Friday, February 20, 2009

Birds and Bees

Now Aiden knows the Facts of Life.

Early in my parenting, I found a book by Linda and Richard Eyre, titled, How to Talk to Your Child About Sex, and their approach resonated with me. Basically, they recommend having age-appropriate talks from toddlerhood on up, with The Big Talk happening on the child's 8th birthday. They also detail other talks, that go into subjects like masturbation and pornography and STD's as the child goes through the teen years. I have followed their methods, even using their scripts, with each of my three children with great success, and I heartily recommend the book to other parents.

Eight is a great age. According to our Church, it's the age of accountability. It's an age budding with maturity, but still fresh with innocence. And even though I got tangled up in life and didn't let Aiden in on the 'most amazing, beautiful secret ever' until he was 9, we still reaped great rewards.

With great intentions, I had been leading up to our big talk for several months, telling Aiden that I felt he was old enough now to know about the most amazing, wonderful, beautiful secret in the whole wide world. He was intrigued beyond belief. The Eyre's recommend making a night of it, with a special parent-child date to celebrate. About a month ago, Aiden and I went out to dinner at Panda Express, one of his favorites. The other kids were out and so he and I had some alone time, and he reminded me that we still hadn't had our special talk. I knew it was time, so I fastened up my nerves.

I asked him what the most wonderful thing in the whole world was. He said me, which is a great answer, but we fished around a bit more and came up with families. (I'm still included in that answer.) We talked about the love that we feel for families and what we do for people when we love them. He gave great answers, like telling them, hugging them, and doing things for them. We talked about the different kind of love that moms and dads feel for each other and how they might show their love in a little different ways, like more hugging, and kissing on the lips. And then I told him that it was that love, between a mom and a dad that brings children into the family.


I asked him if he had ever wondered how babies got inside the mom's belly, and he said 'not really', but that he would like to know. He thought Heavenly Father put them there, which was what I told him when he was small. I asked him if he'd ever heard the word 'sex' and he said yes, but that he had no idea what it meant. I told him about a very special hug that husbands and wives can do to show their love for each other and that sometimes that hug helps a baby to start growing inside the mother's tummy, and then I had him read aloud the book Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle. It's just cartoony enough to keep things light, but with very direct and correct information about bodies and lovemaking and how it all 'works'.

It was delightful. Aiden giggled at some parts that were funny, but more than that he was completely fascinated. He wanted to look at each picture and read each caption. He'd had no idea! And he really felt like he was being let in on the biggest, best grown-up secret in the whole world, which was exactly what I wanted.

He asked some questions, and then we talked about just how special sex is and how you wouldn't want to go around giving those kind of 'big, special hugs' to just anyone. That person would have to be the person you loved so much and were committed to, and wanted to have a family with. Sex is just too special and too sacred to go giving it out for fun. We talked about dangerous things that can happen when people don't hold sex to be special and sacred, and how he would want to marry someone who felt it was as special as he did. We talked about how he would hear lots of things about sex, especially now that he knew what it was, and that he needed to remember that lots of kids don't have parents that tell them the whole truth and so some of what he might hear might not be all the way correct. He knows that whatever he hears he can come and ask me or his dad right away and we will answer him. And we talked about how some people like to make jokes about sex or say bad things about it, and that's just because they don't understand how special it is, and we shouldn't join in those conversations because we know differently. We talked about how some movies and television shows only focus on how good it feels and not how special it is, and that we needed to remember that we know better and that we should avoid the things that could make us feel uncomfortable. It's because sex is so amazing and sacred that the world and Satan want us to disregard it and not keep it special. He got it.

His little freckled face was aglow. It was a sweet time between us, as it had been with his brother and sister before. I have found it so much easier and better for your parent-child relationship, if you are the first person to explain sex to your child. When you have a clean slate to work with, there is no squirming or embarrassment. It's really not that awkward at all. And you can make sure that the child's first impression is the one you want him to have. That will be the most lasting. I have found that because I came to them with the knowledge, they continue to come to me for information about things that most kids/teens would never approach their parents about, and they know I will always give them the straight-up truth. I value this closeness with my children so dearly.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful book! Beautifully said! I have shared it with hundreds because of you who introduced it to me many, many years ago when our 1st borns were toddlers. I'm so glad you wrote about this Jenna.


templework said...



Josi said...

Um, how much do you charge to come and talk to my kids? :-) I'm on my way to Amazon.

Luisa Perkins said...

Ah, you're the best.

I know I write that on just about every other post of yours. That's only because it's true.

Anonymous said...

Your writing is simply amazing. I love how I feel like I'm part of the conversation!

Annette Lyon said...

What a great way to approach the topic--lots of bits I never even thought about in those ways.

I'm curious, though--how detailed do you get on the "special hug"? I can see young kids freaking out if they give a bear hug to a grandparent if they haven't been given a basic anatomy lesson in connection with the hug. How do you handle that end? (Cause I know you do--you're the amazing Jenna.)

Rachel Sue said...

Thanks so much for sharing that. My oldest is 6 and I have been wondering about how to approach the topic in the near future. My mother in law has a really open relationship about sex with her children--something that was unheard of in my house. I want that with my children. I have actually already gone onto Amazon to buy the book. I don't know what I would do without blogging friends!

Anonymous said...

Where is the husband in all this?

Jenna said...

Anonymous, If you are a regular reader of my blog, you would know that Aiden's dad and I have been divorced for many years and he lives in another state. The Eyre's, in their book, recommend that the mom and the dad have this special experience together with their child, and that would be ideal. It just isn't my circumstance.

Beeswax said...

Wow. I have been thinking about this lately and wondering what books to get! Thank you, thank you!

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

That was so beautiful, Jenna. I've bookmarked this for future use!

Tristi Pinkston said...

I've been explaining bits and pieces to my daughter as we go along, and about three months ago, decided it was time for the *whole* story. My husband and I sat her down, and I was really nervous because she's our oldest. I explained how it all worked, and when I was done, she said, "That's pretty much what I thought." I said, "Do you have any questions?" She thought for a minute. "Yes. About my guppies ..." and she proceeded to ask a fish question. Sheesh - all my angst and she took it like a trooper.

You explained this all so well, Jenna. Thank you for being so awesome!

Cynthia said...

I don't know if you'll ever see this comment but I just wanted to thank you. We've just hit this point with our twins and I'm a bundle of nerves worrying about how to 'do it right'. Alyssa sent me a link to this entry as I just did a blog post asking for advice on how to approach it.

This sounds like just the right way to go about it. Thank you!

Side note- I don't know how I've missed your blog before given we have so many of the same 'blog friends'. LOL!