How to Raise A Woman

Having recently had my daughter I have often found myself staring at her as she naps, thinking of all the things that lie ahead for her as a woman. Puberty, periods, love, fertility etc. Such a journey and one that has the potential to be so complicated.

Which is why I this list from Sarah on helping preparing her daughters for womanhood is really powerful.


  • At what point do you become a womanIs it sixteen when you can have sex legally or eighteen when you can vote?

  • I have not been able to find a definitive answer, because in all honesty I don’t think there is one.

  • I think we all know deep down it is about being ready.

  • Sometimes we have to play catch up because our bodies are physically ready before we are and other times our minds are ready before our bodies are.

  • How do we know when our daughters are ready? For that talk? Those many questions that will follow? The responsibility of being informed?

  • What I have learned as a mother of four, one boy and three girls, is that there is no right ‘way,’ a whole list of wrongs ‘ways’ but what is imperative is that you build a relationship that fosters trust, respect and has open lines of communication.

  • My entrance into womanhood came early because my body was ready before I was and later on I became a mum before I became an adult.

  • Knowing when you are ready is tricky because our hormones are not affected necessarily by our years on earth.

  • My period came when I was ten, still a child and arguable not ready. I was practically ready but not emotionally.

  • I can still see the through my mum’s eyes, I was still her baby. The truth is she wasn’t ready. As the mother of a ten year old I can understand why.

  • However, I think as mums we can get lost here, which is fine for us but not children like my ten year old self.

  • As much as I can understand the mourning of a lost childhood I know from experience that the mourning does not prepare and guide you for your future, it does not recognise and appreciate that you are a small human, on a journey too.

  • I had heavy painful periods from which I could derive no joy or empowerment from, just burden and resentment.

  • The reason I am not letting my daughter’s entrance into womanhood just happen without thought or guidance, is an attempt for her experience to not bear the same hallmarks as mine.

  • There have been a few things that have shaped my perspective on how to achieve this.

  • Have you ever read The Red Tent? A great book that left a lasting legacy with me about women and womanhood. I realised that puberty could be celebrated as a right of passage and have power that woman could draw from.

  • I realised by viewing as a gift and not a burden can change your whole perspective and experience.

  • Prior to this I had been aware of women celebrating their menstruation and I had always looked upon with a negative gaze, assuming that the woman never knew how painful, heavy and debilitating periods could be and therefore not having much to celebrate.

  • I have found that changing your perspective and becoming more open can change your experience.

  • Your mindset is incredibly important and through hypnobirthing I learned how as the individual, in the room I had more control in a situation that was happening to me than it appeared. Accepting that my attitude, reactions coping mechanisms played a huge role in the most challenging of predicaments allowed me to experience that event how I wanted to.

  • So, for my girls I want them to embrace their first step into womanhood with a warm welcome. So, this list has been as much about getting my shit together, breaking with old negative cycles and being ready for their needs as it has been about theirs.

  • So, phase one is having a plan.

  • One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned from being a parent is the importance of having a plan.

  • Characteristically, I am a happy, go lucky drifter so my plans are admittedly more loose than regimented.

  • First was easiest and most enjoyable step and meant putting together a basket. You know the type of basket, a congratulations you made it, but not with a cheesy sentiment more along the lines of your life as a woman starts now. The basket for me is a symbolic hook or immovable lead weight depending on your perspective that will be where my daughter’s will hang the memories of when they ‘welcomed their period.’ The basket contains all of the tools and knowledge that they need so that they cut and curate the start of their lives as women.

  • It includes environmentally conscious sanitary protection for her to explore and choose from. Including sanitary towels, tampax, a mooncup, absorbent washable pads and knickers. I will be here to show her how to use everything and talk through the choices. As a family we try to reduce the amount of plastics and chemicals near to our skin, whilst taking into account the responsibility of our footprint which will also be a conversation linked to this.

  • A notebook for written messages will be in the box but will be left in a space, where we agree, to write in and check. The book is another way for us to communicate anything that she is unsure of or finds too embarrassing to say face to face.

  • Informative books including books like Cycle Savvy that aim to take the mystery away and answering the many questions that arise about our bodies and the changes. There are a range of books on the market that empower girls to take control and make choices starting from day one, understanding their cycles.

  • Building trust is key to all of this if your daughter doesn’t trust you she won’t be open to exploring this or coming on a journey with you.

  • A positive perspective from you as her mum, sends a message and creates an atmosphere that allows her to explore and be without expectation. In a safe environment that is not dismissive of the drawbacks, that we all know exist, but does not let them define it will give her permission to be open and honest about how she feels and what she is experiencing.

  • Feeling empowered is so important because by owning and understanding the knowledge that is out there, we are in the front seat driving and not merely passengers in our own lives.  

  • I want my daughters to make informed decisions.

  • I have created an environment where they are listened too, no matter how boring or trivial what they are saying is and showing them that their opinions count.

  • They make decisions and their opinions are sought out so that it is their normality.

  • Knowledge can manifest in many different ways. Self awareness is an important facet not just from gaging how others perceive you or if you have stayed in a conversation too long, but for them to carve out a space for themselves in society and how to actually do this. Understanding who they are, how they feel about others and what makes them happy gives them the knowledge of how to be comfortable in their own skin and coexist in this world.

  • The power of knowledge means that the more informed you are the more understanding you have and the more decisions you can make. Sex education need not start at school or when the state determines the correct age is.

  • Authors such as Babette Cole have books that explore puberty, birth and feminism in a funny, interesting, engaging and digestible way. It’s the stork and Let’s talk are also great books for arming children with the correct language and an understanding that they can take ownership of.

  • I want my daughter’s to make informed choices and for them to know that there is always a choice. It might not always be choice that they like or desire, but I want them to recognise that they have a choice. Presenting them with options and respecting the choices they make allows them to experience this first hand.

  • Responsibility does not just sit with your daughter, that has become a woman. As her guide you share some of the weight.

  • In preparation for your daughter’s journey you need to be ready. It is time for you to clear up as much emotional baggage you have as to not muddy the waters from any negative experience you have had.  Working through any negative stories you have, dread of your monthly cycle can pave the way for your daughter’s’ journey that will be unique to her.

  • Recognising that there are drawbacks for some women like iron deficiency, heavy periods and pain which can all be helped without hormones. I remember the rush to get on to the pill from my peer group, not just for birth control but to tame their pesky periods. Ask your doctor about pills that reduce blood flow.

  • If you have a budget take your daughter to see a gynaecologist who can offer advice. Explore meditation techniques and pain relief without pills.

  • Having permission to just be. Appreciating that drawbacks from periods affect us all differently so listening to your daughter and what she is experiencing.

  • Hormones can affect emotions, attitudes and even the best relationships.

  • Framing it as part of the picture and not the whole can allow your daughter to be upset, tearful, angry, happy, sad therefore present and mindful so that she can embrace and accept how she is feeling.

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1 thought on “How to Raise A Woman

  1. As someone that started their period at 9 and hid it from my mum for months until she found my bloodied undies in a drawer, this made me tearful. My daughter is 4 and I want to be prepared and make her feel safe enough to tell me. A brilliant list. Thank you

    Like

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