By: An Anonymous Teen
I was eleven years old when I got my first period. My immediate reaction was shame and confusion, so I was scared to tell my parents. My mother was the first person that I told because I thought that it was taboo to communicate with my father about that kind of stuff. I began to cry when I informed her about it. She told me to stay calm and that it is something that many people experience in their lifetime. Next, she took out a box of pads that she had been saving for when I would need them. I didn’t even know that they were there. It was a good thing that she was prepared.
Afterwards, I told my father. His response reassured me that this is just a normal thing that all girls experience eventually. I felt like such an older and mature person compared to the rest of my friends. I was the only one that got my period, so it was kind of a big deal (but not really)! This was a time when I needed my parents’ advice and guidance on how to stay healthy and how to maintain my hygiene as a young woman. It was helpful that they gave me what I needed.
I believe that it is so important to always have an open line of communication with your parents about topics like your first period. Your parents should want you to be healthy, which requires knowing about sexual health and body changes, like puberty. I think teens should feel natural asking their parents questions like: What are the differences between a pad and a tampon? What exactly happens to my body during my period?, What was your first period experience like?, How can I keep myself clean during my period? If a teen feel something is a little off with their body or with their (menstrual) flow, but they do not want to go into detail with their parents, they should be able to ask their parents to schedule an appointment with their pediatrician or with a gynecologist. After all, if it wasn’t for periods and the menstrual cycle, none of us would be here today!
As I think back to that first conversation I had with each of my parents about my period, I have some words of advice for parents who will need to have this same conversation with their teen in the future:
- As a parent, it is necessary for you to be involved in your teen’s sexual health – yet not too involved! Give your teen information, but also space and some privacy. This sets the foundation of trust between you and your teen when they are experiencing new body changes.
- During the first period, act normal, be calm, and remember to reassure your teen that periods are normal.
- If you notice anything strange, but your teen is not informing you, ask them if they are okay. Let them know you are concerned and available to talk, then step away. They may need some time to figure some things out on their own before coming to you.
- It is good to reassure your teen without confronting them in any way if they are not readily telling you things. Teens do not like to feel monitored by their parents, but they like to know their parents are there for them.
These tips can help teens and parents to keep their special bond, keeps communication healthy, and most importantly helps teens to have a healthy body.