A while back, during dinner, one of my children came up with a question. It was a surprising question for the night. She had heard something at school and didn’t know what it was, so she came to the dinner table and popped the question. “Mom and Dad, what is a b*** j**?” (If you can’t figure it out, ask your mother). So, my husband looked at me and said, “This is for you to answer.” I carefully chose my words, I did not want her to feel bad about the question, I did not gasp, I tried not to get embarrassed. My oldest daughter, who knew the answer did not laugh at her sister, she simply said, “Oh, you are starting to hear words at school.” She gave her a hug and said she was sorry…..
It took me a second to gather all my thoughts…everyone was silent. Ok… I said… its like this….
So I explained this sexual act without graphic details. I did not have to go into much detail at all before my daughter, laughed and said, “OK I got it, you don’t need to say more.”
My husband and I realized early on that we did not want to be silent on the subject of sex, nor did we want to raise girls ashamed or embarrassed at the topic. After all, they are surrounded by a culture that promotes sex. We did not want our girls to learn about sex from others and we wanted our girls to be able to come to us with anything. The birds and the bee’s talk hasn’t been a one time conversation. In fact, we have kept the discussion going….as our kids are ready.
So here are few things we put in place to discuss the birds and the bees.
First, we started talking to our children when they were young….. but we never forced the subject. Each of my girls were different, so I made sure I never went past their comfort zone. Too much, too early isn’t good, but I realized if I waited too long, they were going to be educated somewhere else. Julia heard the word “sex” in 1st grade when a boy said something inappropriate to her. We had to deal with it and through that incident, Julia and I had our first conversation. The other girls were in 3rd grade before we had our first “BIG TALK”. My girls had already started hearing words, commercials, ads, so I opened the door. Any time my girls brought up a word or asked on the subject, I willingly answered, because I wanted them to know they could always ask mom. I am grateful that we had lots of conversations when they were younger, because my high schooler now can openly discuss things with me.
Second, with each of my girls, I would ask questions…and ask them about words they have heard, things they didn’t understand or were curious about. They always had questions. What is a homosexual? Why do women get plastic surgery? What was that commercial about? What is an affair? What is pornography? Why do girls do that? . Hello…these are hard questions…but relevant to our culture.
Third, I have made myself available to my girls to talk. Both my oldest daughter and middle school daughter are aware that girls in their schools are starting to have sex…..so, we have had many conversations discussing feelings about this. Our kids are surrounded by sexual content and my daughters need someone to debrief with them at the end of the day. Sometimes their stories make me sad, but I never gasp, I try not to judge, I just ask, “How does that make you feel?”
Finally, my husband is not off the hook. My husband has the important job of helping my girls know how the mind of a boy thinks. He is pretty blunt with his words too. He does not want my girls to be naive. He discusses movies and attitudes of romance, clothing, respect, yet he keeps them realistic with true life. Lets just say my husband is not a fluff talker. My daughters are comfortable talking to him too.
I think as parents its easy to put up barriers such as….never talking about sex, never asking questions, making judgmental comments, making our kids feel like their question was inappropriate, making a conversation around sex awkward…saying too much too early…making “the sex talk” a one time event instead of a regular conversation. I think that our ability to discuss sex with our kids lies in our own health and attitude on the subject. If we have shame, guilt, embarrassment, it becomes harder to discuss….maybe something we need to deal with and work through. But…our kids will ultimately make their own decisions around sex. We can’t control their behaviors once they are adults. So I say… listen now, be available, don’t be afraid. Let your kids know you can handle it. Then they will talk to you…not just their friends and hopefully they will make good decisions, healthy decisions, and Godly decisions.
Specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy
Life, Family, Faith and Travel...the life of a Jones
Dominican Republic Missions trip
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For sure! I will consider the next time I write this kind of post.
Hi Patricia, we met once – I’m Brian Pederson’s wife. I love reading your blog!
Just one thought, on the title of this entry. Perhaps consider changing it to “Talking With Kids About Sex”. Amazing how the order of these words can totally change the perception!
Keep it up! I admire you and your family.
Fantastic Forrest, you make me laugh! Bean Jar….only took me 5 reads before I got it. Ha!
Thanks for sharing your husband with us on the Kenya trip! It was great getting to know him, also a big congrats to you. I am so excited for you both.
Patricia, thanks for this post! I love how open you are being with your girls. I want to do that for my kids – something I did NOT have when I was a kid. Thanks for sharing about how you’re creating an atmosphere of openness and honesty.
parenthood innately involves bravery. i’m impressed. 🙂
Great post, per usual, but I’m wondering what a bean jar has to do with sex. Kids these days! They come up with some crazy terms, huh? 😉
So wise. Thank you for sharing this with us.
P.S. I would have choked on my dinner 😉
As a Dad to two girls, we’ve already had to have talks like this. Some of our talks have covered some big issues but I know we’ve only just scratched the surface of these conversations, especially with the teenage years ahead. Your advice is so good. It’s so much better to start having open, honest discussions now to create the foundation for trust and honesty in the teen years.
That being said, there are times when my legalistic upbringing comes out and I want to just move up to the wilderness in Canada and home-school my girls. We could live in a bubble, no TV…avoid all the crap that’s out there. We would never do that but I can’t say it’s not tempting at times! 🙂