Now I am going back to over a week ago, when I was away at a Down syndrome conference. I felt the vibration of my silent cell-phone and quickly fetched it from my briefcase. “Hello?” Ricki’s evening babysitter was on the line.
-We think that maybe Ricki get her period.
-What do you mean, “think”? (Oh no! Just when I’m away she has to get it the first time!)
-Well, her dress had some mud, and the teen who took her to the park said that she had a stomach ache, so maybe…..
Well, I’m not even going to tell you if she had gotten one or not. That’s an invasion of her privacy, and none of your business. However, the question of “Yes or No?” was not answered for several hours, as Ricki was very discreet about changing her clothes, bathing, etc. But the fact that I had prepared her in advance, and that she knew what the word meant, calmed me considerably when I realized that she might have to face this with just the neighbor’s help, since I was several hours away. (Plus she had no sisters around to fill in for me.)
So imagine my horror when a mother announced to the group of women at the conference how she had prevented her daughter from speaking inappropriately by not teaching her… and that she had had the luck that her daughter was at home when that first menstruation had arrived.
I had felt the need to protest. Education is a must. And so is education in modesty. And that education does not begin at age 11 or 12.
Modesty in dress/ talk,
private/public actions, etc
must be taught slowly for several years. THEN you have a chance that it will be ingrained enough to be effective when the need for it arrives.
Modesty is such an ignored behavior, even discouraged in the medical setting, especially with children. I am astounded at how children are expected to undress and be touched by unfamiliar people before they can possibly understand the meaning. The assumption that it's okay extends into the teens and is compounded for children who need frequent medical care.
Thank you for an important post. Barbara
When people don't have access to all the information the natural tendency is to fill in the gaps so to speak. Not educating can be so dangerous and can create scary conditions for those we love. I do hope others will follow yours and Ricki's example!
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