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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Guest blogger: Mom’s “nest” – Discussing menstruation with kids

April 27, 2011

by DeAnna L’am

I just connected with DeAnna L’am on twitter and I’m delighted to share this inspired speaker, coach, and trainer with all who parent, teach and mentor t(w)eens. DeAnna is the author of Becoming Peers – Mentoring Girls Into Womanhood, and her pioneering work has been transforming the lives of women and girls around the world for over 20 years. She specializes in helping women reclaim their menstrual cycle as source of inner guidance and spiritual renewal, and trains women to do this work in their communities. Receive her Free report: ‘Most Common Mistakes Moms Make With Coming-Of-Age Girls, and How To Avoid Them!’ by visiting: http://www.deannalam.com

It's there in case you need it. Gone when you don't.

“This is my Moon Flow,” I said to Ellah, who was about 4 at the time, when she saw me changing a pad. I never saw my Mom changing pads, and hence committed to not hiding my natural flow from my daughter. Without my flow, my girl would not have been born… How could this be anything but a source of joy in my ability to give birth? An ability she will one day share!

“All women flow with the moon,” I added, “and you, too, will flow when you become a woman.” Ellah smiled with the promise, and at four years of age this was enough. I didn’t refer to the flow as “blood” until much later, since I didn’t want Ellah to associate it with an “Ouwy.” The purpose with young children, both girls and boys, is to introduce, and talk about, this natural bodily function in the same neutral way as you do when talking about eating. Gradually, as the child matures, it is good to tie the flow to its purpose, which is a woman’s ability to give life.

If you find that you have some charge about your menstruation (such as physical or emotional pain) it is best not to introduce the subject to your child until you work through your difficulty and gain some balance for yourself.

Generally, it is best not to bombard children with information, but to wait for their questions. When Ellah was about seven, she asked me where does the Moon Flow come from? My answer was inspired by the Waldorf educational approach, and I explained that the Moon Flow is “Mom’s Nest.”

“Mommy’s Nest???” she asked in amazement.

“Yes,” I said. “When a Mama bird prepares for a baby bird to be born, she makes a nest. She flies in the forest and collects leaves, feathers, boughs, branches, and bits of fluff, and she weaves a nest for the baby bird to comfortably lie in.”

“Well…” I continued, “it’s the same with me. And with all women! Every month a woman’s body prepares a nest in her tummy, where a baby can grow. Her wise body gathers tissue and blood from inside her, and makes a warm and comfortable nest. Then, if no baby starts to grow, there is no need for the nest. So Mamma’s wise body sends the nest out in a big whoosh. That’s why the flow is red, because it’s made of all the good, nourishing blood that was ready to help the baby grow.”

“Every month,” I shared with my daughter, “I thank my body for being such a miracle, and for knowing how to make a baby grow inside… I also thank it for the wisdom of letting go of the nest, when I don’t need it…” Ellah was fully satisfied. She had a clear picture in her mind, and the Moon Flow made sense to her.

Telling your child a story of this nature doesn’t only encapsulate the physical facts associated with menstruation. It allows you to start instilling the awe, which our bodies deserve for their amazing abilities. Beyond that, you are actively bucking the cultural current of taboo and shame around menstruation. You are raising a girl or a boy who will have a different narrative with which to counter the cultural beliefs when they encounter them.

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: , , , , , , — Annie @ 5:36 pm
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5 Comments »

  1. Beautiful. And the timing of this couldn’t be better. Thank you.

    Comment by Siobhan Wolf — April 28, 2011 @ 9:17 am

  2. I adore the analogy of the nest. What a lovely way of explaining it. makes me see it in a new light, myself.

    Comment by Alina — April 28, 2011 @ 11:35 am

  3. Thanks, Siobhan and Alina! Delighted to know this is meaningful to you (and timely too :-) We can change our girls’ view of their body and their cycle in one generation, ours!!!

    Comment by DeAnna L'am — April 28, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

  4. Amazingly written and explained! I hope if I ever have a daughter, I’ll be able to speak to her openly along with my wife about menstruation. Periods should not be a hidden thing whether with guys or girls – it is something to be appreciated by all genders! Menstruation was sheltered from me when I was growing up because it was “not necessary for boys to know” – good thing I went out of my way to learn about it because menstruation is so beautiful and fascinating. To think that heterosexual men love the female body so much sexually, most cannot even fathom thinking about menstruation however because we’ve grown up being taught/displayed negativity over periods.

    It is also with appreciation to women such as yourself that men have an anecdotal and educational way of learning about periods without shame. When I was younger, I had to “hide” in the corner of the library to learn about female anatomy and menstruation, but now I do so openly and hope that men and women will gather to shatter the taboo behind such a wonderful biological process!

    Comment by Prexus — April 28, 2011 @ 7:50 pm

  5. Well spoken, Prexus! It is wonderful to have such pioneering men as yourself interested and excited about the magical life cycle embodied in women’s physical experience (of which menstruation is of the essence :)

    Comment by DeAnna L'am — April 29, 2011 @ 11:48 am

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