Q and A: We are often asked by parents . . . when should I have the Birds & Bees conversation with my kids? Here are some thoughts to consider and some resources to check out.
How to Talk to your Kids about Sex
When my (David) daughter was six and her twin brothers were four, I took them to the hospital to see a friend’s new baby. On the drive, I retold all three of my children the stories of their own births. I should have predicted what I was getting myself into.
From the back of the car, my little girl asked, “How did the doctor get me out of Mommy’s tummy?” I responded with, “Well, that’s a great question.” (What I was actually thinking was, Where is your mom right now? I had no intention of educating our children on the nature of labor and delivery by myself).
Before I had a chance to answer the question, one of my four-year-olds answered by saying, “He pulled you out of Mommy’s belly button.”
My daughter snapped back, “No he didn’t, Witt. Your belly button is closed and nothing goes in or comes out.”
My other son offered his explanation. “I think they cut Mommy’s tummy open, pulled us out quick, put a zipper on and zipped it back together.”
Lily argued, “Mommy doesn’t have a zipper on her tummy, Baker.
I chuckled to myself as my three young children worked to understand the mystery of birth. I stepped into the banter with some accurate and age-appropriate information, and before they began speculating on how the baby got into Mommy’s tummy.
We can find ourselves in these kinds of moments with the kids we love. Included are some guidelines for developing these conversations and resources to help along the way.
Talking with Kids 101
Start early. A number of great resources recommend beginning a conversation when kids are 3-5 years of age. Obviously we aren’t talking about intercourse with a 4 year old, but we are explaining how God made a boy’s body and how He made a girl.
Use anatomically correct words. Avoid terms like “wee wee.” God created the penis and the vagina. Those are not inappropriate terms. They are anatomically correct terms
Invite questions. When kids ask questions, begin with “I’m so grateful you feel safe enough to ask about the things you wonder about,” or “that is a fantastic question. Let’s talk about that.”
Find books to read together. Having a guide or resource to help inform conversations can make the process seem less confusing or unfamiliar. These books can also help guide what conversations are age-appropriate and when to introduce certain topics.
Stay a step ahead of his/her development. Don’t wait until an event has taken place. You would never want your daughter to begin her menstrual cycle and then discuss that event.
Put development in a physical and spiritual context. We want our kids growing up with a sense that the changes they will experience within their own bodies are God’s way of making them into men and women.
God’s Design for Sex Series – A four book series (broken down by ages) helps parents talk openly with children about sexuality, birth, sex, family and much more. By Stan and Brenna Jones and Carolyn Nystrom.
American Medical Association’s Boy’s Guide to Becoming a Teen by Kate Gruenwald and Amy B. Middleman
American Medical Association’s Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Teen by Kate Gruenwald and Amy B. Middleman
Flight Plan: Your Mission to Become a Man by Braxton Brady and Lee Burns
The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls by Valorie Schaefer