The current generation of parents are certainly different than those before them in a number of ways. More than ever, fathers are closely involved in all aspects of their children’s lives and in many families, they perform the same parenting duties as their partners. In this brave, new world of more equal parenting, it would stand to reason that we loosen up on the roles traditionally played by a mother or father. For instance, a father should be able to talk to his daughter about her period and a mother should be able to assist her son with learning to pee standing up. These boundaries are silly and don’t do much to help our kids.
As a young teen, I remember feeling that there were certain topics I could not broach with my father and my period was one of them. Actually, when I first started my period, I was home alone with my dad. I panicked and cried in the bathroom because even though I obviously knew what it was at the age of 13, it was still a bit shocking and scary for me to see. I found the pads in my mom’s bathroom and waited until she was home from work to say anything. I’m sure if I told him, my father would have said to wait for her anyway. This is the kind of thing I don’t want my own daughter to go through.
There is no reason a father can’t discuss periods and puberty with his daughter. Of course, a mother might make more sense since she has gone through it and can probably shed light in a way a father can’t but that doesn’t mean the subject need be taboo with dads. It makes it seem like something shameful if we tell our daughters there are certain things they can’t talk to their dads about. I know I felt I had to hide the very existence of my period from my dad. It wasn’t anything my parents said outright, but it was clear in our house that my mom was the go-to for all things girl and I just didn’t feel I could bring it up with him.
The same goes for what mothers can discuss with their sons. I never wanted us to be the parents that said “go ask mommy” or “go ask daddy” when issues of private parts were concerned. When my son was scared of his penis “getting big” in pre-school, I talked to him about it and soothed his concerns. My husband wasn’t home, what should I have done, make him wait several hours to alleviate his fears just so the parent with the right parts could educate him? The idea of both parents being able to handle anything that comes up is very comforting to me. If my daughter gets her first period and I’m away for some reason, I want to know that my husband could help her through it every bit as well as I could. Life does not happen on a perfect time-table and we never know who will be there for a first period, first heart-break, first underarm hair, etc. Both parents need to be available to discuss any and all things, no matter what.
It’s hard enough being a young teen and going through the natural changes that accompany growing up. There will be many questions and doubts along the way and if a child has two parents they feel totally comfortable bringing these concerns to, they are that much better off. It’s the modern age and the time for “moms or dads only” parenting needs to come to an end.