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About That Stork, and Starting 'The Talk' While Kids Are Still Listening

I started telling my kids about the birds and the bees and their bodies long before the schools did.

My kids have been getting 'The Talk' since they were in diapers.

The third one was born when the eldest was five. I had to explain where those other kids were coming from somehow.

“There's a special room in my tummy for a baby to grow in,” I explained. I didn't want them to think the baby was in there sloshing around with lunch.

How did it get there? “Daddy put a Daddy seed into one of my Mommy eggs and that made a baby.”

Neither of the boys seemed interested in how the seed got anywhere near the egg, though I remember explaining that I was not going to lay an egg like a bird for the baby to come out.

And then I found that there was nothing like bathing and toilet training for providing teachable moments on how boys differ from girls physically.

“Those are for feeding babies, and they are part of My Privacy,” I explained to the toddler boy with the wandering hands. “They aren't a part of me you're supposed to play with.”

 “Those are for holding Daddy seeds when you start turning into a grown-up,” I told the toddler boy with the anatomy question as he sat on the potty seat. “There's a place like that for holding Mommy eggs, too, but girls have theirs inside.”

I did try to restrain myself from overloading them with more info than they could handle. Sometimes they asked more questions, either specifically about the birds and the bees or in general about how the body works.

Sometimes they covered their ears with their hands and insisted that they had been brought by The Stork.

One time, my daughter shushed me and suggested I tell her more about it when she was older. I figured that was fair.

I got to thinking about this the other day when I saw a Patch video interview piece about .

Maybe “when they're in middle school” seems like the right time because that's when the kids are starting to change physically, plus they've already had the fifth-grade health class that's supposed to provide the anatomy lessons some parents might feel a little shaky on.

But now that my eldest is in middle school – and even with his brother in fifth grade – there's a growing universe of things they don't want to talk about with me. At least, not until they know what their friends and everyone else thinks first.

If I had waited until they understood everything I was telling them about reproduction and human sexuality, I wouldn't have gotten there ahead of the pack.

They might not be asking me now about whether something they see or feel is normal, or whether something people do is right or wrong.

A commenter named Gretchen Schock said it best when she responded to the video interview article: “It should be an ongoing conversation. The questions my seven year-old has now … are not the only conversation we will have in his lifetime.”

What we call 'The Talk' is an open-ended discussion that I hope my kids will still have with me for years to come.

Lisa Rossi March 25, 2011 at 02:07 PM
Kate - You crack me up!: “There's a special room in my tummy for a baby to grow in,” I explained. I didn't want them to think the baby was in there sloshing around with lunch.
Amber McCann March 26, 2011 at 02:13 AM
We talk openly and honestly about our bodies around here. While it doesn't discuss sex, I love "The Care and Keeping of You" for girls to explain what's going on with their growing bodies. My 9 year old has been known to balk at things such as "You really need to take a shower" but then I remind her that "the book" said so and she's off like a bolt of lightening. She loves that book!
George Clack March 27, 2011 at 03:11 PM
Interesting post. Your take on when to have The Talk complements the Unitarian view that co-ed sex ed classes work best in middle school - an age when they're alerted to the possibilities but, one hopes, before the real action has begun. My daughter took the Unitarian course at that age some years back , and it worked beautifully for giving her a sense of empowerment in this game.
Kate Yemelyanov March 28, 2011 at 11:13 PM
Yeah, the UU's do sex ed really well, and they do a great job pulling in kids from other confessions - or none at all. Amber, thanks for the book idea, I'll bet my daughter would love that.

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