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How to talk to your kids about periods and sex!

August 10, 2018

How to talk to your kids about periods and sex!

August 10, 2018

Update: Read until the end where I answer some follow-up questions I received after I first posted this! xo

Every time I talk about this topic on my Insta-stories or with my friends in person, I get the same comment over and over again, and it’s always something along the lines of “I thought I was dying when I saw the blood the first time!” Or “why didn’t my mother tell me about this?!” Or “I wish I would’ve known what was happening to my body before it started!”

How To Talk To Your Kids About Periods And Sex!

Parents, it is NOT a teacher’s job (they have enough to do), or the school nurse’s job to teach your daughters (or sons) about periods. And yes, I said sons because honestly, they should know what a young woman has to go through too (before their health teacher gets to). Not only is it an important part in teaching them about how a girl can get pregnant, but hopefully, it will take away some of the stigma surrounding it for younger boys, who inevitably grow into men, and somehow still cringe at the thought of it all?! Yep, if your husband is still “grossed out” by the thought of it, then you still have a chance to help your sons not be!

Here’s the bottom line of it all folks, and this goes for everything in life. The FIRST person to teach your child about ANYTHING becomes the “expert” in their minds. So, how are you going to control the information your child deems “right” if you aren’t willing to have those conversations? It’s no longer okay to put your head in the sand and just hope that they’ll figure it all out. A sex therapist I saw speak at a conference years ago once said, “if you’ve waited until 5 years old to talk to your child about sex, they’ve already heard about it from someone else.” FIVE YEARS OLD.

Now I know you want to argue with me about that fact, or are shocked, but the statistics don’t lie. Between commercials, songs/the radio, TV, the internet, a relative, a movie, etc., they have certainly heard the word, if not much, much more. Why are you waiting to talk to them if you want to be the expert to them? You HAVE to do it first. Start with the basics of anatomy (and please call everything by the anatomical names because they’re not shameful) and go from there based on maturity level, and the questions they ask you. Whatever you do, don’t lie to them.

I remember when our six year old (who we had already talked to about the basics of what sex was) asked us “I know how babies get IN your belly, but what if I don’t WANT a baby in my belly?” At that point, we knew she was ready to hear about birth control in a broad sense, and how to protect herself from having that happen. She clearly was thinking about it, and deserved to know the truth and facts about it. Obviously, since she was six and bella was eight, we kept it to the point and for their maturity levels, but we are still the “experts” in their minds, and they know they can come to us with any questions they might have.

Joshua is involved in nearly every convo too! So important!

Bella recently asked us at dinner what “sixty-nine” meant almost out of the blue. She said something along the lines of “a bunch of kids in my class were talking at recess and kept saying “69” and giggling, so I KNOW it has something to do with sex!” We explained to her it was a sexual position and asked if she wanted to know anymore beyond that, and she said, “Oh really? Okay.” I told her I could sketch it out on paper, we all laughed, she said “nooooooo mom!” and we moved on.

What I was most proud of in this situation, is she could’ve easily asked a friend, and WHO KNOWS what that friend would’ve told her?! It also goes to show that we can educate our children on sex without going into every single detail (again, you know what information they can/should handle). And that she felt comfortable enough to ask us for the truth without being embarrassed or having shame involved.

Which is why I’m shocked when I hear over and over again about how mamas aren’t teaching their daughters about their periods. How can you possibly not discuss what it going to happen to their body, especially since it all goes hand in hand with sex education? Unless you’re not talking about ANY of it? And that’s why I’m writing this blog post.

The opposite of truth isn’t always lying, it’s SHAME.

Why are we avoiding discussing these topics with our kids? The more uncomfortable we are, and the more intimidated we seem, the more our kids are going to pick up on that vibe, and they’re going to feel those ways too, and maybe even worse, shameful. I’ve heard people say, “I’m just trying to protect them and their innocence.”

innocence doesn’t have to equal ignorance or immaturity

If anything, knowledge is power. Do you want the creepy uncle teaching your child about what’s appropriate to do with his or her body? Do you want their older female cousin to teach them about their privates? Many times, sexual predator grooming lies in ignorance because your children trust those people to do right by them, and because they don’t know the actual boundaries/truth, they’re confused. So if you truly want to protect your children, TEACH your children. Innocence doesn’t have to equal ignorance or immaturity, but that’s on you to decipher the difference.

Miranda in Charlotte takes the guess work out of how to talk to your daughters about their periods, and how to create a school "period pack!"
Our girls, 11 (almost 12) and 9!

So back to the periods, I didn’t start mine until I was fourteen, but I had friends who started as soon as eight or nine, which means you need to start preparing your daughters around seven-years-old probably with the basics of what their body will eventually go through and why. Bella and Lilly have come into the bathroom with me and I’ve shown them mine in all its glory even! 🙂

Some important things to tell your girls…let them know that they may get some signs letting them know it’s coming. Most doctors say periods come two years after breast buds first start forming (so note that date in your brain). You daughter may also start breaking out about once a month, which could indicate that time of the month is when she’ll have her period. For about six months prior to starting her period, she may notice thicker discharge in her underwear, and greasier hair. I let my girls know that once those things started happening, their period very likely could be coming, and they kept me posted. Therefore, they weren’t shocked when it did, because of these specific signs, and noticing the timing of everything. Another thing to note: tell them it may not start as this gush of bright red blood; it may be spotting, and could be brownish in color. I’ve heard several of my friends tell me they thought they may have pooped or simply not wiped very well, but it was their period, and brownish in hue. Again, the more we can talk to our girls about all of this stuff beforehand, the more empowered they are when it happens! Most likely, they aren’t going to be with you when it starts, so the best option is that they hear your words ringing in their ears when it does!

Another massively important thing to stress to them is that getting their period is a sign that their body is WORKING! That’s it’s doing exactly what it’s meant to do. It means they’re healthy, and things are happening just as they should. The more we can stress to them that this is a good, healthy thing, the more they’ll approach it as such!

And here are some things I’d avoid:

  • Telling them that it will hurt soooooooooooooo bad! Don’t lie to them, but also, each body is different in how it reacts to its cycle. I have never had a single cramp in my life. I know. It’s like the one thing my body threw me a bone on, and I’ll take it!!! But there’s no point in doom and gloom, and beating them over the head that it will be painful because it just may not?! Cross that bridge when you get there.
  • Using any kind of words that allude to it being gross, messy, disgusting, etc….you get my point. It’s a natural thing our body does, and although it involves blood, which I know can be “scary” for some people, try to play that part down. Instead, focus on the why it happens, instead of the “mess” it can sometimes be. “Don’t worry my love, we will contain the bloody part and make you feel as clean as possible.”
  • Being too emotional about it meaning they’re growing up and “becoming a woman.” Getting a period doesn’t make a girl a woman; it simply means she can now get pregnant, which doesn’t equal womanhood anyways, so we need to scratch this archaic notion. It’s a lot of pressure to some girls, and they will often feel like their body is betraying them by going through THE CHANGE. If that’s your child, then don’t make a big deal out of that part of it. It’s just a stepping stone, and not the whole shebang.
  • Telling them horror stories of your period or other girls’ periods. Be truthful of course. But you don’t have to tell them about every horrible period story you’ve come across. At least not before they even START their’s! Those are conversations to have down the road once they feel like they have a grip on this whole thing!

After you’ve educated them on the basics, and kept the lines of communication open throughout the years, and you feel like it’s coming soon-ish enough, then you need to create what I call a “period pack.” This pack goes with Bella (and Lilly) to school in her book bag each day, and it’s stocked full of stuff she’ll need should she start her’s while she’s at school. And I hope it goes without saying that I’ve also showed her how to use everything in it.

So as you’re going about buying the school supplies needed for this upcoming school year, don’t forget about these for your girls!!!

What’s in her pack:

    • Pads/tampons/panty liners
    • Change of underwear/pants/shirt inside of a ziploc bag (this way she can put any stained clothes inside of that same bag)
    • Wipes to clean herself up
    • Hand sanitizer
    • A note from me to her (that she hasn’t opened yet) that tells her I love her, that it’s okay to be scared and brave at the same time, and to call me as soon as she can if she wants to, and that she can come home early if she feels the need to.
    • A few random toiletries she simply likes to carry daily (comb, deoderant, sunscreen, chapstick)Here are packs I love! They’re durable, wipeable, and are fine to get wet/messy!

All of this is in a small bag that goes inside of her book bag and this way, if she wants to see the nurse, she can. If she wants to go to the bathroom and handle it all herself, she can. At the end of the day, I want to empower my girls to have complete autonomy over their bodies, and that starts with knowing what’s happening inside and outside of it. What it’s capable of, what’s to come, what’s inappropriate, how to say “I don’t like that,” “NO!” and so much more as we cross those bridges. But you have to start NOW mamas…it’s up to us. I made a helpful video HERE if you want to watch it!

If you wish your mother (or father) had told you more, then break the cycle now and tell your kids more. If you don’t know where to start, I can’t recommend the American Girl doll books enough (this is not an ad)! They have amazing series on a whole host of topics from friendship, to bullying, and body-focused books (for girls and boys). I bought Bella a few of the ones I’ll link below, and even though I had talked to her about it, she also LOVES to read and found it super helpful to then ask me questions about the things she still was unsure about.

For some light humor!

Mamas, let’s empower our girls! There’s a movement to do so more than ever right now, but I still hear repeatedly how it’s soooooooo hard to talk to them about these specific topics. And I get it because it seems like it’s too much for their young minds to grasp. But I promise you, you NEED to be the first to talk to them so you can be the expert and build their trust in you. The more confident you seem, the more confident they’ll be in receiving the information! You can keep them innocent (if that’s your goal) without keeping them ignorant or immature.

And may I revisit what I said above about also teaching your sons about periods?! Great, because I am! lol! Yall, without women having periods (including most of you), boys don’t exist, so it’s time for them to know what’s going on in that regard anyway! I’m not saying they need to know every single bit, but I’d love if we could normalize periods….enough that if your son sees a girl with blood on her pants, he’d not be horrified/grossed out/laugh at/mock/tell his friends about it/shame the girl. Maybe instead, you could teach him that it’s what girls go through, and what enables them to eventually/possibly have babies? Maybe you could say that if he saw a girl with blood on her pants, to offer her his sweater to tie around her waist.? Maybe he could discreetly see if she needs anything? Maybe he could have feminine products available in his bathroom or car for when he has female friends over/with him? I know waaaaay too many adult men who can’t even hear the word period without getting weird, and that’s gotta stop. FULL STOP. It’s just a natural, normal part of being human together, so mamas of boys, it’s the least we could do, as our daughters as certainly carrying the majority of the period load, amiright?

Real quick: I follow a person, Suzy, who is a part of a company called Jovi, and it is a patch that you put on your body where you’re experiencing period pain (or really any pains), and it takes away the pain. Bella has horrendous cramps, and nothing fixes them (meds, baths, etc), so I bought the Jovi patch! And it is a game changer for her, thank God! If you want to try it for yourself, I have a link for yall! You can click HERE!

as promised above, FAQs about the sex talks:

“HOW do I start the conversation?”
For us, it started as early as naming their body parts the correct terms and letting them know what parts were private, and this started at birth, and as soon as they could talk. Then the sex talk started with “where do babies come from?” And we told them that the baby grew in my body because of sex, and that the baby will come out of either my vagina or my belly, and this was around 4-6 years old. Any other follow up questions were answered based on maturity level and questions asked, as referenced above. BUT, if your kids are older than five, and you want to start the conversation because they haven’t asked anything yet, just casually say “Have you heard the word “sex” before, and if so, do you know what it is?” And go from there. An easy transition is to talk about sex as it relates to making babies, and that sort of thing. The BIGGEST thing to remember through it all is, they don’t look at it as an emotional thing at this age, even though we do. Try to compartmentalize that how *we* view sex is NOT anywhere close to how *they* view it. To them it’s 1+1=2. To us, it’s a multitude of things, most of which is why it possibly feels uncomfortable to talk about, but that’s not the part you’re telling them about yet, in the first few conversations.

“What would you avoid in the conversation?”
See above answer, but I’d also add, and I’ll get some push back about this possibly, but hear me out. We avoided saying “sex is what happens when two people love each other very much!” Child predators almost always know their victims, and they groom them to think that what is happening is a way to show them “love.” (This is a great time to review what is appropriate touching and who is allowed to touch them and why). Also, your child’s first boyfriend or girlfriend…yeah, they’re going to think they’re in love and say it A LOT. Do you want them to have sex to show that “love?” (This is a great time to explain to them that people *may* say things to take advantage of them). Just something to think about, yall. We never want them to think that sex is used to show anyone love, except for themselves, because they WANT to, not because they HAVE to. (This is also a good way to introduce the topic of masturbation). Again, everything should be specific to your child’s maturity level.
We also avoided the “sex is what happens when two people want a baby.” Many people have sex and don’t want a baby (this is a great segue for birth control discussions). And many people want a baby and have sex, and yet for many reasons, it doesn’t happen (great segue for infertility talks). And many people have a baby, but sex isn’t what made that baby (great segue for adoption/surrogacy talks). Overall, we avoided “absolute” statements…and focused on as truthful and accurate conversations as possible!

“What if I can’t get my child to talk to me at all about this?”
I would bet that if parents start super early with the lines of open communication, started by you of course, that your child will be open too. But if you’re playing a game of catch up, or just have a super shy/timid/quiet kid, I’d start with some of the books I linked below. Have them read them alone, and then ask if they have follow up questions! There are so many ways to approach the discussion, and I promise you that it tends to go WAY BETTER than we even think it will in our heads! I always find that having conversations in the car is best. We don’t have to be looking directly at each other, we can’t escape, and there’s typically way less distractions!

If you found this helpful at all, please share with your friends! We can do this, together! And if you’re a single dad or need any guidance, please reach out to me, as I’m here to help! These books are a fabulous start…
The “it’s not the stork” is great for age appropriate sex talks, and the “care and keeping of you 1 and 2” are great for girls’ body talks. The “guy stuff” is awesome for boys’ body talks! And my girls love the other two books as well!

Disclosure – No compensation was received for this post. However please note that some of the links of the books in this post are affiliate links. Meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a very small commission if you click through and make a purchase using the link.

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  • Patty August 10, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    I love that you have a special letter in there for her. I ❤️ you! You’re such a good mom!

    • August 10, 2018 at 6:24 pm

      awe thanks babe! just doing the best i can! thanks for saying that! i think you’re pretty incredible too xxoxo

  • Bonita August 11, 2018 at 2:27 am

    Love this post so much! Especially the women empowerment part! Bonjour

    • August 12, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      yessssssssssss! how can we preach empowerment while being scared to talk about what makes us uniquely women?! xoxo

  • Melanie Van Heel August 11, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    This is so so good Miranda! I love your perspective on all of this and it has given me the courage to have these conversations with our girls! So thank you for being an open book, the world needs more of this!!

  • Ashley Pullen August 13, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have three daughters. The oldest is at the age where we need to have conversations, but I am honestly so overwhelmed with where to even start. My mom never had conversations with me about sex, periods, or anything close to these subjects. I don’t even have a frame of reference other than our weird gym teacher playing videos.. I am going to write down every one of these book titles.

    • August 18, 2018 at 3:13 pm

      Hi! I’m going to do a follow-up post about how we started these conversations with our minis! My best advice is to be truthful and to the point, starting with biological answers at first and go from there. How are babies made, etc. Get the books for sure, read them yourselves, then with them. Nothing will empower them more as young ladies then to know they can come to their mom with questions and get the answers they can trust! You’ve got this xo

  • Carla August 14, 2018 at 12:55 am

    You are such a good mama! I love the period pack idea. Thanks for writing this! We’re not there yet but when we do I’ll need this wisdom!

    • August 18, 2018 at 3:16 pm

      Thank you for saying that! Being a mom for me is my greatest gift, and I want my girls to know I’m here for them in all ways, especially when it comes to their bodies. I’m glad this was helpful for you! xoxo

  • Angie Armada May 24, 2019 at 11:02 am

    This is SO good! Thanks to my 5th grade teacher Mrs.Blesoe i knew exactly what was happening when it happened – however i was with my two younger cousins when it happened and i had to explain to them that i wasnt dieing. At 13.

    I have a 4 yr old boy and i definitly plan on talking to him even about what happens to girls because like you i think its SO IMPORTANT to educate boys as well on the subject. My husband is one of the few who doesnt cringe so that helps.
    This was an amazing read!

    • May 24, 2019 at 10:16 pm

      Angie, thank you so much for the comment and for the support in this! You’re an amazing mama, and your son is going to be so much better for knowing this sort of stuff! xoxo

  • Ellen Beausang August 19, 2019 at 12:47 am

    Miranda- This is a great post. Admittedly, this is not my strength as a mom. Give me sports stuff, business stuff, etc- I can handle. My mom and I never talked about this stuff. It really helps that you have posted this. I am starting late, but will be a source for my girls. Thank you so much! This is really awesome!

    • August 27, 2019 at 9:36 pm

      Oh Ellen, this is EXACTLY why I wrote it! I never talked about it with my mom either, and I am not repeating the cycle. Be the expert to your girls! Their bodies are worth it 🙂

  • Sophia Varnam September 6, 2019 at 1:04 am

    This is an amazing post!!! So helpful! My 2 year old daughter already knows her body parts – including her vulva and knows she has a vagina but I think she doesn’t fully get that yet because she can’t see it. I had NO clue what was happening when I started my period at 11, and everything with “growing up” at that point on was a battle with my mom (shaving, clothing, you name it). I’m determined to try and do better for Alexis for not only her safety but also so she isn’t ashamed of her body and the incredible things it does. We need mom’s of boys to do the same thing though and teach them about women’s bodies and what’s natural. I was JUST reading a thread where grown adult men thought periods were “unhealthy” or “gross” or even “optional”. 🤯🤯🤯 anyway, thank you for this and I will be utilizing those books as a resource as my daughter grows.

    • September 6, 2019 at 3:09 am

      thank you for taking the time to comment! i agree with every word you say! luckily, my hubby grew up with a single mom and older sister, and knows ALL THE THINGS!

    About Me

    About Me

    Hey Peeps!

    I'm Miranda, and I'm formerly lots of things (I sold dumpsters, fro-yo, and car parts to name a few), but most recently I was a cakery owner of Got What It Cakes. I'm a mom of two daughters whom I call my "minis,” and the wife to Joshua, whom I call "Stud" (yes, he's even in my phone under that name). Most days you can find me oversharing about my insane life on my InstaStories, in a segment I call "carpool confessions." Follow along as I decide what to be when I grow up, while I navigate my other love, the queen city of Charlotte! I also tend to go by "Mayor Miranda," and am awaiting my key to the city ;) Read More

    xo, Miranda


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