By Advaitesha Birla
One of the common questions asked is how we can teach our sons about menstruation and how they should be supportive of their female family members and friends during this period. We shouldn’t wait until a certain age to broach the subject of menstruation. Instead, start talking to your kid about it early and gradually increase the complexity. Menstruation information should be available to both boys and girls. Thus, you must discuss this with your sons.
Look for opportunities to teach, rather than waiting for questions, and start discussions about difficult subjects. A TV commercial for sanitary napkins, depicting, say, a chemist delivering a pack of napkins wrapped in newspaper, can be a good way to initiate a conversation about menstruation.
Since biology brought us here, it can be used in smart communication. Your son’s initial alarm at hearing that you bleed monthly is normal, but he needs to know that menstruation is part of being a woman and preparing her to be a mother. We must teach our sons to support their female family and friends during menstruation with scientifically accurate information. This will allow them to ask questions and show empathy for their female loved ones.
Parents should ensure children have access to alternative sources of information if they don’t feel comfortable discussing periods. It might be less difficult if you chose to do something like watch a video or read a book together. Your child may also benefit from speaking with a trusted adult within the family or to family friends.
Menstruation derogation is often discussed but to get proper medical care, girls and women must feel comfortable talking to fathers and brothers about their health. Men should start this conversation with their boys at home. Men view menstruation as abnormal without education. Illiteracy’s stigma and misinformation harm women’s health. Thus, period management becomes a generational myth.
To ease a young boy’s anxiety and curiosity, it is vital to explain that menstruation is not something to be ashamed of or avoided. Mothers can share stories about how they felt when they first started menstruating and how female members of the family or friends might experience similar emotions.
Boys can better understand women and girls when they understand menstruation. Period stigma can be eliminated by educating half the next generation. Teen boys should learn about gender differences in mind and body. Menstruation is an unavoidable part of childbirth, and so boys must view it positively.
Finally, it’s best to use simple terms when talking to boys about menstruation. When boys aren’t given satisfying answers to questions about period pain and sanitary products, their natural curiosity is piqued, and they turn to less reputable sources for answers. There is a heightened risk of harm to young boys because of the potentially harmful effects of exposure to either age-inappropriate or false information.
(Advaitesha Birla is a young socioprenuer and Founder Ujaas, an initiative by Aditya Birla Education Trust, a non-profit organisation. Views are personal)