Welcome to our Dad Special! Two articles will be 100% dedicated to them to provide an overview of the challenges of fatherhood in 2020, concerning menstruation and other delicacies.
Part One: What it's like to be a dad in 2020!
For those who have read my previous articles know that during my early teen years, I was the majesty of unease regarding menstruation. From the top of my throne, I reigned in the realm of embarrassment, so much so that I never found the courage to tell my mother about my first... period. Finally, it was my sister who told my mother! You can imagine 12-year-old Sarah being stricken by shame and trying to explain to her mother why she didn't dare tell her... Fortunately, the reign of menstrual terror has subsided over the years. Anyways!
Talking to my father about these THINGS was not easier. Explaining to him why I couldn't swim or why I was particularly irritable on certain days was downright unthinkable! Well! That was almost 20 years ago. But what about the new kinds of dads?
The stereotype of a working dad and a stay-at-home mom are slowly dissolving. The family nucleus has become more fluid: mom-dad-children-Minivan-golden Retriever has now been replaced by blended or two-paternal families, single-parent fathers, etc. How are new dads doing in terms of talking about feminine hygiene, puberty, and menstruation with their little future women? Just for you, I met with 6 fathers from different family and cultural backgrounds. I warn you, there's a beautiful dad every square metre!
My 4 Observations
1. The first contact with menstruation wasn't very..."fluid".
When I asked them how their first experience with menstruation had gone, I was quite surprised by the surprising and uneasy anecdotes that dads shared with me.
"I was 16-17 years old and I was at a friend's house with several people, guys, and girls," says Michel. "At one point, I pointed at something lying around and asked with curiosity in front of everyone What's that? The girl replied: well, it's a tampon... "
A first experience like this doesn't help a man to be comfortable! François was in high school when he saw his first menstrual pad used. "It was just lying on my friend's bed," he says.
" I was surprised and wondered what it was... The colour was brownish. I thought at first it was poo because if I bleed, the blood is red...! Finally, she quickly hid it. We never talked about it! "
"The subject of sexuality and menstruation was rarely discussed at school," recalls Xavier. "In our biology classes, we were introduced to dissecting the human body, but we didn't talk about the reality of being a teenager."
The same goes for Antonio, who grew up in Mexico. " In our country, menstruation was taboo, extremely taboo. The proof: when we bought pads at the store, the cashier would wrap them in newspaper! "
For Michel, it happened one night when his sister woke up because she had stained her sheets. "I remember being scared, wondering what was going on. I was worried about her, I was afraid that she would be sick or injured. I barely understood that periods existed and nothing was explained to me later... »
The lack of communication and education was glaring at the time. Leaving men in the dark and in mystery has always contributed to perpetuating the taboo in which menstruation has been painted for a long time.
Instead of maintaining the Menstrual Secret, why not share it?
2. Free-flowing discussions!
The most striking thing about these dads was their open-mindedness and their ability to discuss everything related to sexuality, puberty and menstruation. The absolute absence of taboo!
“These themes are very much discussed with us," Xavier explains. "Of course, I don't run around the house shouting sexual words, but when I caught my son masturbating, I told him about it and congratulated him for discovering the great joys of being a boy."
Discussion, dialogue and complicity seem to have replaced authority and the long silences for these new dads. I also felt a lot of softness and caring towards their children.
3. A Bat-Mom and a Robin Dad
The duo Batman and Robin definitely illustrate the role of parents in terms of children and menstrual periods! Bat-moms usually have both hands on the steering wheel of the batmobile, tackling the subject head-on and taking care of the formalities. Not surprising! They experience it every month, so they know what they are talking about.
Robin Dads, on the other hand, take on a more of a passenger or co-pilot role! They feel less equipped and sometimes find the subject intimidating. That's normal, as we can see, since many have never been educated about it!
Fortunately, things have changed! Despite their supportive role, today's fathers are present, participate in conversations on the subject, and even open to buying tampons or pads for their daughters. Together, the Bat-parents form a terrific team! Bam!
4. The recipe for dads completely reinvented!
Fortunately, many of the dads interviewed did not copy the role models they had. They have been able to adapt and reinvent their role. They are committed to getting involved in family life and developing a strong bond with their children, a bond that goes beyond the more traditional authority figure relationship. In some cases, we can say that they have adapted their flavour to their family situation! Francis' father did not want to displease, he wanted more than anything that his children would be happy to go home. For his part, Francis has a completely different goal: " (...) I want to educate my daughters to be happy in life! »
Jasper confided that he doesn't create a climate of fear nor get angry like his father did. “I advocate more understanding ,". he said. The same goes for Michel, who relies on conversation, communication and involvement.. "I feel more like a big brother; open to sharing, sensitive, and less authoritative." He maintains a relationship of equality where the parental hierarchy is less present than in his father's time. I find that 2020 dads have all the ingredients for a winning recipe: a big pinch of listening, a good cup of empathy and a nice handful of sensitivity!
How lucky was I to have met these beautiful, touching, present dads, overflowing with love and kindness! I thank them for enlightening me on their point of view by playing the game. I am sure that their testimonies will inspire many. The 12-year-old Sarah in me is happy to know that lots of dads don't let the gap widen between themselves and their children at puberty, but instead, build a bridge through dialogue and openness. Wow!
Stay tuned! Part 2 of The Dad Special will continue shortly! We'll treat ourselves to: Papa Rouge's little practical guide - How to talk about menstruation with your daughter! You will be entitled to new advice, unusual word games, surprising statements and much more!
One day we wake up being a father and the next day our child is 2 minutes away from becoming a woman. Get ready!