Here’s how it started. I was standing in line at McDonald’s with my kids and they were practicing their Happy Meal orders, because I make them each do their own ordering. They were discussing what the boy and girl toys were and I said “I think the Christmas ones are unisex.”
Silence and wide eyed stares, then my oldest said “ew, Mommy don’t say that word. My friend (let’s call her Sally) hates that word the most of any word!”
Now it was my turn for silence and wide eyed stares. “Um… why is ‘Sally’ talking about sex? Or WHO is talking about sex?”
My oldest child is nine and in fourth grade, so surely no one is talking about sex on the playground!?! According to his response, no, they don’t talk about it *other* than this one time the girl said she hates that word. In my head- “ok, thats great… no one was talking about it… but then WHY did she have to even say anything about it…she does have older sisters… or was it that other kid who has teenage brothers… well he is going to get the talk at school soon… should I do it now? Here? Over fries?”
As they played in the play area and I stress-ate all their fries, I did some research and devised a plan. I was going to do it over Christmas break so that they had time to process it and ask any questions and it wouldn’t be super present on their minds when they went back to school. I researched and purchased a book series that lines up with our faith teachings and gives clear cut explanations of things. The series I chose is called God’s Design for Sex, and is broken into 4 books, each for a different age group: 3-5yrs, 5-8yrs, 8-11yrs, 11-14yrs. Whew! I felt better armed with a plan.
Christmas break came, and having pre-read the books, I chose the book for children ages 5-8 years old, since all my kids are in/above that range. We sat down and I just simply read the book straight through… until it said the words “when a husband lies close to his wife, he can fit his _____ into his wife’s __________ .” (You can fill those blanks in with the appropriate anatomy, I don’t want this article to get flagged for something it’s not haha!) … I paused and looked around at my kids to gauge their responses to this, what I thought was an earth shattering bit of info.
My youngest looked at me with an incredulous half smirk on his face, like surely I must have been joking. My oldest said “WAIT! Is that why they say a baby is made up of part of the mommy and part of the daddy?” I could have kissed him right then, for being so pure and just totally getting the basics of what it was saying, nothing further! My eight year old daughter, well, I looked at her and she shrugged and said “lucky me…?” I giggled and then finished reading them the book which describes how the baby grows and is born (yes, what hole it comes out), and how they cut the umbilical cord. Would you believe that with all this new info, when I asked them if they had any questions, they only were concerned with how to cut that dang cord?!?
So after I bit the bullet and had this conversation, here are a few takeaways I’d like to share with you mommas.
- Did I steal a bit of their innocence? – Honestly yes, I know I did. They can’t live in a world of believing a stork brings the baby like in Dumbo, or that mommies and daddies just go to the hospital and pick out a baby to bring home. But also honestly, you better believe that SOMEONE will introduce them to sex and I feel so much better that it was me! According to some sources, kids as young as 8- 11 years old have been exposed to pornographic content, often while researching online for homework. Even if that is not your kid, it could be someone in their class, who may talk about it to them. My brother-in-law refers to this as the power of first introduction: however you are first introduced to a concept, is how you will measure any further conversations about that concept. If your child is FIRST introduced to sex by way of an open, honest, straightforward conversation with their trusted parents, that’s going to lay some good groundwork right?
- Speaking of groundwork. I have realized that having these conversations early and often lays a good foundation to help them have the power over their own bodies. When they KNOW how things work, it empowers them to know how they are NOT supposed to work. What am I talking about? If I have conversations regarding things that a husband and wife are to do with their bodies and each other, they will be able to recognize if someone else is trying to do that to or with them. If a neighbor kid exposes himself to them, or a babysitter wants to “play Dr”, or if an uncle or friend of dad’s shows them a website or magazine, or if a teacher wants to talk about sex with them. Creating a safe environment for us to discuss these topics will help build trust if they ever need to come to me with something like this. We have already put it into practice a couple times with something viewed on a movie or commercial prompts me to ask them “What do you think about that? Is that appropriate?”
- When is the right time? For me, it certainly seemed the time was upon me, knowing that the word was even being brought up on the playground. While my oldest was nine, my youngest was five years old at the time of “the talk”. Now, I know that many would say that is too young, and quite frankly I would have felt the same way at the time when my oldest was that little. However, with older siblings and their friends being around, I realize that things need to be somewhat different for my little guy. This goes back to my first point. I also made sure to choose age appropriate material and only answered the questions they asked, not giving excessive information.
- Don’t make it a bigger deal in your own mind. I did that. I was so nervous, mostly because I wasn’t sure how it would go. This was one of the main reasons I chose to go with a book. By reading the book I could avoid eye contact (I’ve heard others say to do it while you’re driving a car for this same reason!) as well as have a clear cut plan. I put it off for several weeks, finally deciding to do it on Christmas break, because I was sure it was a big deal and they would need lots of questions answered. Mommas, I’m telling you, I think that’s the beauty of doing it early enough. They don’t have too much of a bad basis of information, so they take it at face value! My kids were more concerned with how they cut that umbilical cord than anything else!
At the end of the conversation, they were given firm instructions that they are not to talk about it with friends, or cousins, or babysitters or anyone other than mommy or daddy. My kids have never done the whole Santa Claus thing, so I explained it was kind of like that: this is something that parents are in charge of for their children, and we don’t tell other kids about things that their parents are in charge of.
All in all, I have to say I am glad I bit the bullet and had the talk. As they grow, we’ll go further into age specific conversations and questions for them. But for now, they at least know that there is no reason to “hate” the word sex, but also no reason to talk about it with friends either.
What do you think? Have you had the talk with your kids? Share your thoughts and experiences, to help other moms navigate this topic!