the birds and the bees…

i’m going out of my normal-posting-topic here, to offer parenting advice.

offering parenting-advice via the www., is also not my norm, so feel free to make the comment-section an open forum for discussion. and, please remember – this is strictly my opinion and our experiences, there are a variety of great ways to handle this in each of your own lives.

with that said…

we have a tradition of teaching our kids about the birds and the bees on or near their eighth birthday. it’s an age i feel is just about the right time to introduce them to the subject, before they start to hear things on their own. it has always been important to me that these facts would first be learned at home. from husband and i. my mom and i always had an open-comfortable-relationship with talking about anything {and everything.}, and i want this to also exist in the family we’ve created. husband’s family did not teach these things at home, and each time {three now} that we have had these discussions with our kids, he definitely gets a little anxiety. i cannot speak for him, but i think he would agree that after the fact, he’s happy we do this, and he thinks each discussion/lesson has gone extremely well.

many of you may think, “my kids don’t need to know about this kind of stuff at such a young age.” or “i don’t plan on having this talk. the end.” you can choose an older age to have this discussion. within my group of girlfriends, i have definitely sat around girls lunches over the past few years and encouraged them to be the first to speak to their children about these topics. and, some of them chose to wait till their kids were nine, ten, eleven… but, each of them – whenever they did have the talk, it was a success. They were happy they were the ones to open up the channels of communication rather than the child end up finding sites like porn7 xxx at too young an age when searching terms – down the line when they’re adults, they can look at such if they so choose, but for now it’s better to have a lead on such questions and queries so the child will hopefully come to them in the future should there be questions or concerns down the road.

with that said…

this topic has been on my mind lately, because with kj recently turning eight, he had his big day. this was a new experience for all of us, because our first two kids are girls. and, i was more-anxious to teach them the correct things, because with being girls, and being their mother, i felt this deep concern to keep them protected. not that having a son is any different, but it definitely put a new spin on what the focus of the conversation was… with each of our kids, by the time they were turning eight, they had all already asked things like, “where do babies come from?” and with all the different answers we’d give them, you could tell they still didn’t quite understand. and, they weren’t totally sold on whatever we would say, things like, “they come from heaven.” and “they just grow in momma’s tummy.” we could always tell they were temporarily appeased with that answer, but they would need real answers eventually. and sooner, rather than later, considering we knew it would be sooner that they find sites like www.hdpornvideo.xxx and others knowing how prevalent they are online.

i didn’t venture in to this discussion without resources. when our oldest daughter was about 6/7 years old i started searching for advice to educate her properly. while doing so, i found the book, “how to talk to your child about sex.” by Linda and Richard Eyre. in the preface you will read,

“when our book teaching your children values jumped to the number one spot on the new york times bestseller list in 1993, we realized just how profoundly concerned parents are about the values their children are growing up with. and ever since then–as chapter 6 of that book, the chapter on sexual values, continued to produce the most interest, the most response, the most letters, and the most gratitude from readers–we have grown to believe that the subject of sex and the whole issue of teaching sexual responsibility and restraint may be the single greatest challenge that parents face today.

today, as front page headlines prompt questions from our children–questions we may not be ready for, with answers our kids may not be ready for–the challenge is intensified. and what we need is not a set of simplified or “quick fix” answers. we need an offense rather than a defense, an integrated approach that helps children deal not only with the headlines, but with the big choices coming up in their own lives.”

this book is packed with great tips. they suggest dialogue to help nervous parents, they offer guidelines for the discussion. the very first thing they suggest is teaching your child about sex when they are eight years old – the book states,

“age eight is a “window” between the disinterest of very young childhood and the moodiness and unpredictability of prepuberty… most eight-year-olds are trusting, open, innocent, anxious to please, and fairly fascinated by the world around them. they simply haven’t learned to be embarrassed, sarcastic, or cynical.”

with this said, we have taught our kids about sex, and a variety of similar topics such as pornography both the magazine kind and the online websites like TubeV Sex, rape, infertility and adoption at age eight. with all three of our older kids, this age has been appropriate and successful.

planning. as the eighth birthday draws close, we start to tell our kids: “you get to have a special-exclusive evening with daddy and i… you get to learn the most beautiful and awesome thing in the world.“… then as the day/evening gets closer, we let each of them choose where they want to eat dinner and a little outing that is their choice. making sure we will be able to have privacy for the “talk” at some point of the evening. also, allowing time to do so, because each of our kids have had very mature questions which lead into great discussions.

last week, when we were driving to the restaurant for dinner – for kj’s big evening. i said, “kj, do you remember you get to learn the coolest things tonight…” and his reply was, “are you guys going to finally tell me where babies come from?!?”
{big papi and kj on his recent night out – he chose dinner at tepanyaki’s – a japanese grill, and a stop by our local borders.}

in the book, “how to talk to your child about sex,” they also recommend using a picture book to aid in your discussion. they suggest, “where did i come from” by Peter Mayle. we have used this book each time we’ve had the “big talk,” and it’s been a great aid. i will warn: the illustrations can be entertaining. our second daughter, who is a bit sassier than any of our other kids – she laughed her way through the entire book… she would say, “omgosh. you and daddy do not look like that!” ::lol!:: and, just last week when i told her kj was having his “big talk,” she said, “i am going to re-design that one book one day!” ::smiles::

follow-up talks. what has most-confirmed that i am pleased we have had these talks with our kids, are the follow-up talks. i know that miss thirteen comes to me immediately and first any time she is curious about something. i have at least a dozen memories of picking her up from school, dance, or a friends house where she has heard something said, and didn’t understand… and as soon as she was with me she has rushed to ask, “mom, what is ______?” and we discuss whatever it is,
making sure she understands it on a mature-educated level. there are no giggles or mis-understandings. each follow-up talk has been a success that also deepens our relationship. i want to be the person they come to. if it’s possible to control, i will not allow someone else to be that person. i feel very selfish and protective of this duty.

so. what do you think? have you used other guidelines for the same discussion with your kids? do you have other ideas, or advice? does the idea of talking about such things scare you?

i know the pendulum swings in many directions on such a topic. i’m always shocked to find out i currently have girlfriends who still don’t talk about sex in front of their own mothers. so, the idea of talking to their kids horrifies them. this still doesn’t change how i feel, and we will continue teaching the birds and the bees in the rhodes home… indefinitely.

{photos by me.}

8 responses to “the birds and the bees…

  1. Jane,
    This is a GREAT post! This is a hard subject for most parents!
    Your thoughts and links to resources are awesome! I LOVE all the "Eyre Books" and personally used them as well!

  2. Thanks for the suggestions on the books. I found a great book for Michela to help her ease into the pre-teen and teen years. It is called The Care and Keeping of You. And I saw that they have one for boys now, it is called the Boys Body Book. I'll be getting that one for Hunter. I still laugh when I was having a talk with Michela about sex and when I told her how it all works she looked at me with a majorly grossed out expression and said, "That's disgusting!" I just hope she still thinks that for the next 10 years or so. 🙂

  3. Okay, so I loved this. Been thinking that we might be getting near the time to have the talk with our little man. Thanks for the book suggestions! As usual, you rock.

  4. I think it's very important to hear it from home. My parents never had this talk with me an I already know I'll be having it with my (future) kids someday. I want them to feel open to discuss anything like that. Also, I can't speak for everyone, but I think most people really need to just accept that it's "embarrassing" and jump in. Like you said, it's only gonna feel like a good thing after.

  5. amen.
    my mom had "the talk" with me when i was probably 7 or 8, and we were constantly talking about all things related to the topic while growing up.
    like you said, i think it's completely nuts that some of my friends parents never spoke a word about it.

  6. i totally agree with this. i need to get that book (probably both, actually!)
    my parent's didn't do 'the talk' with me, and i wish they would've been more open. as awkward as it may be, i'm like you & want my boys to come to me with any questions or clarificaion.

  7. You are right on Jane! My son is eleven and we have a "the talk" a few years ago, with 'Where did I come from'! There have been many days that he comes home from school or a birthday party and he tells me what he has heard and asks me what they mean. My heart swells during these discussions because I feel the love and trust that we have with each other. My husband teases that he is sometimes uncomfortable with the pure honesty that I have with my son at some of my answers but he also lets me know how pleased he is that Sam comes to me with everything! We have had some touchy conversations, where I might have to swallow hard and think for a brief second, but it is all handled with maturity and AT HOME! {his latest ? was about abortion}

  8. jane! i love this. i am a new mom (6 months) and honestly have never even thought about this. i just figured it would happen when it happened. now, i will aim to be more intentional.

    also, i thought i would let you know that the eyres you mention – i read one of their daughter’s blog (http://www.71toes.com/). I found it via RockStar Diaries. she has a lot of great parenting tips, too.

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