Don’t make it weird, just talk to your kids

by Elowen
Don’t make it weird, just talk to your kids

I was reading a thread over on Reddit the other day, from the mothering subreddit r/Mommit, and I saw a question that got me thinking. It was from a mother seeking advice on how to approach a topic of normal feminine hygiene with her little girl, and the first thought that popped into my head was ‘don’t make it weird, just talk to your kids’.

Basically, this mum had a little girl who’d just toilet trained so was no longer in nappies. At the end of each day, she’d noticed that her little girl was checking her underwear because the poor little dear thought that she’d had an accident or made a mess at some point in the day without realizing it. Now, adult women will know that this is just normal vaginal discharge, that all women have it, and that it’s not an accident, nor have we ‘made a mess without realizing’, haha. The mother was asking the Mommit group how to broach this subject with her daughter. She had many responses that counseled her to talk to her about it, which I was glad to see, but even so, many of the responses still seemed… hesitant, I suppose, to openly talk about it. This bothered me. But it didn’t surprise me.

As a child of the 80’s, I saw many a TV show or movie where a child would ask their father something like ‘Dad, where do babies come from?’ and the father would answer something like ‘go ask your mother’, or something to that effect. Or the excruciatingly awkward conversations these same TV shows or movies would portray around the topic of masturbation. Why did they have to make it so weird? Why couldn’t they just talk to their kids about these really very mundane topics?

As parents, we are the hub of learning for our children, they learn SO MUCH about the world from us. But if we’re reluctant to talk about normal aspects of life with them, where are they to learn it? For example, my mother, who was born in 1964, got her first period on her eleventh birthday. She thought she was dying. She sat on the toilet and watched the blood drip for an hour, and thought she was going to die. Her mother had told her absolutely nothing about periods prior to this, and gave her the briefest of ‘oh, it’s your period’ when she was eventually found in this state. Could you imagine? What a horrible way to begin your period!

My mother taught me all about my period from an early age, so I knew what to expect, and she was also fantastic when I first got my period. She gave me one of her pads, then took me to the supermarket to pick out whatever product I wanted. I felt so grown up and took it in stride, because I knew it was coming, that it’s normal, and not something to worry about. That’s not to say she was great at all those things, however. She didn’t ever talk to me about vaginal discharge, for example, so it was something I was deeply embarrassed about for years because I had no way of knowing it was completely normal. She wouldn’t even really use the word, vagina, actually.

With my own daughter, I try to answer any question she has, or keep an eye out for opportunities to teach her about things. She knows what her period is, and about her body in general. She also knows she can ask us anything, and that we’ll give her a straightforward, honest, and age-appropriate answer.

To come back to my initial thought, folks, don’t make it weird, just talk to your kids. They’ll take your lead, and you could be setting them up for a life-long level of comfort talking about personal issues. This could have ramifications for their long-term health, too, as hopefully they will feel more comfortable talking about personal issues with others, such as health professionals, as well with as you.

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