I have a daughter who is not yet a tween. However, we are starting to have more and more conversations about how her body is changing and what she can expect. Having these conversations brings up stuff for me. Specifically, I think about what I would have wanted my mother to do or how I would have liked her to guide me when I started my period.
A decision I made early on related to child rearing is that I would be more open, honest and vulnerable with my children than my parents ever were with me. I do not want them to just see me as an authority figure but someone that they can trust and talk with as well. I also want to give them access to information so that they are not clueless.
So, as my daughter’s body is slowly changing, we are discussing what she can expect when she begins her menstrual cycle and how her body will change physically. I have also brought up that just as her body is changing, I want her to be different by asking for what she needs and to express herself in healthy ways.
I recognize that I cannot be the only resource for her nor will she want me to be the only source of information. I want her to feel comfortable talking to other women about her body and what she is experiencing. I want her to have access to different perspectives and to feel confident asking for what she wants and needs.
At the end of the day I am the expert on my body only. She shouldn’t just take my word for it, especially if she is experiencing something different from what I know. I want her to reach out to a source that she can trust and go beyond “this-is-how-the-books-say-it-should-happen.”
I remember my teen years and wish I could have had another woman, not directly related to me, that I could reach out to and ask questions. I only had my peer group and looking back at what we shared with each other, a good portion of us was misinformed because we were in the same boat.
I wished I’d had a period godmother when I was younger. I would have appreciated the event being marked in a special way, having someone to discuss different product options, to share remedies with me, or bring up things that she had learned through her experience. I might have been less frustrated if I’d had someone to speak to about the emotions I was going through.
Why a period godmother? We have madrinas and padrinos for quinceanearas, weddings, and marriages in Latino cultures to support us during these important events in our lives. The role of these individuals is to provide guidance and to be a source of advice. It makes sense to have a godmother for a girl’s period as well.
A girl’s period is an important event in her life. I want my daughter to feel supported and loved. I want her to embrace this transition, her body and not be afraid or embarrassed. With this in mind I decided that I would ask a woman in my circle to be my daughter’s period madrina. This is a person that I trust, has similar beliefs and values as I do and that I am comfortable sharing things with.
I want her to know that I encourage her to ask questions and that she has other adults in her life that she can trust. I am saying this to her and providing a resource. By becoming comfortable speaking about her period to someone besides me, I hope that it makes it easier to reach out for help or ask for guidance in other areas of her life.
For a long time I felt I couldn’t ask questions about my body, my cycle, or even my sexuality. These were things that we did not ask about or discuss out loud at home. If anything, my period became a burden because new rules were imposed on me and it was better not to say anything. To some degree, this affected how comfortable I felt asking for what I needed or what I discussed about my body for several years. It was only through conversations with other women outside of my family that I let go of being embarrassed to talk about my period and my body.
I am empowering my daughter early on to take charge of her body with confidence. It’s setting the stage to feel empowered in other areas of her life.
Your turn: How are you empowering someone else now?
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