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Raising Wayland: The Birds and Bees ... and Your Kids

Did you have the infamous "talk" with your children yet? What age did you have it? How did you approach it? Who did the talking?

I have always known I wanted my children to have more information than less.  I want them to learn the really important lessons from their father and me, but I kept waiting for the kids to bring it up to tell me they were ready for the big "sex talk." And just because I wanted them to know about sex, did not mean I had the slightest idea HOW I wanted to tell them. It was very obvious who was going to do the telling, though -- My husband was not going to to do it. 

While watching Marley and Me, my youngest noticed that everytime a couple kissed, the film showed them pregnant in the next scene. He then jumped to the conclusion that when a boy and girl kiss, they will have a baby. This was my clue that it was time to have "the talk".

I turned to books, as I always do, and asked our friend Pam The Librarian for suggestions. She led us to a few books and I brought them home. I just started reading and waited for the kids to ask their big, scary questions. 

To my surprise they didn't ask any questions! But they wanted me to read the book, "It's Not The Stork" by Robie H. Harris over and over and over to them. (Yes, this book is part of the children's collection at the Wayland Library). I ended up buying the book and it is one of their favorites. They call it the "growing up book" because they like the pictures where you see how a person changes from being a baby to an adult. They also like the cartoon characters (a bird and a bee) that help ask the questions. 

This book is for young children (mine were 5 and 6) and the same author wrote another book for slightly older children called "It's So Amazing!" (again, shelved at Wayland Library). He also wrote one for preadolescents called "It's Perfectly Normal" (Find it at the Wayland Library). My children did not seem scared or overwhelmed with the information. It actually seemed to be a very painless and natural discussion.

However, this discussion does not come without an embarrassing story! I'm guessing this is true for many families. Not long after we had started talking about this subject in our house my youngest, who was still in preschool, had a special visitor come to his class. Their class was learning about the skeleton so Dr. Bones (a doctor friend of the preschool director) came to talk to the kids ... about bones. At one point he asked the children if they had any questions.

My son stands up and, with great hand gestures, asked "When the seed from the Daddy meets the egg from the Mommy does the seed become the body and the egg become the head of the baby?" 

The doctor's response? "I'm not that kind of doctor."

Brooklyn Lowery November 02, 2011 at 05:19 PM
When I was young, my parents found a public service video (free to rent at Blockbuster) called "Where Did I Come From?" I will never forget that video. Twenty-plus years later, I still remember the rubber duck that asked the questions (much like the birds and bees in the book you mentioned, Jenny). By the way, I just did a Google search for the video ... IMDB tells me Howie Mandel was the narrator. Anyway, we (my brother and I) were always able to ask questions and my parents were good about answering the questions, but this video was just meant to be an added bonus, I guess. I think it, along with my parents being open to the questions, led to my brother and I having accurate information.
Amy Simmons November 02, 2011 at 11:23 PM
I agree with you, Jenny...while I wanted my husband and I (and by "my husband and I", I, too, mean just "I") to be the source of information for the kids, I was also waiting for a sign from the kids that they were curious before initiating the detailed talk. We had simple birds and the bees talks throughout preschool, and with the egg-hatching in first grade, but it was in third grade when my son said, "Mom, I know it takes a mom and a dad, but HOW EXACTLY do they make a baby?" So I sat he and his sister down, and that book, "It's NOT the Stork!" is still a great, simple way to start this discussion. It gives all of the technical information in a simple, straight-forward manner with non-threatening cartoon illustrations that you can build on as appropriate for your children. Since my son was asking in a very technical manner, I answered in a very technical manner (not addressing love, marriage, etc., but JUST how the baby is made). They both had a couple of questions, and then my son's response (with the look on his face he reserves for fish-for-dinner nights) was, "So if you want to have kids, but you don't want to have sex, you can just adopt, right?" We've had a few chuckles over that one, and kind of figure that his attitude will change as he grows up and discovers girls. We're okay with it for now. :-)
Stefanie Janoff November 03, 2011 at 05:02 PM
Several years ago, the town wide elementary school PTO, hosted a speaker who discussed this topic. There were a few take points, I took from that extremely helpful presentation: 1- Tell your kids where babies come from before the turn 8. Otherwise, they will learn mis-information at the lunch table. (Which I experience when my son was younger assumed "making out" was "just kissing.") 2- Always answer their questions straight forward with correct language and give just enough information to answer their question. For example, when my daughter was five, she learned about the seed from a male (Daddy) and the egg from a female (Mommy) and that the seed and egg need to come together. However, she was not curious about how the seed actually got to the egg, so we didn't discuss that. Recently at 7, she asked "how does the seed get into the egg. So, I had the "talk". Very straight forward and to the point. Also, with many different types of families in this world, I have explained how my cousin had her children with her life partner. Or how my single friend had a baby without a husband. There is not perfect way, but I found the advice to be straightforward, honest, and answer only the question they are asking, they are provided with ONLY the information they can understand at the given moment. I guess if they are not asking questions, at some point you just have to begin the dialogue at 7 years, 364 days old :).

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