Monday, November 8, 2010

check mate

There seem to be two reasonable schools of thought for how to inform your child about the basics of sexual intercourse:

1. Choose a time to give them a basic rundown and then give them "the talk." This can be spread out over several "talks" as a child matures

2. Wait until they ask questions, then give them honest, straightforward answers that tell them enough, but not more than they really want to know at the time. In this way mete out the information as they are naturally curious.

(I have ruled out the option of just setting my child in front of a lot of R rated movies until she figures it out. Of course, R rated movies wouldn't necessarily teach her about reproduction.... just idealized sex)

My husband and I seem to be going with option 2. I mean, if we don't actually sit down and have the talk, then I guess we're waiting for her to ask questions. And of course we hope she asks us, and not her friends on the playground.


I think my parents went with #1. I don't remember any conversations, but clearly remember the book Where Did I Come From?, and even picked up a copy at a library book sale years ago thinking I might use it when the time is right. And maybe I will. But when I looked at it a year or so ago it seemed like a LONG way to go about it.

Last night we were reading Nuts at bedtime, and there was a bit about squirrel mating. At the end of the chapter I asked The May Queen if she knew what mating was. She didn't.

"Mating is how animals make babies."


She seemed uninterested in knowing more, so I left it there.

How about you? Have you chosen an option? Tell me your stories!


Magpie said...

mine is fascinated with "it's not the stork". it's a good book - buy it and let her take a gander at it. i did a blog post about it...

Mary G said...

I chose option 2, but I also left books around the house (on my bookshelves, mostly), adding more informative stuff as they got older. Neither of my daughters could resist raiding my bookshelves.

The only 'talk' I had with them that was not in response to questions was the lecture about how not to get pregnant, delivered to both of them at once at ages 14 and 13, because the precocious YD was getting very chummy with a rather unsavoury boy. Oh, and asking to make sure they were on do ahead birth control when they left for university. The YD took to carrying condoms so as not to risk STD on her own initiative.

In our household, while both kids thought up questions, the YD was usually the one who asked. The what is pregnancy short answer arose from a question about the stretch marks on my belly, as I recall. It is a long time ago, though, but I think they were maybe 7 and 6 at the time.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad Maggie commented first, because I am going to refer to her post.

Perhaps because I have a girl and a boy (who share a bathroom), we've had questions. I went with your option two and hAve told them the basics. Fiona actually said, to my never ending amusement, "you and dad did that twice?!". When Maggie recommended the book, I borrowed it and made some copies, but neither kid wanted to look at or discuss it, so I let it go. I dis tell the parents of Fiona's classmTes that she knew the scoop, and so far I was the only one who had told.

I never had the discussion with my pArents, as far as I can remember. Kerry from down the road told me when I was seven or eight.

imbeingheldhostage said...

We do option 2. It's amazing the difference between the kids on HOW MUCH they want to know. I worry about embarrassing them, but I don't think that's possible with my boys.
Since I suffer from Menorrhagia, my boys have been well-informed of the female reproductive system so that I don't get any back talk when I say, "we have to go--NOW" (they've also been taught how to protectively shield a girl who has bled onto her clothes and then beat up any boy who tries to embarrass her).
You think I'm kidding.

Kat said...

We are going with option #2. I thought that with me having baby after baby the questions would start, but they really don't have any interest in knowing about it yet. I'm sure I'll be the one to give the talk. I am fairly comfortable using all the correct language and talking about it in a matter of fact way that makes my hubby squirm. So I actually would prefer to handle it.
I think every kid is so different in when and what they want to know, so I am taking their lead and watching for clues that they want to know. And like you said, praying they don't learn anything from their friends first. ;)

kaye said...

Option 2 is probably the best, but my husband was an administrator at a Junior High School for most of his adult life. He was adamant if they didn't know before Jr. High it was to late and somebody in school had probably already informed them in some crude manner. It's always best if the information comes from the parent. I agree with having a good book around. I actually used my "what to expect when you're expecting" book with my kids. Great information, great pictures presented positively. I also used the picture book from "Life Magazine" on the development of the fetus. Kids natural curiousity will get them asking questions. I remember one funny incident with my youngest daughter. She and her cousin were having an argument (at the age of 5) about how far back their first memories went. Cousin said he could remember before he was born. My youngest exclaimed, "You mean when you were as small as a thumb and looked like an alien?"

I'm sure with your natural openess you will have no trouble educating the May Queen.

Susanne said...

I'm going with No.2 as well. ItÄs really interesting how much he's not interested in the subject. We have a book called "You and your body" or something (actually there were two versions of that, on for toddlers, and one for preschoolers) that we used to read to him, and that had pictures of pregnant women where you could open a flap and see the baby inside. I don't know if he ever asked how the baby got in there.
Sometimes he asks about words that are connected to sexuality, usually when we're in public or I'm in the middle of something and I have to confess that I have sometimes answered, "I'll tell you when you're older."
He's only seven now. If he were really interested I'd probably try and get a book about it.

I remember my mother one day gave me a book (totally out of the blue, I hadn't been curious or anything) with very tasteful line drawings that didn't really explain anything. My husband's parents went the book-route as well, and he says he found it very confusing as well.

I think, I just explain those things the same way I explain everything else, as good as I can.