“Daddy? Where do babies come from?”
DANGER WILL ROBINSON! DANGER!
I’ll never forget the first time one of our kids asked us that question. It sent ice through my veins and caused my heart to stop for just a second.
None of us enjoy having to have the talk with our kids. None of us get into parenting thinking “One day I’ll get to explain to my daughter/son how sex and the reproductive system works”. But listen to me when I say this; You MUST talk to your kids about sex. If you don’t someone will and who knows what they’ll hear.
Here are a few tips on talking to your kids about sex.
They are curious Don’t doubt this for a second. It doesn’t matter how innocent your little Johnny or Susie is they are curious. By the time your child is hitting middle school chances are they’ve been exposed to pornography online, their friends have started talking about sex, the school has already talked to them or some combination of these and probably more.
It’s natural for your sons and daughters to have questions about feelings, physical changes, dreams and urges. It’s all part of growing up. Don’t stifle that curiosity instead direct it and give them a healthy, safe place to ask these questions.
Know your kids. Kids are going to ask about sex and babies and bodies. That’s a fact. And it’s a fact that at different stages they are asking for different reasons. If you have a toddler they’re going to be more interested in what their body is, what’s it called and what does it do. They are curious and want to know.
A question like “Where do babies come from” for a preschooler is about knowing how the world around them works and less about sex or sexuality.
When your child hits elementary school their curiosity will start being more about sex and reproduction. They’re old enough to understand and young enough to not be awkward about it. Use life scenarios to teach them. One mom I read about had a 7 year old ask about a tampon she saw in a washroom. The mom said she used that moment to talk to her daughter about menstruation. It wasn’t weird or forced because it happened in the norm of the everyday.
Tweens are asking because they are right smack dab in the middle of going from a child to a young adult. With puberty coming on earlier (particularly in girls) kids are experiencing these changes earlier than we did. They have all kinds of misconceptions about terms and what they mean.
Be prepared for some difficulty questions, to hear some terms you may have not heard from them. But let them ask! If Johnny or Susie are hearing kids say phrases they don’t understand would you rather them ask you or Google? Now is the time (if you haven’t already) to have “The Talk”. I would suggest you doing it over a couple of talks instead of one massive one. My wife and I also split it up for our daughter. My wife talked to her about things from a female perspective and I came in later to talk to her about things from a male perspective. This allowed her to get a grasp on how men and women view sex differently (and there is a difference).
Once they hit high school and beyond the talks do change. Of course they don’t know everything like they may feel they do and they will still have plenty of honest and direct questions the answers need to be honest and direct as well.
As our daughter got older we got into more the why behind our values. We didn’t try to scare her into not having sex (you’ll get pregnant- which you might but also might not/ you’ll get an STD- you might but also might not/ God will get you- he won’t) instead we talked about why waiting is best.
Do not teach them sex is wrong or bad. Sex is never wrong…our abuse of what God has given us is where the wrong comes into play. Instead guide them to see how God created it for the context of marriage. And he did so for our benefit.
I’ll never forget a talk I was part of years ago. A young married person spoke on their previous sexual experiences before getting married. Without going into any detail they confessed one of their greatest regrets was having sex before they entered marriage because the person they married and loved didn’t satisfy them like a previous lover did. It was heartbreaking to see. Redemption and healing was ultimately the point of the story but they had some really difficult times getting to that place.
We have shared that story with our daughter. Not as an “I told you so” but so she can see a real life consequence of sex outside its proper context.
Be available You want them coming to you. You do not want them searching online or asking other kids. Google or other kids will lead them to massive confusion.
Be available. Be ready. Be creative!
One mom I recently talked to has been using a journal for her upper elementary aged daughter to ask questions. She was finding that her daughter was having difficulty expressing what she wanted to say and that was leading to frustration which led to arguments which defeated the purpose of the conversation they were trying to have.
In comes the journal.
The daughter can write or ask anything in the journal. Once she does she puts the journal in a certain spot and mom or dad then writes a response and places it back in the spot. Daughter can read the response when she’s ready and in a place she feels comfortable.
I love this idea because not only does it work, it actively shows their daughter they are willing to fight for her and give her what she needs to grow and learn.
You don’t have to have a journal; you just need to communicate with your children in a way that is helpful to them…not necessarily to you.
Parenting isn’t easy or for the faint hearted. And it’s going to take all of us to do this well. I would love to hear other ideas on talking to your kids about sex or even different topics. Leave a comment in the comment section or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.