Menstruation has always been a sensitive subject to discuss with children, even more so in our cultural context with our sons. However, it is nevertheless an important subject to discuss about – more so because they would eventually find out about it and you wouldn’t even know the validity of the information that they have received. Therefore, the best step of action is to sit him down and explain the concept of menstruation yourself.
You can start by discussing about the actual process. This explanation depends upon the age of your child. For younger kids, you could say something like “It is mommy’s rest day.” For kids a little older, you could tell them that every grown up woman bleeds for a little every month and it is nothing to worry about. For boys nearing puberty, you could have a detailed conversation about the same.
Pre-teens & Teens
You can have the following conversation with your pre-pubescent son: “Just like all other beings on earth, even human babies come from an egg in the mother’s womb. Every month, if an egg is unfertilised, the uterus sheds the lining that was prepared to hold a baby. As a result of this, women bleed for about 2-7 days a month. Sometimes it can be very painful, sometimes it is alright. To deal with it, women use sanitary napkins, tampons or cups that you keep seeing advertisements for. However, it is a very personal topic and you shouldn’t make anyone uncomfortable by asking them about it unless they are very close to you – like your mother or sister.”
A good plan of action would be to slide in the sex education conversation along with this topic, since it would give him a broad insight about the same.
A challenge many women face is choosing the right opportunity to have this conversation. Anytime there is a TV advertisement about sanitary napkins, or maybe you are going through your period and need some help – they’re all good opportunities to start the conversation.
Bonus tip: You could tell your son how he can help a woman in such a phase. Tell him that in this phase, a lot of women feel better by eating chocolates, bananas or cheese. A hot water bag really helps soothe the pain. You could give him some more tips based on what you’ve faced or like during that point in time.
You can also inform him that if he does see a girl with a stain, it is best to not speak about it unless she is very close. If she is his best friend or sister, he could take her aside and privately inform her about the same.
While addressing this issue, just keep in mind that the more uncomfortable you feel about the conversation, the more uncomfortable your son will be asking his doubts. Make sure the conversation is direct and answer his questions in the best way possible.