I have two older bonus daughters, currently sixteen and eighteen, whom I met when they were thirteen and fifteen. Given their age when we first connected, I’ve adopted a somewhat hands-off approach to parenting. I let them know that I’m here for them, genuinely interested in their lives, and that I love them unconditionally.
They live with their mom, so when we do spend time together, there’s always a lot to catch up on. I’m the bonus mom who asks the questions–about their relationships, friends, school, and everything else. It’s through these conversations that I learn about their lives and help them navigate various situations.
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One day, during our chats, I discovered that the younger one had just started her period. I was genuinely excited for her as she was going through these significant changes. I wanted to share my own period stories from growing up, but I held back to ensure that her dad and mom had those initial conversations.
The boundaries can sometimes be blurred in parenting, especially when multiple parents are involved. But, I believe that all parents should be on the same page.
Later that evening, I found a pad had clogged our toilet. I informed Joel, my partner and their dad, that he or their mom should teach her about hygiene products and how to dispose of them properly. It seemed that this lesson hadn’t been adequately addressed.
I didn’t mind having to unclog the toilet; instead, I found joy in the simplicity of life during that moment.
To bridge the gap in her knowledge, I decided to buy her a book about her body and all the changes she’d be going through. I felt this was a respectful approach considering all the parents involved. When I gave her the book, I also gifted her a little starter period kit with all the essentials. I assured her that she could come to her mom or me if she had any questions.
Every body is uniquely beautiful. My own period started at a church girls’ camp when I was twelve. Back then, I didn’t know much about my body or what was happening. I was clueless about which pads to use and whether something was wrong.
I desperately wanted to swim at camp, and some older girls suggested using a tampon. I had no idea what that was or how to use it, so I gave up.
It wasn’t until I was pregnant for the first time that I truly understood my own female anatomy. In a doctor’s exam room, there was a picture of the vagina with labels, explaining each part. I stared at it during each visit because I’d never seen or understood my own body before.
On a family vacation, one of my older bonus kids chose not to use the restroom during a 17-hour drive. This can lead to a painful Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), as I’ve experienced. I learned through TikTok that it’s crucial to listen to your body and pee regularly to avoid UTIs.
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There are so many things I didn’t know–that yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis can affect people differently, that flatulence is normal, that sex should be consensual, and that fertility struggles can be a reality. These are critical things that women should be aware of. We need to know our bodies, feel comfortable in them, and embrace our choices.
Female anatomy and bodily functions are seldom openly discussed, even among women.
But these topics are among the most important for both women and men to understand. They shouldn’t be taboo subjects in a safe environment, particularly when parents talk to their children at the appropriate age.
Let’s learn from simple incidents like a pad in the toilet or an unhelpful suggestion to use a tampon. Let’s openly discuss topics like breast size differences, body positivity, sex, and relationships with our children to educate and empower them.
And let’s talk about periods.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.