Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;
Do you remember the movie, Carrie?
I swear to god, my mother took parenting lessons from Sissy Spacek’s movie mom.
Her way of telling me about the birds and bees was to
surreptitiously whisper to me that I would
have to learn how to sleep without wearing underwear after I got
I remember being in the 5th grade and having the school nurse come
in and give the girls our “sex talk” after the boys had been sent to
The nurse gave us some vague info, but when I asked a specific
question regarding the mechanics, she said to me “You know, there’s
someone at home who you should talk to about this.” I wondered,
“Someone at your home? Who?” It never occurred to me that there was
anyone at MY home I could talk to. My own mother acted so creepy about the
subject of sex that I came to feel it was a disease you caught rather than
something that normal people shared for pleasure and intimacy.
Mom never even mentioned my period. When I got mine at age 13, I
thought that I cut myself and was bleeding. I didn’t even know how often I was
supposed to change my pad, and I had one accident after another until a better
educated friend with a sane mother set me straight.
I would like to give my own daughter a better explanation, but I
fear that I will be betrayed by my own dysfunctional programming.
Can you give me some healthy guidelines?
I believe in education, active discussion, and in the celebration of transitions.
Books and movies can be conversation starters and there is tons of information
on the subject… but in the case of sex education, there is so much cultural
misinformation and crap out there that one needs to choose carefully.
Life is short and difficult enough without adding stupidity to it. Some cultures
attach an enormous amount of negative crap to womanhood- such as original sin.
Please do not burden your children with this bullshit. No matter how nicely you
dress it up, these ideas are just unnecessary guilt trips which are primarily
effective in keeping therapists busy. If your culture has ridiculous negative
traditions, use common sense!
It is OK to pick and choose from different traditions and create your own
memorable ceremony. For our own daughter’s onset of menses, we borrowed a
ritual from Wicca. They have lovely celebratory rites which include singing,
dancing, and flickering candles; these make it a privilege, not a curse, to be
Have fun in empowering and enlightening your daughter,
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
The Granny Doctor adds- About your mother, Rosy- what the hell! Did she actually
steal your underwear to demonstrate her ideas on sex education or was it all
merely insinuated in some dark and sinister manner?
I’d suggest reading some books and practice talking with a few friends from a more
normal background before you speak with your daughter. Your discomfort with the
subject comes across in your letter and if you just take a stab at it without sufficient prep, you are going to give your daughter the impression that something is wrong simply from your demeanor.