Talking to Your Children about Endometriosis
Last updated: October 2022
We don’t tend to talk about endometriosis, because we still don’t really talk about menstruation. At best, society views menstruation as something private and secretive, at worst as something dirty. As a consequence, we don’t talk to our children about endometriosis either, which is a mistake. Endometriosis affects us as women, as wives or girlfriends, and also as mothers. Endometriosis made me a worse mother; not because I neglected my children, but because my lack of energy, my constant pain, and being down all the time made me not much fun to be around. I hadn’t really realised this until I had my hysterectomy and all those things disappeared. I suddenly was happier, more energetic, and willing to go out and have fun with my kids. Even when I was still recovering, my kids noticed the difference. My youngest son, aged seven at the time, told me: “Mum, you are so much more fun now.” It broke my heart knowing that he suffered from my endometriosis as well.
Talk to your daughters
Explaining endometriosis to your children is important. Your daughters should be aware that endometriosis is something that could happen to them. If they start experiencing painful, heavy periods, they should know to talk to you so you can both find out if it’s endometriosis. And since it has been suggested that endometriosis could be genetic, there may be a higher chance your daughter may have it as well. But even if they aren’t predisposed to endometriosis, it is important they understand that menstruation isn’t easy for every woman.
Talk to your sons
You should talk to your sons as well. Boys should be raised to know about menstruation, and to know that this can make life extremely difficult for some girls or women. I think it’s important that boys are educated with regards to menstruation, so they can be more compassionate and understanding later in life when they have girlfriends or wives who may experience problems. It’s also important for your kids to know why their mother isn’t always happy-go-lucky. It will be easier for you too, as you can tell them, “My endometriosis is making me grumpy” or something similar.
Kids should know about chronic pain
I am a firm believer in changing society by educating children. Chronic pain, and especially invisible illnesses, are misunderstood in society. And because it’s misunderstood, a lot of people downplay or outright disbelieve chronic illness. Children should be aware that you have endometriosis. You don’t have to go into the graphic details, and it depends on the age of your children how much you tell them. I explained to my seven year old that I had something growing in my tummy that gave me a lot of pain and made me tired and grumpy. I told my ten year old a bit more about the uterus, menstruation, and how that hangs together with endometriosis. You have to gauge with your own children what approach you take with them. Learning that some people have chronic pain that isn’t due to a visible illness will make them more compassionate people when they grow up. And the world needs more compassionate people.
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