Thursday, October 23, 2014

Daddy's Little Girl is Growing Up

Okay, I promised when I began writing these articles that I would not shy away from any topic, particularly when you might benefit from my hard earned experience.  Therefore, with reckless abandon we will tackle our little girls passage into womanhood this week.  As a father with three daughters I have lived to tell about this with two of them.  Let me begin by saying this is probably as difficult a time as you will have as a dad.  At least it was for me.  Not because of the physical and mental changes that were occurring in my daughters, but my own internal battle with the reality that my little girls were growing up. 

Let’s begin by talking about what menstruation is.  I know this may seem silly but you would be amazed how many men really don’t know and its important for you to understand to relieve fears both you and your daughter may have.  From a textbook approach, menstruation is the discharging of blood and dead cell debris from the uterus through the vagina by adult women at approximately monthly intervals between puberty and menopause.  In layman’s terms, its nature’s process of discarding an egg that was not fertilized so that a new one can go through the cycle.  As a general rule, this cycle repeats about every 28 days.  Most men are content to accept that once a month this will be something that your wife, girlfriend, daughter, co-worker, etc., will be going through for about a week.  Many will refer to this time as having their period. 

Keep in mind that children mature differently and reach puberty at different ages.  One of my daughters began her period at 12 years of age while another did not begin until 14 years of age.  A friend of mine had a daughter begin as early as 11 years of age.  The younger the child, the more anxiety they will have and less likely they are to understand what is occurring in their body.  Also keep in mind that it is very likely your daughter will not want to come to you at all to discuss this or ask for help.  Many girls don’t want to discuss something like this with their dad because they are embarrassed while others feel shame.  I highly recommend enlisting some help from a female figure you feel your daughter trusts.  It can be their mother, a teacher, grandmother, etc.  It’s important that this person is someone your child will feel comfortable with.  Neither of my older daughters felt comfortable talking to me in the beginning so I enlisted the help of a female family member who had a good relationship with them and also had teenage daughters.

You might observe some changes in your daughter before she reaches puberty but there will not be a general announcement.  There is no due date like you have when someone is expecting a baby.  One of my daughters called me from school crying when she started her period. She was sitting in class and suddenly noticed that her clothes had blood on them.  I knew what was happening but she was terrified and embarrassed that she had to call me. 

Once your child has reached this milestone you will need to provide her with the supplies that she will need to handle this each month.  There is nothing more upsetting to any woman I have ever known than to be in need of a feminine napkin or tampon and not have one available.  For one thing, clothes are expensive and blood does not easily wash out. Secondly and more importantly, it will give your daughter a greater peace of mind.  I know there are many differing opinions on whether you should dictate that your child wear a napkin or use a tampon.  I have read the debates pro and con on TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome).  For those of you unfamiliar, TSS is a rare but serious disease that can result in death and has a higher occurrence among women who use tampons.  Many teenagers, my own included, wanted nothing to do with napkins because they perceived them to be bulky and unreliable.  This may have been true 20 years ago but I think much progress has been made since then.  This will be something for you and your daughter to decide.  For some objective information, I recommend the Playtex web-site

At this web-site you can educate yourself and your daughter too.

Once you and your daughter reach a decision on what to use, it’s time to go to the store.  Now being a man, I know there is not much of anything we hate worse to be sent to the store for than feminine products, but get over it guys, she’s your daughter.  This might not be a bad time to enlist some help from a female friend either.  Once you start looking at the many varieties of products you will understand.  I stood staring like someone covered with honey at a bear convention the first time I tried to purchase something for my daughters.  And no, I didn’t buy the right thing after it was all said and done.

Okay guys, I know this isn’t our favorite topic but one that I promise you will deal with one way or another if you are raising a daughter.  As for the sadness I felt for seeing my little girls growing up, this was soon replaced by a feeling of pride that my little girls were growing up. 

Until next time….     


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