[Alternative title: Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby, or rather, Let’s Talk about Sex AND Babies]
We were finishing up lunch, and Marin was the last one still eating when she asked “How does God put a baby in a mom’s tummy?” I answered with my standard response to that question from a 4 year old by asking her “Well, what do you think?” But I made a tactical error… because Joan and Kate were both listening.
I’ve actually been WAITING for Joan and Kate to ask me more questions about how this baby got IN my body. They knows tons– more than some adults– about childbirth (hello, Doula Mom in the haus!), but they’ve never expressed curiosity about how the baby gets in there to begin with. I’ve asked them before “So, how do you think the baby gets inside a mommy?” and they just shrug and say “I don’t know. God does it.”
Recently, I stood in the library, debating, book in hand. Should I get it for them? It described, in kid-friendly but fairly graphic detail exactly what sex was. AND WHAT IT FELT LIKE. (It was this book, I believe.) After some thought, I did not check it out, because I just didn’t think they were READY to know. On one hand, I am 100% fine telling them anything they want or need to know, but on the other hand… well, these girls still believe in Santa. In fairies and leprechauns. They are still in that magical and carefree place of childhood, and I don’t want to take THAT from them either. They will only be in this carefree, not-wanting-or-needing-to-know-about-the-world for such a short time… soon that will all naturally end for them.
I know lots of parenting philosophies disagree with me, that lots of people think 100% honestly is the best policy, and I believe that too, to a point. We use real names for body parts, and nudity (child or adult) is no big thing around here. I am not embarrassed to talk to them about bodies or babies or any of it. But I do think that SEX– and thinking about your mom and dad having it– is in a different category somehow. A category that I want to be sure they are ready to comprehend before foisting it on them. And maybe being pregnant makes it MORE… well, just more. Because if I tell them about sex right now, they won’t just think that sex is this random thing people do once in a while to make a baby, but that MOM AND DAD DID THAT TO MAKE THIS BABY IN MOM’S BODY.
On the other-other hand, _I_ want to be the one to tell them, before they are filled with tons of erroneous and/or negative information from other kids at school. I want to be able to spin it as something natural, lovely, and NOT shameful, first, ya know? I wish I knew exactly how much the OTHER kids know. It seems like the other kids might be using the word “sex” without really knowing what it means.
So anyway, OF COURSE Marin is the one to ask, after I’ve been waiting forEVAH for her sisters to ask. And she’s obviously not ready for any very technical answers. But then Kate piped in “You have to have sex to have a baby.”
I asked Kate “What does it mean to have sex?” and she said “I don’t know. [Friend] just told me that. I think it means kissing and stuff?” Joan said “Well, I know that a mom’s cells and a dad’s cells have to join together and that makes a baby. I read it in a book.” At the same time, Marin is talking over everyone about how SHE thinks babies get in there. It was a little chaotic for a few minutes with everyone talking. I was finally able to make sure Kate heard me say “You won’t get pregnant from kissing.” She replied “Oh, well, God probably has a special way that no one really understands.” And she turned around and went outside.
Joan and Marin (still sitting at the table) were on to talking about something else, so I let the subject drop.
At this point, everyone seems totally satisfied with their own understanding of how babies are made, so I’m tempted to leave it that way for a while. I plan on making sure both girls understand that kissing won’t get you pregnant, sometime when it’s quieter and Marin isn’t using her GIANT LUNGS to talk over everyone. But unless they ask more questions, I think I’ll let it go for now.
I should also point out, the “God” explanation is one they have come up with on their own. I’ve never explained it to them in that way… they just explained it to THEMSELVES that way. We’re not even a very religious family, so the “God explanations” are something completely organic to their own thinking.
What do you guys think? Have any of you had to talk about this with your children? How old were they? How did you know how much to tell them? Like I said, I have no problem telling them everything, as long as they are READY to hear it… and I’m not sure they are.