Well, how do I brooch this topic? It’s a bit *ahem* personal isn’t it. Well if you have come to read about mine and my other half’s sex life, I am afraid I am about to disappoint you, haha. No, this post is about having the dreaded sex talk with your kids. These are the kind of situations when you wish there were magical specialist parenting classes, where someone could tell you exactly what to say and when to say it. Instead you have to wade in head first and hope you don’t scar anyone for life. *gulp*
Now I am no expert on dealing with the whole teaching kids about sex, especially as I only have boys and my eldest is only nearly eight. When I was pregnant I never really thought about how I/We would deal with things like the sex talk. As your kids get older you become more aware of what you say and do.
So how do I do it with Oliver? Well I have tried to do it as naturally as possibly and also to be as honest as possible.
So at almost eight years old, what exactly does Oliver know?
* Males have a penis and testicles
* Females have a vagina and breasts
* Males have sperm
* Females have an egg
* The sperm and egg have to meet for a baby to be made
* If a baby is not made, the egg leaves the females body and looks like blood and it is called a period
* He knows what breastfeeding is
* Some babies are born out of the vagina and some are born by an operation called a C section
* There is a process called puberty and he is aware of some changes that will occur
* Some people love someone is the same gender as them and this is called being homosexual and some people love people the opposite sex and this is called heterosexual
Now writing these things down like this, it all seems a bit grown up, but this information has been given when it has been requested. We have never sat down for a big chat about any of these issues. It has normally been Oliver’s curiosity that has led me to give him this information. It’s all very much child led.
Once Oliver was a few years old, I would naturally refer to his willy as his penis. I would say “let’s wash your penis” the same way that I would say “let’s wash your face”. Using the word like this meant that it naturally became a part of his vocabulary. We never really used the word willy or any other kind of ‘name’ other than penis. We never felt the need.
I would shower whilst Oliver was in the tub up until he was at least 4. The showering together only really stopped because his younger brother came along and I would either bathe them together or the younger one would come in with me. It was never a thought out choice to shower together but more of a necessity. I no longer shower with Oliver but have no qualms with getting changed in front of him, again this is not planned action I do out of principal, but if he comes into my room whilst I am getting changed I do not cover myself up out of modesty or shame, I just continue on with what I was doing. Also at the same time I do not parade around the house naked either.
These situations have led us to have really natural conversations about what a woman’s private parts are called, or what breasts are and what they are for. I have been breast feeding my youngest for over two years so Oliver is not fazed by either my breast or breastfeeding. Our choice to use the scientific/ biological names for our genitals and body parts was something that I thought everyone did. However, one day I had another child over to play with Oliver and when walking past his room I heard a very interesting conversation.
Oliver “No, boys have a penis and girls have a vagina”
They were both about 6 at the time, however her response was
“No girls have a bum and a front bum and boys have a winky and a bum”
I popped my head in and casually asked what they were talking about and why. It appears the little girl had fallen and bumped her ‘front bum’ and when she did she pointed to it and said she had hurt her ‘front bum’. Oliver corrected her and so the discussion began. I told them they were both right and they could call it what they had been told to. It got me thinking though that not everyone had dealt with it the same way I had. I spoke to the child’s mum and she said she was embarrassed and didn’t know how to brooch the subject. I think this is a common issue. I thought maybe at this age parents felt they were too young?
So when earlier this year I began a discussion with some of the mums on the playground about what their children called their genitals and what did they know about the other gender. I used the story above as an ice breaker I was surprised that not one child called their genitals by their biological name instead they had names like “willy” “dingaling” “googlies” and girls had names like “flairy” “Mary” “flower” “front bottom”. It made me question whether I had made the right decision to tell Oliver, but we stuck to our guns.
Even my newly turned 4 year old who has Autistic Spectrum Disorder will point down when I am changing his nappy and say “penis!”. I am both glad and proud that he knows this and can do this.
Now there is a slightly sinister reason why I want my children to know the name of their more intimate body parts and more importantly be comfortable using these names. God forbid anything should ever happen to my child. I would want to be confident that what my children said would be accurate and also their would be no embarrassment. Now some people may say if you know your daughter calls it her “flower” or your son his ” winky” then their would be no doubt or confusion for you at least, but believe me, if it went any further there very well could be. I know this is a horrible thing to write about but felt I had to say it.
Another less scary reason is how do you move from “front bum” to “vagina?” Or “pee pee” to “penis?”. I imagine that conversation would be much more awkward that just calling them those names in the first place?
For example, we had a quick chat about periods, We had kept planning to go swimming and each time we finally got round to going, I got my period. Each time I would just say
“Sorry, Mummy can’t go swimming she has her period”
After the third or fourth time, Oliver asked
“What is a period?”
And so the conversation began. This conversation actually happened earlier this year and so he was seven and a half years old. He already knew that woman had eggs and they make a baby when they meet with a sperm, so it was quite easy to explain that if the lady decides she doesn’t want a baby and the egg doesn’t meet a sperm then the egg leaves the body by the vagina and it looks like quite a lot of blood. I explained it was completely natural and relatively painless, you don’t have to go to hospital or anything and it is just something that happens to women.
I personally felt that was enough information for him at that time. Oliver is currently in year 3 and I believe they don’t begin sex education until year 6, there will be some girls and boys going into year 6 without a clue what a period is. I hope that Oliver having this knowledge now will mean he will feel confident and knowledgeable and it won’t be frightening when the time comes to learn it at school.
So yes, Oliver knows more than the average 7 almost 8 year old, but I feel the information is all appropriate for him. Now if I went and discussed this stuff with other children in his class they would be in shock, but that would be because it wouldn’t be happening naturally. At the same time there is a lot that Oliver doesn’t know. He doesn’t know how the egg and sperm meet. He doesn’t know that the female sex organ contains more than just the vagina. He has no idea about the vulva, labia, clitoris etc nor does he know his testicles contain sperm. Why doesn’t he know these things? Because currently I do not feel he needs this information. Now some people may say he doesn’t need to know all the things he does but he isn’t fazed by it because we have not made a big deal out of it. Some people want to leave it to school or the media to teach them, but alas I am not one of those parents. I understand why some people avoid it, but sometimes avoidance just makes it a harder topic to tackle.
Now to finish off with my infinite wisdom (I hope the sarcasm comes through here). The thing I have learned about the birds and the bees talk is that it hasnt/shouldn’t be one long conversation which is tense and awkward, but it is lots of little conversations through out your normal daily life. It’s small opportunities that present them selves and you can either decide to be honest and not make a big deal out of it OR stick to the story about the stork or something along those lines.
I hope this post doesn’t come across as self righteous, I am hoping it might help someone who is embarrassed to brooch the topic have a bit more courage or get a new parent or someone with a toddler start thinking about how they want to approach it.
So what are your thoughts? How have you brooched the subject? Is it easier or harder to discuss with boys? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and opinions.
Thanks for reading