As kids become teenagers and puberty starts to set in, parents are bound to have some uncomfortable conversations with their children while teaching them how to take proper care of themselves.
If not phrased carefully, advice can quickly begin to sound like shaming, advised the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
The Redditor, who has since deleted his account, realized that his daughter thought he was period-shaming her when he tried to talk to her about the messes he’d found around the house.
When several family members also accused him of being too hard on her, the Original Poster (OP) wondered how else he could explain personal hygiene to her.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for ‘period-shaming’ my daughter?”
The OP tried to be prepared for when his daughter started her period.
“I’m a (41 Male) single dad with a 13-year-old daughter named Lacey. My wife died in childbirth and it’s just been me and Lacey all her life.”
“My sister has been a big help in raising Lacey, and we do keep in contact with her maternal grandparents.”
“The issue started a couple of months ago when Lacey started her period. I knew this day would come, so I spoke to my sister, my female best friend, and my mother-in-law to be well prepared.”
“I gave her the talk with her grandmother and aunt there, I buy her pads and tampons, and I even have Midol and heating pads ready for Lacey when she needs them.”
The OP observed his daughter struggling with her personal hygiene.
“The problem began when I began to notice a smell coming from Lacey’s room.”
“I went in to investigate and found pads and tampons openly disposed of in her wastebasket.”
“I checked her bathroom and it was worse. She had her bloodstained undergarments in the tub.”
“I took out her trash and did my best to get rid of the smell, but I didn’t know what to do with the underwear in the tub.”
“Later, I noticed bloodstains on the couch. It took a while of cleaning but I got them out. I figured that was the end of that.”
But the problem continued the next month.
“It happened again last month when I noticed Lacey’s room was stinking again.”
“And I saw she didn’t even wash the underwear from before. The bathroom was unbearable at this point. Then earlier this week, I saw bloodstains on the couch again.”
“I sat Lacey down and told her that she had to learn to properly dispose of her feminine hygiene products and wash her underwear as the smell was becoming too much. And to be careful of getting bloodstains on the couch or anywhere she sits.”
“I also noticed her sheets had a lot of bloodstains and brought this up too. I also told her that it was okay to get blood on things as long as she washed them, and I wouldn’t be upset if I saw her bloodstained items being washed.”
The OP’s daughter did not take the advice well.
“Lacey immediately blew up at me, saying that periods aren’t gross, that I was period shaming, and that I needed to educate myself on menstruation.”
“I then got texts from my sister and MIL, scolding me for making Lacey feel ashamed of her bodily functions.”
“But I honestly wasn’t trying to convey that periods are gross. I was trying to convey that her hygiene needed to be addressed and that the smell was becoming unbearable.”
“I just wanted to make sure that Lacey knew how to properly dispose of pads and tampons without them smelling, and that I wouldn’t be annoyed if she washed her bloodstained items.”
“AITA here? Was I period-shaming my daughter?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some encouraged the OP to keep doing what he was doing to help his daughter.
“Periods aren’t gross. Getting your period blood all over the place is. She needs to learn basic period hygiene now or she will deeply regret it later in life.”
“You’re a great father, OP. But maybe consider having her see a therapist or someone more qualified to deal with why she is reacting this way.” – edengonedark
“As a woman and a mom (granted to a son but he’s still gonna learn about periods cause I have them), you’re trying your best and you’re doing great.”
“Maybe have the women in her life talk to her about proper hygiene, because if she is heavily bleeding or not taking care of herself correctly, it can cause issues that she doesn’t need for only being 13. Keep trying your best!” – welpokayhere
“You’re not a bad parent. You’re doing plenty to help your daughter. What you did isn’t period shaming, it’s teaching her basic hygiene. And if you didn’t do it gently now, her future boyfriends/girlfriends are definitely going to do it later, and they might well do it in a nasty way. NTA.”
“And if it’s any consolation, it doesn’t take a mother and a father figure to be good enough as a parent. I was raised pretty much single-handedly by my dad after 15, and my boyfriend was raised by a single mom, and we love them to pieces, they’re good enough and more.”
“Don’t worry so much; just be there for your kid, and she too will grow out of that tween funk where your parents ‘suck,’ just like the rest of us!” – IntrepidNectarine8
“I just want to say I think you’re doing a wonderful job. My only suggestion, and this is in no way a critique, is maybe to help her wash the sheets? At 13, I was doing my own laundry and everything, but sometimes things can get overwhelming, and this is something you could do to help.”
“She doesn’t seem to be handling this well emotionally, so maybe removing to-dos from her list every month could help. But NTA!” – Carinthehat5879
“You weren’t overreacting in any way, but… maybe in this phase of her development, a small white lie like, ‘Honey, l know l was way too harsh, l was the a**hole to you, sorry, blah blah blah,’ might help. I’m not saying this should be a general strategy but this special case calls for special treatments.”
“First periods are embarrassing, that’s it, we’re 13, puberty, hormones, f**king bleeding… and your daughter can’t share this with her mom. Your daughter’s reaction was objectively wrong but so understandable from her point of view.”
“She’s scared because it’s a life milestone, and embarrassed because she’s just realized there are bodily functions she can’t control.”
“In my country, when a girl gets her first period, it’s an unwritten rule that parent/parents/aunties take her for clothes shopping so that she could pick up some clothes to enjoy, and we usually ‘accidentally’ happen to purchase a set of ‘period underwear’… and it ends with getting a pizza or having any kind of fun that the daughter might enjoy.”
“It is possible she might not want to do that with you, but your sister. If so, let it happen.” – panlevap
Others agreed and gave the OP advice for other ways to help during periods.
“Not every pad and tampon will work the same for the same people. You may need to have a discussion with her or have someone around you discuss that with her, etc.”
“There is such a variety, I’m not sure what you might’ve gotten her, but if you haven’t gotten her ‘nighttime pads’ and only panty liners, that could be part of the reason she seems to ‘leak’ everywhere.”
“It is a trial and error thing, just remember to be nice about it because I’m sure she feels awkward, but it seems like you’re trying your best, so good job!”
“Also, definitely NTA. You weren’t shaming, you were just trying to help her be… clean.” – sleeping-slugs
“‘Alternative’ is the heavy flow THINX undies that she can wear overnight. They’re pricey but honestly, you’d be helping her a lot.” – bobainwonderland
“You also could take her to see her regular doctor. If she’s not comfortable talking to her pediatrician about this, you could transition her to an adolescent medicine specialist. I have a friend in that specialty, and as she described it, ‘I talk about periods a lot.'” – JenUsesTheInternet
“For future reference, a peri bottle (bought on Amazon) or a small spray bottle with 2/3 hydrogen peroxide, 1/3 BLUE dawn dish soap will take out any stain from anything, I have found. Grease spots, blood, and carpet stains, just test a patch first.”
“I like the peri bottle because you can squirt with it but it doesn’t make a mess like a regular squeeze bottle.”
“Also, I am going to get some of those period panties for my 9-year-old just to have in her drawer for when it is time. I use a cup, but these seem to have come a long way!” – HonPhryneFisher
“Oxiclean is also fantastic for getting blood out. I’ve got the spray version (stain remover for clothes and non-clothes) and it gets blood out every time, even a few days old.”
“Also, NEVER rinse blood-soaked items with hot water. Always use cold!”
“Another thing I do as well on top of the period panties, if I’m sitting on something (especially since I use menstrual cups), I’ll put a fleece blanket underneath me. I’ll fold it over too so it’s a little thicker. I’d rather leak on the fleece blanket as it’s easier to get out in comparison to say a couch or a bed.” – pycheko
After receiving feedback, the OP shared a few positive updates.
“I talked to my sister and mil and explained my side. They apologized for the misunderstanding and like you guys, have given some good cleaning tips, and they’ll talk to Lacey and help her out with the pads and tampons too.”
“So many people here have suggested it and I’ve asked Lacey if her period pain is unbearable or just normal cramps and left the choice to her as to whether or not she wants to see a specialist but the option is there for her!”
“We also have washed the sheets with hydrogen peroxide and purchased some Oxiclean for future instances should we need it.”
“Many of you have also suggested period underwear, which again, I have asked her aunt and grandmother about and they’ll be able to give her more info about those as well as different hygiene products she can use.”
Though the OP’s initial conversation didn’t go as well as planned, the subReddit knew that he had the best intentions, and his family was able to help him best serve his daughter during this difficult transition.
While it can be hard to learn something new like this, it’s wonderful to hear that the OP and his daughter have this support system backing them.