At what age did or do you plan on having the big talk with your children? Will you wait for school or will you take the initiative once your child shows an interest and you believe they are old enough to learn? Are you worried about what they might hear when they're in the playground? Will you tell them when they're still in primary school (11 and under) or wait until they start secondary school (11-16)?
You might think that you have plenty of time, that they're still babies and don't need to know all the details, or you might decide that the earlier you tell them the better prepared they will be for adulthood.
Unfortunately it seems to be a sad reflection of the times we live in that children are exposed to all things sexual at very young ages. My son was 4 when he first heard the word "gay". In complete innocence one day walking home from school he shouted to one of his classmates "Bye! Love you!" to which the other child shouted back "Whaddaya mean you love me? What are you gay?" So straight away I have to explain to him what the word means, not to mention the negative homophobic feel to the word. Now at 6 my DD has heard both "gay" and "lesbian" and knows what they mean, at least as best a child that young can understand.
But even that couldn't prepare me for the shock of our conversation a few weeks ago.
"I know what sex is now mummy." My 8yr old son suddenly announces one night as he's getting into bed.
"What is it then?" I asked, expecting the innocent reply of kissing, but even that didn't prepare me for his response.
"Well it's when a boy pulls down a girls pants and kisses her on her fanny." he said all matter of fact whilst I had to quickly pull my chin off the floor.
That night I decided it was time to broach the subject to him in a way he would understand and suitable for his age. He had never shown much interest when I was pregnant with the baby and along with his younger sisters he had accepted our explanation of daddy planting a seed in mummy's tummy without asking the hows and why etc
I managed to find a wonderful book on Amazon, which was recommended by the FPA (Family Planning Association) and had some really good reviews as well.
This book is brilliant. It has fun characters of an inquisitive bird and a squeamish bee and the pictures are fun and interesting for him to look at and the book explains it all to him in a kid friendly way without dumbing things down or making him feel stupid, It explains the proper names of the parts of the body and explains how a baby develops and grows inside the womb, how it gets food and air, and how we are all different. It also briefly talks on sex (about one double page) as well as a few other topics such as Good Touches and Bad Touches which I think is very important for them to learn especially the Good Touches as we seem to focus on all the "bad" stuff which might make them afraid to talk to you if they are sore down below or needing to go to the doctor. It also talks briefly about masturbation and periods, the differences between boys and girls and babies and adults, love and health etc with a lot of emphasis on waiting until you're grown up before having a baby or having sex etc.
Recently DS came home from school and asked me what another word meant and this word was "rape"! He had heard it at school and wanted to know what it meant and I was in complete shock. At first I thought I had misheard what he had said but no he had said rape and that one of the boys in his class had threatened to rape a girl in his class and he wanted to know what it was! Completely shocked but with thanks to this book I was able to explain what this word meant and that it was a very bad thing to do. I also (as we mums do) painted a very bleak and black picture of what would happen to someone who did this act, saying that they would spend the rest of their lives in prison.
It scares me a lot, thinking about the kind of world our children will face as they grow up. Sex is all around us, in the songs they hear on the radio, in movies, on TV, in the school playground etc and there is no getting away from it. Even children's clothes nowadays seem more revealing and provocative than I remember and I struggle to find clothes for my 6yr old DD. Children seem to grow up much quicker nowadays as well which is a shame as they're only children for such a short amount of time as it is!