Mom Defends ‘Exposing’ 9-Year-Old Stepson to His Sister’s Period Instead of Hiding Pads

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tampons and pads
Masanyanka/iStock.com

Most millennial parents remember being split up by sex and receiving male- or female-specific guidance on adolescence. And if you happened to be in the boys' class, it's doubtful the curriculum included anything on menstruation. That's the way it should be, according to many Baby Boomers. But one stepmom definitely disagrees and recently took to Reddit to detail butting heads with her own mom over the issue.

  • The mom, writing under the handle Timmy_94, shared that her 11-year-old stepdaughter has started menstruating.

    "She uses pads for now, and she and her brother, who is 9, share a bathroom," the original poster (OP) wrote. "We taught her how to clean up after herself and how to properly throw away the pads -- roll it up, stick it in the previous pads paper and throw it in the dustbin."

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  • The OP noted that her mom was staying with her, her partner, and their kids when she "flipped out."

    She was upset by finding "pads in the bathroom."

  • The OP's mother asked her how she "can allow" the 9-year-old to "see that."

    Timmy_94 replied, "I just said, 'It's not an illness. He's learning about it in school. He needs to know periods are a thing.'" 

  • The grandmother "didn't agree."

    "She feels it's unnecessary that he should SEE the pads in the bathroom garbage bin," the OP wrote. "We had a little bit of an argument and left it at that. My mom says my brother never knew when I was on my period, because it had nothing to do with him."

  • The OP then highlighted the consequences of leaving male children in the dark.

    Although her period may have had "nothing to do with" her brother, Timmy_94 said she now knows that the 22-year-old "wants to run for the hills if you just mention periods." 

    Being fearful of a natural process many of his peers contend with on a monthly basis isn't exactly conducive to being a supportive partner or friend, she noted.

  • The OP concluded that she doesn't want her stepson "to be disgusted by something as normal as periods."

    "No, no adult told our son his sister started menstruating," the OP wrote. "His sister did, because he wanted to know from her why he wasn't allowed to take a bath after her." 

    She then asked the Reddit community if she was being an [expletive] for defending her position.

  • Redditors replied in droves, and the post has racked up nearly 700 comments.

    One Redditor wrote, "Your mom sounds incredibly old fashioned in her way of 'protecting' men from being exposed to women's health. Your son will grow up much more well adjusted if you treat them like normal occurrences."

    Another person agreed that the boy should be exposed to periods. "Menstrual shame is honestly the worst old fashioned view that's still widely accepted today. No one -- especially women but everyone -- should not feel weird about a natural bodily function that most women experience. It would be like if talking about having a left foot was weird."

    A third commenter noted that having such knowledge can make men more compassionate. "A male coworker of mine has four or five sisters, and he's the only boy. He calls it 'strawberry week' when the women in the office have their period, and if it becomes known to him that someone in the office has their period, he brings in chocolate for them. It's super sweet and goes to show that men don't have to be grossed out by periods and that it can (and should be) just another fact of life."

    The bottom line, summed up beautifully by one of the Redditors, is this: "Good for you for normalizing this. This isn't a disease, and periods have been stigmatized for too long."

    Not only is the OP not at fault, but it's pretty clear she's setting an example for parents everywhere.