How to Talk to Your Daughter Daughter About Her Period — Teaching Dads to Talk About Menstruation

Period Month, Dads Period

Design by Perri Tomkiewicz

Welcome to BAZAAR.com’s first ever Period Month, where for an entire four weeks we’ll be publishing stories devoted to your period, delving into what really happens during a woman’s cycle.


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Most dads, I’d wager, don’t have an extensive experience with period underwear. Most fellas, for that matter, probably don’t even know what they are. The America we live in, the world we live in, does not ask men to confront menstruation. It’s a thing we know that happens, but never have to deal with in a meaningful way. Out of sight and out of mind. And if it ever does enter our minds, it arrives as something…gross. Blood on the hands of a hero in an action movie is manly. Blood on the hands of the average woman on the regular is something else entirely.

And if it’s not gross, it’s embarrassing: For some reason, men think that showing up to the cash register with pads or tampons will render them less masculine—not a man, simply helping to care for a woman he loves.

To me, being a good parent is being a whole parent—not abdicating the parts of it that you think you won’t like. Changing diapers, bandaging wounds, delivering punishments, helping with homework, doctor appointments, parent-teacher conferences—no one likes that stuff, but we all do it. Because this is the job. And you won’t ever get to do those parts of the job again.

“For some reason, men think that showing up to the cash register with pads or tampons will render them less masculine.”

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Helping your child to understand her body, without making her fear it, is similarly part of the job. This is who she is, and the woman she’ll become will be, in great part, because of how you treat her today. If you are afraid to discuss menstruation and birth control and sex, then she will be, too.

But that is, all too often, not the way things work. So for the average father of a girl entering puberty, dealing with her period is something that falls to the child’s mother, or older sister, or grandmother.

But when you have an autistic child, as I do, “average” is not a word you utter very much. Every new development in her maturity is something that needs to be approached anew. And so helping my 14-year-old daughter through all of the nooks and crannies of puberty is something my wife and I share.

There’s a saying: If you meet one kid with autism, you’ve met one kid with autism. Every child is different—it’s not called the autistic spectrum disorder for nothing. My daughter is verbal, but not conversant. She can communicate basic needs, but she’ll never tell us how she feels. Angry, sad, happy, uncomfortable…it falls to her mother and me to read the signs.

Teaching her how to use a pad, or wear a liner, proved impossible.

“Helping your daughter to understand her body—without making her fear it—is part of the job.”

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She hates the way they feel and no matter how often we’d remind her to “leave your pad alone,” if we’d leave her alone for a minute, the minute after would be a Maxi-Pad Hunt. She could shuck a pad from her underwear like an ear of corn and hide it somewhere in the house just as fast. Like Easter Sunday, but instead of eggs and candy, we’d be looking for wadded-up sanitary napkins.

And the way my daughter learns is through repetition—she loves a routine, day in, day out. If she had to wear a pad every day of her life, she’d probably get used to it. I’d have to get a second job to afford the pallets of pads we’d have to buy, but she’d eventually get over the discomfort—the same way she got over having to eat vegetables.

But for only five days a month? No chance. And, also, no end in sight. We spoke to a doctor once, before she hit puberty, and he told us there was a drug which could be prescribed for children like mine that would all but eliminate menstruation. We considered it, but ultimately decided against that kind of hormonal manipulation. Who knows how it would affect her, physically and emotionally, especially at this tender stage where her systems are still trying to find an equilibrium?

There would be blood, no matter what we tried.

Until THINX. What might seem to be simply an alternative for most women proved to be a silver bullet for us. The underwear is just that, underwear. And my daughter is fine with wearing underwear—heck, she does it every day. We don’t have to hover over her, like some hawk hoping to catch a scent in the air. We can let her be herself, with no fear.

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