Did your dad freak out when you got your periods? Talk you through it? Or just ignore it? Here’s more on how dads react to periods.
Dads, how we love them! Often, they prepare us for real life. We laugh, cry and fight with them. They can be annoyingly over-protective of their children, be it sons or daughters!
Yet, there is sometimes, something in a father-daughter relationship that makes it different from a father-son relationship. And that something – is periods. That’s where the confusion begins for many dads. There is probably a lot going on in a dad’s mind; he feels a lot of fears manifesting or even a sense of pride welling up when his little girl attains puberty. At the same time, he finds it difficult to reveal this pretty emotional picture to his family, especially to his favourite girl – given what a taboo subject this is in India!
A very relevant thread in Quora, What does a father feel when his daughter’s menstrual cycle starts highlights some interesting and genuine reactions from women who have gone through this phase and men who have seen them through it. While some dads didn’t quite know what to do, others had their fathers to fall back on.
Sanya Singh, a young woman from Chandiagarh shares how her father taught her to embrace the privilege of womanhood rather than being embarrassed. She narrates how her father said, “Don’t be ashamed of it or say it’s a problem. Rather you should feel proud of the fact that you have been blessed with it. So it’s a privilege to the girls who get it, for girls who don’t get it, only they know the pain of not getting it.’
Another Quora user Pooja Tripathi who describes herself as a writer and filmmaker, has a similar story to tell. She talks of how her teachers freaked out when she first got her periods and says, “In our society we don’t get embarrassed of women being molested, of the lewd comments that come across our ways but that stain on your dress makes the world crumbling down…Dad takes me home (not my uncle’s home) and explains me in very simple biological words that i have got my periods and how should i take care of it. I am relieved that i am not dying of cancer.He helps me take a neat cotton cloth and then we both go to my Uncle’s home where my mom takes the baton in her hand. I wish my teachers were half as cool as my dad.”
Pushpita Bhaskar, another Quora user, is again one of those lucky girls whose father, a doctor had a great understanding and patience towards his daughter’s changing body. She says, “He is a doctor and I always went to him whenever I found myself in trouble. Whether it was a scraped knee, or having my first period, his great understanding and patience towards his daughter’s changing body didn’t freak him out. Instead, he taught me how to use to one of those sanitary napkins. He really did. He told me I’ll be okay.
On the dad’s side, we didn’t hear from too many Indian dads on this one, but James Burd, a divorced American father of two grown daughters did not treat it as anything out of the normal. He says, “I believe kids take a lot of cues from how parents act and my intent was to act normal and nothing to be embarrassed about. Its a normal body function and just part of growing up. Any sadness of no longer having a ‘baby’ girl was matched by equal amounts of happiness and pride that she was growing into a wonderful young woman.”
Some dads don’t always know what to say at the beginning, but find their own way to show that they care. Says Mayuri Sisodia, who works in Hospitality, “My dad never spoke with me about anything and I always wondered WHY? So, there was a day when I decided to fight with everyone to make my dreams come true and finally after too much of struggle I left my hometown. Since that was the first time I was stepping out my home, my dad accompanied me to the new city…He was very well aware about the pain I experience when my cycle starts so he came closer to me and handed over me a bunch of chocolates with a advise that ‘It is natural to have menstrual cycles for a woman so do not get worried, take good care of yourself and call us anytime you want. I will be there for you.'”
While these folks talk of how their bond with dad grew stronger after puberty, Rukmini Manasa, a researcher from Mumbai talks of how things changed all of a sudden for her as soon as she got her periods. Her father, once very close to her, slowly drifted away from her and grew closer to her brother. In her own words, “While he grew closer and closer to my younger brother, I found a best friend in mom, but couldn’t get back to dad the way I was earlier. I’m not saying there’s there was any sort of hatred or anything between us, just a thin difference that seemed to increase daily…A father should never shy away from the daughter when she needs him the most.”
As many of the daughters here say, there is absolutely no rule that prevents a father from discussing periods with his daughter. The onus is on the dad to treat it as normal, so that the daughter isn’t embarrassed about her body – here’s to more such cool dads who are around when we need them.
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