No doubt, there are some puberty conversations we never want to have with our parents, much less our fathers (especially as young girls). The idea of talking to Dad about sex and boobs can make you want to squeal, but the influence you have as a daughter over his thinking and behavior, is enormous. And, it radiates out to their friends and their networks. That’s why it’s so important to have certain conversations with your dad — each of our fathers should be an advocate for women’s health issues and champion our reproductive rights. It is up to us, as girls and women, to educate the men in our life, and that starts at home, with our fathers. To change cultural biases, girls must stick up for themselves. The best way to do so includes educating Dad, gently broaching certain issues or perhaps by using humor.
Most conversations between girls and their fathers is limited in regards to their bodies, puberty, and sex. Sometimes it’s when he walks in on us fooling around with a partner or when we run out of tampons and someone needs to make midnight drugstore run. Either way, it’s good to get ahead of the situation at hand and start having a few important conversations with your father. For those of us who are older, I say, it’s never too late. Having frank discussions about such issues may simplify and enhance your relationship. For those of us ready to take on the challenge, here are five puberty related conversations every girl should have with her father, with some tips and jokes thrown in for suggestion!
1. Claim Your Womanhood
AKA announce your period every time it comes – celebrate it openly. Whether you have to pitch it to dad as proof of your virginity or as a testament to how responsibly you’re taking birth control or how diligently you’re using protection, the bottom line is: you’re NOT pregnant or your body is working to make sure you can get pregnant when you want to be.
Regardless of your sex life situation, it’s a good reminder for you and your dad that your body has officially entered adulthood. You are an adult; you should be treated as such. While you’re at it, go ahead and use the V-word. Yes, vagina. Using the word demystifies it and immediately transgresses that initial daunting barrier of inevitable awkwardness. Remind yourself that you are a woman now; you’re no longer a child and nor is he. Bonding as adults over a serious issue, such as your health, helps mature the relationship.
2. Explain What PMS Actually Is…
Sometimes, dads don’t know; also, how many boys really pay attention in health class? In fact, most people misuse the term PMS. Misogyny gives it a negative connotation in most colloquial conversation, like jokes that blame women’s bodies and ‘hormones’ for over-reactions, sensitivities, and mood-swings.
The best way to do this might be to sit Dad down and explain to him the best ways to deal with you during ‘those days’ — bring you hordes of chocolate? Fill up a hot water bottle for your cramps? Avoid you and make sure the WiFi is working? Every girl and woman is different and you owe it to the people living around you to be aware of your preferences so that they can accommodate you and their own needs.
Not saying you have to, but there are apps that help you keep track of your period now. Give Dad access and he can plan to be busy during those days! Or, he can plan to be free to join you in a yoga class to stretch those muscles, another natural way to beat PMS.
3. Explain the Importance of Organic
Dads were worried about what you were putting in your mouth as infants, so why would they stop caring what’s going into your body when you become a teen? From buying BPA-free bottles, we’re here to help you transition dad into buying you tampons and pads because at some point, he’s going to have to go the store.
First, make sure he knows WHAT you want — be sure to clarify you prefer organic, bleach-free cotton products made without chemical additives so that you’re not ingesting any harmful ingredients. Your vagina is more absorbent than your skin or stomach lining, so be careful of what you insert up there!
Try and go for scent-free products as they can cause irritation and are generally made with non-natural ingredients. Tell him if you want an applicator or not (some people prefer those without to reduce their landfill/pollution contribution) and if you do, if it should be made from paper or plastic. Feel free to write a cheat sheet on a post it for him, or send him a text to be less conspicuous. You could also teach him a rap and have it be the way to celebrate your monthly rite of passage, together. You may even want to watch some of our educational menstrual hygiene product videos together. They feature our Founding Daughter describing the difference and benefits of using 100% cotton tampons and pads.
4. What should I avoid/ look for in a partner?
They say that most women look for men like their fathers; in that case, train your father quickly and well! You’ll need the training for your partner. Chances are, too, that your Dad knows you well and knows what kind of person would complement your values, behaviors, and personality so their suggestions might be helpful… should you choose to listen to them. If you find there are things you hate about your Dad, make note and put them on your Avoid list!
5. The Best Way to Deal with Him.
Most relationships fail due to a failure in communication. Living with family is hard, especially when hormones are fluctuating and you’re finding your adulthood among people who naturally, and at times determinedly, see you as a child. It’s easy to fight, to blame others for unhappiness, and to be disappointed so the best advice we can give you, is to just sit down with your dad and talk to him about what you can and what you need to.
If you want, you can joke about your up-coming period and warn him, telling him to provide plenty of snacks and to make a man-cave in the basement or slide it in along with a conversation about gym class and the horrors of scrambling for a pad last minute with the threat of extra laps looming over your head. Chances are you’ll find sympathy, awkward laughter, and most always – love, much like the father and daughter duo that started our company.
Much love and thanks to all the dads out there that make the sometimes challenging transition from puberty to adulthood all the more easy by keeping an open mind and dialogue about all the changes that girls can experience during this time.