As a single dad with two daughters, I’m always reaching out to other parents for advice. Most of the time it’s about something simple, but occasionally I find myself out of my element, needing real guidance. Lucky for me, I’ve got a great network of people. They give me real advice—even when that advice is to just roll with the punches.
The one tidbit of wisdom I keep hearing from my network is about something every single dad fears most: your daughter’s first period. It’s a situation guaranteed to put you out of your comfort zone and leave you wondering what to do. I’ve been steeling myself for the day I have to face it. I don’t want to be caught in a situation where my daughter needs help and have no idea how to act.
I’ve gotten plenty of advice on how to deal with this day when it comes. The best advice—as per usual—is to roll with the punches. But I’ve also snagged a few tidbits that I think will help other dads getting ready for the inevitable confusion. Here’s what other, wiser dads have told me:
- Prepare! It’s not a bad idea to have a box of pads or tampons in your house. They’re soon to be part of your bathroom stock anyway, so what’s the harm in getting them early? Don’t go overboard—just make sure you have something on-hand, just in case.
- If your ex is still in the picture, ask her to have a quick chat with your daughter about what to expect for her first period. As a dad, trying to explain it mortify your daughter and it’s much more relatable for her when the information comes from a woman. If mom’s not in the picture anymore, do your best to have a grown-up conversation that’s not too specific on the details and more a talk about general preparedness.
- Try to be blasé about it when it happens. Don’t panic or get overexcited about the situation. Make sure she has what she needs and is okay. This is a new moment for her and it’s likely going to be uncomfortable. The best thing you can do as a dad is to give her space, while letting her know you’re there for her.
- Get her a snack! I laughed when I got this tip from a fellow single dad, but he wasn’t joking. He told me his daughter experiences mood swings and slight depression while she’s menstruating, so he tries to subtly support her by making her a snack. He recommended apples and salted caramel dip—a sweet and salty combo that lifts his daughter’s spirits and quells her cravings.
- Have a code word. There will come a time when she needs help and it might be embarrassing for her to talk to you, her dad, about it. Have a code word or phrase that makes it easier to communicate. “It’s here” or “dad, can you bring me a care package?” are easy ways for her to tell you what she needs, while being discrete.
- Plan to make a doctor’s appointment after your daughter’s first period. It’s an important transition into women’s health and a physician will make sure nothing is abnormal. This is also a great opportunity for your daughter to ask questions she doesn’t feel comfortable asking you. If possible, schedule with a female physician.
I know full well that I’m still going to have a brief moment of panic when I’m faced with this situation. But I am happy to have these tips to fall back on so I’m not totally lost. It reminds me of the best piece of advice I’ve gotten on the subject, from a dad who’s seen it all: “this is just the start of the embarrassing situations for you and her. Sooner or later, you’ll both have to get used to it!”