I’ve always wanted to be open with my boys when it comes to matters of the heart. You know – All their questions they have about life, faith and relationships. And more specifically I’ve wanted to be open with them about the birds and the bees. After finding out from my brother and his friend at the innocent age of 7 and bursting into tears in complete and utter disbelief, I think it’s fair to say I hoped they wouldn’t be scarred by the same experience. Let’s just say a 9 nine-year old boy’s version on the subject wasn’t entirely accurate.
And so over the years, at certain age appropriate intervals we have spoken to Noah about babies and in simple terms explained to him in ways he would understand. On occasion it’s known to have gotten us into a bit of a pickle, like the time he hit a wall of confusion on the subject and we were confronted by his teacher after school – Noah (4) is telling his friends that if you love someone enough (If you love your friend enough more specifically) you can make a baby with them. Do you know where he could be getting that kind information from? Of course we did what all parents would do in a situation like that, we played dumb. We chuckled at each other while rolling our eyes in shock, Where ON EARTH did he hear that? KIDS!
It goes without saying that we had to set the record straight when he got home . GROWN UPS, More specifically MOMMIES AND DADDIES can make babies when they love each other A LOT. As much as I wanted to be straight forward about how sex works I took it a step further and said, When two people fall in love, they get married and then they make love to make a baby. You don’t need to know all the details now, I will tell you more when you are older, but it’s not something children can do babe, its only for grown ups. I said as matter of factly as I could.
Yes, I’m fully aware you don’t need to get married to make babies but in my need to explain things and emphasize the responsibility of sex as well as our Christian values, I made sure the word marriage was highlighted in our discussion. I really just wanted him to understand the fact that sex is something to be shared with someone you love and are committed to, not something you can do with anyone. And certainly not something kids can enter into. Bless his innocent little heart.
As it turns out we are now dealing with the repercussions of that conversation. Noah (now 5) has it in his head that EVERY time a couple wants to make a baby they need to get married first. When we talk about the possibility of having another baby he says Yes, you and daddy must get married and have another baby for Brody and then you can get married and make another baby for me.
I swear, it’s like the more open I’m trying to be on the subject, the more crap I’m getting myself into. Last night as I was tucking him into bed he asked me to tell him the story about how he was born. And then he asked me in the most direct manner yet Mom but how does the baby get into your tummy? I mean how did I get inside there??? Before you all go thinking I hit him with the cold hard truth, you can relax. I told him: Babe you don’t need to get married again to have a baby, Mom and Dad got married once and now we can make love to have as many babies as we want. (If only that were true!) But for now we are quite happy with having you and Brody.
Noah looked at me and laughed, Hahahaha Mom You should have a million babies and then Brody can be an uncle with lots of babies! That would be so funny. We would have so many we could maybe give some away. I began to realize there was absolutely no chance this kid was ever really going to get what I was trying to say. Brody will be their big brother just like you will my love, he wont be their uncle, I said trying not to laugh too hard.
Thinking I had gotten away with it, I began to exit his room. But mom you still haven’t answered my question. How did I get into your tummy??? Good grief this child is relentless, I thought. I felt the conviction rising again in the pit of my stomach to be truthful and honest when confronted with these questions. And so I made my way back to the edge of his bed.
I took a deep breath praying the words that came out would be appropriate and relevant to his age. I really couldn’t deal with any more misunderstandings or embarrassing confrontations with teachers . (With him starting Grade R at his new school next year, I’m not sure those teachers would be as forgiving.) I realized I had nothing to lose and so I shook off what was left of my hesitation and spoke frankly. Mommy and daddy make love to make a baby, they lie together and do something very special and private that only they can do. It’s so special and something that nobody else can be apart of. You don’t need to know everything, mom will tell you more about it when you are older but that’s all I can tell you for now. He smiled and with the most sincere outburst he declared It’s almost like magic! And for the first time I could answer him honestly without telling him ALL the facts That’s exactly what it’s like bub. A whole lot of magic!
I am always left feeling closer to him after conversations like this. Of course I’m also left with an ache in my gut realizing by baby is asking questions because he’s growing up and trying to make sense of his world. I usually go straight to Brendon to tell him about our chat and we both get pretty sentimental about the fact that our boy is maturing and asking questions we are not always sure how to answer. It’s tough to know where to draw the line and how to keep the communication lines open to ensure they know they can always trust us to tell them the truth. The truth about anything at any given time.
How about you guys reading this? Are your little ones starting to get inquisitive about things of this nature? How do you approach this topic. Here are a few guidelines that may help you, which I found on WebMD Magazine by Louanne Cole Weston, PhD.
Parents often ask, “How old should a child be before we start talking about sex?” My answer always is: “Younger than you think.” Here’s why. If you talk about sexual matters from the beginning of a child’s use of language, there never needs to be the big “birds and bees talk.” It’s just a series of small conversations spread out over many years. You, as the parent, become the obvious go-to person whenever there’s a question.
If you become an “askable” parent, you will have offered your child an incredibly valuable gift.
I also found this from babyceter.com, written by Mary VanClay, which sums up perfectly what I’m trying to say too:
Each time you successfully tackle a sensitive topic, the anxiety level (for both of you) goes down. If you avoid these talks, your child won’t learn your values about sex, but will develop her own from what she gleans from friends and the media.
Many adults feel awkward talking about sex with their child because they don’t have much practice doing it and because they’re afraid of telling too much once a discussion gets going. The best strategy is to try to answer questions calmly and succinctly, however unusual or embarrassing it seems. If talking about sex is hard for you, try rehearsing your answers in advance, either alone or with your spouse or partner.
I think that the more we share in age appropriate ways the easier it is to carry on these conversations as they get older and are able to understand more. While I think their innocence needs to be protected, I also think it’s out responsibility to teach them things and answer their questions as honestly as possible. I can’t help but think that telling them they arrived in a basket via a stork, only complicates things for us later when they really need to know the in and outs. (No pun intended!)
Teaching my boys the basics of sex by sharing with them that two people perform a beautiful, private and sacred act means that they already know that something pretty significant has to go down to procreate. It also makes them aware of how important they are . that we wanted to make them and they weren’t just dropped on our doorsteps by a bird in the sky.