There are so many aspects to menstruation that it can be hard to know how to have a simple conversation with your daughter. Do you talk about biology, or what to actually expect when menstruation happens? There is always the aspect of sexuality, as well as the cultural attitude toward menstruation. And you have your own experience influencing your words. It can all seem overwhelming.
Each of these could be a separate conversation, and sometimes it helps to keep things simple. One of your daughter’s main concerns will be how it will actually feel to get her period, and where will she be? What if it happens at school? How long will it last?
Be sure she has simple explanations for what to expect, and that she has supplies or knows exactly where to get them if she needs them. You could give her a small basket with some pads ahead of time, as a gift in preparation for her first period. You could include the book Passage; a Girl’s Guide, available at GladRags.com, as a clear, brief and friendly introduction to menstruation.
Biology and sexuality are two main ways that menstruation is discussed, but there are other equally important things to consider. How will her monthly cycle affect her life?
This is a huge question, and something that is greatly influenced by our culture.
It can be greatly reassuring and meaningful for her if you can help her to understand menstruation as a powerful aspect of female experience, rather than a nuisance.
One way to do this is to associate her own rhythms with the cycles of nature. You and your daughter can observe the cycles of the moon and see that each month the moon has a bright radiant time and a quiet time of retreat. What would it be like if you considered your own cycles in the same way?
This simple concept…that her menstrual time is a time each month when she will naturally turn more toward herself and her own needs, can actually make menstruation something to look forward to. It is a time for catching up and refreshing herself in order to stay healthy. This concept can relieve a lot of the struggle that women have with their cycles, and will make a big difference in your daughter’s life.