Daughter shyly walks into the room and asks dad to take her to the store. Dad agrees and on the way, she asks “Will you please come in with me, I need some personal items.” Dad blushes and begins to fidget and squirm in his seat. “What kind of items”, he asks? “Stuff, dad, stuff you know pads and tampons.” Dad suddenly freaks out a bit saying, “You can go in and get that stuff yourself. You can…”
Whoa dads (or boyfriends or husbands)! Stop! Time to grow up! You may be all that your daughter has. These things should never be awkward or embarrassing. If you are uncertain with all of the choices, ask a pharmacist or clerk for assistance. Buying these things for your daughter or wife shouldn’t be fodder for jokes and definitely should not make any female, especially your daughters, feel uncomfortable. You aren’t any less of man for buying them; you would be less of a man for not buying them or worse, for humiliating any woman or young lady because of necessities.
Moms, you aren’t off the hook here either. Sure it would be easier for a man to explain the things that go on with a male body, but our sons came to us–we can’t be afraid of periods, erections, sex, drugs, alcohol–all of those conversations are our responsibility. Just because we might feel a bit nervous or awkward, doesn’t mean we can avoid them and negate our duty. We must be accountable to ourselves and to those in our care.
Failure to have these conversations may result in:
- Kids getting incomplete or downright incorrect information from their friends
- The perception that we really don’t care
- That bodies and bodily functions are embarrassing or shameful
- That we don’t take our role as a parent seriously
Of course, the conversations should be age appropriate, but never avoided. And parents, just because we talk to them about sex doesn’t mean they are going to go out and do it. On the flip side, we also must be highly realistic: just because we talk to them and stress abstaining until married, older, emotionally mature to handle the potential consequences, does not mean they won’t try things. All we can truly do is equip them with enough knowledge and hope that they make wise choices. Short of locking them in a room or being with them 24 x 7, nothing is foolproof.
Failure to have these discussions or making children feel shame about bodily functions, hormones, sexual orientation & reproduction and self-pleasure leads to confusion, guilt and shame and causes them to seek answers in unhealthy places. It also leads to a close-minded, uptight, repressed society.
In addition to these conversations, we should be teaching both our sons and daughters how to change a tire/oil, cook and bake, changing a light bulb or unclogging a drain as well as laundry and ironing. There should not be gender stereotypical roles. It’s up to us to create well-rounded, independent young people that will grow up to be self-sufficient, less needy, decent adults.
So dads and moms, say the words pads & tampons, periods & erections 100 times a day if you have to until it becomes natural. They are just words, but important words that we should never be embarrassed to say. I am not saying to let it all hang out; we must be age appropriate, but we absolutely cannot shy away from any topic they bring up. So yes, that may mean talking about sexual orientation, sex acts they hear about from older kids or friends. It may mean talking about gender specific roles (say they hear someone say women belong at home in the kitchen or as needing to obey their spouses, or that’s a man’s job) and how those should not exist. It does not mean that we should put down society or say “you can never think these thoughts”. Yes they can. Yes, our children can know at a young age about their sexual orientation. The conversations are not to confuse them any more, but to provide loving, nurturing guidance as they work through the chaos in their brains.
While we have come a long way, there is still a lot of work to do. I am amazed by the number of people I meet who get downright petrified or mortified at the thought of needing to discuss certain topics. They are just words, concepts, facts–we must grow up and overcome the fears. There is really nothing worse than uneducated, shame/guilt filled, uptight, close-minded people. Society is paying dearly for our lack of communication.