When Should you Talk to Your Child about Sex?
My girls are 5 and 7. I look at them and I can still see the lingering halo of the newborns they were not so long ago.
I suppose that sweet lingering never completely goes away, but children are maturing faster than ever before. Thanks to hormones in food and lax parenting choices, our children are doing and knowing the ways of the world long before we ever did.
I remember seeing the movie about puberty in 5th grade. They sent us home with the parting gift of a Kotex maxi pad and a pamphlet. Go home and talk to your mom if you have any questions was the underlying message.
I didn’t have any questions and I felt a bit awkward. I still got “the talk” anyways.
I think it went something like, “You start your period and you become a woman. When men and women love each other, they have sex and then they have a baby. It hurts a lot!”
My general response was, “Ewwww!” I wasn’t sure what the hell this “sex” stuff was, but if it hurt a lot especially, I wanted nothing to do with it. I was 10. I didn’t start my period until I was 12.
It was the summer before 8th grade. The whole family had been at the park and then to McDonalds for happy meals. I went to the bathroom with my mom to wash my hands and right there in McDonald’s bathroom stall, I started my period.
I thought I was bleeding internally; surely this was the beginning of the end. After some minor freaking out, my mom gave me a pad and we all went home. I was told to lie down, and ever since it’s been cramps and hemorrhaging like clockwork every 28 days.
I’ve always been very open with my girls. They’ve always known the real names of their anatomy. No whohas or woowoos, just vaginas and penises. They know babies come from mommies and daddies and not storks.
They know that babies live in mommies tummies until they are ready to be born, but we’ve not had the birds and bees talk yet, but I feel it on the horizon for my almost 8-year-old, so I did some research and this is what was concluded that kids can handle at various ages.
Ages 2 to 3: Teach them the correct words to use for their private parts.
Ages 3 to 4: Tell them that babies come from mommies and daddies and grow and live in mommy’s uterus, but not too much information.
Ages 4 to 5: How a baby is born. My source says to be literal “When you were ready to be born, the uterus pushed you out through Mommy’s vagina.”
Honestly, my 5-year-old has come to the assumption that there is a surgery involved to get the baby out and freaks out about it. I am afraid that telling her that there is no surgery but instead she will have to push a baby out through her vagina may be too traumatic for her right now.
Ages 5 to 6: A general idea of how babies are made by mommies and daddies.
Ages 6 to 7: A basic understanding of intercourse. “Men and women’s bodies are made to fit together like puzzle pieces. When the penis and the vagina fit together, sperm swim through the daddy’s penis and up to the mommy’s egg to make a baby.” Explain that sex is something done between two adults who love one another.
Ages 8 to 9: Stress to them the importance of sex and that it is not something you enter into irresponsibly.
Ages 9 to 11: Which changes happen to their body during puberty. Be open and ready to discuss sex-related topics that your child might see on TV or hear from other kids. Make sure that you are available and not judgmental so your child will feel comfortable coming to you with questions and concerns.
Age 12: By now, kids are formulating their own values, so check in every so often to provide a better context for the information your child’s getting.
When did you talk to your child about sex?
Photo source: Mr.T in DC