It’s a known fact that girls have periods. You can call it menstruation or menses or that time of the month or girly time, or my friend is visiting or my monthly, my friend, on the rag, or my grandma is visiting, but it’s still a period. Not an exclamation point, I know. It’s a period. It’s a pain. It’s a mess. It can be inconvenient and embarrassing (when you’ve got blood on your clothes and don’t even know it). It can feel shameful – but it isn’t (shameful, that is.)
Why menstruation isn’t shameful.
God designed the female body to reproduce. That menstrual cycle is necessary for having babies – and it also has a large part to play in being a female. When you’re fearfully and wonderfully made, there is no reason to be – or to feel – shame. As females, we are a complex bunch, and that’s how God made us. Therefore, there is no need to be embarrassed or feel shame. We would do well to believe that and exhibit that sentiment to our kids and to others.
You know something? Girls aren’t the only ones who should be taught about menstruation.
Boys should be taught about menstruation as well.
Understanding how a female is made and how things affect her can help a guy understand a gal. When there’s a female sibling, it’s no excuse to blame grumpiness or moodiness on a gal’s period. Understanding what’s happening can help a brother feel less slammed when his sister is more grumpy than usual, especially if she’s experiencing severe cramps. When a brother or son is taking out the trash and notices evidence of menstruation, he’s going to ask (unless he feels he’ll be shamed for asking). You should tell him. Depending on his age, you can say a number of things. Choose all of the following or just one:
- Oh, your sister is having her period OR Oh, that’s because I’m having my period.
- It happens every month and it’s a part of being a girl (or a woman).
- That’s the way God made females; it’s part of developing so one day she can have babies.
- The blood is just part of it. Nobody is hurt.
Our kids are going to learn about menstruation from someone. Who would you rather they hear from? You, the parent, or a classmate whose information might be incorrect? Wise parents will be one step ahead of their kids’ peers. Give your daughter and/or son the correct version of what happens when a girl has a period before anyone has a chance to mar their perspective. Give it such a positive spin that your child looks forward to experiencing a period instead of dreading it.
That’s what my mother did. She told me that our bodies are so specially made that God has a place inside a girl’s body for a baby to grow – someday. That place, she said, is “as soft as cotton” so the baby will be safe and cared for while it grows inside the mommy. When that soft place isn’t needed for a baby, the womb gets rid of all the nutrients it would have needed, and that is when a girl has her period. She also explained that not every girl starts her period at the same age. Some start when they’re as young as nine or ten, and others don’t start until their late teens.
You see what she did there? She made having a period something to anticipate and not something to dread. Having a period meant I was becoming a woman! She also gave my body permission to have it come earlier or later than the age my sisters were at the beginning of their menses.
Seize opportunities to be the one to explain menstruation.
I’m saddened by the moms and grandmothers who have an opportunity to give light on the subject. Instead, they don’t talk about it with their kids/grandkids. Everything God has made and designed is good. Everything has a purpose. Our bodies are intricate and there is no need for shame. We are specially designed and our kids should be amazed instead of ashamed of their bodies and their functions.
Certainly, there are some things that we don’t discuss in a large group or in public. We need to use discretion in how we answer questions, especially considering who is the audience. Yet, the fact remains that we are intricately designed and ought to recognize how wonderfully God has made us and planned for our bodies to reproduce. Of that, there is no reason to feel embarrassment or shame.
So how should we talk to our kids about menstruation?!
- Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. Model a positive attitude about your own body and sexuality. If your child knows you like being a woman, she is more likely to like being a soon-to-be-woman. If you struggle with embarrassment, then practice what you’ll say to your child ahead of time so you can be more comfortable.
- Answer questions as they are asked. Give answers to the question that was asked and not a thesis about the reproductive cycle. If you struggle with embarrassment, it’s possible that your mother did, too. Break that cycle. Make it a practice not to be embarrassed by the questions or by giving an answer.
- Seize those opportunities. Take an opportunity to explain to your child about the female cycle well before your child will be starting her period. Use day-to-day opportunities for both girls and guys. It doesn’t need to be a sit-down session. Interject it into the daily of life and it can be as normal as cleaning up a bloody nose.
- Be positive because it is the way God made us. Be sure to give it the positive spin it deserves if for no other reason than because it was God’s idea, and His ideas are always good!
- Have supplies on hand. Show your child where supplies are in the event that she starts her period when you’re not at home. She’ll know where to go and what to do because you’re prepared her.
You’re the adult. You’re the parent (or the significant adult in your child’s life). Do the job and do it well! Your child will thank you for it some day.