A Message to Dads with Daughters Going Through Puberty
I got my period when I was 13. I wasn’t the first of my friends but I wasn’t the last. I remember being so thankful that I got it while I was at home over summer break rather than it coming by surprise when I was at school. I woke up, peed, and noticed the blood in my pee. I got SO EXCITED. I ran and found my mom and told her--I don’t remember her reaction, I think she was excited.
What I’ll never forget is my dad’s reaction. He was outside on the grill (so DAD of him) and I proudly proclaimed, “DAD. GUESS WHAT. I GOT MY PERIOD!!” He said something along the lines of, “I really didn’t need to hear that.” Society makes it taboo to talk about periods. Especially for men. He probably didn’t know how much that would make me feel embarrassed and how it perpetuated the fossilized belief that our periods are something we should hide. Not only men do it, women do it too, and I often catch even myself cringing inside when the subject is brought up around men.
I doubt there are any dads out there reading this...but if there are, and you have a daughter, please make the effort to listen and make her feel safe to talk about these things with you. If every dad responded with, “That’s amazing, how do you feel? Is there anything I can do for you?” or something like that we could break the stigma and it will set her up to expect this kind of treatment where she feels valued and respected from the men who come later in her life.
Getting your period is a super exciting yet scary, vulnerable and uncomfortable time in a girl's life. You feel a bit out of control of your own body. You’re in pain. You’re too scared to put a tampon in because you wonder “how does that whole thing fit in there?!” (yes I thought the plastic applicator goes in too HAHA) so you wear a big uncomfortable pad and you feel like a giant baby.
You’re bleeding through your underwear and you have to ask your friends to “check you” if you’ve got any stains on your pants at school. Sometimes you do and it’s SUPER embarrassing, you wonder how long it’s been there and how many people saw.
So dads, we understand that it can be an uncomfortable thing for you to talk about because you’ve never experienced it, but don’t let that be an excuse. Educate yourself. It may have been harder to find information back then but now there’s loads of information available on the Internet, so no excuses!
It goes the same for the sex talk too, dads. My mom frequently checked in with me when I had a boyfriend in high school about whether or not I was being safe. My dad threw a box of condoms on my bed and said “Don’t be stupid”. I know he cared, but sometimes it was hard to tell.
My mom encouraged me to start taking birth control when she knew I was having sex. I went on the pill. I was always really good about remembering to take it every day but it made me VERY emotional. I decided to go off of it for a year after my boyfriend and I broke up. But then I was being stupid and would have totally unprotected sex. I went back on a pill but it made me gain weight and I couldn’t remember to take it every day, so I stopped again. This time opted for the IUD. I had many friends, including friends who were nurses, recommend it to me. I was scared for a while because I’d heard how painful it is.
It WAS frickin painful getting it in omg. And the first few periods were brutal. But now I’ve had it in for a year and I don’t get any periods at all, I didn’t gain weight and my emotions are “normal”. I haven’t had sex in like six months (cue sad violin) so I don’t get worried about being pregnant. You’re supposed to get all up in yourself and check if it’s still in there every month but I don’t do that to be honest because I’m not getting my period so I know it must be in there. I’ve also tried and can’t even reach that far. Overall I’d say it was worth the pain!
To summarize, dads please show you care about ALL aspects of your daughter’s life and provide a safe space for her. And, I recommend the IUD if you aren’t good with remembering to take your pill, or you’ve had bad experiences with the pill, and you don’t want periods.