When I had my children I had to deal with explaining the facts of life to them.  Being a modern, no-nonsense mother that I am.  I told them exactly what the process was and used medical terminology to make it clear.   I really didn’t want any surprises showing up in my stint as a single parent.   I also taught my son to respect women and my daughter to respect herself.  All things that I think a mother or parent should do when raising kids, among a list of other things, of course.

However, at school today I had a discussion with the Chinese teachers about where babies come from and who told them about the birds and the bees.   I was in shock to find out that my 24 to 28-year-old co-workers told me that their mother told them that babies came from “stones”.    (Stones? Really?)    They informed me that until they reached about middle school age they all honestly believed it.    I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the craziness they were saying.   They also told me that their mother told them they were “found in the trash or in trash cans.”   Now my mother use to say those kinds of things as jokes when I was being a little demon.. but I never actually believed it, like many of the Chinese girls did.

This started me on the topic of their monthly visitor and birth control.   I begin to ask them questions like: What did they tell you about your monthly flow?  They told me .. they were just told that they were growing up.  No details, no explanation, no nothing!!  I could not believe the lack of knowledge these girls had when they entered high school and university.

Most learned about sex by themselves.. or other students.  They were so lost to this day, that the other foreign teachers and myself… had to explained to them about tampons.   Yes, boys and girls… most chinese women do not know what is a tampon and when we explain it to them… they were amazed and wanted to know where they could get such a wonderful gift. (although one asked me how to get it out… and another kept asking if it was true that you could go swimming)

They are  told, even now, when on their period that they are not allowed to eat or drink anything cold, they can not take a shower or wash their hair, and they are unable to participate in PE class in school.   It seems when in middle school or high school… when you are on your period.. you need to sit out and watch the class… ( I thought this was ridiculous now everyone know you are on your period)  This kind of thinking was so old-fashioned to me.. that I couldn’t believe that in 2012 they were still following these beliefs.

When we told them that when we had our periods… we did the same things that we did when we did not have them… they were amazed and said … “American women are sooooo strong!”

Then the discussion turned to birth control.  One of the foreign teachers were trying to explain that she wanted to have birth control while she was in China … just in case things got a little hot and heavy she didn’t want to go home with an extra gift for her family.   We were horrified to find that most of the girls in the office didn’t know much about birth control.

Instead of preventing births the responsible way, they said if you found out you were pregnant you take a pill and it went away (the day after pill)  and if it was too late for that you went to the hospital and they made it go away.   We were speechless.

I am not an advocate of using abortions as a form of birth control.   But I do believe it is your choice and your body.  But to not even introduce the idea of birth control to women is just sad.  Mind you there are condoms all over the place in wonderful fruit and meat flavors. (yukkk) There are ones that heat up and ones that glow in the dark and even ones that smell like flowers.  But the actual birth control pill… hard to find.

I am sure this is because I live in a smaller city and not a big city like Shanghai, or Beijing but the fact that in China there are thousands of these small cities and even smaller towns that have these same beliefs really scares me.

You would think that a country that has a one child policy  (unless you pay money, which is another story) .. that they would teach you how to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

My co-workers said that they even skip that chapter in Biology class.  Their parents figured.. if you do not tell them, they will not be interested in it.  (we all know that isn’t true) They figure you should be studying anyway.. not thinking about the opposite sex.  Until it is time for you to get married.  With many of my younger students in high school and university tell me that they have secret girlfriends and boyfriends that their parents don’t know about I feel that there are a lot of after pregnant hospital visits that the parents just do not know about, unfortunately.

Wow… what age have I stepped into? Clearly, with all the push for education and high grades they have forgotten a lot of important things in the parenting stuff they are doing over here.  I can only laugh and think back to what my grandmother said to me…

“The best birth control is an aspirin…. Hold it between your knees” 

until next time….

1926 US advertisement. "Birth Control"
1926 US advertisement. “Birth Control” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)