The fact that your kid has a mom doesn’t absolve you from talking to her about her period — or did you want to actively contribute to body issues later in life? That said, navigating her own personal Shark Week for the first time can be all sorts of awkward for both of you. It’s the kind of thing that makes you wish you had advice for someone who knows the topic so well, she built an award-winning business around it.
“It’s important for dads to be able to talk to their kids about their health,” says Naama Bloom, someone who knows the topic so well, she built an award-winning business around it. “Talking openly to your kid about menstruation will make her feel that it’s just like anything else that can happen to her body. It’s de-stigmatizing,” Bloom says.
Bloom isn’t here to pitch you on the starter kits that her company, Hello Flo, sells to make this transition easier for you and your kid (although you might want to pick one up); she’s here to get you over that first hump and help you create the kind of communication you’re both going to want as your kid gets older. “Your kids aren’t always going to make great choices,” Bloom says (See? It’s like she knows them already!). “The less judgmental you are in all of these early conversations, the more you’re setting the foundation for talking to you about issues that arise later.”
Before You Have The Talk
1. Don’t Wait Until Puberty
If you start discussing the body early and call a spade a spade (and a vagina a vagina), she’s going to be a lot more comfortable the first time you bring up her ovaries. “Keep everything matter-of-fact and start young, and they’ll know you’re open to having this conversation,” Bloom says.
2. Know When Puberty Begins
A few dead giveaways: Body odor, breast “buds”, and acne. Even if she’s a few years from experience her menarche (Bonus Step 3: Know that “menarche” refers to a girl’s first period), what matters is that you tee up the conversation before it actually happens. “I would hate for a girl to get it before she knew what it was,” says Bloom. Somewhere, your daughter is nodding her head furiously in agreement.
When It’s Time For The Talk
1. Choose A Low-Key Location
Bloom is giving you the benefit of the doubt that you know exactly where not to initiate the topic of menstruation with your kid (i.e. in front of her soccer team), but there are places that can actively make it easier. “The car is a great place because there’s no eye contact,” she says. The couch provides a similar dynamic, and it kills 2 birds with one stone if you happen to hate her taste in TV shows. Nothing kills an episode of The Kardashians like saying to your daughter, “I want to talk to you about your period,” right as the title sequence starts. The main thing is to identify a moment when there’s no outside pressure.
2. Make It Normal
Here’s a stat you can use to blow her mind, make her laugh, and totally break the ice: “One quarter of all the women you meet are on their period right now. When you think about it like that, it doesn’t feel as scary,” Bloom says. If the location allows, play a few rounds of “Guess Which Random Female Stranger Is On Her Period” before abruptly announcing, “Ok, now let’s talk about your uterus.”
3. Admit That You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About
While Bloom absolutely thinks you should read up on the topic beforehand and have the basics nailed down, don’t go memorizing the Wikipedia entry. “Admitting you don’t know everything is incredibly empowering and builds a lot of trust,” Bloom says. It also give you the opportunity to pull a “Let Me Google That For You” on her, which always kills.
Nothing kills an episode of The Kardashians like saying to your daughter, “I want to talk to you about your period,” right as the title sequence starts
4. Give Her Some Options Over How This Goes
Whether you pick up one of the Hello Flo starter kits or pull together some printouts from the interwebs, let her know that you’re happy to just leave some information with her to digest on her own. In addition to making her feel slightly better about the fact that she’s (most likely) going to run away from you so fast she might sprain something, it also ensures that she understands you’re open to having tricky conversations without putting pressure on her if she’s not.
That understanding will be invaluable a few years later when you have to talk to her about the horizontal tango, but you’re going to need an entirely different expert for that conversation.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEcZmT0fiNM expand=1]