Tween Hello Period site. You can peruse or immerse yourself in the subject of menstruation as it relates to tweens.
It is my belief that when a discussion can be had about our periods with comfort and ease the taboo and embarassment that often accompanies the topic can largely be eliminated individually and ultimately, someday, as a society. It is up to each parent to know their daughter well enough to know when and how to share information about physical changes, the period, sexual education and so forth, but by providing the information we are giving our kids the gift of knowledge as opposed to leaving them wondering, guessing and potentially getting erroneous second information from friends.
U by Kotex Tween has a campaign called, "Break the Cycle" where they encourage girls through education, video and a forum to improve unhealthy attitudes about menstruation. There is even a fun and interactive tool to design your own pad with money donated to a program for social change.
The alternative to not discussing the period and physical changes with our daughters can be dangerous: we run the risk of our daughters receiving misinformation, misunderstanding, missing the chance to share not only the facts, but the special occassion that is becoming a woman as well as the risk of embrassement if she is not well prepared. How many stories have we heard from friends and family (as well as our own) of an unfortunate and sad first period.
It is with all of this in mind that I very casually and carefully began to open up with my daughters about what goes on "during that time of the month" -- a couple years ago. Using myself and my experiences as an example I explained things along the lines that, "Today I am going to take it easy and rest, my body is doing some important work and my energy is best spent doing that." Naturally they were curious and I described what happens each month. There was some "ew-ing" and of course they asked if it hurt. I had to remind them, again gently, that it was a natural process just as the sun sets and the moon rises. I told them the truth that it can hurt because of cramps, headaches, etc. but much of this can be managed and what is true for one person isn't true for all, our cycles are each unique.
After that I offered them a book to read, which months later I followed up by reading together. Again, every parent can best guage how their child will recieve their approach, but I kept things casual, but made a point to let them know that a period is special part of being female. I asked if they had any questions and after I answered them I made sure to add that if they thought of anything later or were confused they could always feel comfortable asking me. This being a potentially sensitive subject, I was very self-aware: of my body language, the words I used and facial expressions, I made sure to still be authentic at the same time.
U by Kotex Tween has another great resource with loads of questions, answers and facts that I read and know is available for my girls is so helpful. When questions and curiosities come up I will direct them here. While I want my kids to discuss the period with me first, I know that at times for a girl, as they change and explore who they are, it is beneficial to receive the info from another source and U by Kotex Tween I feel I can trust to provide reliable and "real" info. See the Find the Facts section on the Hello Period section of their site for more!
Another way to initiate the conversation is to write your daughter a note in a journal about the subject, leave it for her to read in her time and invite her to respond. Or you can try exchanging emails or forward them the U by Kotex Tween site link. Eventually a verbal dialog can be had after the initial ice has been broken.
Being on the receiving end of all this new information, especially if prior to any apparent changes, can be overwhelming. Spreading the subject out over several discussions can be helpful. So often we hear about "the talk" and just a single discussion runs the risk of our daughters shutting down, missing out on valuable info and sharing an important facet of life with the ones we love. It may not be cupcakes and rainbows, but our periods are a fact of life and in the long run it seems a conversation where openness, respect, facts and the opportunity for questions, fears and thoughts can all be discussed best serves our daughters.
I wish all you moms luck and please feel free to ask questions, leave comments or start a discussion of our own to exchange ideas, tips and other helpful information below.
“I wrote this review while participating in a Brand Ambassador Campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of U by Kotex Tween and received products to facilitate my post and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”