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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Beyond the Birds and the Bees

We've seen it played out on many sit coms where TV parents are faced with needing to give "THE TALK" to their preteen.  However, from my own personal experience, I don't believe there is just one TALK, but several little talks along the way to teaching your children about their bodies and human sexuality.  My daughter is only four and here are some of the conversations we have already had.  Fortunately for me, my husband immediately leaves the room whenever the topic comes up and leaves it up to me to be thoughtful, honest, and poised.
I guess the "talks" started when Natalie was probably two and a half.  Dylan could sit up independently in the bathtub.  That's when Natalie asked me why Dylan has a tail and she doesn't, which led to our first conversation about one of the differences between boys and girls.  We, okay I, use the anatomically correct words for body parts, and my husband is starting to come along since he's realizing that he sounds silly calling it a wee wee when everyone else in the house (4 year old, 2 year old, and me) is using the word penis.  Once we learned about the names of our body parts, we had to talk about that they are private and that no one should touch their private parts and if anyone does to tell mom and dad right away.  As a result, one day in the kitchen, my loving husband grabbed my butt while I was cooking dinner and Natalie yells out, "Dad, don't touch Mom's privates!"  That's all I need for her to be telling her daycare providers. 
Keep reading it gets worse/ decide.  So, as my daughter gets a little older (she's going to kill me for writing this someday) she starts exploring her body parts.  As a social worker, I have seen/heard about a great deal of sexual deviant behavior, so maybe I'm overly cautious about wanting to create sexually healthy human beings.  My husband and I told Natalie that if she wants to touch her own privates, she needs to do that in her bedroom...this, too, has come back to haunt me.  A few months ago, I was changing Dylan's diaper and Natalie says to me, "Those are Dylan's privates and no one can touch them except mom and dad and grandma and daycare when they are changing his diaper, right Mom?"  'Yep, that's right.'  She continues, "But Dylan can touch his own privates in his bedroom, right Mom?"  'Yes, if he wants to touch his own privates, he has to do that in his bed room.'  Here it comes, "Mom, do you touch your privates in your bedroom?"  Her question put me in panic mode.  I had 3 seconds to come up with the most appropriate response.  If I said "no", she may feel shame about her body or believe that she is doing something wrong by exploring her body, if I said "yes", she's going to tell every stranger in the grocery store that "my mommy touches her privates in her bedroom," so I responded with, "Natalie, we don't talk about what we do in our bedroom with other people."  That seemed to satisfy her and the conversation ended.
I'm curious to know if those of you reading this have children that are just as interested in their bodies as my daughter and how you've handled it.  At least once a month Natalie lays a big one on me.  Like the time we were sitting in church listening to the sermon, and out of no where she asked me why I had boobs.  The whole pew chuckled under their breath and awaited my reply, "To feed my babies."  I whispered.  Then just today, which is the reason I decided I should write this blog, I was at the mall with my two kids.  Dylan holding my hand and Natalie holding his.  I looked like mama duck and her two little sweet ducklings as we walked passed a woman's clothing store.  There were manequins in the window wearing strapless dresses.  Natalie commented about how beautiful each of the dresses were.  Then out of left field, "Mom, I wish I had boobs like you."  'You will when you get bigger.' "Will they just pop out?" I laughed, 'yes.' "Will you laugh at me when they pop out?" I responded more seriously, 'no, I won't laugh at you.' "When I get big, I'll have boobs, and I can wear necklaces and get my ears pierced and wear earrings..."  Oh how I love this child, but she certainly keeps me on my toes.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do when Dylan is old enough to start asking me questions.  Since, we've attempted to start potty training, he's already in love with his penis.  I guess Penis Pride starts young and carries all the way to adulthood...something I didn't know about boys.  He also sang, "my penis, my penis" as loudly as he could in a restaurant a few weeks ago.  I guess singing about his elbow wouldn't have gotten the same response from his audience.   I'm hoping that as we continue to have these "little" talks, it will get easier for me and by that time, my children will be the ones embarrassed.


  1. Oh Emily! This post had me laughing out loud. I'm far (I hope) from this stage right now... yet you have me thinking hard about the best way to handle things. I think you are an awesome mom.

  2. Thanks, Wendy! I guess I should feel good that Natalie trusts me enough to have these conversations. I think keeping the dialogue open and honest now will hopefully allow the trust to continue as the conversations get harder and more complicated as they grow older. I just might need a glass of wine afterward! =)