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, http://umsreflections.wordpress.com – Blog on parenting & every-day conversations, http://umaschennai.wordpress.com – My attempt to fall in love with this city called Chennai and http://umasfoodtales.wordpress.com – Attempt at sharing my recipes with the world.

  • With changing times, the parenting styles have to change too and the need of the hour is to be more open and more communicative with your children.
    Your daughters are very lucky to have parents like you Uma! 🙂

    • Yes Shilpa, there is a need for changing parenting styles and I wished to make a difference to my girls. Thank you so much, I too consider myself lucky to have such understanding daughters 🙂

      Hugs to you 🙂 Becos of you, I contributed to Parentous and now I am so happy !!!

  • Wow!! I am a terrified parent as of now – my daughter is nine and I have no clue when or how to break the proverbial ice on this!!! Your post was awesome!

    • Meena, I just know that you as a mother will perfectly break that proverbial ice, when the time comes. Its just that you need to be honest and look into her eyes while talking !!! The daughters are so understanding…hugs !!!

  • Amrita Thavrani

    Glad for such open and honest post. I remember in my early teens only I had the answer to the question “from where does the baby comes” , and the reason was my mom’s practical and no-fuss answers to me during our open conversations those days. You have lucky daughters, tell them that also 🙂

    • Thank you Amrita 🙂 ha ha …of course, I’ll tell them !!!

  • thats a great lesson learnt from ur post Uma.. i know i want to be free worth my daughter, but didnt know how? your post really helped me to plan.. i am sure your daughters will look beyond the dirty pages..

    • Am so glad that mothers like you are finding something to learn from here – my post. That gives me the satisfaction of things done right 🙂

      Hugs Asheryamom…waiting to know how your plan materializes 🙂

  • Fab

    That is really a great post!! So many parents think that we’re introducing our children to promiscuity when we talk to them about sex, but they don’t realize that we’re actually providing them an open channel of communication by doing so. But at the same time, we also need to teach our children the difference between good and bad touch, because it’s not sex itself that is ‘dirty’, it’s when it’s forced or at the wrong time, with the wrong person and at the wrong place. I’ll echo what everyone has said, ‘Your daughters are lucky to have you!!’.

    • Thank you Fab 🙂 This kind of openness between parents and children will go a long way in dealing with other issues or actually prevent some issues from cropping up !!!

      Hugs…I too consider myself lucky, for if not for them I wouldn’t have learnt parenting this way !!!

  • Wow! Thats sort of a dream for me now that I can be able to talk freely to my daughter in her teens 🙂 Hopely I ll follow you some day.

    • Yes, Vevisia…I am waiting to see your dream come true !!! 🙂

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  • Very cool article. Very smart woman! 😀

    • Hey…thanks Bins 🙂

  • Ah ha first of all, Now I have a face to go with the name 🙂

    I beleive talking always helps for anything .. and in todays age the earlier we talk to the kids the better it is for the ywill as such hear and see it on other places like the internet and alll ..

    a lovely article 🙂

    • Thank you Bikram 🙂 To make the children come to the parents for everything is a great thing and I am totally glad to have made that difference.

      Face to go with the name huh ??? 🙂

  • Love, love this post, Uma! I have so much to learn from mothers like you. I just hope I am able to handle it in the beautiful manner you did.

    • Thanks Smithu 🙂 Oh yeah, you’ll do fantastic…may be better than what I did. Then you’ll do a more fab post on that 😉 Hugs

  • Just loved this post Uma!
    It is so very important to be open with your kids so that they don’t go else where for the answers.
    Isn’t it strange how men who fail to understand their wives so automatically become such empathetic fathers? 😉

    • Thanks Bindu 🙂 Exactly, that’s what I really wanted to do.

      Tell me about it…not a day goes by when I dont tell that matter of truth about empathetic fathers to ppl !!! 😉

  • I am terrified. My son is just 5 and I am already having visions how would I explain things to him.

    • Thank you for your kind words Jaspreet !!! I wish that you dont get terrified…just be yourself and honest too !!! 🙂 Hugs

  • Forgot to say it was a very well written article 🙂

  • I think you have made a massive transition from the orthodox background you were brought up in… to the kind of liberal upbringing you are giving your kids today. Big hugs to you! Your kids are really lucky to have you 🙂

    • Hey, thanks dear 🙂 I am glad to have made that transition, which is greatly helping my girls !!! Hugs

  • I am sure your daughters will carry on this enlightened tradition.

    • Am sure they will !!! Thanks

  • Meera

    Bang on! Awesome article uma! This kind of discussion is very essential for mother daughter/son bonding! Great to know that you handed it well and it’s such a pleasure to be the first person they come to right?

    • Oh yeah…I actually give myself a pat on the back for doing this “talk” with them !!! It terrified me sometimes, if I’ve done the right thing. But I believed in my intuition to do so !!!

      Thank you Meera 🙂

  • Being a mom of two sons, I was confident that my husband will do the honors….but he’s just being a coward, so in the end, it looks like I will be the one who will embarrass my two boys!! 😀

    • Roshini, am so glad to read your comment 🙂 I’ve been waiting to know the story of a mom who has had such conversations with her son. Please do share your experience, if its ok with you…

      I’ve always thought its the father who talks with the sons on these things. So, am waiting for a post from you, actually 🙂

  • Loved loved loved loved this post…and you are so beautiful 🙂

    • Thank you so much R’s Mom 🙂 Hugs.

  • dhana

    hats off to you uma, for this post and the bold step you have taken, which i couldnt dare to, fearing questions like your girls did. yes, our kids shd come to us first to clear their doubts, instead of going to outside sources. this kind of openness with kids is necessary nowadays bcos see, i entered facebook at this age! my son at his teens? realising this late i try to be liberal with my son and that makes a difference. hope in future atleast he wud be free to discuss anything with us. your post is a boost to parents like me. keep going.

    • Thanks a lot Dhana. It did raise many an eyebrows for being so honest with my girls, among our family circle or for allowing them to read all kind of books. But thats a call I took, for I wanted to talk about it to them, in the right way and not wait for them to read some shit and google about it to learn it all wrong !!!

      Yes, I would suggest that at least now, you talk to your children, just to know that they’ve got it right in their mind.

      Hugs mommy 🙂