Publish 5 August 2021
⚠️ Reader Discretion: Mature subject matter.
Faiza Khan Niazi
A Time of Change
Your little daughter is growing up into a beautiful young lady. As a single-parent dad, you know she needs more personal hygiene products and a trip to the gynecologist. Your heart races as you contemplate this inevitable conversation. Man up, she needs you.
The technical term is menarche. This is when a girl begins menstruation. Practice the pronunciation. If you call it “administration,” you’ll lose all credibility as a parental expert. Beginning near age 11, the cycle of men-stru-a-tion varies between 21 to 35 days and lasts 2 to 7 days. Yet, menstruation can start as early as age 9.
The average age range for emerging breast buds is between 11.5 to 13, or as early as age 7. This signals the need for training bras. It is best if you get a few sizes since the growth rate may not be clear to you.
The ob-gyn is a decent resource for valuable pubescent information. But that brief encounter doesn’t provide enough time to discuss all the subtleties of puberty. As the parental guardian, your voice is paramount during this time.
It is natural for young ladies to feel more comfortable discussing puberty with their moms. But as a father, you have an essential role in this instructive process. Besides, you knew enough about it to assist in the conception of your daughter. But you may still need you to do some homework. Here’s how to help your girl entering puberty.
Learn About Female Puberty
The best time to instruct yourself about female puberty is before your young woman begins experiencing it. Read about puberty for both genders, not just female menstruation. The same human anatomy posters that hang in medical offices are available on this website.
This will help you to comprehend the phases of anatomical advancement that she is experiencing. You will be able to answer questions your daughter raises with appropriate anatomical language.
Tanner 5-Stage Female Breast Development (Thelarche)
|Stage 1||(Preadolescent) only nipple tip is raised; glandular tissue absent: areola follows the skin contours of the chest (typically age 10 and younger)|
|Stage 2||Buds, raised breast and nipple, enlarged areola (age 10–11.5)|
|Stage 3||Breasts slightly larger with developing glandular breast tissue extending beyond areola borders, which continues widening but remains in contour with surrounding breast (age 11.5–13)|
|Stage 4||Areolae and nipples form secondary mounds above rest of the breasts (age 13–15)|
|Stage 5||Mature adult breasts become rounded with only nipples raised (age 15+)|
|Actual developmental stages vary. Precocious puberty may occur before age 9. Therefore, do not use these guidelines for determining age.|
As your girl’s body develops, she will gain the attention of boys. New hormones cause her to welcome this. Touching boys and flaunting sexuality can arouse passion. Let your daughter know that though her body is physically changing to accommodate child birth, she is not mentally, emotionally, and financially ready to raise a child.
Stay Calm and Helpful
Watching “daddy’s little girl” experience so many rapid changes is challenging. You may feel the need to always be in control and protect your family. It can seem like everything is getting out of control during adolescence. Your strength can become a liability when the conversation turns to “dating” and “sex.” Stay calm. Anger will alienate you from your daughter as her own emotions change.
Enlist Help from Mature Female
Without relinquishing parental responsibilities, identify a female grown-up that shares your views on morality. Remember that both you and your daughter will confide in this surrogate advisor. She should be someone your girl knows well and is comfortable with.
They can chat about puberty, teenage challenges, and hygiene during the menstruation cycle. This woman might also recommend an ob-gyn and go with your daughter on her first visit. Your daughter must learn precautions to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
On the off chance that your girl’s mom is still part of her life, deal with your daughter’s pubescence together. Otherwise, a female relative is another option.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Make a habit of sharing the activities of your day with your daughter and inquire about her’s. Stress that she can come to you when she needs to discuss any complicated emotional stuff. This includes her school crushes, physical changes, or female hygiene concerns.
Never shut her out or decline to discuss a subject. Be straightforward and keep the lines of communication open. Try something direct like, “I’m here in case you need to talk, all right? It doesn’t make a difference what the subject is.”
Use an Honest and Straightforward Approach
Start conversations before puberty begins. You can prevent a ton of fear, tension, and misconception this way.
Converse with her about her physical and emotional uneasiness. Explore why and how she feels the way she does. Be honest if you don’t know the answer to her problems. Say you are willing to find out more and continue the conversation later. Then actually return! She might drive you away at first. Give her some space when she requests it. But show concern when she emerges. You might ask, “Do you feel better now?” or “Are you ready to talk about it?”
Cheat Sheet for Your First Run to The Store
Is your little girl older than 8-years of age? It’s time to buy feminine hygiene supplies. Yes, right now! Don’t wait for her to shout from the bathroom after experiencing her first period.
Buy a variety of products to get her started. Include pads, liners, and tampons. Don’t be the dad standing in the store aisle like a deer in the headlights for hours. If a lady is nearby, you can ask for help. She will appreciate you buying the things for your girl. If not, grab what you need. Place it in the basket and keep moving.
Here’s a cheat sheet for your first run to the store. Buy four bundles:
- Maxi-pad normal, no wings, slim
- Maxi-pad overnight, ordinary, thin, with wings
- Underwear liner-standard, unscented
- Tampons-grouped box
The brands aren’t important but don’t get generic. They might leak or itch. The prettier the box for a young woman, the better. It’s ideal to buy packages with individually wrapped products. Your girl can then put a couple in her backpack or purse. In time, she will begin expressing a preference for specific products.
Search for the essential items listed above. As the name implies, panty liners adhere to the crotch of panties. She inserts tampons into her vagina with the string dangling out for easy removal. You can also order what she needs online if you feel uncomfortable buying them in physical stores.
You Can Do This, Dad!
Nothing is awkward unless you make it awkward. Know what is happening in your girl’s life. This requires discussing school, friendships, drugs, vaping, and wellbeing—including monthly periods. Don’t let the first day of your girl’s cycle be the first time you two discuss anything personal.
Make puberty normal; even celebrate it as a milestone in your daughter’s life. It’s like when she lost her first tooth. A couple of kind words go far.
There, that wasn’t so difficult, was it? Even through the most emotionally and physically challenging years of your daughter’s life, you can grow closer. As “daddy’s little girl” becomes a woman, be there for her.
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Co-author Faiza Khan Niazi writes about pregnancy and parenting.
Main image licensed from Adobe Stock.