So a few weekends ago, my friend and I took the kids to the Museum of Science and Industry. Now, I am all about educating children about their body parts, so I was super excited about the human body exhibit. Seeing teen parents first hand, I am all about having your children know what sex is, long before they are contemplating having it. I was a sexual abuse counselor for a lot of years, so it is important to me that my kids know the proper name of genitalia.I know education is one of the best ways to help prevent sexual abuse. Give kids the proper name…a penis is not a ding dong, a weiner, a one eyed snake, it is a penis…empower your kids, give them the tools to be able to tell if someone touches them inappropriately. The best age to teach kids the name of their sex organs is the same time you teach them the name of their head, shoulders, knees and toes….make a couple of extra stops and teach breast, buttocks, penis, vulva and vagina.
The museum had a whole display on the developing fetus (awesome!)…the questions of how does the baby get in there were answered and discussed when I was pregnant with my second. We read the books when he was four and five about how the sperm and the ovum come together, and a baby is conceived. At age six, my son asked me a burning question “How does the sperm get in there Mom?” My son “really needed to know”, like it was this universal puzzle and he just could not figure it out. So, true to form and in alignment with my belief that knowledge is power, we had the sex conversation at six. He was informed that each child develops at their own pace, and that it is not his job to educate his peers, their parents needed to this. Amazingly, he followed this request.
The next display at the museum was on the developing body. Since I have boys, and one is nine, puberty is not far off, we focused on the male body…how the scrotum drops, the penis extends, they get hair under their pits and in their pelvic area. I am standing there thinking “okay this is good…a natural way to bring up the conversation, I want him to be prepared.” (This is that part of the story, where you feel like a good parent….) A girl came by, all the boys ran in a circle away from the video, and then came running back to gather the needed education. In proud Momma form, I stood by to answer questions, but allowed them to discover.
As my son and his friend ran ahead, while I helped my younger one with another exhibit, I could see them watching a video. I sat down just in time to catch the tail end of the show. Thank goodness, I did. It gave me just enough to to gather my wits.
Now, I thought I was prepared. I thought okay, sex conversations are just touch ups from here on out. He has the basics, so around age twelve, we can start having he conversations about condoms and birth control. However, I was not quite prepared for this trip to the museum. You see, my kids learned more science than industry. The barrage of questions started:
Mom, what is an STD? A sexually transmitted disease.
How can you get them? by having sex.
Does everyone get them? not everyone, but everyone can get them.
Can you get rid of them? some you can, others you cant. There are different levels. Explained the levels and types.
Do they hurt? some do. Some you don’t know you have.
Can they kill you? some can.
What is the best way to not get them? by not having sex, but you can prevent them by taking care of your body, and making sure you and your mate are clean when you decide to mate
Do You have an STD? (WHAT In The WORLD!) Well my love, that is a question you ask your mate, and since you and I are not going to mate, that is not a question you need the answer too.
For days the questions came, just as they had when he first learned about sex, and he “had to know, how does the sperm get in there.” I answered each question, just as I had then, in a honest, matter of fact tone…the boring tone that gave facts, not judgement. I answered the questions because he asked, and if kids ask, they are ready for the answers. Too often, as parents, we think we know when the right time will be, but with sex talk, it is about letting your child take the lead. Allow the conversations to come up, answer honestly right from the start. Sex is a natural part of life, and when you treat it as such, your kids feel safe. It is hard to have these conversations, it is. I just believe, that if they can have these conversations with you, then they can have them with their future partner/s and not be embarrassed.
At the end of the week, my son said to me “Mom, you know, I think I am going to wait until I am thirty to have sex, it is just too dangerous.” With my Momma pride about to burst, I thought: I hope you make safe choices son, I hope you do.
Love and Healing,
For more information on educating your kids about sex: