Every mother of a daughter must have agonized over having ‘The Talk’ with her child at some time or the other.
‘When is the right time?’ – would definitely top the list of agonies related to discussing puberty and menstruation with one’s daughter. ‘How to go about it?’ – would come a very close second followed by ‘How much to tell or not to tell?’ – would come in third because, let’s face it – many mothers are likely to give up at the very first hurdle itself, thus rendering the two that follow irrelevant.
Well, here are some tips for all you mothers out there – all you wanted to know about having ‘The Talk’ but didn’t know who to ask.
Have ‘The Talk’ as early as possible:
Would you really want to talk to your pre-teen or teenage daughter about puberty? That’s the age when they think they know it all and that their parents don’t know as much. She’ll probably roll her eyes at you, turn a deaf ear to your pearls of wisdom. And, her head must be already stuffed with knowledge and half-knowledge about mysterious bodily changes; gleaned from the internet and her classmates. As all parents know, it is very hard to compete with that.
No, it’s better to catch them when they are young. More and more girls are hitting puberty at an early age. Chances are that by the time she’s in grade 4, a couple of her classmates may have begun their periods. Also, when they’re 8-9 years old, they still believe that their parents know more than they do. So, you could get her to actually sit and listen to you.
Don’t make ‘The Talk’ a big deal, make it special instead
Any mother knows that if you tell a child you need to ‘talk’, the child will immediately zone out. So, instead of looking and sounding all serious since you’re having this conversation about her body- first period, safe sex, hygiene and her health, why not make it a special occasion? Use it as a mother-daughter bonding time, go out for ice-cream, find yourselves a cosy nook to sit in and talk with her, not at her. Maybe you could begin with sharing some secrets from your girlhood days. This will make her feel important, that you both have secrets together. She’ll know that puberty is something you went through as well. That will reassure her because now she will be confident that she can come to you for guidance and support.
And you will be able to do the same when she grows up and you grow older. It’s a win-win situation, so why not lay the foundation for it right away?
Keep ‘The Talk’ simple!
It’s always easier for your child to grasp or understand the information if you keep it simple. Reading up on your facts always helps so that you’re not misinforming her in any way. But don’t overwhelm her with terms, facts and figures. You can brush up on your knowledge of the subject here.
Remember this, if you’re uncomfortable with the topic, she will feel the same. Yes, she needs to know about the physical changes that her body will go through. Tell her what to look out for, so that she doesn’t die of embarrassment the first time she sees a red stain on her dress. This is a critical stage in her life and you want to equip her with the knowledge and skills required to get through it. You need to tell her upfront why menstruation happens, make her aware of it, how it works and how best to manage it. Periods aren’t horrible nor are they embarrassing. But her life is going to change in a huge way and she has to be mentally prepared for these changes and confident about how to handle them.
Make ‘The Talk’ an ongoing process
Bearing in mind that your daughter will have her periods for the next 30-35 years of her life, this is a topic that, ideally should not be taken off the table anytime soon. Keep the talk simple, but also keep it going. Her body is going to go through a lot of changes and she has to feel comfortable to discuss them with you. Unless you would rather she visits unreliable and shady internet sites or depend on hush-hush conversations with her friends. She’ll probably do all of that as it is, but she must also feel that ‘Mother Knows Best’.
Let her ask you questions, let her show you what she is and isn’t comfortable with when it comes to discussing her body. Most importantly, let her involve you to be a part of this and every other stage that she goes through in her life.
Pretty soon it will be time for you to have another ‘Talk’ with her – about sex, safe sex, pregnancies, relationships and all the rest of it. She has to know that she can come to you and talk to you about it, that you’ll always be there for her. And that is the bottom line.
So, good luck and happy talking!