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When you think about your first period, what words and emotions come to mind? Fear? Embarrassment? Shame?

These are common responses I hear from women when discussing the topic of menstruation. However, these are hardly the thoughts and feelings a loving mother wants to pass on to her daughter.

One of the best parts of my job is nurturing connections between mothers and daughters, supporting them to discuss an experience they share, but don’t always know how to talk about: becoming a woman.

Talking about puberty and menstruation needs to be more than practical advice provided by school and pointed out on the way to an activity or between household tasks .

Rather, this important rite of passage is something that needs to be celebrated and spoken about openly both before and after your daughter begins her menstrual cycle.

Here’s why it’s important to celebrate your daughter’s first period:

1. They make girls proud to reach this stage: A girl’s menarche (first menstruation) is a milestone that needs to be celebrated so that she, and generations to come, are proud of reaching it. Schools provide information for children, but it’s her parents, older family friends and the community who have a lasting influence on how a girl feels about her body.

2. They create a solid sense of self: Celebrating womanhood creates a sense of positive self-esteem in young girls and inspires a sense of independence. Such celebrations build a sense of self-worth that will be critical during adolescent years. Actually, they will be useful all through adult life!

3. They help remove stigma: Imagine a world where there is no embarrassment about having your period. Coming of Age Celebrations allow girls to feel excited and empowered about this significant milestone, instead of anxious or ashamed.

4. They create a ritual: Coming of Age Celebrations give young people a ritual to be anticipated that prepares them with practical knowledge as well as giving them a sense of pride; reassurance; self-acceptance; awareness of their needs and the courage to speak out about those needs.

5. They prepare your child: To celebrate the beginning of womanhood not only provides relief for girls, it also prepares them. Girls who are unprepared for or have a negative attitude towards menstruation often develop a negative approach to their body and menstrual cycle. A positive understanding and acceptance of menstruation is crucial for a young woman’s body image, relationships and future life choices outcomes..

For more information on how to discuss menstruation with your daughter, visit www.stepintowomanhood.com

Image of “teenager” from Shutterstock
  • I won’t ever forget my 2nd one. I almost had to go to hospital for a blood transfusion after 7 days and missed a fortnight of school because I had to be able to walk around feeling safe on my feet. I know a Mum who wanted to give her daughter a party – with her friends. The daughter was smart and didn’t tell her Mum for a few months.

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  • I was brought up with embarrassment for periods. I like the idea to prepare our girls well and celebrate it.

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  • My daughter was only 10 when she had her first period. I was devastated. She should be out playing with friends, running around care free at that age. Not worrying about changing pads and leakage etc it was a sad time for me

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  • Really interesting article! Thanks for sharing this!

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  • yeah i don’t know about celebrating it. i was embarrassed having mum tell dad about it lol so i could’nt imagine making a bigger deal about it

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  • I agree wholeheartedly with talking openly and honesty about menstruation but not about celebrating. To me it’s never been pleasant let alone cause for celebration, so to ‘celebrate’ with her would be fake on my part. Each to their own though!

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  • I also agree I remember when I got mine my mum gave me a necelace. I recently read this stupid post on facebook and she silly lady wrote “whats next we should give our sons a present for getting their first erections” oh my how is that even a comparison????

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  • Our Daughters were taught at primary school during health at a co-ed school all about periods. Sex education was taught by a outside company called Interrelate. We found them to be very experienced answering questions and handling the curly ones. Very confronting for some and others in the class were very happy to share their experiences with the class.

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  • I like this approach – definitely a need to reduce the shame and stigma and instill a sense of self confidence and pride in girls and young women. I have many years to go until my daughter’s at this stage, but never to early to start thinking about it!

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  • I was born here but my family is from Sri Lanka and in that culture they make a big deal of it too, my family has continued with this even though they’ve been here for over 40 years and my Australian-background husband doesn’t understand it — he falls into the category of it being a stigma! Poor thing, we have two girls….

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  • I gave my daughter a book ‘Girls Stuff’ so she could read about it as she didn’t want to talk about it with me and then when she did get her period she said i’ve read all about it – it’s fine LOL

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  • I got this talk so early from my Mum & was quite bewildered, turns out it was YEARS before I had to think about it again…. I was the very last of my friends to start.

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  • I’m always wondering, what age would it be best to discuss this with my daughter… She will be 11 this year…

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  • This was a very interesting read thanks for sharing.

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  • They come way too early I think.

    Reply

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