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Widowed Dad Loses Sleep Learning How to Explain to 11-Year-Old Daughter Her Age-Related Changes — Story of the Day

Sonali Bharadwaj
Jun 11, 2022
12:20 P.M.
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A single father stays up all night researching how to explain to his daughter about adolescent changes after she comes home upset over something terrible that happened at her school and avoids talking to him about it.


Madison Willis was a tiny baby when her mother died, so her father, Joel, raised her alone. Raising a daughter single-handedly wasn't easy for Joel, but Madison was his world and a reminder of his beloved wife, and he would do anything for her.

Since Madison had arrived late in Joel's life, he pampered her and would never say no to her. Madison also loved Joel, but they grew distant with time, and she rarely shared anything with him.

One day, when Madison was 11, Joel noticed she returned home with a boy, his jacket tied around her waist. "Does Maddie have a boyfriend?" That was the first thought that came to Joel when he saw them.


He waited for Madison to come in, and as she did, he asked her about the boy. Madison was very furious at that. "Can you stop it, dad? I just want to be alone!" she screamed then hurried to her room and locked the door.

Madison seemed different when she returned from school that day. | Source: Pexels


Joel couldn't figure out why Madison was acting so strangely. He went to her room and was about to say something when he overheard Madison crying. Something horrible happened, but he didn't know what, and Madison wouldn't tell him.

Joel decided to give Madison some space, thinking he'd ask her about it later when she was ready to talk, but that didn't happen. He noticed she left her room after a while and went outside.

When she returned, she locked her room again, and later, while having dinner, she seemed to have lost her appetite.

"What?" Madison looked at him, stunned. "How did you…Did Henry tell you?"


Joel was increasingly worried about what happened to her — the events with the boy, Madison leaving home to go somewhere, and her not having the desire to eat…What was going on? What was she trying to hide? Was she…pregnant? Joel was very worried.

Madison didn't talk to him all day, and she left for school without eating breakfast the next morning.

Joel's mind couldn't focus on work that day, so he returned home early. There was still time for Madison to arrive home, and he decided to check her room even though he didn't want to.

Joel checked Madison's room while she was away. | Source: Pexels


He looked around, expecting to find a pregnancy test kit, but he didn't notice anything unusual at first. But then his gaze was drawn to the dustbin, where he found a crumpled bill from a medical store. To Joel's relief, it had nothing to do with a pregnancy test kit. It was for a purchase made for sanitary napkins.

Joel sighed and leaned back in Madison's bed. He realized she had had her first period. But it was completely natural! Why would she be so upset about it?

Confused, Joel began reading online about how to introduce his pre-teen daughter to age-related changes. He watched videos, read online forums where single dads had posted about it, and even went so far as to learn the biological jargon involved.


"My daughter was so scared," one dad had written. "She got it for the first time on a flight and panicked. Then a flight hostess came to our aid, and I was so grateful to her! I told my daughter that it was normal...That's the beauty of being a parent…You know you can tackle anything for your kids!"

That night, Joel didn't sleep a wink and kept jotting notes in a small diary. He was so fatigued by the morning that he couldn't get out of bed in time for work, but he was ready to tell his daughter that what was happening to her was normal and that she didn't need to worry.

Joel lost his sleep, figuring out how to talk to Madison about menstruation. | Source: Pexels


That weekend, Joel took Madison for a walk. After a while, they sat on a bench in a park, and Joel gently asked, "Is there anything you'd like to talk about, Madison?"

He noticed Madison's mood still seemed off. "I know you had your period, Madison," he continued. "But you don't have to be upset about it...It's a very natural thing!"

"What?" Madison looked at him, stunned. "How did you…Did Henry tell you?"

"Henry? Oh…Is he the boy who dropped you home? Is he," he paused, "umm…your boyfriend?"

"No, dad," she said, staring down into her lap. "He helped me..."


"Helped you?"

"I got my period at school, dad, and I stained my dress... Some kids were so mean... They made me feel awful about it. The girls said I didn't know how to carry myself, and some boys were looking at me as if it was something gross! Then Henry stepped in... He gave me his jacket and said it was fine...His mom taught him everything about it."

"Why didn't you tell me anything, honey?" Joel asked, concerned.

Joel explained everything about periods to Madison and told her it was natural. | Source: Pexels


"I was upset with you, dad. Like, I was missing mom. I felt like she would have been extra prepared for this and warned me to be cautious."

Joel was hurt, but Madison was right. He should have done it sooner. He should have told his daughter about it earlier. But it wasn't too late.

"I'm sorry, Maddie. I agree it was my fault…Last night, I just did this little research about it, and I am prepared!" He pulled out his diary. "See, you may have awful cramps, and I already know ice cream and chocolates can help with that! You will have mood swings, and please let me know if you ever need anything, pads or..." But before he could finish, Maddie hugged him.


"Thank you, dad," she said quietly. "I was a little reluctant to talk to you after what happened at school...I had no idea you were so worried."

Joel's eyes welled up with tears. "I was, sweetie, and just know that it's normal, okay?" he said as he hugged her back. "It's not at all gross... Those kids are just horrible! I need to thank Henry for not listening to them. He's a wonderful boy."

A few days after this, surprisingly, Madison's biology instructor was conducting a lesson on menstruation, and when she asked questions, she was shocked at how well Madison knew everything, including scientific biological lingo!


Things between Madison and Joel improved. | Source: Pexels

When she asked Madison about it, the young girl proudly said, "MY DAD TAUGHT ME EVERYTHING! EVERY GIRL GOES THROUGH THIS, AND IT'S NATURAL!"


Madison's biological teacher was so impressed that Joel was invited to speak at the school on introducing age-related changes to children and how single parents would tackle it.

Everyone was applauding when Joel ended his speech with a special mention to Henry for helping Madison, and Madison was VERY, VERY proud of her father.

What can we learn from this story?

  • Be a supportive parent to your child in every situation. When Joel found out about Madison's period, he decided to talk to her about it and assure her that it was normal and that she didn't need to be anxious about it.
  • Don't be afraid to talk to your children about age-related changes. Joel is an excellent example of how a supportive father should be to their children for them to feel comfortable sharing anything with them.

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