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  • Writer's pictureJaye Gaff

Parenting & oversharing

Within limits, I do not believe there is such a thing as oversharing with your child. There are things I was never told about, my sex talk was lacking, I didn't know about pap smears and monthly breast checks. I had to learn all of these lessons far too late without anyone there to guide me.

There are many reasons why I feel my parents failed. This is one of them. The beauty in my childhood, however, is that my parents provided me with the perfect "what not to do" and I get to correct that with B.

For neatness here I continue to refer to my parents as such but in reality I don't look at myself as having a mum and a dad. When I talk about them I use their real names. I am parent-less by choice and it continues to be the most wonderful decision I have ever made.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. My penchant to talk to my child in a way that could very well be considered over sharing. She is ten now. These are the things I've ensured she knows:

  1. Boobs. She has seen me have my boobs checked by a doctor. There was no other choice here, I had to take her with me. I decided to use something I was squeamish about as a lesson, of sorts. She now knows just how important breast health is, that, when the time comes, she should check her boobs for lumps once a month on the same day every month. She knows that I check mine but, also, that mine are naturally lumpy so my Husband checks them too. There is no shame in any of this so I see no shame in her knowing. She also knows that any breasts concerns go straight to a doctor.

  2. Pap smears. She knows, in ten year old speak, what they are, and when she should get one. She knows about the cervical cancer vaccine.

  3. Periods and the different items she can use when that time comes.

  4. Pubic hair. It's natural. It's normal. And if anyone ever makes you feel dirty for having hair on your body they are the problem.

  5. Racism. I work to ensure that my child knows what's going on in the world and that racism exists. We can't turn a blind eye to it. I am Italian. I have experienced discrimination based on my heritage but I really think that the best thing I can teach her, as a white child, is that, if she's not sure what to say or how to say it, is to ask.

  6. Sexuality. I find this one tricky to navigate because, I'm sure, it's all well and good for me to say "you never have to be scared to come out to us." But I am a straight woman. I have no idea what that experience would be like and it's not my place to tell her how to feel. I tell her that I will always love her. That she can bring a boyfriend or girlfriend home. That she can never bring anyone home. None of this defines her worth.

  7. Sex. Ok, so maybe I do overshare in this regard. I blame Ariana Grande but in my defense I didn't know Side to Side was about sex! She knows what sex is and where babies come from. I try to approach sex in a way that, hopefully, shows her being sexual is nothing to be ashamed of. I have told her that sex is better when you are in a loving and committed relationship because I really believe that's true. We have talks about pregnancy and protection. She knows I have an IUD and what that is and what that means. She knows condoms protect against diseases and infections and that if/when the time comes for her to have sex that she shouldn't rely solely on condoms. She knows that a guy saying condoms are too small for him is an absolute crock of shit.

  8. Being female. For me, this is the toughest one because I don't want to impart fear on her but I also don't want her to go out into the world unaware. Hopefully, soon, females won't be treated the way they are but I doubt it. We've discussed walking alone and why it's unsafe. We've talked about men and how they tend to view women's bodies as their own. I think she's too young to learn about rape and for me to tell her that I have been raped. Maybe that time will never come, perhaps she'll learn about it on her own, but I'm open to a discussion when it needs to happen.

And I think that's important, to always be open to the discussion when your child is ready. B. and I have a bond that makes all of this stuff really easy to talk about with her. But, also, I think it's important for us, as parents, to deal with our squeamishness better than other generations have in the past. Lean on those uncomfortable feelings, ask yourself why you're so bothered by them, and be honest when you talk to your children.

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