The moment we dread from the day our little ones discover how fun it is to say "Vah-Jayna" or "Peeeenus" has arrived. My fifth grader is having family life at school next week and it's high-time to have our 'talk.'
Having already had "The Talk" with my two teens, you'd think I already have this one figured out. However, I have since learned that every child is different.
When I made my hubby sit down with my son to teach him about the birds and the bees it was likely a little late on the uptake. My son basically schooled my husband - saying he "already knew all of this, Dad" and sending hubby on his merry way. We've since followed up the conversation by teaching the all-important lesson about the perils of pornography and the objectification of women. At 17, I think he's got the message and seems to be a very well adjusted, healthy young man who showers, wears deodorant and absolutely treats females with the respect they deserve.
With my daughter, now a freshman in high school, I decided to attack the sex talk earlier than my son to head off any misinformation. I have family members that menstruated at the early age of nine, so I thought this would be a fantastic age to begin "The Talk" and keep her informed. However, I learned that you really need to know your child and the readiness of that child. After I explained the "miracle of the woman," her face turned green and she burst into tears. It all turned out okay in the end but certainly it was a case of too much, too soon.
So, with number 3 I am taking a new approach. At 10, we have already covered some simple bases on periods, hygiene and pimples but we're gearing up for the juicier stuff. I know that it's likely she has already heard a lot of weirdness at school and this is why I want to clarify the information for her.
Recently, my husband and I attended a fantastic talk by Dr. Yocheved Debow at our children's private school, on the matters of sexuality and intimacy. Listening to Dr. Debow lay it on the line as to what ages you should clarify things and how detailed to get really prepped me for our conversation. So, this morning's drive to school went like this:
Me: Hey Sweetie, tonight I'd like to have a convo with you about some stuff before family life next week.
Her: Um, Mom. Ew, gross.
Me: It might be weird-sounding but there is nothing gross. But, we'll definitely talk a little later tonight.
Her: I'd rather eat poop.
Yes, my daughter would rather eat poop than have a sex talk with me.
I'm not hurt though. I know it's perfectly normal. I want to send the message that this whole thing isn't gross. This whole thing is beautiful and wonderful. It's meant for adults who are ready for this sort of mature activity that may sound icky to kids.
Inspired by seeing how well my two older kids have adjusted to puberty and growing up, I think we're doing okay. But, Dr. Debow made a wonderful point I think we parents forget: Sex talks don't end. They are an ongoing (albeit uncomfortable) conversation from the time our children ask where those babies come from up until they go off and get their own adult lives. Keeping the conversation going and appropriate for their ages and stages is an essential component to giving healthy and correct information. It's also imperative to keep the intimate and connected part of love and sexuality in the conversation. It's not all biological and it never should be. If we emulate loving homes, affection, good body image and self-talk , our kids will be learning much more than just the 20 minutes we share the biology of it all.
Pee-pees, wee-wees, ya-yas, etc. are all part of lying or making stuff up like when we say babies are brought by mailmen, born through belly buttons or created by napping adults. It only teaches kids that we're liars when they find out the truth. Call a spade a spade and a vagina a vagina to ensure that little kids become young adults who are informed, appropriate and most of all, trusting of their parents.
Sara Kutliroff is a freelance writer and blogger trying not to forget the "me” in mommy.
See more of Sara's stories here.