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Single dad with 8 y/o daughter terrified about "the talk"

(73 Posts)
Product Wed 27-Nov-13 09:43:06

Hello everybody.

I have spent a good bit of time searching the site cannot find anyone with a similar who can advise.

I am a single dad of twins whose mother died while giving birth to them. I got one of each, and my family is very small. I don't have any sisters, and people on her side started losing contact one at a time and haven't been in contact for years now.

I would appreciate any links to previous similar threads, or experience from people who have been where I am.

The issue for me is broaching the subject of my daughter's womanly cycle which, I'm told, can start as early as 9. They turned 8 a few months ago, and terrified is an understatement. It's not something they get taught about in school until they go into second level education, by which time they'll be 12 turning 13, and I am guessing her biology will be in full swing by then. The problem is that I just don't have any woman I could trust with my girl to explain the impending change she'll endure sooner or later. That means it looks like I'm the one who'll have to explain her monthly gift from the Fairy Godmother.

I'm in dire straits here ladies and gentlemen, and this is my first post, so please be gentle with me. I've read all the rules and I believe my post is within the rules. I just need help.. and a whole lot of it.

Thanks to all who have read this in full, and thanks in advance to those who can find time to reply.

HomeHelpMeGawd Wed 27-Nov-13 09:49:19

Why don't you spend a bit of time googling and then come back and test an approach here. It takes all of 10 seconds to find dozens of sites with advice on explaining menstruation to girls.


cornflakegirl Wed 27-Nov-13 09:49:51

What's happening to me? is an excellent book for explaining the facts.

But honestly - it's really not that gruesome a subject. Just be matter of fact about it. Good luck.

Rummikub Wed 27-Nov-13 09:49:52

Hi, has she asked you any questions about growing up yet?

ThisIsMeNow Wed 27-Nov-13 09:52:21

I think 9 is quite young to be starting her periods (you could do with getting to grips with the proper names for things) so I wouldn't be in a huge rush to pile all these new fact on her.
How much do they know about sex already? You need to relax and realise this is a normal conversation for a parent to have with their child.
Start with finding out what they know and go from there. There's loads of books you could look at with them from a local library which will be age appropriate.
Make sure they feel they can come to you to talk about anything. Kids pick up on how you feel and you don't want her hiding things from you.
At some point you might take her to the shops for sanitary products so you need to feel relaxed and ok about doing that!

LadyAlconleigh Wed 27-Nov-13 09:53:54

Monthly gift from the Fairy Godmother! shock I would recommend a book - if you look on Amazon there are lots. I am surprised they won't do ANYTHING at primary school though - this is normally covered.

HectorVector Wed 27-Nov-13 09:55:45

'monthly gift from the Fairy Godmother'... Please don't start by using that terminology.
Take cornflake's advice. A book for her to read with you, stick with the facts. She's still very young but if you're wanting to be very prepared have sanitary towels and a hot water bottle ready for when it does happen. You are her father, she hasn't got any close female family members and therefore it's highly likely as her sole care giver she won't be remotely phase at all about discussing this with you.

LumpySpacePrincessOhMyGlob Wed 27-Nov-13 09:56:19

I also got the What's happening to me book which I just popped on dd's shelf. She turned 8 in January and during the summer started to get a whiffy on a hot summers day, so I knew changes were afoot. Just use opportunities as they present themselves. If there is a baby born in a tv programme etc.

We still haven't had "The Talk" and I don't intend too. We will just discuss things as they crop up and I will make sure she has access to the right information at a level that is understandable to her.

Good luck. smile

LoveandLife Wed 27-Nov-13 10:00:15

Unless your daughter is very well developed physically, personally I wouldn't worry about it yet. It can happen this young but is very unusual.

I think at most, a book like the one cornflakegirl suggests and a chat to tell her she should come to you with any questions. Maybe keep some sanitary products in so there doesn't have to be a panicked trip to the shops when it does happen.

Are you in regular contact with the welfare officer at her school? Ours would have a chat with her if asked, in your circumstances and could be a second adult for her to go to with any questions.

exexpat Wed 27-Nov-13 10:03:58

Are you in the UK? Most schools do sessions on puberty in years 5 and/or 6 (age 9-11). If not, What's Happening to Me is a good book to get.

ControversialAnnie Wed 27-Nov-13 10:04:48

Why don't you read one of the books together?

She needs to feel comfortable talking about this so if you have any embarrassment about it at all, try to overcome it first.

You also need to get some sanitary products for her. They do good ones for young teens, can't remember the name now. Put them in the bathroom for when she needs them. It could be years yet but many girls have started at 9, it's not unheard of.

Can you talk to school? Maybe they would do a quick introduction for all the girls in the class. Worth a try.

HaPPy8 Wed 27-Nov-13 10:06:14

Is there a teacher at school you could ask for help? Or a school nurse? Or does she have a friend who's mum you can approach? it must be very hard for you, i'm sorry to hear about their mum. I think the suggestion of a one of the books above is a good idea too.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 27-Nov-13 10:07:43

Get the facts.
Start the conversation - this is the hardest bit.
Give them the information.
Answer their questions.

Abrahamlincolnsghost Wed 27-Nov-13 10:13:09

As you will know your daughter best I think at this stage you really only need to achieve two things,
(i) that she can cope in the event of her periods starting unexpectedly
(ii) that she knows she can talk to you about these things.

When my daughter was 8/9 I too was a bit worried about all this talk about periods starting earlier and earlier but in reality it is not that common and could be 3-4 years off yet.

Dd2 has just turned 9 and I wouldn't speak to her as early.

With Dd1 I just explained to here that being pregnant is a very important job for the body and it has to practise for this big job. I told her body would start to practise every month and during this you bleed a little. At this stage I didn't explain how you got pregnant I just said if she had any questions to feel free to ask.

I did buy her sanitary protection and show her how to use it and we discussed who she would talk to at school and how she would handle it if it started there.

As a woman my best advice to you would be when it does start make sure you give adequate paracetamol or ibuprofen for the cramps.

You don't mention your son or talking to him but I think you should consider him too. I didn't see the need to talk to Ds as early but some of his friends play Grand Theft Auto and I was caught on the hop when he asked me what rape was?

Probably the best advice anyone could give is keep it very simple and answer questions as they arise.

Good luck.

Poledra Wed 27-Nov-13 10:14:59

Get a book. It starts the conversation naturally and leads you through the subject. I got this one for my 8-yo DD, and it's been good to get us going on the chat. They will cover it at school in Yr 5/6, but my DD is happy that she already knows (she's 9 now). And she's happy to come to me with any questions she's got (and I'd far rather she's getting accurate information from me than gossip from the playground!).

I think you are absolutely right to be considering this now. One of my DD's friends started her period recently, at 9, and she's still a skinny little girl, so it can happen any time. Good luck - you've loved and cared for her all her life, this is just the next step.

notso Wed 27-Nov-13 10:21:17

I don't want to offend you or sound harsh but just call it a period, please.
Get a book definitely go through it together. Is your daughter ready do you think? Has she started puberty?
A good thing to get ready is a little kit.
A pencil case with
Sanitary towels
Spare knickers,
A small pack of wipes,
A nappy sack or small bag to put dirty knickers in.

It is a good idea to get different types of towel. First periods are usually light but might be heavy, the teen products don't cope well with heavy.
When she does start you need to help her make a note in a diary or calendar she might be irregular for a while so you need to be prepared all the time.

PolyesterBride Wed 27-Nov-13 10:22:03

I think the best way to do it is not to have a big talk but just to bring it up bit by bit in a more casual way. Eg the next time you talk about something related to 'when you're older' you can just mention something like ' you know when you get older your body changes a bit' and then if they ask how, you can give some examples eg boys start to grow hair in their faces, girls have periods etc. I also think you should talk about it with your son there too - I would advise strongly against making it into a big mystery / secret. I have already talked to my young daughters about it and it's just a matter of fact thing.

KnappShappeyShipwright Wed 27-Nov-13 10:22:41

Another recommendation for "What is Happening to Me". Read it yourself and then give it to your daughter. Don't forget that your son will also need to know what is going on, there is a boy version of the same book.

Don't underestimate her knowledge either - she will probably know about puberty and sex from talk in the playground. I gave my DD the book when she was about 10, she knew most of what it contained already and was a bit surprised by some of it. We've never had "The Talk" but she started her periods when she was 12 and not at all freaked out by it. I work shifts and her dad was the only adult in the house when it happened. She coped, he coped.

notso Wed 27-Nov-13 10:22:43

Oh yes ask at school too. There is usually a designated friendly teacher to help out in an emergency. Find out who it is and let your DD know.

dizzymac Wed 27-Nov-13 10:23:07

Hello. Lilets have a great area on their site called "becoming a teen." I used this with my daughter when she was 9. I particularly liked the way it talked about growing up, emotions and periods without any reference to sex. I felt she was a bit too young for that. All the books I looked at moved very quickly from periods and hormones to boys and sex and relationships, as well as contraception etc. I felt that at 9 she wasn't ready for all that.

PolyesterBride Wed 27-Nov-13 10:24:10

Yes definitely agree just use the normal words - girls get periods, that means blood comes out of their vaginas etc. Buy some tampons, point them out in the supermarket - anything to demystify it and take away any worry.

SapSuma Wed 27-Nov-13 10:25:21

flowers for you product on what sounds like a difficult situation.
My dd is much younger than yours so I havent had to explain periods yet, but there really is a lot of info out there to help you through it. Personally, i wouldnt do the talk, but just dripfeed little bits of info into everyday type stuff, and find out what she already knows. Start with what makes girls and boys different, what about men and women? There are books in the library too -something like 'our bodies'.
Try not to get too uptight about it, its a natural thing. You don't need to get too technical at this early point, just sew a few seeds as it were.
If youre still really worried how about getting the help of the school nurse. Maybe even the health visitor might help, or point you in the right direction. Has your daughter got a got friend, could her mum help you out? And then be available to discuss it with her afterwards. Dont make it taboo between the two of you.
You havent asked for help on this, but I wanted to point out a good book that might help you with other upcoming things too
Raising girls, by steve biddulph.
Some of hos chapters discuss girls and their dads, girls and the online world, alcohol, bodies and weight, too sexy too soon...
There is a raising boys book too.
Back to topic though, my mum explained with the help of a book and then bought me some pads and put them in a hidden place (away from my teasing brother) in my bedroom. Some extra pants my be helpful too. And then told me I could tell her when it happened, or just sort it myself with the pads. She also told me where to put used pads and dirty knickers. (She later told me that running my pants under the cold tap, before sticking them in the wash, would prevent some of the blood stains. She also said my stomach might feel a bit pinchy and if it did, I could tell her and ask for some paracetamol so I would feel better.
Try not to worry, I'm sure you will get there just fine.

SapSuma Wed 27-Nov-13 10:26:00

Ohh, as usual for me, massive cross posting!

MissMilbanke Wed 27-Nov-13 10:35:30

I think 9 is very young really. 13 or 14 is a bit more usual.

Your DD will talk about it amongst her friends at some stage so you probably won't be the one dropping the bombshell.

Periods are a completely normal part of human life. Think about it - Half the world has them !

You sound a leetle bit uptight about this (and thats not meant as a crtitisism honestly). Buy one of the books suggested, have a good read to familiarise yourself with the basics, practice reading the words out loud to yourself so to avoid any awkwardness. It will be fine honestly !

You are going to have a great relationship with your daughter - just keep the lines of communication open and there won't be a problem.

QuintessentialShadows Wed 27-Nov-13 10:41:20

I dont have daughters, but I am female, and my mother NEVER told me anything about periods at all. You seem a great dad to be considering this issue.

I was 11 when I got my first period, and just worked it out myself, after a couple of months..... I nicked my mums pads. I reckon you wont have any in the house, unless you buy a selection to be ready when the day comes.

I would not call it monthly gift from fairy godmother though. I got my first ever period while on holiday in Paris, and did not tell my mum because I thought I was seriously ill and about to die. I could not ruin her holiday.

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