Why My Teenage Sons Carry a Tampon and Pad in Their Backpacks

According to UNICEF, 26 percent of people on Earth menstruate. That’s 1 in 4 of us. And yet, most women and girls will tell you that merely talking about having your period in public is still pretty taboo. But as the mom of a 10-1/2-year-old daughter and two teen sons, I’m hoping to change that.

Earlier this month, I posted a photo of my sons, Micah, 15, and Elijah, 16, to the private Facebook page and watched it spread.

It was an image I snapped in Target while we were back-to-school shopping.

Courtesy of Tara Ahrens

‘My teenage boys helped me shop today,’ I wrote, ‘which included buying their little sister’s first bras… because breasts happen.’

And for good measure, I added, ‘Both boys carry a tampon and a pad in their backpacks in case one of their friends needs one. Just a mom out here, trying to erase gender taboo!’

Within hours, the post climbed to thousands of likes and comments, and as I write this, it has over 65K reactions (and counting).

For the most part, the post has gained incredibly positive feedback.

But it’s also prompted many women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s to share horror stories from their youth, recalling times when they desperately needed period supplies and did not have them.

One lady recalled a time she bled through her clothes as a young girl, and a male friend offered her his sweatshirt to wrap around her waist. She has never forgotten his kindness.

Most stories, however, had a recurring theme of humiliation, shame, and helplessness.

Countless women recalled fathers and husbands who ‘would NEVER have gone to the store to buy me period supplies.’ Some people were downright offended that I was attempting to change the age-old ways we’ve handled periods.

One thing is clear: Menstruation is still a major gender taboo that we have not let go of. But I’m doing my best to raise men who see past it.

‘Bleed-throughs happen,’ I’ve explained to my boys. ‘They are mortifying and can be traumatizing. Kindness and understanding from ANY friend goes a long way. Be that person.’

In reality, our bodies are doing what they were physically made to do. So, why should it be embarrassing?


Tara Ahrenshttps://www.facebook.com/theahrens
Tara Ahrens, from Fort Wayne, IN is a “regular ol’ mom” of 4 spirited, messy, hilarious children. The boys are 16 and 15, the girls are 10.5 (because that 1/2 year matters, Mom) and 6. This is her first time in 17 years that she has not had a little human at home, bossing her around all day, as the little one is off to Kindergarten. She has been married to a boy she met in 3rd grade for 17.5 years. They are a foster family for For the Love of a Boxer boxer rescue. They enjoy squishing everyone into small vehicles and driving across the county to camp and explore our National Parks. Now that she finally has some time to herself, Tara enjoys cottage gardening, restoring their old home, and reading books, wearing a pile of cats (4, rescues). She is passionate about raising kids who are people of principle but more importantly, people of change. See more from Tara on her blog.

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