27 August 2010

let's talk about sex . . . to your children

Greetings all,
So this is an image-less post for obvious reasons, 'tis not that kind of blog!!  I have no idea how my crafty mummy following types will take this post, but i think it's a decent community announcement to be prepared for the inevitable!!  I'm a pretty open & chatty kind of gal, I get asked by other parents frequently, how i explain sex to my children.  I'll just preface this entire post with 'me' doing all the talking as my husband is never put in this situation, it's always me, usually while driving or trapped somewhere & unable to be vague, pretend i didn't hear them or escape.

My children have left me zero wriggle space on this topic & i have always been honest & speedy in answering all their questions about anything, why make talking about sex awkward or different??  I'm very much sex-is-a-normal-part-of-life & my mother told me NOTHING, trust me, what my sister told me was alarming.  So i'd rather give my children clear facts or goodness knows what they'll hear in the playground??!!  I would also like to think that when my girls grow up & do have sex, if he turns out to be the wrong guy for them, they're not guilted into this but-i-had-sex-i-must-love-him ridiculous situation, but cut their losses & leave.  I don't think that is tarty, i think it's realistic & will save them time wasted on Mr Not-So-Fantastic (ditto for my son, but somehow boys are judged differently??!!)  For this reason i never started my 'how are babies made' answer with 'when a man loves a woman . . .' but from the scientific angle of sperm & eggs, just not including how exactly the sperm hooks up with the egg.  At the time, that wasn't important in the story as they were like 4 years old.  Yes, they were quite young when they were interested - but they wanted some details & to them, it was just as important as how bubbles were created!!  This basic eggy explanation was extremely useful as . . . at our preschool there were children who had 2 mums, so it was a great way to show the children of lesbians were completely normal (sorry i'm so mainstream), they were made of sperm & eggs like everyone else, just with the help of a bit of science. 
What prompted this idea for a post??  Well tonight, trapped in the car of course, my middle daughter turned to me & frankly asked "mum, do you enjoy sex??"  Now for some background . . . my husband & i have a very affectionate relationship at home, we don't jump each other's bones in the middle of the lounge room but we certainly kiss & cuddle in front of the children.  The children often say "gosh you must love mummy" etc, it's quite sweet, i think it's a lovely example of a loving marriage.  They have asked us if we have sex & i say "yes we do", honest & normal answer, it's all they want & then the next question will be about food or pets, the sex topic is over!! 
I have been put on the spot before with indirect questions i didn't see coming about sex.  For example, the time daughter 3 asked innocently enough "how do horses make babies" to which i responded as naturally as possible "the stallion hops on the mare's back, like a piggy back" & left the 'actual' finer details vague.  This explanation was quickly followed up with "does daddy hop on your back when you have sex" & like lightening, i responded with "no silly, that would hurt my back".  I thought my whitty response was brilliant!! 
Also in their cross questioning i've been asked how many times i dated daddy before we had sex.  Luckily i could answer this honestly, i was able to resist him for 25 dates, i know, that sounds medieval now, especially as i was at Uni & he was my i'm-going-to-date-someone-completely-different-perhaps-a-bad-boy & thought this totally hot young soldier was the most gorgeous man i'd ever laid eyes on. 
My sister & i talk about this topic - how to explain sex, relationships & the like, to our young children, should boys get a different explanation to girls??  It's lop sided that is for sure.  So while i'm still a work-in-progress on the topic, i had better get my act together as we start high school shortly & i'm sure a whole new can of wormy questions comes my way when i least expect it.  What i love is that my children feel so incredibly free to ask me anything!!  If they do ask something a bit too full on, i give them an outline & then a "that's all you need to know right now for your age" & they are happy with that. 

For those of you with younger children, you have all this ahead of you.  I'd start thinking & discussing how you do want your children to learn about sex now, so when you get those questions - you're ready & you don't have a car accident or make them feel uncomfortable for asking!!  I warn you, you won't see the question coming or have much time to think on your feet!! 
Have great weekends, we have 3-4 children at each of 4 different parties spanning 600km, um, i have sewing to do & planned to relax (ha!!) . . . hope this post was helpful, i'm quite interested to know your thoughts!!  Love Posie


IndigoElephant :: Sash said...

Wow, my kids are 3 and nearly 2 so I hadn't really thought about all this! And them being boys I'd always planned on my husband dealing with the questions, but thanks for the heads up as I'll probably get asked in the car, on my own - seems to be where conversations happen!!

Ruby Star said...

You are so right, each time I've had any hairy questions from the kids it's been while driving (usually to school). And the questions started when they were about 5yrs. My son had a gay teacher at the time and so i had to explain what this meant and it went along the lines of... when 2 people the same sex love each other. The other parents in the class were horrified as they'd told their kids it meant happy! I think you just need to be honest and give an age appropriate answer. As I have boy/girl twins they have both been present when I have explained anything sex wise so each gets the boy & girl answer given. At least there won't be any suprises later :) Like you I was told nothing by my parents and was hoping there was some kind of power point presentation i could show the kids so i didn't really have to deal with it. It's really not that daunting to be honest and my thoughts were that i'd rather have the kids know the facts from me than to be told anything in the playground.

Cathie said...

oh WOW!! same as IndigoElephant, we are still at the too little stage..well until school next year I guess, so I have thought about it but not really as I hope it doesn't happen for a while.
I agree with being honest as I wasn't told much at home either and I would rather them get facts than fiction & romance.
age appropriate answers sounds good to me.
well done!!
have a fun weekend Ms Posie.
thinking of you & your family today ♥

Melinda @ Here We Go Loopy Lou said...

What a great post you have written. As I have just had my 3rd baby, my 4 year old son has asked how "Ned got in there" and "how did Ned get out"! Like your children when younger, he was happy with a brief explanation and then was more interested in what was for dinner! I think all you can be is open to questions, and as you say, respond in an age appropriate way. This wasn't something that was discussed too openly in our home as kids, and then you do learn things from kids in the school yard etc. I hope I have a little longer up my sleeve to think of some answers!

Shay said...

I did the sex talk too well, or not well enough given that I became a grandmother at the tender age of 42...

It is a tricky subject. I believe in being open and honest but only up to the point of the child's current understanding. 3 year olds dont need a lot of technical explanantion. They'll ask more questions when theyre ready.

I suspect you'll get many varying opinions about this subject. Great post though!

Steph said...

Brilliant post Posie! I think it's wonderful your kids feel they can ask you these questions. And I had never thought about the scientific instead of the "when a man loves a woman" approach.I'd have to say I agree. Definately food for thought. Thanks for prompting Hubby and I to start chatting about our "how to". Although it will be a while away I want to get such an important conversation right. Why do we let embarrassment about such a fundamental part of life get in the way? Much love to you :)

Heidi said...

Your so funny I love your comment No silly that would hurt my back!

Sindy said...

Funny! Well, I don't have children but I do recall when I was 4 I asked my mother about how babies get into tummies. I am the youngest of 3, and we were all in the car, with her driving at the time - seems to be a theme. She pulled over to the side of the road, took a deep breath, gave a brief explanation, and that day bought a penguin book that was quite clinical, but also informative with VERY detailed line drawings. She told all 3 of us that the book was on the bookshelf, and we could all look at it whenever we liked, and if we had any questions to let her know. Job done - we never really had to ask anything again whether in the car or not.

karenshopes said...

My son who is 18 has very frank exchanges with us about sex and we commented the other day how we would never have been able to talk to our parents in the way he talks with us.Things change over the generations I know I was told nothing and when a boy showed me his bum !!!!! I went home and thought I was going to have a baby.
No things certainly have changed although my son definately does not like to think his dad and I have sex urghhhhh......
Karen x

Jennie said...

Excellent post Jennie - thank you!
I just had the most questioning from the older Miss a couple of days ago. She is very scientific. She said someone had said that the man has to be operated on to get something from him, to put into the lady. She didn't think that was right, and we talked about it. She seemed very happy with the age appropriate answers - yay! Definately need to be prepared for this, its such an important thing that we have to explain to them.x

ensparkle ceramics said...

Great Post Posie! Very enlightening :-)

I too am in the 'my children are too young boat' but my time will come.

My 3yr old has asked where he came from and I told him that Mummy and Daddy made him and he grew in my tummy...to which he laughed out loud and told me 'NO Mummy - you built me with a hammer and nails'!!!!

Got to love Bob the Builder!

Have a great weekend :-)

The Creative Beast said...

Posie, you are FABULOUS for writing about this!!

I do not have children and do not plan to, but these conversations can begin earlier than anyone is going to be ready for and YOU NEED TO BE PREPARED...I work for an after-school program and I've heard many a tale of sexual activity occurring between children as young as 6 years of age and, sadly, it goes beyond "show me yours and I'll show you mine"...

I can't make up my mind if this due to the amount of sexual material seen in music videos on TV or if this is due to the natural curiosity of children, but I'm inclined to believe the former since many children watch TV with very little guidance to help them understand what they are actually watching =-( - I wish more American parents would monitor what their children are watching!

I think age-appropriate responses are quite right and much better than being misinformed on the play ground. Thank you for writing about this topic Posie - truly, some of the tales I hear regarding the sexual activity among such young children is disturbing to me and I can't imagine what it must be like for the parents who are called to the school for such behavior =-(

Rosalind said...

Hmmm a good conversation to be had with hubby tonight after kiddies in bed! I like the idea of having a planned response rather than being ambushed ha ha. I like the scientific angle to start with :-)

Jennie said...

I've actually thought a fair bit about this topic, from the time I was pregnant with #1 and wondering if we'd have a son or a daughter. I agree that one of the most important messages is about self-respect, being allowed to say "no" even if you've previously said "yes" and thinking enough of yourself to be able to break up wit someone who makes you feel bad about yourself.

Kaz Cooke's latest book 'Girl Stuff' is a real gem when it comes to that kind of stuff.

Asteria said...

i agree with you. being honest is always good, and they won't be guilt tripped later on for the i-have-sex-with-someone-i-dont-love. I dont have my own family yet, but I already know that I want to be as honest and open as I can when I do have children *always learn from what went wrong (and right) with your parents' parenting skills lol*

Sally said...

I love this post and I love your approach... but mostly I am impressed that you can explain how bubbles are made! My three year old asks me questions all the time and we've already had some baby making and birthing questions. Open and honest all the way I say... and frankly I am thankful to get a question I can actually answer. Beats questions like
"how are shopping trolleys made?", "who made the car?", "what is electricity?", "what is the train thinking?" ... most of which I have to say - we'll google it together when we get home!!!

Kylie said...

Oh ha - thanks for the heads up - I am certain that they will come with Miss A starting Prep next year:) She has asked the love question and the "why does Daddy kiss you on the lips" question - so it is ony time:)

Oh and do you have sex - well YES when you have a husband in the same counrty as you - Wink...

Tammy said...

Well from my 5 yo daughter I had the 'did it hurt when the doctor cut your tummy to get us out of there?' to which I innocently answered No I didn't have to have my tummy cut to get you guys out ... followed by ... well HOW DID we get out???? I just said it was a special passageway I have since been asked where that is and if it hurt. I try to answer honestly and be not too specific for her just keep it honest and I guess slightly vague. I do also use you are still a bit too young to need to know about that or understand that, which is accepted Ok if I have answered as much as I can to a point.
I have yet to be asked how they got in there in the first place :)

by marie-nicole said...

Fantastic post Posie. The timing is uncanny as I was just talking to a friend about this the other day... she has a 2 1/2 yr old, as do we... but we also have an 8 yr old.

He has just this year shown real 'interest' in a particular girl at school (he assures us they have not kissed but that he has thought about what it would be like to kiss her) and my friend was shocked, her response was; "AT EIGHT!!!".

To which I responded; "How could expect any different we are affectionate towards each other in front of our children, we don't make out in front of them but we do kiss and cuddle, and if that displays to them that that is what being happily married is about then how can we expect him not to want that for himself."

We too have always just been honest and upfront when it comes to his line of questioning. Like I said to her, I think it's really important to ensure they feel comfortable enough to ask questions when they have them. She's just glad we are going through this before they have to.

Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!

Stacey said...

Ooh this is such a tough topic! Luckily the boys seem to ask their Dad these questions more than they ask me. Being a former scientist, he usually answers in a very biological (and detailed) manner.
It's funny how these questions often come up in the car - I think all of ours have been posed in the car.
I was asked about periods the other day after a tampon ad came on tellie. The boys were completely horrified!!
All I can say is that we try to be open, honest and age appropriate.

Corrie said...

oh you are so funny! I must say we just get the body parts questions (ok I do) and I'm just honest and say it as it is...unlike growing up where I had a front bottom!!!!

I think its great that if your kids ask you things honestly then the lines of communication are open and kept that way!

still laughing at the horse on the back!!!!!


Miss Cinti - my poppet said...

Luckily ive still got a couple of years to get my head around this little conversation, lol!