Researchers are asking fathers how they approach menstruation education with their children
Like nearly every other biological thing I can think of, I would vehemently answer yes to this question. A child’s first and forever teacher is his/her parents. We’ve talked candidly and profoundly about death and birth and sex with them because I think it’s helpful in understanding their place in the world and our roles as parents.
Scientists are “hoping to learn more about how and when fathers talk to both their daughters and sons about menstruation.”
I would add here, as in many other cases, a base knowledge should be imparted to the child along with how to find or rely on other resources that can sate the child’s intellectual curiosity beyond the proficiency of the father. Menstruation would be the prime example. There’s a lot I could address biologically and culturally, but once that overview was covered I would steer her to better sources because, like quantum physics or a perfect golf swing, my knowledge is limited. I don’t see the value in pretending that parents know everything; definitive, unquestioning authority is suspect to me, especially when considering the curiosity of a child. They’ll keep asking why until you don’t have an answer, unless you know definitively how we got here and what happens afterward.
Two researchers out of the University of Mary Washington are looking for fathers to respond to several questions about menstruation education. I have a boy, 7, and a girl, almost 6, who I’ve stopped from singing “I’m Sexy And I Know It,” by saying no, you’re not, (which I would say to any douchebag singing that song). It’s unfurled a whole can of questions that keeps pitting me further into a hole. We’re at a standstill over the question of if people are in love already (and thus having sex–again, not a comprehensive take here, just an overview) then why do they want to feel sexy? The kids know about sex and love, sex and procreation, and sex happens after college. Sex and lust will hopefully be discussed over a beer or three. And yes, they’ll both be getting the HPV vaccination.
Back to the point: In reply to my request for clarification, Mindy J. Erchull, Ph.D., Associate Professor Department of Psychology at University of Mary Washington, explained the following:
“We have chosen to study this topic because remarkably little is known about how fathers believe that boys and girls should be educated about puberty or how fathers involve themselves in this education process. Given this, we’re opted to undertake a broad survey of fathers to learn about their attitudes and beliefs on a variety of topics as well as their specific experiences with/plans for educating both sons and daughters about puberty. Given that research indicates that fathers are becoming more and more involved in raising children, it’s important to understand what they see as valuable in context like this as well as what fathers see their role as in regards to the education of both sons and daughters. Our hope is that this initial study will lead into a rich line of research as more questions arise as a result of this research project.”
The survey takes 15 minutes and it is anonymous, no mailing lists or crap to sign or log into. Several of the questions were unanswerable for me because I’ve lived long enough to know that projecting what other people might be thinking is most often wrong. Regardless, the survey got me thinking about where and how I learned such stuff when I was a kid. Also, on how attitudes are shaped. I found it worthwhile. I’m sure the results will be much more so.
—photo by robynneblume/Flickr