Talking about Periods with Dad
Menstruation has always been a matter that has been dealt with secrecy. Ever since history, it has been a topic of discussion for women alone, who have been having the conversation in whispers. It was discussed only by mothers and daughters. In some households, fathers take the responsibility of buying sanitary napkins for their daughters. However, this involvement is indirect, as there is never direct conversation about menstruation between the father and daughter. The communication usually takes place through the mother. Another interesting fact to notice is that the conversation regarding menstruation never takes place between father’s and their sons.
What is the need for father’s to talk about periods with their daughters when their mothers are doing so?
When we exclude fathers from conversations on periods, we are instilling the idea within our daughters that periods are something to be ashamed of. Here is an experience that Nayma, a writer at a private company has shared with us:
“I was twelve years old. One day I was very excited to find a free pendant inside a pack of sanitary pads. I happily told my Dad “I got a free pendant with XYZ (name of pad company).” The next day, my mother told me I am not to talk to my father about pads and periods. That was the moment I felt shame because I felt I did something wrong. But now when I think of it, I realise that the shame was instilled in my mind which was really unnecessary. If this shame was not externally introduced, I could have talked about periods openly with my Dad, and never feel that it was something to be ashamed about.”
Srabonti, a student at a private university says:
“I always wondered that if my father can buy my sanitary pads, why can’t I talk to him about my periods?”
In a case that is unusual in our society, Andrea says that her family has always been open to each other about periods even though she lives in a joint family. They talk about it in the same way they would talk about any other matter in the household. In fact it was her grandfather who took her to the gynecologist when she was facing some problem with her menstrual cycle at the age of 13. Citing the reason behind this openness in her family, she says:
“I think education for women plays a huge role in the de-stigmatisation of important and sensitive matters such as menstruation within the family. My grandmother was a principal of a school. I believe that her education played a role in helping her create an environment within the household where her husband and son could have respectful conversations about all matters, including menstruation with their wife and daughter.”
What is the need for father’s to talk about periods with their sons?
Like Dads, sons are also excluded from conversations on periods. In most cases, boys learn about this monthly cycle from their peers. When this happens, they often receive wrong information, become curious, and have no one to ask questions. Biology lessons in schools may help them understand the science of periods, but it misses the human perspective. Fathers should talk to their sons about menstruation the same way he would talk to him about any other subject. This will help them look at periods as something that is normal, and will help remove the stigma surrounding periods.
Anthony, a private tutor, shares his views:
“I learnt about periods from my friends in school. But I feel that learning about it in my own home would have helped me look at it more positively. Back in my school days, if I knew that any of my female friends are on their periods, and that periods are accompanied by a lot of pain in the abdomen, I would try to be more supportive. Now that I am aware, when I have my own children, I will do my part in de-stigmatising menstruation by making sure I talk to them about this, whether they are a boy or a girl. Breaking taboos must begin at home.”
Here is a booklet titled ‘A Dad’s Guide to Periods’ to help fathers talk to their daughters, sons and non-binary children about menstruation: https://www.heygirls.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Pads-4-Dads-Booklet-Final.pdf