Birds and Bees
I am curious to know what you ladies think. I am not looking to start a controversial thread, just what you did and what has worked for you and your kids.
I know several people that tell their kids about "the birds and the bees" when they turn eight. To me this seems really young. Others don't tell their kids at all and let them figure it out. And then there's those that figure things out from watching animals.
Talisa turns eight this coming weekend and I just can't fathom telling her about all of this yet. She is still young and innocent. Yes, we have told her that people should not touch her in certain places, she shouldn't be changing in front of others, modesty, etc.
However, with the ways of our world changing ever so constantly, I wonder. I am hoping to wait another year or so. But I don't want her finding out about all of the details from someone besides Keith and I.
Oh the "talk"..I dreaded this with my kids. I am not sure about your school system but in ours they start basic "sex ed" in grade 6. Just the basics like the difference between boys and girls. In grade 7 and 8 it went into a little more "depth"
In my family I have an open discussion policy, therefore the kids know they can ask any questions and I will try my best to answer them (age appropriately)
With my daughter I talked about the changes in her body at a much earlier age then I expected to due to the fact that she had "early" puberty (around the age of 9), as for going in depth like "where do babies come from" I waited till they came to me with the questions, which was in grade 7 and 8.
Kim, all I can say is my boys "made" Gary tell them when they were eight as Gary had gone in for a certain procedure. ehem. They didn't like the answers I was giving them as to why their dad was at the hospital. I finally said, "You know how we got Sandman and Carol fixed so that they couldn't have babies? Well, that's what dad did." Nathan was very quick, looked me straight in the eye (and almost rolled his) saying, "Mom...Dad's don't have babies." They would not stop with the questions so Gary decided to tell them. He wouldn't let me in the room because he said he couldn't do it with me in there. I'm not sure what all was said or how it was said, but 7 or 8 years later I was still correcting things for them!" They were toooooooo young! lol Mark learned in health class in middle school and came home asking me questions that he didn't want to ask in class. I don't know about him but it was much easier on me this way. lol
Isn't parenting fun?! :)
I will tell you what I learned when I did a year of school age daycare, 20 years ago. These were middle and upper class children from 'good homes'.
5 and 6 year olds knew more about sex than any of us imagined. They learned it from tv, they leaned it from older siblings, they learned it at the grocery store seeing the magazines at the checkout and they learned it from spying on their parents. They knew what went where, they knew that pregnancy happened to girls/women in and outside marriage. They talked about abortion. Gossip abounds and as my Nana used to say when someone thought they were talking over my head "Little pitchers have big ears." I knew then it was a juicy subject.
When I say spying on parents, we had one episode of play acting by 5 year olds that had us blanching. I know the children really didn't understand what they were doing when the little girl told the boy to put his head down there while she had her legs in the air. And the sounds she made? I'll leave it there. But after some very guarded discussions by the director of the center with the girl and the parents, it was clear that children do like to snoop especially when door are shut. Your own child may be innocent but many of her classmates may not.
In one of my later jobs, I had occasion to visit a lot of schools. Many 6th graders are now able to and are getting pregnant. Look at the little ones who are developing physically much earlier than most of us grandmothers, and even our 40ish daughters. Hormones in all our food....etc
I cannot advise you as to what will fit with your child Kim or your beliefs, but the earlier a child is introduced to facts and accurate words, the easier it will be. She will only be embarrassed if you are. I cannot fathom letting a child 'figure it out' on her own. If you don't tell her, someone else will and the information she does or does not get can be hurtful and harmful. With my own children, we (I!) usually talked about what was happening with our pets and started making the comparisons at an early age - 3 and 4. It was laying the groundwork.
All the best to you ....parenting these days is not for the faint of heart!
The advantages of being ranchers .... our boys pretty much grew up knowing the physical details (how babies get made, how they are born) just from being around the animals. We were pretty truthful from the beginning - used the real anatomy words and answered their questions when they asked. Bill was more uncomfortable with it all than I was ( maybe because I also have an anatomy/medical advantage ) so most of the discussions were done by me.
It wasn't until they were in the 7th-8th grade that we started discussing the "emotional" details.
With the animals around, the conversations just seemed to happen gradually and naturally. I don't envy you guys that have to come up with the conversation "starter".
I have 9 year old twin daughters. I have always answered any question they've asked truthfully but age appropriately. Emma in particular has asked me many, many questions about things I'm sure I never even thought of at that age! I give just enough information, and if she wants to know more she'll ask. She seems to go away, join some dots, follow some logical thought, then come back to carry on the conversation. I still think they're too young to need the exact graphical details of sex, but I know it's not far off. Emma wanted to know exactly 'which hole' a baby came out of when she was four! Sophie on the other hand has had much less desire to know anything. I think this year I will have to go to the next level as they are starting to develop. They know that a man and a woman are required to have a baby, and that sperm and eggs are required from each to make a baby, and that 'sex' is special 'mummy and daddy cuddles'. Also we went through IVF so maybe that's made it a bit more straight forward and easy for me to explain.
I think I'm lucky that they are naturally curious, incredibly smart and thoughtful and logical, and that I've established a relationship where they know they can ask me things and I'll answer honestly. I think if you have that then the questions will come naturally when they're ready for them. But I guess at some point you need to make that final push to tell the rest. I think my girls are nearly ready to know, but not quite :).
oh what a topic! What I'll say is that I made the mistake of telling Kelly [because she was asking when she was barely 3!!!] that when mommy and daddy were married the priest gave daddy the special seeds that grew babies. I soon caught her up on the counters trying to look into the highest kitchen cabinets for "the seeds". When we got divorced, she cried after he left only because he had taken all the seeds for a brother or sister with him!
And then, in 5th grade they were having a presentation in health class so I was one of only 5 parents that showed up to preview what they would be shown... a woman's ovaries were shown as pancakes and the dad "brought the syrup" I kid you not! I was appalled.
Any questions she asked I answered very matter-of-fact after the seed incident. But she nearly caused many accidents always asking while we were driving. LOL!
Good Luck Kim! Love hearing everyone's insight on this. Always a difficult subject! :)
I can remember sitting down to discuss facts of life and getting the distinct feeling that a) it was not the right time b) they already knew as much as they wanted.
I think that when circumstances arise that arouse their curiosity you just answer the questions as they ask them.
(I still remember the moment as a kid when my mother explained what the actual process of "planting the seeds" was. I was horrified!!!)
After my son went to his first sex-ed class in 6th grade, very nonchalantly asked him if he had any questions that he didn't want to ask in class but was curious about. He answered in the affirmative and began with this "....you know about boys and their tentacles?" It was all over for me at that point.
I think you will know when your children want to ask the questions and since you're thinking and wondering about it NOW, you'll have your answers ready. Mom's usually do.:rolleyes:
Oh boy. We had the talk with Josh last year. He came to us very confused and wanted to know the details. I had young parents that were very honest and "scientific" with me. Tony's parents took the moral/religious route. So, Tony and I smashed the two conversations together and had the discussion with Josh together as a team.
I have to say my cheeks were hot with embarrassment as he realized how we made him. But, it turned into sweet giggles between all of us and it went down as one of my favorite parental moments.
We want our kids to feel that they can come to us with questions and we are a safe place. Josh is extremely honest with us... sometimes to a fault ;) TMI! HA! But, I am so glad.
Julia is 9 and hasn't really "gone there". She has told me she has a crush on a boy and those feelings are starting to surface but I know she isn't mentally ready. My aunt gave me a book that is produced by American Girl. It answers a lot of questions about growing up. When Julia starts asking questions I think I will turn there to start.
Oh the joys of parenthood!! Good luck :)
So far I've let discussions just happen with my 11 year old daughter. We have a pretty open relationship, and when she started asking questions, I answered her as age appropriately as possible. I don't think she started asking until she was about 10. My son is 9 and so far, he's pretty oblivious to the whole subject.
I have a friend, who appalled me by giving very graphic and overly honest/factual information to her 7/8 year old. She talked to her daughter like she was her best friend - and I, as a mother of four, would like to say I am not my kids friend. I am their mother and its very different. I answer all questions age appropriate... when the basic boy girl difference sex ed started last year for Mollie, I answered her questions at home afterwards. She's super scientific LOL and all about the facts... Daisy I fear will not be the same at all ;) Some very interesting questions from daisy the other day over a mare being in season at our stables.... I was not really prepared for those!! LOL
I think I fudged thro it with Kal and Georgia because I recall a bigger conversation later on, after I assume everybody knew 'everything' LOL Despite what you tell them, their friends will tell them different versions, the school will word it another way, and generally, they do as we did, and gather it together. As long nobody tells them its terrible or bad which is generally what my friends/my generation seem to have been told back then!!!!!
I'm a big believer in kids asking questions when they are ready for the answers.
I've sent you a PM Kim :)
I am sure I will be reading this thread many times before we end up having "the talk." Thank you all so much for your insight and words of wisdom. I do want her to grow up and mature a bit more before we start discussing things. I'd love to make the conversation a happy and comfortable one. I would love to be able to answer her questions, let her know she can always come to me (or Keith) with any questions.
I've had a good laugh at a few of the responses, and I've also been really shocked with how smart some of the kids are at such a young age.
Think I'll save this thread for when I need it. At the moment I don't think Amy's interested in finding out much, but I know kids talk at school. She's not guarded yet about telling me what the other kids say, and I just try not to look bothered by it. Though it's more she's shocked that some of the boys swear.
When I was teaching Science I did do the topic from a Biology perspective, and also from the emotional side as a Social/Moral/Personal class. Those were 12 year olds, and I knew they already knew a lot from various sources, though a lot of it was pretty garbled. The same questions always came up each year though, it could be quite fun - depending on the class!
As blhdvm mentioned, ranch kids are exposed to many different life experiences at an early age. "Sex, birth and death". We never really had to explain the process to them....except for the emotional part. I will share one funny story, both my boys worked at a bull test station during their HS years. Bulls have to be fertility tested (won't go into the procedure, but blhdvm will understand) before they are sold. While my youngest was helping with the procedure, the vet casually mentioned that before a boy gets married he has to have this test!! My son immediately stated that he was NEVER going to get married!!!
You will know when the time is right. Good Luck Kim
There is the old story about the little girl who comes into the livingroom while her father is watching TV. She says, "Daddy, what's sex?" The dad decides that if she is asking, she must be ready and he decides to be open and honest. He starts into the explanation and sees the child begin to look more and more uncomfortable. He stops and says, "why do you ask?" The little girl replies, "Mummy says dinner will be ready in two secs".
Isabel and I discussed "bathing suit parts", any part of her body that was covered by her bathing suit, as being her private parts, with the appropriate names. There were times when she overheard other parents discussing that she didn't have a dad, and asked questions. I gave her age appropriate information and responded openly to her questions. I also warned her that talking about sex was something that made many people uncomfortable and that she didn't necessarily need to share any of the information with her friends. When she got older, and puberty loomed, I found a book, written by a young lady and her aunt, which I gave to her. It was her book, to be kept in her room and read anytime she wanted and told her that she could ask questions any time.
I remember that I was sitting at the computer sending an email, when she came downstairs and said, "now, don't freak out Mum, but I just started my period", as opposed to the many women of my generation who thought that they were dying when they had their first cycle.
I firmly believe that knowledge is power.
Loving the funny stories and different situations everyone is sharing! Thank you so much ladies!
Uhg this talk is looming here too. Tanner turns 9 in May, but still very immature. Due to some really crappy circumstances, I had to have a small talk with Rilyn last weekend. It basically consisted of the "real" names of our private parts, and re-iterating that no one should be near them, or ask about them, etc. She had actually never heard the appropriate names before and the belly laughing was hilarious. We were both giggling and laughing so hard. She thinks the names are hysterical. Though the circumstances suck, it was a blessing to have this little talk with her, it opened the door for future conversations. She now knows we can talk about "weird stuff" and she can come to me with any questions. It opened a door. Yes, she is only 6 and I hope to not be having bigger conversations anytime soon, but it was some good one on one conversation. So maybe, opening that door talking and giggling about official names, and letting her know she can talk about the "weird stuff" with you will be a good, easy start.
Kyra is about to turn 9 and hasn't come to me with too many questions... "How was I born?" I told her more about my C section than anything. She isn't really boy crazy. She is busy with other things. Camryn is though. I have a feeling we'll be going through the same conversation with both of them when Camryn is 8 or 9. I don't think Kyra will question until then.
Let me know how this all goes, Kim! I don't look forward to the days of boyfriends and broken hearts... or do I? There are good life lessons there. But I'll enjoy the innocent girls I have for the time being. As long as they aren't asking, I'm not bringing it up! I was a late bloomer, though very boy crazy. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it!
Hmmmmm.... I don't envy any of you with young children having this conversation.... There are some good things about getting older! For what it's worth, Jodie (my eldest) was a little inquisitive at about the age of 5 or 6 and I answered her questions as best as I could and I think at the right level for her age. It seemed to satisfy her quest for the knowledge until she was about 10, I think. Then, armed with a little book written for young girls, I broached the subject again and left the book with her and she was fully aware at I would answer any questions she had at any stage during or after reading the book. I think this coincided with it being in the school curriculum at that time so it all helped.
Hayley on the other hand was completely different. She hadn't broached the subject at all with me so she was probably about 10 or 11 when I began to tell her about menstruation because I was worried that she'd start her periods without me speaking to her first! I got a complete brush off! I remember her putting her hand up to me and saying "I don't want to know!" When I tried to continue she said "shush, shush!" And that was it. I never broached the subject with her again and neither did she with me! I guess she'd heard about things at school and knew all she needed to know! Perhaps oddly enough, she went into a committed relationship at a much earlier age than Jodie!
Each child is so different Kim and I believe you've got an extremely good relationship with both your girls and it will all be just fine. You'll probably find though that it crops up when you least expect it to! Good luck!
I'm going to say that even if you don't talk with real terminology, it's important that you let the kids know that whilst we call it this, it's real name is this. For instance I can't even remember how it came about but I remember it was at high school (I was maybe about 11 or 12) and didn't know the word 'menstruation' despite knowing what periods were. It was maybe in a class at school, perhaps a science class, and I was taken up to meet with the girls senior mistress. I was mortified as she thought my mum had not given me the facts of life, and by that time I was sitting there in stunned embarrassed silence, and she proceeded to give me an hour long speech in her office on the birds and bees. It was horrible.
BAHAHA - that had me rolling just a little!!
Originally Posted by blkcow
Oh Carol that story just brought back a similar experience I had at about age 7. Not quite the same subject though!
I was sick with something and my mother took me to the Dr. He had a very gruff, no nonsense nurse from the Philippines who had a very thick accent. She took me back to the examining room, shoved a strange metal pan into my hand and told me to go into the toilet and "garble garble in the pan". While it made no sense, the closest thing I could think that she said was 'stick your neck in the pan'. So I did. In a bit she knocked on the door and saw the empty pan, and fuming, said it again. So once again, I stuck my neck in the pan. On her next visit to the toilet, she hollered....Make pee pee in the pan!! I was humiliated to hear her say that :mad:and think I was a baby.
When I finally got back to my mother, I told her what the nurse had said to me...and she told me the nurse meant 'urinate'. I think my mother was torn by how funny it was and how uncaring the nurse was. Yes, it was a big word for a 2nd grader but I was still furious that my mother had left me unprepared. Parenthood and childhood...how do any of survive!!! :D
Oh Maureen! I have visions of a young you now with your neck in a hospital pan!!
LOL!! Me too!!
Originally Posted by carollee
So glad that my kids are still at the age that I can be with them the entire time at the doctors!
I know I have posted about this before. It's a big deal. Since we have a boy, Michael pretty much took this over. He started talking to Michael around age 6. We have had age appropriate books that we've worked him through. By age 8, he knew all the facts.
But here's the thing: the "talk" isn't a one time event. It's an ongoing discussion about respect, sexuality and love. We talk all the time - how to treat women, what respect looks like, and how sex fits into it all. We don't act embarrassed so Jake asks us anything. I make a point to never be shocked regardless of the question.
I might be the outlier, but I don't think you can start too early. In our house, that meant using correct words for anatomy and sex. I hope to keep having these "talks" with Jake for years to come. There is a lot to process in the coming years, and it's going to get more complicated, not less. I hope we have started on the right path. Time will tell.
Funny reading this thread.
We also treat this in a real natural kind of way. I have already touched upon the subject several times with both kids. Perhaps coming from a science background (we are both MDs) it seems natural to describe it the way it is. I even explained embryology in a simple way. I am with Myra and I don't act embarrassed or make a big deal about it - but treat the subject and questions regarding it with respect.
I am hoping I prepare the ground for open questions about the issues later. It was a big Taboo when I was growing up with my parents, and I certainly do not want it like that with my children.
Myra, without wanting to sound too naive ... how do you talk about 'respect, sexuality and love'? I've been so busy explaining 'facts' I've not really thought so much about this and reading what you've written makes me realise it's so very very important.
Originally Posted by Myra
I really hope I don't sound like I'm grandstanding about anything. I'm not an expert, just a mom who is really trying.
We look for opportunities to talk. Sometimes it's something we are watching together on TV. I'm not quick to change the channel when an adult topic or situation comes up. It's usually an opportunity to talk about a topic. Sometimes I point out disrespect to women and say, "do you think dad would ever talk to me like that?" and of course, he is quick to point out how his dad actually treats me. And sometimes I point out something in his dad that I think is important for him to emulate. Our house is full of electronics. We're not the perfect family at the dinner table. But we do talk a lot.