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How To Talk To Your Tween About Periods

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How To Talk To Your Tween About Periods

You donít want to leave it to the gossip she hears at school. Are You There God? Itís Me Margaret doesnít quite spin it the way youíd want it presented. And you certainly canít count on school sex ed to do it justice. So how do we parents talk to our daughters about when Aunt Flow comes to town?

What’s happening to me?

When I went through this girly right of passage, my mom bought me a great book Whatís Happening To Me?. My friend Kittie and I would sit on my bed and read this puppy out loud, roaring at the funny pictures — the flat-chested girl holding up the giant bra, the boy standing on the end of a diving board with his Johnson sticking straight out, the poor kid changing his sheets after his wet dream. We hooted our way through the book, but at the end, we didnít really know that much about what would actually happen when the Judy Blume moment occurred.

So when I got caught unprepared at school, wearing a white skirt without any feminine protection, I found myself scuttling like a crab with my back against the lockers until my friend Jennifer rescued me with a clean pair of gym shorts and a giant maxi pad diaper that left me doing the bow-legged walk of shame. Way to welcome in womanhood. Just call me Big Red. Woo hoo, thank you very much.

That was a long time ago and despite the fact that there is more education out there for girls and women than ever before, my experience is still shared by a lot of preteens even today. There has to be a better way!

Next: 12 tips for parents

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the†Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of†Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.† She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.† Lissa blogs at†LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities -†HealHealthCareNow.com and†OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.

39 comments

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4:28AM PST on Jan 14, 2011

I wish my mother was like that with me. cept the party.

11:03PM PST on Dec 8, 2010

thank you perfect timing

1:03AM PST on Dec 5, 2010

Very good sensible article

1:36AM PST on Nov 21, 2010

I was totally unaware and 100% confused at that time in my life- this kind of thing is very important for parents to explain.

10:39PM PST on Nov 20, 2010

Lissa! Thank you for the article - my daughter will be turning 12 and I am looking for ways to share this important step with her. As for Amanda and Ana... I think the idea of having a celebration is lovely, provided my daughter would be excited about the idea. I think that most young women prefer to keep it quiet and personal if you ask me. That being said, it is a time of transition - transition to womanhood - that can be scary for some and exciting for others. There is no right or wrong here. The most important factor is that the celebration of this 'rite of passage' is according to your daughter's needs and not yours! Blessings, Deana

8:44AM PST on Nov 20, 2010

great article.

8:11AM PST on Nov 20, 2010

ana, if you don't think it's worthy of a celebration, then by all means don't bother. However, there are those of us that do, and it is a pleasure to find out that there are plenty of women who are of like minds on the subject and wish to reclaim that element about such an important rite of passage!

Also, some chores are meant to wait until later. For instance, I don't think I'd want my kids learning to use a lawn mower or change a car's oil until they're older! Ditto using a stove on their own or fixing a plumbing problem in the house! And younger kids should definitely not be trusted learning to balance a household budget or being put in complete control of menu plans or the grocery list! Pre-teen is the youngest age I'd consider that!

And please, for the love of the Goddess, turn off the caps lock! I understand your feelings on the subject, but we're going deaf here!

5:49PM PST on Nov 19, 2010

MY LAST COMMENT ON THIS SUBJECT: I THINK THOSE KINDS OF CHORES ARE BOTH FOR BOYS AND GIRLS AND SHOULD START EARLIER.
I ALSO THINK THE SONS SHOULD BE TOLD WATH THE PERIOD IS TO UNDERSTAND THEY SHOULD RESPECT GIRLS AND BE GENTIL WHEN THEIR SISTERS OR FEMALE FRIENDS HAVE IT!
AND PLEASE UNDERSTAND ONCE AND FOR ALL: I DON'T THINK THERE IS NOTHING SHAMEFUL IN MENSTRUATION! ON THE CONTRARY! I SIMPLY DON'T AGREE WITH THE "CARNIVAL"! PLEASE DON'T TWIST MY WORDS!!

1:22PM PST on Nov 19, 2010

And for those that might think my last comment meant girls should only be taught "womanly" chores, girls can also learn other things-how to fix up or maintain a car, work on the yard, etc. Menarche is the first physical step towards adulthood, and the chores should reflect that expansion! Give them more responsibility to go with their physical maturity!

1:20PM PST on Nov 19, 2010

ana, that's no reason we can't start giving them some adult responsibilities such as learning to do their own laundry or learning to cook! Just because they're not "court legal" yet doesn't mean that such an important transition in their lives has to be ignored or treated like it's "wrong!"

I know this makes me a mutant freak even here in America, but I feel that by abandoning womanhood and adulthood celebrations, we've created a void in modern society and not found an acceptable way to fill said void. Some would argue that prom or high school graduations count as "adulthood" ceremonies, but what about those who don't go to prom or drop out of high school? Are they perpetually children then?

Also, Christianity has taken away our power as women by considering us to be "dirty" and "evil" and relegating us to second-class citizens. (Just read the Bible, and you'll find plenty of examples of that, everything from how we're unclean longer after having a girl baby than a boy to the discrepancy between the number of boy's names and girl's names listed! Heck, even the Holy Trinity is gender-biased! Father, Son...no Mother or Daughter!)

There is nothing wrong with women wanting to reclaim their power and mysticality of their bodies and what they do. Becoming a woman (in however a physical sense you want to describe it as), DESERVES to be celebrated, not denigrated or ignored!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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