I always knew one day I’d have to have “the talk” with my child. I wanted to because my parents never really said anything to me on the subject, and I didn’t really want my boy to learn about the birds and the bees via the kids at school. And, of course, I knew I’d have to deal with whatever his dad said to him about it as well, and who knows what that might be since his parenting approach is nothing like mine. However, I had no idea that when the time came, it would play out the way it did.
A couple of weeks ago my 10-year old son informed me that he and his dad had a talk. When I asked what they talked about, he said “where babies come from.” Wait…what? A little heads-up would have been nice. You know, a text that said “FYI: Our son asked how babies are made and I told him, so get ready for questions.” Alas, that didn’t happen.
That being said, I was curious as to what my ex had told our child. Especially since when previously asked where babies come from, my standard response had always been “the hospital.” (Which, by the way, had always seemed to be okay with the boy, since he hadn’t probed further.) I waited for my son to speak. Finally, he looks at me and says, “I have a question about it, Mom.”
“Sure, baby. What is it?”
“WHY WOULD YOU AND DAD DO THAT?!?” You could hear the absolute disgust in his voice.
“Because we were trying to have you,” I replied.
“No you weren’t. It’s disgusting! No boy areas should be near girl areas ever! If I have children, I’m going to have them the other way.”
Um…the other way? I had no idea what this other way might be, and frankly, by this point, I was afraid to ask. As it turns out, the other way is “when you go to the doctor and he uses a needle.” Well, okay then. I can’t wait to meet my future daughter-in-law, the amazing lady who is going to allow this to happen.
But back to this harrowing (and hilarious) tale…
At this point, I am trying to hardest to not laugh hysterically at my child. It’s not easy, because I find his absolute repulsion to be funny beyond words. He then continues to let me know how “disgusting” all of it is, punctuated with a few more questions of “why did you two do that?!?”
Finally, after about fifteen minutes of ranting, he looks at me and says, “Mom, I am completely dramatized!”
I hugged him, asked him if he felt better (he said he did – he just needed to talk to me about it), and sent him to get ready for bed. Then I promptly went outside to laugh my face off.
When to Talk to Your Kid About Sex
Clearly it’s time to talk to my daughter about relationships and maybe have a little sex-lite discussion. All of the experts that I’ve read say the best time to talk to your kids about sex is when they start showing an interest. And, she’s showing interest. Shockingly, some kids show interest as young as two or three when they start to notice their “private parts.”
And, by the way? For the love of all that is good it is ok to tell your kids the real names of their body parts (no need to gloss over “penis” or “vulva and vagina” just because you’re uncomfortable). According to KidsHealth.org, “a Gallup poll showed that 67% of parents use actual names to refer to male and female body parts.” So while it’s not fun for my mom when the four year old pulls out the vagina talk at church, at least the kid has an understanding of her body parts and not some weirdo name for them.
How Do You Talk to Your Kid About Sex?
The best way to approach sex talk with young kids is to stay basic in descriptions. Preschoolers don’t need a lot of detail at that age. And, by the way, “where did I come from?” may just mean the kid wants to know where he or she was born. So, make sure you understand what they’re asking before you launch into a sexual anatomy dissertation.
If by age 7 or 8 your kid hasn’t brought up sex, experts say you should talk to them about it.
ChildrenNow.com recommends something like this:
Say, for instance, the mother of an 8-year-old’s best friend is pregnant. You can say, ‘Did you notice that David’s mommy’s tummy is getting bigger? That’s because she’s going to have a baby and she’s carrying it inside her. Do you know how the baby got inside her?’ then let the conversation move from there.
Bottom line? Be honest with your kids … even if you’re uncomfortable. Use books or television shows or even real-life situations to segue, explain and illustrate. And, be sure you’re getting the real point across.
“What is so fascinating to me is 90 percent of the mothers, our readers, thought that they had had the conversation with their daughters about sex. When you talk to the daughters, you’ll find out, well, no, you didn’t really quite have the conversation,” Gayle King, O magazine’s editor-at-large, told Oprah.com.
O Magazine’s survey results showed that 78 percent of mothers think their daughters feel comfortable talking to them about sex, but really only 39 percent of daughters actually feel comfortable talking to their moms.
So, make sure that your kids know that it’s ok to ask questions about their bodies, their feelings and sex in general.
What to Include in Your ‘Sex Talk’
Your “talk” will vary and expand as the child ages. A first talk should certainly cover the “basics” like male and female anatomy, understanding their own genitals and how a baby is made. As your child grows and develops, you continue the talk based on changes in his or her body and also understanding of the topic.
WebMD recommends using the following as a guideline for what to cover when you’re talking to your kids. (Of course, you are going to edit based on age and understanding.)
- Explanation of anatomy and reproduction in males and females
- Sexual intercourse and pregnancy
- Fertility and birth control
- Other forms of sexual behavior, including oral sex, masturbation, and “petting”
- Sexual orientation, including heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality
- The physical and emotional aspects of sex, including the differences between males and females
- Self-image and peer pressure
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Rape and date rape, including how being intoxicated (drunk or high), or accepting rides/going to private places with strangers or acquaintances puts you at risk
- How choice of clothing and the way you present yourself sends messages to others about your interest in sexual behavior
Remember, talking about sex doesn’t mean you’re condoning it and you can make that clear during your discussions. Don’t you want your kid learning the truth about sex from you instead of relying on kids at school for incomplete information? Shudder.
Have you talked to your kids about sex? How did you handle it?