We all know that every little girl is going to become a woman someday. There are those of us who wish that day would stay far away and there are those who embrace and celebrate the transition from childhood to adulthood.
For some reason, having my oldest daughter turned eight was difficult for me. I looked at this blond haired, blue eyed, angel and realized she is quickly going to be taller than I am and that she is now becoming an independent being. I was devastated. Then I started sweating… at what point do I start talking to her about PUBERTY? For crying out loud, she is eight. When I looked around our community I realized that some girls need this information by 8 or 9 while others don’t until 13 or later. The last thing I want is my child to enter the world of becoming a woman without being informed.
So, I set out on a mission to prepare her (and myself). Thankfully there are a lot of good books out there, so grab one (or several) that you’ve read through and get ready. Decide on the age and how much you want to cover. We’ve started with the basics and I have the kit on hand to bring out when the time comes.
Some book suggestions:
Passage: A Girl’s Guide to Menstruation
The Wonderful Way Babies Are Made (Christian perspective)
Once you have chosen a book to help explain puberty, make a kit. If you aren’t eco minded, there are plenty of sample kits available from popular feminine product manufacturers. But for those of us who want to pass on protecting our planet in all ways, we must make create our own starter kit.
If you are the female parent, think back to your own experience at this age and try to put yourself back in those shoes. If you are a male parent, arm yourself (and maybe grab a few extra books). I don’t believe in assigning the task to a female friend or family member because let’s face it, there will be times when you must stock the cabinet or deal with PMS. Showing your daughter that you are comfortable having this conversation with her will go along way to building a strong relationship for both Mothers and Fathers.
So, you’ve found a book, now what? Decide on supply style, cloth, reusable or natural disposable options. Or opt for a full kit that will allow your daughter to choose the style that she is most comfortable with (this is my recommendation). Consider your daughters lifestyle, if she swims or dances then internal protection is necessary unless she is going to abstain from activities while menstruating.
I recommend starting with: (NatraCare and Seventh Generation are two common brands)
1 package mini pads (liners)
1 package maxi pads
1 box applicator free tampons
I package feminine wipes
If you are going for the full spectrum option, add a cloth starter kit, a Moon Cup and/or natural sea sponge tampons.
Provide a carry pouch for fresh products and one for used items if opting for cloth. Also be sure to carve out a special place in the restroom where her supplies will be kept. In the beginning you will need to help check the stock to make sure she always has fresh products available.
Now you are ready to embark on exploring puberty with your daughter. Read the book together (and be sure you’ve read it before hand so there are no surprises). If your daughter is older, already showing signs of puberty (slight breast growth, shaping of waist, body hair growth), or near the age you were when puberty started, then go ahead and bring out the kit now. I’ve put my kit away to bring out when the timing is right because my daughter is eight and is not showing signs of development.
Be sure that you cover more than the basics of menstruation (which the book you chose will assist with!). Also cover the importance of staying clean to prevent odor and infection. If you use deodorant, now is probably the time to cover this as well. Be sure to explain skin changes and face washing, as this will become even more important in the coming years.
Once you introduce the menstruation kit to your daughter, encourage her to take it out and play with it. Let her open a tampon and soak it in water, pour fluid on a pad, even practice putting pads in and out of undies. Talk about discrete disposal (and provide a closed soaking tub for cloth). This will allow her to feel comfortable and to be empowered when her time comes. Tears on the first day of menstruation doesn’t have to happen!
Looking for more help?
Natracare has a teen Monthly Matrix which helps explain what’s going on during each day of the cycle. They also have a useful section called, For Parents of Girls.
Wenona Napolitano says
Oh thank you. My daughter is nine, going on ten and I’ve been dreading this because I wasn’t exactly sure how to approach the topic or how to explain it.
I knew there had to be books I just wasn’t sure how to find them.
When I was a kid they did all that in school we started having sexual education very early that covered all the basics like that. Now they don’t do any of that stuff. I personally think it’s easier for a girl to learn in a group of other girls her age all going through the same thing. I think it may be less embarrassing. Plus it opened up easy dialogue for me to go home and talk to my mom about it without the awkwardness.
Anyway, thanks so much. This post really helps. Now I can prepare myself so I can prepare my daughter.
Having two girls (toddlers) and growing up with three sisters, this topic has already been on my mind. I switched to The Diva Cup last year (similar to Moon Cup). I will give my girls all the options you mentioned above. However, I hope that they chose a Moon or Diva cup. Here’s why:
What do I remember about junior high and high school? Quietly removing tampon or sanitary napkin wrappers, hoping no one would hear me and know it was “my time.” Some girls (and every school has these cruel kids) and guys were so cruel. I once went outside the class to get a drink of water during study hall and came back to find that a kid had dug through my bag and had left a tampon on top of my bag for everyone to see. I wasn’t the only person this happened to throughout the years, either by cruel kids or just by accident. I also recall, as we all must, all the worry wondering if I was leaking through a tampon, napkin, etc.
So, what’s great about a cup? Girls will be able to put it in before school, in the privacy on their own home, and won’t worry about it for 12-hours (possibly once at school only on their heaviest day) – when they are back in the privacy in their own home. No going to the nurses office to use her bathroom for privacy or quietly opening packages in the bathroom stall! Freedom from worry, hassle, eco-friendly, and more. This has changed my life and I hope my girls will look no futher than a cup and a few cloth napkins! But, of course, it’ll be their choice and this post was wonderful b/c I hadn’t really thought about giving my girls multiple options until I read this. Thanks!
Jessica Gottlieb says
Oh I needed this. But I’m still terrified of my kids growing up… yes, I’m a wuss.
Jamie Ervin says
Aren’t we all terrified of our kids growing up???? I am so dreading the teen years.
The DivaCup/MoonCup are both great options. The DivaCup is available at our Whole Foods stores.
Somehow we will all make it through the upcoming years… hopefully no worse for the wear!!!!
What a wonderful post! I think it is a great idea to be prepared for your daughter’s puberty beforehand, as it can sneak up on you & some girls get their periods quite young. I also love the idea of letting your daughter play with the products so she can see how they work before she needs to use them. So empowering & what a difference from the way many of us were introduced to feminine hygiene as girls (um…like maybe not at all?)Thanks!
to grow to frightening the people is growing a good league though each has different age.