Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Dads, Daughters, and Menarche

September 29th, 2011 by Elizabeth Kissling

Oh, Mr. Dad! Is that the best you can do?

Mr. Dad is a syndicated parenting advice column in my local paper, and the September 26 edition featured a query from a dad worried that his 11-year-old daughter may begin menstruating while her mom is deployed overseas (she just left, and she’ll be gone for a year).

Mr. Dad’s first bit of advice is for the squeamish father to find an adult woman to talk to his daughter about puberty:

Your first assignment is to find an adult woman to run point. This could be a relative, friend, or even one of the female spouses whose husband is deployed with your wife’s unit. She’ll be able to walk your daughter through the basics and give you a list of supplies you’ll want to have on hand.

To his credit, Mr. Dad doesn’t let Nervous Dad off the hook, and does advise that he learn about female puberty “just in case things don’t go exactly according to plan”. But I’d rather see more dads embrace the possibility that they may well be the one their daughter turns to at menarche, like this dad.

Heck, they could even up being the helpful, available next-door neighbor in a time of need, like ol’ Hank Hill, in this video clip.

2 responses to “Dads, Daughters, and Menarche”

  1. David Linton says:

    This episode of King of the Hill is almost entirely focused on reactions to first periods and raises the issues thoughtfully. It’s tited “Aisle # 8,” a reference to the dreaded super market aisle containing all the menstrual products, a pace men fear to tread. In addition to the adult male reaction, one of the best thing about the episode is the response of the young boy, Bobby, who feels left out of the growing up experience.

  2. Elizabeth Kissling says:

    I remember. I wrote about it in Capitalizing on the Curse, in chapter 3, which deals almost entirely with how how menarche is represented in the media. One of the discoveries I made in researching that book is that menarche is a fairly common plotline in family comedies of the 1980s and 1990s (Blossom, The Cosby Show, Roseanne, Seventh Heaven, and several others) whereas adult menstruation is seldom referenced.

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