Letter: Honesty about growing up

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The Independent Online
Honesty about growing up

Sir: No wonder so many young girls are suffering from anorexia and bulimia these days ("Why won't you tell me about tampons, Mummy?", 3 March). These girls are afraid to grow up, and have found a shocking way of holding on to their childhood.

Their mothers, meanwhile, are accomplices in this plot, terrified of taking responsibility for adult behaviour and the realities facing them in this world. Thus they present to their daughters an image of the adult world that is frightening and confusing.

My own mother told me, when I was around the age of eight, that I would begin to develop breasts, grow hair in several areas of my body, and begin to menstruate. She then bought me both tampons and sanitary towels and showed me what I would have to do, should menstruating begin unexpectedly at school or some other social gathering; and she always knew when I had my period.

Both she and my father never failed to compliment me on what a lovely young lady I was growing into. They gave me confidence and realistic expectations of what adulthood was all about. I did much the same with my own daughter, never exaggerating the discomfort of period pain and never telling her horror stories of childbirth.

I also have a son, with whom I discussed the "facts of life" as and when he asked, so that by the time he was shaving, it was all a natural process of growing up and joining the adult world. And incidentally, why is it that we turn menstruation into such a "problem" area? Men tell me shaving, which in most cases must be done daily, is a huge bore, but they just get on with it.


Hatch End, Middlesex