Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Sex Talk

My four year old is suddenly getting very curious about bodies.  He is unsure why he isn't allowed in my room while I change and he is on a mission to understand.  At first, I was cagey.  Who wants to talk about boobs to a four year old, right?  Then I thought, I need to address this like any other topic. I don't want him to feel uncomfortable about bodies or sex.  So I went to the place that seems to hold all the answers.  The library.

I told my son I was going to get some books to help answer his questions and asked him, specifically, what he was curious about.  "I want to see naked people," he said.  How's that for honesty?  "Okay...What do you want to know about naked people?" I asked, forging ahead.  "I want to know why boys and girls are different," he shared.  That seemed like an age appropriate question so I went on my quest for guidance in teaching this uncomfortable thing to him.  

I found several books that scared the crap out of me.  No way was I going to explain the actual act of sex to him...Too traumatic and too early in my opinion.  I finally came across one called, "Amazing You! Getting Smart About Your Private Parts" by Gail Saltz.  It does show "naked people" at all stages of life and explains how boys and girls are different.  

I read it to my son that night (glossing over the baby delivery page - It seemed a bit much to even put in his mind) and did my best to get through words like scrotum without flinching.  When I finished the book I asked him what he thought.  "Good," he said smiling.  "Can we read it again?"

I realized that, to him, this was just another topic that he was interested in.  There was no stigma for my little boy.  He just wanted to understand and couldn't fathom why we suddenly wouldn't answer his questions.  But my husband and I couldn't answer because we were unsure what was age appropriate and, frankly, what we wanted him to know.  

My husband and I talked about it this morning to figure out our strategy as they get older.  We talked about what we believe in and narrowed it down to four simple statements.  One, for example, is that we will answer any questions they ask us about sex.  Another is that we believe sex is between a man and a woman who love each other.  While we aren't into that level quite yet, it was great to know where we stand as parents on issues that are bound to arise.  Never in a million years would I have anticipated questions about women's anatomy at four.  And yet, here I am explaining a uterus and eggs.  Sometimes they are ready before we are and we have to be prepared with our philosophy as a family.

Do you and your husband know what you expect from your children in regards to sex?  How have you addressed their questions thus far?

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