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Values & Education

Other Side of Parenting

I still remember the day when I happened to read Sydney Sheldon’s “Other side of midnight”, at the age of 15 and sitting totally shocked by the many pages of unadulterated sex in the book.

Coming from a conservative Brahmin family, we are never told in clear words about the nuances of life nor sex and just imagine what kind of mental images I lived with after reading that book. Talking on those same lines, neither was I told about my menstrual cycles by my mother. I am not complaining, but that was the way of life then and I totally accept my mother’s position.

But later when the world of books fascinated me beyond dreams and when books were my only solace during the long travel hours, I learnt to take the good things out of a book and all those pages of sexual fantasies were lost on me. This kind of understanding dawned on me after I devoured many books of all kinds.

And when I elevated my status to married and yearned for a girl child to complete myself, I took a vow that my child will not be left to herself to learn all these things on her own and that I’ll make a difference in her life.

Today, I am happy that I’ve had many an enlightening conversations with both my daughters regarding menstruation and sex, as I feel it’s absolutely important that the facts should be told as they are to a young mind. Only this realization about facts will make them understand the difference when it happens unnaturally.

When my daughters were going through their puberty, I came to the conclusion that it was the right time to talk to them, as they were graduating from Enid Blyton kinds to much more matured books. It is totally not possible to monitor what is the kind of books they might stumble upon to read. Neither it is possible to know the kind of jokes that do the rounds at these ages.

So, I decided to be the mentor to my girls and actually both I and the daughters have benefited from those conversations. For the girls, there was freedom to choose even a dirty book. For me, it was confidence that my daughters will see through the goodness of a book beyond those dirty pages.

There were times when I was faced with questions like “So, you’ve done it only twice huh?”  Initially I was shocked and stunned, but learnt to take it in stride and answer them honestly, which was a great factor to mother-daughter bonding.

As a father, my husband found it quite embarrassing for some time, to walk around with the knowledge that your teenage daughter knows what you do within closed doors. But, he has overcome it now, with the freedom to talk to them about taking precautions to take when they go out on their own; and to point at news items of all sorts and to teach them to be cautious. It’s our responsibility to protect our child but it is absolutely necessary to teach the children to stay safe, when they are on their own.

It has also helped a father to understand his own daughter’s point-of-view to problems faced by them, in their everyday life and this has totally helped in father-daughter bonding.  While the husband never understood the wife’s PMS, the father totally understood his daughter PMS and teenage mood swings. And I thank the stars for that understanding.

There were days when I suffered to explain to my teenager, the slang words related to THE act. But I am confident, that she’ll come to me first to know what’s a Transgender or Gay or whatever, than going in for the dictionary or trying to search on the net. That gives me the satisfaction of a job done well, as a mother.

Every day conversations with my children revolve around various topics and both I and my husband are glad that we can talk to our teenagers and have great family talk times.  This honesty among us is a must, as I know heart of heart that my children will come to us first, for matters of extreme importance in their lives.

And I am glad to have made that difference. It’s a feeling of satisfying motherhood.

Uma Srinivasan is a mother of two teenagers.  While she loves to blog, her daughters help her don hats like Chef / Baker / Parenting Consultant and many more. She manages three blogs, – Blog on parenting & every-day conversations, – My attempt to fall in love with this city called Chennai and – Attempt at sharing my recipes with the world.