Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Let's talk (with kids!) about sex
In a dreaded undertone, a mom friend admitted, "My 6 year old daughter asked me about 'humping' and now I think we have to have the talk." Another mom turned red at the thought. Others looked at the ground, embarrassed and full of empathy. The mom who brought it up looked like she would rather do just about anything else. Oh dear.
Let me just stand right up and be the weird one (again): My friends, at one point or another in your parenting, you are going to have to have the talk. It doesn't have to be uncomfortable or even particularly embarrassing. In fact, the sooner the better, I say (of course, saying that out loud guarantees the other moms will--and do--look at me like I'm crazy)!
Here's another fact that makes all the other moms stare at me in disbelief: we had the talk with our older daughter when she wasn't yet 5 years old*. What were we thinking?! Well, quite a few of my friends were pregnant at that time, and she kept asking how babies get in the tummies. Rather than fluff around with words I might have to eat later, I went for it and just explained it...or rather, I let a book explain it.
Whether this topic is uncomfortable for you or maybe you just don't know how much to share with a young child, I highly recommend buying a copy of "Where Did I Come From?": The facts of life without any nonsense and with illustrations by Peter Mayle.
True to its title, this book does not bother with nonsense. The illustrations are a bit funny, which can help break the tension. That being said, the illustrations do picture two naked adults to show how (and tell why) male and female bodies are different, and they even show two naked adults in bed having good times. And yes, just to make you blush, the book acknowledges that love-making is indeed good times. It even explains an orgasm (how else do those sperm get going?).
This is a book about where babies come from, and it runs from conception to birth. While it isn't only about sex (it starts with that because that is where babies start), I focused my description on that part of the book because this is a subject adults find difficult to discuss with children. As you can see from the text in the photo above, this book lays it all out. It might make grown adults blush, but kids, at least in my experience, not so much. For a child, this is simply a book with funny pictures that gives interesting, factual information about a curious subject.
If you are really worried about the sex talk, this book might make you squirm, but it will give you a great place to start. Read it with your child. Any questions might come up naturally as you read or perhaps later. When they do, at least all the bases are covered.
For those of you who aren't so inclined to have the talk (now or ever), experts will tell you that kids are exposed to sexuality much earlier than you would hope...and you should keep in mind that a child's mind is like a sponge. Any information (or misinformation) they hear will soak right up. If they hear it from others, information you provide afterwards will only fill in the space that is left. What makes the biggest impression is what they hear first, so don't you want that to be correct information from you?
Okay. I'm done now. Go have a glass of water, and allow your cheeks to return to their normal colour. We don't have to talk about this again until puberty (luckily, there is a book about that too!).
*For those of you who are curious, I doubt anything substantial from our first sex talks with our daughter really sunk in. She was interested at the time and wanted to read the book again and again (which we did). There were a few awkward weeks when she was happy to factually point out that the pregnant lady's husband has a penis, etc., but then it passed, as have so many other topics of keen interest in her life thus far. She is 7 now, and I know we need to have the talk again sometime soon, given that she is better prepared to understand it. However, the topic has been broached and it was fully okay to discuss with us; that's the most important point I wanted her to take away.