Much of what made starting periods so hard for most people was the secrecy and silence surrounding this universal, natural process. Concealment leads rapidly to shame, and swallowing this message young breeds a lifetime of hating something that makes us who we are.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Being prepared before they start is key (see the two previous articles in this series: how to prepare yourself, and how to prepare your child for their first period) but what about when that first period finally arrives?
It’s helpful to talk early about what your fledgling adolescent might like to do when they start their periods. They may want as little fuss as possible, so plan how you can honour them in ways they’ll be able to appreciate.
Could you buy them some flowers, take them out for a special meal, buy them a candle and holder or a special piece of jewellery? Some will be excited about a party, most would rather poke sharp sticks in their eyes!
Be prepared to adapt and change as they grow too, and a celebration can come well after the first period if at the time they just want to be quiet and private. Try and avoid the classic ‘Welcome to womanhood!’ mantra and instead reassure them they are still the same person, that you are immensely proud of them and love them to bits.
It’s normal for a kind of separation to happen around this time. Leading up to periods starting can be confusing and scary and our enthusiasm for the topic is rarely shared! As with all parenting, we need to meet our children where they are, empathise and love them fiercely through it all. If you practice cycle awareness they are unlikely to share your enthusiasm in the early days as they’re getting used to periods and may well actively oppose you. Give them time and space, and keep modelling with your own self care.
Above all, breath deep and look after yourself. Give yourself a big hug knowing you are doing the best you can. Whatever your child feels about periods they’re not having to go through them alone and in secret.
Instead they are growing up with the people around them celebrating them and the changes they are going through.
You are changing the story.
We’re excited to share that we have collaborated with Red School to produce a ‘Mothering your daughter through Menarche’ online course! Dive deeper into preparing yourself and your child for menarche, with support and lots of practical advice and resources so you don’t have to do it alone.
Many thanks to Eye for Ebony for the wonderful image.