Why and how I taught my 7-year-old son about menstruation
This mum had enough of her son referring to sanitary napkins as 'mummy's diapers'! Find out how she told her boy the truth about periods...
One day, I walked in on this chaotic scene.
My seven year old son was chasing his little brother with one of my sanitary napkins, screaming "I'm going to stick Mummy's diaper on your head!!".
Son no.2 - age 5 - was running for dear life around the table (also shrieking) for fear that my 'diaper' was going to be a permanent part of his hair.
Enough is enough, I thought, and I'm not referring to the shrieking/ chasing (because that will never stop in a household with boys). What I wanted to put an end to, or actually shed some light on, was the process of menstruation.
It's bad enough that my children were probably telling others that their mother wore diapers. But even worse was the thought that they were completely ignorant about how the female body worked.
I decided to tackle my older son first (will leave the little one for another day) and here is how I went about it.
Step 1: No drama
At seven, my son is at the age where if I make a big deal out of something, he'll subsequently turn it into a mega-sized drama. So I decided to talk about menstruation in a very matter-of-fact way, and turned an instance in the supermarket - when I asked him to get a packet of sanitary napkins for me- into an opportunity.
When we got back home and he was helping me put away what I had bought, I breached the topic:
Me: Hey, do you know that these aren't really diapers?
Him: Then what are they?
Step 2: Simplify, be truthful, relate it to something he knows
My son is a huge animal lover, so I decided to use this interest to explain the mystery of periods to him. Of course, I kept it all very simple, but truthful at the same time.
All I said was the when a girl leopard (leopards are his current obsession) wants to have a baby, the space in her tummy where the baby grows gets ready for it and grows a nice cushiony lining inside, so baby leopard will be comfortable.
Sometimes, there's a baby leopard, but other times, there isn't... it's the same with humans.
Step 3: Don't go astray
Now I really hadn't thought of going into the whole sex conversation with my boy because he hasn't actually asked me about it yet. So I didn't lead the period talk into it either.
When I switched the conversation to make it about humans, I merely said that if a baby doesn't grow in mummy's tummy, then all that comfy lining has to go away.
I did explain to him that it re-grows every month if there's no baby, and that it leaves mummy's body as blood (and that's why we needed sanitary napkins).
I also explained that it happens to me too. Leading to...
Step 4: The moment of truth
So because my son associates blood very much with pain, the first thing he asked me was if a period hurt. I quickly reassured him that it didn't. But then, I went on to talk to him about how it's all very normal and part of the circle of life (see what I did here, tapped into his love of animals again... and no, I did not burst into song...).
Thankfully on the day, he did not ask me how a baby is made, but I know the question will be asked sooner rather than later. When it happens, I'll tell you how I went about it (because sharing is caring, right?).
Parents, the main thing to keep in mind is not to make a big deal about things that are perfectly natural. Be honest with your child and answer his questions truthfully, of course keeping age and maturity levels in mind when going into details.
By teaching our boys about functions such as menstruation, it is possible to demystify the biological role/s of the female body.
This leads to understanding and respect of the opposite sex, which is how I as a woman first and next a mother, would like my sons to progress.
Tell us - has your boy asked you about menstruation? How did you tackle the matter?