I have mentioned before that I always find something that piques my interest at Upworthy. This one is not only funny, and cute, and a little anxiety inducing if you haven’t had to engage in ‘the talk’ yet, but it is also so very important from a content standpoint.
Notice the ages of the kids involved in this video. Some are very young, which says to me that the development of inquiring minds that want to know is probably happening much sooner than the process did in my day.
So, how do Vaginas and Penises work anyway?
With three kids of my own, I’m pretty sure I know the basics. I am curious however. How and when did the sex talk become known as a discussion of “the birds and the bees?” If you go with Wikipedia, credit is given to a few sources actually: poet Thomas Carew, poet Samuel Coleridge, Dr. Emma Frances Angell Drake, and musician Cole Porter. Other sites label other sources as well, meaning to me that no one really has a solid attribution.
What is clear from the Upworthy article, is that remaining calm, clear, and concise is a key. Kids don’t need exceedingly long, detailed textbook definitions. Be precise, but be brief and don’t necessarily volunteer more than they really ask for. An example:
A child asks how an egg and a sperm get together to make a baby after you have offered up that men produce sperm and women produce eggs. You might say simply that the man places his penis into the woman’s vagina, the sperm comes out of the penis and finds the egg inside her body. Of course if the child is old enough for some deeper insight into anatomy, share more – perhaps a simple diagram of the uterus so the child understands that a baby isn’t growing ‘inside mommies tummy’ as we so often hear.
DO NOT then go on to describe the details involved related to the fact that a penis can also go into other orifice’s or that sometimes things other than a penis enter a vagina. The child didn’t ask and she/he doesn’t need to know right now.
Also, USE THE CORRECT WORDING, please. Don’t make up names for body parts, our use tired old euphemisms. If you need to brush up on your own understanding of definitions, then pull up the dictionary app on your phone and look up the correct pronunciation and meaning with your child. In other words – learn together.
Finally, don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know something. You knew enough of the basics to make the child you are speaking with, (assuming heterosexuality in this case) but that doesn’t mean you feel comfortable with anatomy or physiology. You will be much more credible and approachable to your child if you take the time to learn with them.
The article also notes that an awareness to aspects of sexuality that lie outside of heterosexual relationships should be addressed if needed, or at the very least, acknowledged as very real family relationships. Can you include in your discussion that heterosexuality is not an assumption? Can you discuss relationships in the context of dad & dad, or mom & mom, or from the standpoint of gender neutrality? While those points may or may not apply to your individual discussion, they do apply to relatives and friends that your child knows, and at some point, those questions may arise.
If you’re my age, in the over fifty crowd, do you remember your sex talk? Did anyone even have the talk with you? I freely admit that I learned from a book. I don’t remember at what age, although it was not too long before I began menstruating, that I was abruptly handed a book and told to ‘read this.’ I don’t remember what I knew, rather correctly or incorrectly, prior to that.
I hope, for everyone’s sake, that things have gotten easier and better for kids and parents in 2015.