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13 year old, periods and swimming lessons

(35 Posts)
OOAOML Thu 23-Mar-17 10:18:17

Daughter is in an improvers swimming class - she was late to learn, and has made some good progress. She grumbles about how she will 'never go swimming' when she's a grown up, but grudgingly accepts that it is a life skill it would be worthwhile acquiring. I feel it would be best for her to achieve the outcomes of the class (there's a portal where the instructors mark up the distance swum, stroke confidence etc).

She started her periods a year ago, and uses pads. This means she misses swimming for her period. She also goes to a club which meets more or less once a month on the same day as swimming, so misses the lesson for that as well.

I don't want to force her to try tampons, but have suggested them a few times and she is totally resistant - she's also quite gleeful when she announced she won't be going swimming. She's generally missing half her lessons now, with the way different timings are working out.

I don't want to force her to use tampons, I don't want to force her to give up the other activity, but I do wonder whether to push the issue a bit more - on the weeks she does go swimming, she does well, but I feel she's getting into a frame of mind where she thinks she's not going to get any more confident at it, and the fact she's regularly not there feeds this. Should I be more pushy? Should I point out that if she goes more regularly she'll hit the targets sooner and then won't need the lessons any more? Should I just let it go?

drspouse Thu 23-Mar-17 11:03:25

Would she consider the tiny starter tampons that have lubricant with them?

Bensyster Thu 23-Mar-17 11:10:19

I don't think you can or you should force a 13 year old to do anything especially dictating which type of sanitary protection she feels comfortable with.
If she can swim, is this about building endurance? Learning 6 difference strokes that she'll never need or use? Even though I am really quite fit and I can swim - having not swam for quite a few years I'd struggle to swim further than one length but I would quickly improve my by "meeting her targets" does that mean swim for example 500m because to maintain the ability to swim that distance she'd have to continue to practice - which she doesn't want to do and many of the strokes learnt at swim school are never going to be used in a life or death situation!

Lugeeta Thu 23-Mar-17 11:17:24

I think teenagers should be taught that periods don't inconvenience your life, so I think she should use tampons. I used them from my first period with no issues. I don't get the squeemishness that some people have with them.

Or try a mooncup but I think that's harder to master than tampons!

There are so many different types applicator/non/slim teen ones there is no reason anyone can't use them if they need to.

drspouse Thu 23-Mar-17 11:25:43

I know a lot of parents who say "oh once you can swim you're fine, no more need for lessons" but a) they are usually parents of primary school DCs who have more time to have lessons, and aren't being invited to swimming parties, and b) you have to consider that really only strong swimmers are safe in situations where the water is anything other than a proper swimming pool.
In the UK you are more likely to fall in to a fast flowing stream or a lake or the sea (or think you can swim and go in out of your depth).
My DPs made me do the survival lessons when it became plain that I was OK mastering the strokes but would never develop speed. And I am SO glad they did. I now swim for fitness and again will never be fast but am confident taking the DCs in, swimming with one on my back (as in Waterbabies), and teaching them. Both of them will be taking lessons to become strong swimmers - not just basic swimmers.

OOAOML Thu 23-Mar-17 12:48:00

Thanks all - she can 'kind of' swim. The targets on the coaching portal are things like 25m front stroke and back stroke, and she's not there yet. She's listed as 'learning' to tread water. (They categorise not assessed/learning/building confidence/achieved) If she was more confident and further on I don't think it would be such an issue, but because she was a late learner I'm worried about dropping off now. On the other hand I absolutely agree that I can't tell her what sanitary protection to use. I did wonder about telling her she can miss one lesson a month, and that might (almost certainly will) mean choosing to miss the other activity.

The problem I have is that it feels draconian to basically say 'well, either try tampons or miss the other club', and I do know that not everyone gets on with tampons, but she just seems so unwilling to do anything other than miss swimming at every opportunity (this is prompted by her coming through last night and announcing happily that she couldn't swim on Saturday). I also totally get that a lot of more advanced swimming is not crucial - but I think she's still at the fairly basic level.

drspouse Thu 23-Mar-17 13:19:39

Why does she miss the other club? I'm not clear on that. Is it due to transport?

You can tell her she needs to try tampons and that she needs to try more than one sort. You can't tell her she needs to use them though.

PenguinDi Thu 23-Mar-17 13:34:39

What about menstrual cups, there are manufacturers who make cups for teens. Look at they have a great selection.

Bensyster Thu 23-Mar-17 13:52:27

OOAOML can you go swimming with her to make up for the missed practice. Negotiate a bit of practice at the beginning in return for something nice. Like 5 -10 mins practice and then maybe a trip to the sauna?

RiaOverTheRainbow Thu 23-Mar-17 14:09:00

Is it possible for her to swim on a different day on the week she has her club? Maybe at a different pool if yours doesn't have other lesson slots? Or try good old-fashioned bribery and give her pocket money or phone credit only when she goes swimming.

youngestisapsycho Thu 23-Mar-17 14:28:14

My DD was in a weekly swimming club. She used to just miss it once a month when she had her period. She was not comfortable about trying tampons and I certainly wouldn't have forced her too. She is 14 now and is happy using pads so I leave her to it.

OOAOML Thu 23-Mar-17 14:33:39

Sorry drspouse posting in a hurry, she doesn't miss the other club - but I'm wondering if I should say she can't miss swimming twice a month. Which effectively means 'try tampons or miss the other club'.

Times are tricky with a mix of my working times, husband's working times, Guides for her, other stuff my son does, all fitting into limited time. Without paying out ridiculously expensive money at a private club (which frankly we can't afford), these lessons are about the only ones that fit time-wise.

I think it is the fact she basically misses half the lessons now that is making me wonder what to do about this. I could take her swimming but I'm not that great a swimmer myself and I don't know if I can help her learn.

TwentyCups Thu 23-Mar-17 14:36:23

She might well be happy to miss swimming, however I would worry that forcing her to use tampons in order to go to a class you doesn't enjoy might put her off them for life.

Also I genuinely couldn't use tanpons til after I had sex for the first time (15). Prior to this I had tried nearly every month with loads of different brands. I really wanted to use them but it hurt and I couldn't. I also couldn't have sex the first time I tried either. Everyone's anatomy is different.

I would encourage her to try on the first day of her period , preferably a non swimming day to remove any pressure, but if she can't use them don't force the issue. I felt like a complete freak for not being able to use them, you wouldn't want her to feel the same.

I actually still don't use them now. If I need to go in a pool I will use one if needed, but it's out again straight afterwards. I use cloth pads - internal protection is just so uncomfortable for some women.

OOAOML Thu 23-Mar-17 14:42:22

I know Twenty that's my thought - I wouldn't want to be told to use them. I don't want to get to the ultimatum point.

I will encourage her to give them a go though. I think if she was just willing to look at possibilities I would feel better about it. But the blanket 'I don't ever need to swim, I will never want to swim as an adult, I will make sure I never go near open water' is grating.

TwentyCups Thu 23-Mar-17 14:45:18

Someone upthread mentioned survival classes. Maybe this would be a better option? So that way when she says 'I will never go swimming as an adult' you can say 'that's fine, but these classes will save your life if you ever fall in'. I don't think she can argue with that (might be underestimating a teenage girl here though!)

Onlyaplasticbagdear Thu 23-Mar-17 14:48:54

Well I'm 28, I love swimming and I never use tampons. I can't stand them. So I'd rather miss a week.

She can make her own mind up.

drspouse Thu 23-Mar-17 14:53:38

How does she miss two lessons a month? That sounds awfully like those girls at school who always managed to have their periods 3 weeks in the month when it was PE.

The survival classes depend on you already being a strong swimmer. So the progression is something like basic swimming classes, improve your stroke, and then switch to either club/racing or survival, and then you can move on to lifesaving if you are really strong and/or don't want to carry on racing.

AnotherSpartacus Thu 23-Mar-17 14:58:52

You can tell her she needs to try tampons and that she needs to try more than one sort.

I don't think it's okay to tell any girl that she needs to put something in her vagina. Suggesting or encouraging that she try them is different, but if she doesn't want to, that's it.

OP, I'd say that at 13 your DD is old enough to decide whether or not she wants to continue with swimming lessons. Which is probably not what you want to hear, but if she's still a weak swimmer she can always take lessons as an adult if she wants to. I don't quite get the MN obsession with swimming - unless you live near the sea or go on boating trips regularly or something it isn't really an essential skill. A useful one, yes, but not worth angsting over if someone doesn't want to learn. Let it go. smile

OOAOML Thu 23-Mar-17 15:04:12

drspouse she misses two because she will miss one for her other club (non sport) that she goes to, then she misses one for her period.

Another I know, I don't want to tell her she needs to. I do wish she would be willing to think about it. I'm not obsessed with swimming, but she has in the past felt bad that friends invited her swimming and she felt she couldn't go because she can't swim (despite my telling her that they probably didn't mean powering through lengths, they probably meant bobbing about in the water a bit).

I'm also influenced by the fact that without encouragement she would do nothing other than lounge around watching Dr Who videos. But people are right, I can't force her but I can suggest it to her again.

PuppyMonkey Thu 23-Mar-17 15:05:37

I am 50 and have never used tampons, not even once. You couldn't force me to, believe me.

I also hate swimming and don't think kids should be pushed to do it if they hate it.

sonlypuppyfat Thu 23-Mar-17 15:09:21

I'm 50 as well , I hate tampons I would never ever use them

gillybeanz Thu 23-Mar-17 15:15:01

My dd uses pads and started at 9, she's 13 now.
As we have a family history that pretty much means you take your life into your own hands if you use a tampon, she misses swimming.
She can't swim and to me her health is more important.
It's only a life skill if you put yourself in danger and require to be a good swimmer to survive.
Most people would die in the event of huge tidal wave, going overboard from a ship, anyway.

OOAOML Thu 23-Mar-17 15:16:11

She doesn't hate swimming, she just complains about going. In the same way she complains about having to get up, having to go to school, having to do her homework, having to do her violin practice (which really annoys me because I have told her she can drop violin if she wants and she always mumbles that she will carry on then complains again). I have to navigate through all this, and also navigate through her complaining she can't go swimming with her friends because she can't swim, then complaining she doesn't want to learn to swim.

I am so not ready to be a parent to a teenager.

drspouse Thu 23-Mar-17 15:21:41

Ok so this makes more sense. It wasn't really clear.

So she cannot miss two swimming lessons a month (half her lessons) because of her unwillingness to try tampons. She can choose between a) trying them and b) going to 3 lessons a month and missing one due to her period but then missing her other activity.

I do honestly feel that being a strong swimmer is a matter of safety. It is like saying "oh I'll never cross the road then" if you won't learn road safety. There will be beach trips, poolside holidays and she has already missed parties. Her friends will want to go backpacking and sleep on the beach in Thailand. They will want to swim in waterfalls and with dolphins, and go snorkelling on coral reefs.

Ignore the moaning, as you say she is a teenager.

PuppyMonkey Thu 23-Mar-17 15:39:23

"Her friends will want to go backpacking and sleep on the beach in Thailand. They will want to swim in waterfalls and with dolphins, and go snorkelling on coral reefs." grin

Yes because all teenagers everywhere do that! confused

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