Originally Posted by elus0814
I feel it's too young. My older two are 5 and 6 and the one time one of them asked (with the other right there) I said babies are something that God gives to husbands and wives. I feel they are too young to know specific details. I want them to be little kids and enjoy the innocence that comes with not knowing things like that. I really do think that telling a child who is not yet pubescent that a penis goes in a vagina is not doing them a favor.
My kids know the details, but they haven't lost any of their innocence. Heck, my ds is going to be 10 in a few short weeks, and he still plays with stuffed animals! They're wonderfully open, curious, innocent children. They're becoming more aware of the world, but that's got much more to do with literacy and being able to follow conversations between dh and me. It's hard to talk politics without the kids overhearing. The only thing I have protected them from is media and movies. That, in my opinion, is much more likely to lead to a skewed view of sex and violence than any amount of factual information.
Yes, they are sometimes curious about sex and reproduction. This curiosity is normal and should not be shamed. Dd re-reads "It's Not the Stork" about every 6 months. (Once with a babysitter -- the poor babysitter was more than a little flustered!) Each time dd reads it, she focuses on different details. This last time she was really aware that sex is something that only grown-ups do.
I wonder if your experience led you to be more curious because it was something that you couldn't talk about with your parents. If you'd been able to discuss this with your parents, rather than just getting the facts and then having it dropped, would that have been a different experience?
Talking about sex is not a one time deal. It's an ongoing conversation. When my daughter first asked me, I simply said "the sperm from the daddy and the egg from the mommy get together and make a baby. The baby grows in the mommy's womb until it's ready to be born." For nearly a year, that was enough. But after awhile, she wanted to know HOW the sperm and the egg got together. That led to the penis goes into the vagina talk. It was short and sweet and easily processed. I haven't noticed any changes in my kids' innocence since then.
Originally Posted by elus0814
I would be concerned that a very young child, under 10 or 11, might try it too out of curiosity. My oldest daughter adores babies so I wonder if I told her how adults get babies that she might try 'sex' so she could have one. She's only six but it's something I can see her trying to do if she understood the mechanics.
As others have said, research has shown that children who have all the facts about reproduction are less likely to try it out. I find it very interesting that the European countries that have comprehensive sex education and access to birth control for teenagers also have a much lower rate of abortion. This for me is a true indication that more information is better, not worse. I don't want my child having an abortion because she didn't understand how she could get pregnant.
If all you tell her is the mechanics, then yes, I could see your dd being curious. But if it's part of an on-going discussion of reproduction and growing up, I don't think so. Your family's value should definitely be part of this discussion. If you give your children the idea that it's not a topic to be talked about, then you also lose the chance to infuse your family values into the discussion. The kids on the playground/locker room aren't going to share your family values.
Since we read the "It's not the stork book" regularly, we've talked about how that is something that grown-ups bodies are made to do, but it's not for children. In order to have a baby, your body needs to be ready to have a baby and you need to be ready to take care of the baby -- you need to be quite grown-up to do that. We haven't had the conversation that includes "sometimes people have sex because it feels good" but that's coming, I'm sure. It's also something my children will need to know. They will also need to know about how to prevent pregnancy and STDs. One of our strong family values is that parenthood is best undertaken when you have the physical and emotional maturity to take it on, and when you are able to support yourself and your children. It's much easier if you are done with your education and have one parent who has a stable job.
Originally Posted by elus0814
I wonder how many parents who explain details of sex also explain the details of abortion? Would you give your child the details and explain the 'mechanics' simply because they asked what it was after hearing the word? I will explain it when the kids are older but, just like the details of sex, they don't need to know now.
Well, it depends on how the question is asked. If a child asks me "what's sex", I won't start with the details of penis-into-vagina. I'll start with "It's what men and women do when they want to make a baby". The details of sex come when the child asks the details of reproduction. If a child asked me what abortion was upon hearing the word, yes, I'd tell them. I'd start by simply defining it for them, like I would other words. If they asked more, I'd tell them more. I'd tell them with the same sort of sadness that I had when we had to discuss what war is. Really, I'd prefer that my children not have to know those things. I'd prefer that neither existed. But they exist in the world. Neither are simple. Both require talking not only about what it is, but the whys and the values around it.
If you aren't telling your children the details of sex now, then I think you should think hard -- when do you tell them? What occasion? Children ask when they are curious. If they don't get answers, or your attitude shows that you aren't going to tell them, then they may stop asking. That means when you deem them old enough to know, you're going to have to make a somewhat bigger deal out of getting the info to them because it won't be a part of a natural conversation. That's OK, but do know that it'll take more planning and might be more awkward for both you and your children.