Talking With Dad About Periods and Why You Should Do It
Dads and period, periods and dads. They’re not two peas in a pod, but there are ways to navigate talking to your dad about your period.
Sometimes, it’s out of necessity: you grew up with two dads, you need direction but your mom’s not present in your life, or you just need someone to buy new sheets, dammit!
Or maybe you do have female resources to turn to but, while trying to play the role of responsible father, he brings periods up during “the talk.” Maybe you need a ride to the OB/GYN. Maybe he found your menstrual cup in the laundry and has a weird dad moment of expressing interest in the physics of how those darn things work. Whatever the case, talking to dad about period stuff isn’t easy.
In fact, it’s more painful than your first time getting laser hair removal on your full bikini. But before you write it off, consider that living through this conversation could help you in the end.
Spare him the details
Any discussion doesn’t need to (and shouldn’t) be super detailed…but can give him insight on your health, how he can relate to his mood-swinging female offspring, and what he can do to help you when you’re living with those famous cramps.
How to skillfully approach – or even respond to – dad is a territory filled with landmines of awkwardness and personal boundaries, so let’s tiptoe our way through some techniques that’ll see you through it.
Getting to the Table
First, let’s talk about diffusing the awkward energy. If you have sisters, now’s the time to invite them (or drag them) into the conversation. It will make the minutes-that-seem-like-hours less mortifying for all parties involved.
Of course, if your mom is present in your life, having the period talk with both parents together can help bridge the gender divide. If it’s a 1-on-1, let’s talk about how to make the conversation as casual as possible.
The reassuring news is: your dad knows what a period is. Although he may not know the nitty-gritty of how to insert a menstrual cup, he likely has been around at least one female – a sister, a girlfriend, a wife – who has vocalized the woes of the period or ran off to the bathroom to “take care of something.”
You don’t need to tell him what a period is; rather, let him know it’s part of your life and something he can even help out with.
Give Him the Deets
Our first advice is to keep it general. You can laminate an Anatomy 101 worksheet and bring a red marker to the table if that’s your jam, but the benefits of talking to dad about living life with a period really lie in letting him know how he can help you.
Men typically love to problem-solve, so providing insight into how to relate to you will lead to a productive conversation. You can start the conversation off by saying something like, “Hey dad, I’m having really bad cramps today, can you write a note to excuse me from PE?” or if you’re channeling more of that teenager attitude,”Hey dad, I’ve started my monthly menstruation cycle…so you might see blood on the sheets on the rare occasion that you do laundry.”
If there’s something unique to your period, tell him in a matter-of-fact way: “PMS means that I have huge mood swings for 2-3 days every 28 days or so, so please give me the benefit of the doubt during that time” or “My periods are irregular, can you schedule a doctor so I can talk to someone about it?”
If you need female resources or medical help, just telling him how he can make those more available to you will be immensely useful – he won’t be anxious with providing those answers himself, and you’ll get the help that you need. The bottom line: giving him an actionable request will drive the conversation forward and teach him how to be a helpful father to a teenage girl.
How it Will Help
Having this discussion will help you both: his parenting game will skyrocket once he understands how to help his daughter in this hard-to-navigate subject, and you’ll benefit from having a male parent who knows what to do (even if it means leaving you alone) when it comes to your period. Let’s discuss some specific benefits of having this convo with good ole pop.
On an emotional level, you’ll likely feel reassured that you have someone present in your life who is there for you, even if he isn’t actively doing anything when it comes to your monthly cycle. Your father will finally understand one of the greatest mysteries of his life: how to relate to a daughter dealing with hormones (read: strong emotions, not every man’s forte).
On a physical level, you’ll learn to feel comfortable asking for what you need, even if it’s something he himself doesn’t have experience with. This will help you continue your trajectory of feminine empowerment – no woman should be ashamed to buy feminine products or visit an OB/GYN! Pops will be happy to know how he provides financial and medical help for you in an area he’s not fluent in.
More than anything, this conversation can help your father-daughter dynamic by allowing you both to feel freer when broaching sensitive topics. It will leave you assured that, without needing to go into too many details, you can ask for support when you need it. Your dad, in turn, will love knowing that you feel secure enough to confide in him.
Of course, it can help him relate to and empathize with his daughter(s), wife, or girlfriend if he knows what the struggles are, so provide him with resources he can access should he require more details on how periods work.
This eliminates the awkward factor by taking the burden off of you to explain something that might be helpful for him to know, but doesn’t need to come from you.
Written by: Nisha Chatterjee