How does a mother bring up the topic of menses to her daughter? Does she prepare her for what is going to happen and introduce the fiqh, or does she wait till she has her menses and then indirectly teach?
Girls should generally be taught about menses before it occurs -without introducing technical matters of fiqh. A mother can introduce the subject to her by informing her that a day will come when she will see something called “menses”. She should explain to her what it is and why it happens a sign of her “growing up” and that when it occurs both angels on her right and left will begin to record her actions, thus Allah will have higher expectations of her; that she should pray, fast and wear hijab just like her mother.
The mother must also inform her that she will have to stay away from boys and that Allah does not like her mixing with them. In general the mother needs to implant in her daughter’s mind and heart that seeing menses means a “great change in her life” that will make her a much more important in regards to her relationship with Allah and her religion. This will cause her to think about the coming of “the important day” which she will see as an interesting step in her life.
The mother can also tell her a little bit about it before bed. This should be done randomly and not all at one time. A mother should also inform her that there are instructions that she will need to learn and that she will teach her in the near future.
When she sees menses for the first time she will most likely come running to her mother overwhelmed and excited. At that point the mother should buy her (or already have bought) a little “special” calendar book and tell her to record the days of her menses. This type of teaching allows the girl to have her first responsibility for this “new beginning” she is experiencing. The point of giving her a calendar book and having her record her days of menses is to implant in her mind the importance of being responsible about this issue. The mother should inform her that when she is done bleeding that she should report back to her. When she tells her mother menses is done, the mother should teach her about the signs of indicate that menses is complete, and also teach her that her menses is now a fixed number of days based on the number of days she bled the first time.
The mother should not forget to tell her to keep recording her menses every month and also to report back to her in any case when her blood stops before her fixed number of days or if it passes her fixed number of days. When the girl informs her mother about any of these cases then she should teacher her daughter the rules that apply to each situation such as the basics of what is covered in the Maliki fiqh text al-Akhdari.
The mother should tell her to keep record these notes in her little book and she should also help her to do so. Following this type of education (tarbiyyah) will give the mother the ability to teach her daughter how to apply, and understand the general rules of menses without being “technical” until she gets a little older when she can learn from books. During the whole process the mother becomes like a practical guide for her.
It is preferable that menstruation be taught by the mother before the father although if the
father is a single parent then there is no doubt that he will have to teach her himself.
Lastly just as the mother teaches her the rules of menses, she must also teach her about
how to perform a proper ritual washing (ghusl). This is my advice. Allah knows best.
Ustadh Abdus Shakur Brooks
Reviewed and finalized 6/14/2011