A father’s guide on talking about periods with daughter
By Mical Imbukwa
Hey fathers, are you ready for your daughter’s first period?! Yes? No? Never?
For a single father, discussing topics such as menstruation with your daughter might be challenging, especially considering the African traditional beliefs.
A recent study on social media revealed the different perspectives of men in Kenya about menstruation. As much as many believe that cultivating a close relationship with their daughter is paramount, they would rather a female handle the period’s conversation. However, it’s essential to create an open and comfortable environment for communication.
One of the comments said, ‘I don’t understand why a father should be the one to talk to the daughter about periods. I’d rather remain a traditional man.’
Another one said, ‘This is a delegated task. Why should a dad be the one discussing periods, yet he has no experience? Good lessons should be practical. The mother is better placed.’
When asked how they would go about the conversation if they were single dads, they maintained that they would seek the help of close female friends or relatives.
In a conversation with Njoroge, a facilitator, community health promoter and a single father to a 14-year-old girl, he emphasizes the importance of men leading the conversation, stating that a man should not have embarrassment towards their daughter.
He shares tips on how he confronted the conversation with his daughter as early as nine years old, emphasizing the importance of starting the conversation early. This, according to him, helps your 9-year-old understand the changes her body will undergo.
Choose right time and place
According to Njoroge, timing is crucial when approaching the subject of periods. Pick a quiet, private moment when you and your daughter can talk without interruptions. Creating an atmosphere where she feels secure and free to express her thoughts and concerns is important.
Use age-appropriate language
When discussing periods with a 9-year-old, using simple and age-appropriate language is crucial. Avoid overly scientific terms and provide information in a way she can understand. You might say, “As you grow older, your body will undergo changes, and one of those changes is something called menstruation.”
Be open and honest
Approach the conversation with honesty and openness. Explain that menstruation is a natural part of a woman’s life, and it signifies that her body can create life. Assure her that it’s a normal process that happens to all women.
Emphasize personal hygiene
Discuss the importance of personal hygiene during menstruation. Explain how using sanitary pads or tampons can help her stay comfortable and clean during her period. The longest she can wear a pad is between four to eight hours. Provide practical demonstrations if necessary, ensuring she understands how to use these products properly.
Don’t forget emotional and physical changes
Apart from the physical changes such as the development of breasts, pimples, and broadening of the hips, talk about the emotional aspects that may accompany menstruation. Explain that mood swings and other emotional fluctuations are normal during this time. Tell her she can always talk to you about any concerns or questions.
Let your daughter know it’s okay to have questions and that you are there to answer them. Encourage her to ask anything she might be curious about and respond with patience and understanding. If you’re unsure about something, let her know you’ll find the information together.
Support and normalize
Reiterate that menstruation is a natural part of growing up; there’s no need to be embarrassed or ashamed. Normalize the conversation by sharing that women worldwide experience this, and it’s a shared aspect of womanhood.
Based on the African traditional cultural values, it is a challenge for a father to have a period conversation with their 9-year-old daughter, but with intentionality, they can make it. As a dad, keep empowering yourself with accurate information, which will increase your confidence in period conversations with your daughter.
Are you a father of a teen girl? Have you ever had a conversation about periods? Share with us useful tips on how to go about it in the comments section. If you have not, why not?