Posted on October 30 2018
Did I fail as a mom?
How would you feel if you prepared your daughter for an important event, gave her all the information she needed, yet she returned saying you never helped her at all?
That is exactly how I felt a few weeks ago.
I recently shared a chat I had with my two eldest daughters about the period. It was unedited and very uncomfortable for all of us but much needed. In summary, they told me that I had left them unprepared for what they would experience when they got their period.
I already had “the talk” with each one of them when they were younger, and had always assumed I did my duty and they were well-equipped. But now, no longer newbies, they told me I didn’t really prepare them for getting their period. They knew a period meant blood, how to perform ghusl and that was it. They didn't know it would be accompanied with cramps and pain, what a pad was, and that it was a monthly visitor. At least they didn't think they were dying, like some of their friends!
So I asked the girls for their advice, how could I do it better on my third round, with Leena?
These were their tips:
- They told me to start talking to her now and not wait. The longer you wait, the chances it will happen to her before the talk and will probably be a very traumatic experience. Or her friends will speak to her first, making you lose the chance to have that important connection with your child.
- Don't have only one uncomfortable talk. Have many talks, as many times as you can. Make her feel comfortable talking about the subject with you. You need to push aside your own feelings of discomfort and awkwardness for the sake of improving the situation for your girls. The reason we feel any shame is ONLY based on cultural practices. During the time of the Prophet (PBUH), women used to ask him all questions in the presence of men. There should be no shame from our periods.
- SAY you have the period when you can't fast or pray. Saying you’re sick implies shame for being on your period. And everyone picks up on the implication and starts treating it as such. Our embarrassment signals to those around us to treat us with indignity while on our period because only wrongdoers are ashamed of their wrongful actions. This concept also relates to mental health issues, but I digress.
- Don't hide your pad because this also associates shame for being on your period. Really, how many of us hide our pads in our purses, pouches or even sleeves on our way to the washroom. I haven't seen magicians move as fast as the sleight of hand of a women reaching for her pad.
- Teach your boys about the period, same as the girls, so that they understand and respect girls and can be a great support now and in the future. With education, comes understanding and respect.
Now you know the importance of talking to your kids about the period, where do you start?
Many viewers responded to our Period Talk with great advice on resources that you can purchase and read with your children, allowing the topic to be introduced in a less direct method. Great resources include:
- Muslim Girl, Growing Up: A Guide to Puberty by Natalia Nabil
- The Care & Keeping of You, Volume 1 by Valorie Lee Schaefer
- Coming of Age by Ustadha Hedaya Hartford (http://www.islamicacademycoventry.org/kb/kbcontent/Female%20Hygiene%20Booklet.pdf)
- A Muslimah’s Guide to Puberty - By Sr. Hena Zuberi (https://muslimmatters.org/wp-content/uploads/Goodbye-butterflies-and-princess-dolls.doc)
A simple Google search will also bring up great blogs and handouts that you can print and use with your children.
When we, ourselves, are not ashamed of having a period, think of how the narrative will start to change. Think of how we will no longer need to turn red in the face whenever someone finds out we get our period.
I do feel I let my eldest daughters down. Yet, the Period Talk opened my eyes and let me see where my lines of communication fell short. It made me realize that the definition of a mom is not perfection, but someone who continuously improves for the benefit of their children.
The girls gave the feedback needed to make it better for their younger siblings (both girls and boys). They helped change the narrative inside our house and that is a great start.