Sex and the Children
Wellness health Tips spells out how you can survive
those dreaded where-did-I-come-from queries.
When I was a little girl I imagined the stork to be
one very busy bird. After all, she was the bringer
of babies. I would look out for her often, my eyes
turned to slits from the glare of the sun, hoping to
see a big white bird carrying a bundled baby in its
beak-a brother or a sister just for me.
My parents married late in their lives and thus I
was an only child. When I asked them why this was
so, the reply was that we lived way too far for the
stork to reach. This was my first foray into sex
education-reproduction depended on two things: a
white bird and a near house.
When it was my turn to become a parent, I decided to
put the stork out of commission. I would tell my
children the plain and simple truth about sex. No
ridiculous names for their private parts. No
covering their eyes each time there was a make-out
scene on TV. I thought it would be easy. But it
wasn't then, and it still isn't now.
Answering your kids' questions about sex is arguably
one of the scariest responsibilities of a parent.
But it will probably be one of the most fruitful,
with your kids growing up more informed, less
malicious and more responsible about their bodies
than the generation before them. No matter how
awkward you may fee l, don't avoid the subject of
sex. Answer your children's questions as they come
to help foster healthy feelings about sex.
CALL A SPADE A SPADE
Giving nicknames to private parts-like "flower" and
"birdie"-may seem like the proper thing to do. But
there is no reason why the proper anatomical label
should not be used when the child is capable of
saying it. Words like "penis" and "vagina" should be
stated matter-of-factly with no implied malice or
shame. That way, the child learns to use them in a
direct, correct and appropriate manner, without any
When my daughter first asked me where she came from,
the stork played no part in my answer. I simply
replied that she grew from an egg in my womb and
came out from a place between my legs called the
vagina. Thankfully, the information sufficed. I have
found that children know when you are being direct
with them and are content with a sincere answer.
Eventually when my children got older, I began to
explain more about what happens when a man and a
woman love each other and how sex becomes a major
expression of that love. Know that kids will feel
special being told that they were made out of an act
TAKE IT SLOW
Lest you think these talks happen in one big powwow,
they don't. They happen over periods of time in a
casual, need-to-know basis.
Be sure that talks about sex will continue well into
your child's teen years. The issues by then will
have changed: taking responsibility for his actions,
waiting till the time is right and never doing
anything out of pressure.
If you don't shy away from these discussions, one
thing is certain:
your children will grow up more informed and more
open to talking about sex. At last, you'll know the
stork has retired for good.
While teaching your child about sex, inform her
about the difference between good and bad touching.
State that your child's body belongs to her and that
no one has the right to touch her if she doesn't
want it. Warn her that if anyone touches her in a
way that feels wrong, even if the person is a
authority, a relative or a family friend, she is to
tell that person to stop, and then to tell you