Talk to Your Sons
Here’s how to talk to your sons about periods
Periods are commonly considered a girl’s or woman’s problem. Why should we then consider educating boys about periods?
Do boys really need to learn about periods?
If boys learn about periods, they grow up to be more compassionate towards their mothers, sisters, friends, and all the future women in their lives. Making boys aware about what the girls and women around them are going through will reduce the incidents of teasing about periods. While your son himself wouldn’t go through periods, but girls and women in his life do. And that in itself is a good enough reason for him to know about periods.
What is the right age to talk to your son about periods?
There is no one right age to talk to your son about periods. You can start as early as the age of 4 and build upon his understanding. Over the years, you can provide more information to your son as his understanding improves.
Starting early also makes it easier for you as a parent to talk about periods because your little son would treat periods like any other topic without associating any shame or embarrassment to it. In any case it is best if he knows about periods before he starts noticing bodily changes in his friends.
How to begin?
Talking about puberty and especially menstruation can be difficult and awkward for you as well as your son.
Here are some tips to make it easier and more comfortable for you.
First, get rid of your own hesitation to talk about periods. If you are embarrassed and ashamed to talk about periods, your son would be too.
Create an opportunity to talk about periods by subtly introducing him to period products.
You can go shopping with your son and take him to the period products aisle. You can ask him to unpack the shopping bag having period products in it and initiate the conversation.
Ask him open-ended questions about periods. For example, ‘do you know what sanitary pads are?’, ‘Have you ever heard about periods?’
If he is curious about something, answer his questions honestly and openly in a simple way. This would help normalize periods for him.
What to tell?
Once you are comfortable talking about periods, you can teach the following four important things to your son.
- What are periods?
- Pain and discomfort during periods.
- What is a sanitary pad?
- How can boys help during periods?
Let’s talk about each of these in detail.
A) What are periods?
If your son asks, "What are periods?", you can say,
“Grown-up girls and women bleed a little bit for a few days every month from their vaginas. This is called a period. It doesn't mean they are hurt or ill. Having periods is normal and healthy for girls."
If your son asks why do girls bleed, you can say,
"It is because their body is preparing to have a baby when they grow up."
B) Pain and discomfort during periods.
Tell your son,
“During periods, girls and women experience pain in their lower abdomen. For some girls, the pain is so severe that they are unable to perform daily activities.”
C) About sanitary pads.
To explain about sanitary pads you can say,
“Girls use sanitary pads to absorb the period blood and prevent it from staining their clothes.”
While explaining about a sanitary pad, it’s a good idea to show it to your son and even let him hold it in his hands. This will eliminate the sense of mystery or any misconception around period products that your son might have.
D) How can boys help during periods?
This is the most crucial part of teaching your son about periods. If you have told your son about all the above points, then it's a good time to teach him about the role of boys during periods.
A good way to start is to ask your son to think of his favourite female person. He might mention you if you are his mother or his sister or a friend or teacher at school.
Ask him again, how would he feel if he knew that his favourite person is having her periods and is in terrible pain and discomfort?
Most likely he would express a desire to help and comfort them. This is a great way to make your son empathetic towards the pain and discomfort that girls and women around him go through during their periods.
Here are three suggestions for your son on how he can help during periods.
If your mother or sister is having periods, be more understanding and supportive towards them. If needed buy sanitary supplies for them as they might not be in a position to step out of home.
If you see a girl with a period stain on her dress, inform her discreetly about the stain. Don’t make fun of her as it would be extremely embarrassing for her. Stop anyone else from making fun of her.
Get a pad from your sister if she is around or from a teacher or a nearby shop and give it to your classmate who might need it.
When girls and boys, women and men support each other, only then we as a community will collectively grow and thrive.
Let's take the pledge
I pledge to talk to my son about periods and help create a more period friendly world!