(the one that is always emphasized.)
It’s not an easy conversation to have.
Talking about your baby girl growing up–to your baby girl!–ranks up there as one of the hardest parenting tasks ever.
Take heart in knowing that your daughter needs you to have this conversation with her. Know that you, well-equipped and knowledgeable, can be the most important person to discuss it with her. Understand that “The Talk” isn’t really one exchange between you and your daughter, but hopefully the first and just one of many that you will share as she’s maturing.
I think it’s important to come into an “information-based” conversation like this well-armed. Because I’m a reader, I sought information on the web. Loads of parenting experts out there purport to have the perfect approach and technique. And they very well might. For them. Your perfect approach may be very different from theirs, but will fit your family’s style. Having various examples and detailed specific information will give you a framework for your conversation. It will also help you realize that you’re not alone in this experience, something good to realize!
In addition to searching for answers online, I also queried my friends. Oh, the valuable information I gleaned there! But I also realized that what was perfect for my friends and their daughters might not be a good fit for me and my daughter. Again, it was good to know I wasn’t alone!
All through this information-gathering, I learned so much about First Periods and about Parent-Child convos. And I became comfortable about the idea of having this conversation with my baby. (And you will too!)
Have a Plan
As I mentioned in last month’s U by Kotex Tween Mom Ambassador announcement, it’s crucial to have a plan for the conversation. I appreciated the depth of information and strategies I found at Kotex–First Period Talk. I even enjoyed the Q & A section where I was able to read some questions that young girls have had about this time in their lives and the answers given to them by three different people: a peer, a mom, and a health expert.
I realized that the more I knew (and honestly,this is true about any subject), the better I could break down the conversation into manageable bites for my daughter to digest. It’s so important to not overwhelm her with too much too soon. Because the first discussion will be just the first in a series. Because I am having this very difficult conversation with her NOW to give her information she’ll need before she actually needs it. Because I’m laying the foundation for more information that she’ll be able to process after she’s processed this information.
One of the most valuable bits of advice I was given very early as a parent was to really process my child’s question at the child’s level of comprehension. To not go into more detail than my child was asking for. (Which, truthfully, is very difficult for me. I’m definitely the person who’ll tell you how to make a clock if you ask me what time it is!)
All kidding aside, though, it is far more important to truthfully answer questions at an age-appropriate level — and to field them as they come in– than to present more information at one time than a child can absorb.
Know Your Daughter
Is she easily embarrassed? Perhaps you can buy her a few books that will enable her to study the topic in private. My daughter loves all of the American Girl books and recommends The Care and Keeping of You for girls at this stage.
Is your family a “Car Talk” family? We are! More topics are discussed driving down the highway (or even sometimes sitting in our car in the driveway!) than on the evening news. Something about the close proximity but not full-on eye contact makes tough conversations so much easier.
Remember Your First Time
Were you prepared for your first period? Did your mom tell you about it before it happened? How was the conversation handled? Think about how it might have gone differently. How are you different from your mom? How is your child different from you as a tween?
I was very lucky that my mom and I were very close as I was growing up and that closeness translated into an easy (at least for me!) series of growing up conversations. I always felt like I could ask her anything and that she would truthfully answer my question. Looking back, I’m sure I tested her a few times with questions that were probably incredibly personal or embarrassing, but I remember her always answering my questions in an age-appropriate way and never making me feel stupid for asking them and never scolding me for being impertinent.
It might be helpful to tell your daughter about your first time. Share your hopes, fears, expectations–and whether or not they were valid. This is a great way to connect with your daughter and build on your relationship.
Take the time to put together a First Period Kit and give it to your daughter. Take a few minutes to discuss the contents and then leave it with her. Let her explore it again at her own pace and make sure you leave replacement supplies somewhere she can access them. Let her know that all supplies are not created equal and that all women are different and have different needs. A tween pad is far smaller than a woman’s pad (thank goodness!) and what suits a tween girl may not be what suits her as an adult. Encourage and help her to find products that will fit her needs.
Continue the Conversation
You’ll be surprised how many conversation starters will present themselves after this first discussion. Commercials on television, advertisements in magazines, even sales fliers and coupons from the Sunday paper might be good kindling for a convo. Seize them! Be approachable, not preachy, and find a conversation style that suits your relationship. It might be a simple “Have you noticed this lately?” or “What do you think about this?“ or “Would you like something like this?“ Sometimes a simple question from you might be all it takes to encourage several more on her part… and you’re off and running.
Your daughter is lucky to have you as a resource!!
Disclosure: 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.