Anya is 11 now but I started to talk to her a little bit about puberty, body changes & even periods a few years ago. I started in very basic ways, mostly just telling her how her body is going to go through changes soon just like all of ours did around that age, girls or boys and that it’s totally normal. I also told her a little on what to expect and that she can tell me when she sees certain changes & I can help her understand things.
Two years ago around Ramadan (she was 9 then) I had a totally normal chat with her about periods when she asked me why I wasn’t fasting or praying and Mamanushka’s post on this was fresh in my mind. Since then I feel totally comfortable telling her I don’t have to pray when I don’t. Sometimes she forgets and says “remind me again why?” and I remind her (“remember how I told you how women’s body does this amazing thing every month?”) and sometimes she is just totally normal about it.
For years I dreaded this age and now that it’s around the corner, it actually hasn’t been as scary as I had anticipated.. for now! I shared this on my Instagram a little while back because I felt like this is such a big part of mothering and that we should be able to have these conversations with help from other moms who’ve gone through this. So many of us are trying to un-learn the shame patterns we grew up with in our Pakistani/desi households and so it helps to connect with each other since there isn’t a lot of information out there written by and for muslim-desi parents.
I know that some of my own friends are having a hard time figuring out how to start these conversations so sharing a few things that are on my mind about approaching these as well as some resources.
- I want these conversations to feel casual and totally normal, not like “a one-time talk that we just want to be done with”. I’ve tried to do these little bits over time so it’s easier to absorb, think and also ask questions.
- I want to keep Allah and how He created us as a big part of how I approach these so that’s where I started these conversations from, with a focus on how Allah made our bodies to function and change the way they do.
- Unlike how we received these messages when we were this age, I don’t want it to feel shameful or something to hide or be embarrassed about at all and I’ve talked to my husband about this as well so he gets comfortable in this being an open subject in the home and so he’s also sensitive to mood swings and changes that are coming too (it’s so hard to un-learn these things and patterns we grew up with I have to tell you).
- I am also learning that this conversation isn’t just for girl mamas & that it’s important to tell your kids about the bodily changes for the opposite gender too. If you have boys you must tell your boys about periods as well and it’s important to tell your girls about boys bodies and the changes they would have as well, everything in an age appropriate way of course.
A FEW RESOURCES
When I shared this in my IG stories I had also shared my concern about the Health & Sex Ed programs our kids in the US (& around the world) go through at school. Since then I’ve had conversations in my DMs & attended the session for parents about it for our school district & I might have a little more context (hint: I’m so impressed with the content). More on that in Part 2 of this coming soon inshallah!
Have any thoughts/experiences to share? Also if you have puberty book recs for boys, please share I’d love to add them here too. Would love to hear them here in comments or we can talk in may IG DMs as well.