Awhile back my 7 year old son asked me how babies were made . It was like a switch in my brain, a large flashing light that said “avoid the sex talk with your kid!”
I chickened out, thinking “he’s not ready to know.”
My jaw hit the ground, my mind went blank, I turned into a beetroot and avoided the question.
This all happened in the flicker of my rapid heart beat. My response?
“Who did you sit next to in class today?” I asked.
What a coward.
As a doctor, I’m perfectly happy to talk about taboo topics that most people shy away from. I’ll talk about wees and poos and other bodily sections without raising a blush. But when it comes to talking to my children about sex, I find myself strangely bashful.
A little voice tells me that they don’t need to know until they’re older. My mind whispers “too young” but really, when is the best time to talk to your kids about sex?
I’ve read a couple of articles recently that made me re-think my position. The first was how a mother “accidentally” told her three year old about the facts of life. The other was about how Danish people, using “the proper words” tell their children about sex early on. It had graphic pictures and everything.
The take home message? Tell your kids about sex before they hear it from someone else and get the wrong end of the stick.
I’ve always held that good sex education is the key to avoiding teenage pregnancies. There is definitely a correlation between how countries educate their children and a low unwanted pregnancy rate.
And here’s me avoiding talking to my own son about sex.
It made me think. Perhaps they’re right. It would be awful if Galen found out about sex from his “girlfriend” who watches American sitcoms. He is oblivious to the implication of the word “girlfriend” but she, seeped in “grown up culture” is happy to drag him off for “a bit of alone time”.
Luckily she doesn’t really understand the implications either and they go and play like normal kids, rummaging in the dirt and gathering stones.
I dread to think what random bits of misinformation he would gleam from American sitcoms as translated through his class mates.
Best to take matters into my own hands.
So after Sunday bath, whilst I was clipping his fingernails in my bathroom (hoping for a little space.) I asked him “do you know how babies are made?” (Better to find out what he thinks first.)
“No! But I’d like to,” he replied.
“Great!” I thought. “Now what have I got myself into?”
Have Lots of Little Sex Talks with Your Kids
“Well, it’s a bit of science and a bit of magic,” I explained (as indeed it is, even if science can explain it all, I still think it’s amazing the way 2 cells can divide up to form an entire baby.)
“When 2 people love each other” (I’m not prepared to go into how that bit isn’t strictly true right now…we can have a conversation about that at a later date….)
“Well, they make a baby. You know how your willy goes all stiff…”
(as an aside, I’d like to point out that this happens frequently to small boys as I discovered to my horror within weeks of the birth of my first child…)
“Well, they make a baby. You know how your willy goes all stiff,
when that happens, the boy can put it in the hole that the baby comes out of….”
“What hole mummy? Do you mean here?” (Points to groin area. I explain about there being 3 holes, one for wees, one for babies and one for poos.)
So then does the baby just grab hold of the willy and come flying out?
I can’t hold the giggles in.
“Not quite, you’ve forgotten that whole bit of being big and the mummy carrying around a baby. Remember when mummy had the twins inside her tummy for ages?”
We swiftly move onto the more science-y bits. How do you “choose” if it’s a girl or a boy? I’m on safe ground here. A brief explanation of X and Y chromosomes. A bit about monozygotic and dizygotic twins and he knows it all.
We happily seem to have skirted around the whole “sex” bit. The sloppy, slimy, intimate sex bit.
At least for now. The actual act, the whole doing-it-business didn’t seem to interest him. He just accepted it.
I guess it will later on.
Parents are More Embarrassed about Talking about Sex than Kids
It wasn’t so bad after all. My son didn’t feel embarrassed at all. Turns out it was only me.
I guess that will come later.
Talk to Your Kids About Sex When they Are Young
I’m glad I had that little chat about sex with my 7 year old son. Of course, it was only the beginning, the laying of a foundation. I’m sure he’ll have more questions in the future. But that’s the awesome thing. Talk to your kids about sex when they are young and hopefully they’ll also talk to you when they are older.
Now when his friends start telling him wild stories he’ll know the basics and hopefully he’ll feel comfortable enough to come and chat to me and we can carry on the conversation.
In fact, that’s exactly what happened.
A few weeks later, he was sat in the bath and said “Peter says that babies can only be made if you’re married.”
I guess it looks like we’ll be having that conversation about “love and marriage and other things” sooner than I expected.
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