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Recollections of Menarche: Communication Between Mothers and Daughters Regarding Menstruation

Abstract

The nature of the communication between mothers and daughters at the time of menarche was examined in an attempt to determine the kinds of messages about menstruation that mothers tend to pass on to their daughters. The sample consisted of 138 women who ranged in age from 26 to 60 years (mean age = 43.2) at the time of the interviews. They were interviewed by 138 students enrolled in Psychology of Women classes taught by the first author. Participants were asked questions regarding their education about menstruation and their experience with menstruation. The content of the responses were analyzed for information about the quality and quantity of mother–daughter communication. The majority of daughters reported that communication with their mothers about menstruation was negative in tone. Eight types of negative messages were identified, including one labeled the “grin-and-bear-it” message. Two cases are presented to illustrate how the “grin-and-bear-it” message is related to the traditional feminine gender role and how it might negatively affect a woman's relationship with her mother and with other women.

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Costos, D., Ackerman, R. & Paradis, L. Recollections of Menarche: Communication Between Mothers and Daughters Regarding Menstruation. Sex Roles 46, 49–59 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1016037618567

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  • menarche
  • menstruation education
  • mother–daughter relationship