This topic is a bit of a hot spot with me. I believe that everyone has their own parenting styles and they make choices that are best for their families. But I can’t help but cringe when I’m sitting in a room full of mothers and the conversation turns to “the talk” and how they avoid it at all costs or they give crazy answers just to get out of an uncomfortable situation. Um. Do you think your kids are never going to find out what s-e-x is? Do you want them to learn that from their friends?! Seriously people. You are the parent. Talk to your kids.
My personal belief is that a child should know where babies come from by the time they start school. That might be as young as FOUR. Which also means they need to know the correct anatomy terms – no more pee-pee or winky or whatever you’re calling it. But, but…. you’re robbing them of their innocence you might say. Right. You have no problem telling them that boogers come out of their nose and they should use a tissue right? Or that they need to use a toilet instead of diapers. Does that rob them of their innocence? Nope. I don’t see how telling a child where babies come from and how they get in there in the first place is robbing them of anything. Telling them that a stork drops off a baby is robbing them of the truth. I think a lot of it has to do with your attitude and confidence and judging how much info you give your child.
Why by school age? For a couple of reasons. Mostly because kids talk. I was a little late in having the talk with my oldest and by the time I did she’d already heard from friends that you could get pregnant by kissing. Not only do I want them to know the truth, I want them to know what is and is not okay. I heard a story about a little girl in Kindergarten whose friend told her that her Uncle touched her in private places. That little girl knew it was wrong and that she needed to tell an adult because her mom had talked to her about good/bad touch. I want my kids to know the truth so that if they are ever in a similar situation they would know what to do.
My kids are 10, 8 and 6 and all of them know where babies come from and can name all of their body parts. And guess what? They are comfortable with asking myself or my hubby questions about their bodies. There’s no shame and usually not much embarrassment either. In fact, just the other day my son (the 8 year old) and I were talking about belly buttons which evolved into talking about umbilical cords… which led him to the question of “how do you know when it falls off?” I assumed he was asking about the cord left on the baby but he meant the cord attached to the uterus. So we talked about afterbirth. His reponse? “Oh, okay. I get it.” Simple. He asked a question, I gave an answer, he got the truth.
I think we fall down as parents because of our own junk. My grandmother did not talk to my mom about sex or periods or pregnancy… nada. My mom had to figure that stuff out for herself. Considering her upbringing I think she did a pretty good job with talking to me about the basics but I still got the impression that sex was shameful, something we don’t talk about and it’s only necesary to have babies. My goal with my kids has been to have an open door policy. They can ask me anything and I will not shame them, I will not laugh at them (at least not to their face) and I will give them a straight answer. I also want them to understand that sex is a gift, it’s enjoyable and it belongs inside of marriage.
Now let me be clear… I don’t mean that you should sit down with your preschool with an anatomy book and a copy of the Kama Sutra. The conversations need to be age appropriate. My six year old certainly doesn’t know as much as my ten year old. But it’s an ongoing conversation. I let curiousity and life events guide our conversations. Just like the conversation with my son… that came up because he was excited to find our cat’s bellybutton. Beans (the 6yo) overheard part of the conversation and her input was simply that everyone has a bellybutton. That’s as much as she needed right now. Who knows…. maybe tomorrow she’ll ask me why she has a bellybutton.
I want to tell you to talk to your kids. They’re curious. We encourage them in every other area of life to ask questions, to explore. Don’t stop here because you’re afraid or uncomfortable. Help them be confident in who they are and that their bodies are theirs. It will only help them to make better decisions as they get older and their peers and the media pressure them into thinking sex is something other than what God intended. (Talk about losing their innocence…)