of how babies are born.
When did you give your child the full information on this and what did you say if your child asked before you were ready to do this? Or do you think that when the child asks, she is ready (even if you aren't)?
I told them when they asked--it wasn't one big conversation though, they asked a question here and there and over time the whole story was told. I believe that if they're old enough to ask the question, they're old enough to hear the answer. For all the kids, their questions started when I was pregnant with their younger siblings...so...ages 3, 4, 5.
My oldest was present (at 3 and at 9) for the births of his siblings--actually, he assisted with one. Dd was present (at age 6) for my labor but skipped out for the actual birth.
We treated it matter-of-factly and I explained it like I'd explain any other bodily function, using the proper names of parts, etc. One of my favorite books about birth is "Mom and Dad and I Are Having a Baby" but I don't know if it's still in print. There are a lot of books out there though that could help with the conversation.
I remember ds being really persistent around age 3 about how babies were born, possibly because that wasn't too long after my last miscarriage... I came across a NOVA special on VHS at a thrift store that goes from conception to birth and he watched that a few times. I think I found a couple of natural childbirth videos on youtube and we had one of his cousin being born which he also watched.
Here is the NOVA dvd: The Miracle of Life http://www.amazon.com/NOVA-Miracle-David-Ogden-Stiers/dp/1578071968/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1300369642&sr=1-1
I feel we keep circling back and building on his knowledge. At three, I think he mostly wanted to know how the heck a baby got out of a belly. As he got older he added questions and wanted more info on how the baby got in. I just answered all the questions as they came without going into too much more detail than what he was actually asking about. He'd come back with more questions when he was ready for more.
let me see if i can find that book. she seems to have read in some other book about the human body that it involves egg and sperm. what she asked me was how the sperm enters the woman's body. i am not sure whether she has seen the male anatomy but i am guessing i could find a drawing in one of her books.
i think i am worried that if i tell her, she might
- tell her friends
- try it
- be repulsed and have negative attitudes about her body
the first one is i suppose inevitable and the friends' parents will just have to deal with it. the second, i guess is not likely to happen in reality but somehow i wonder if it might occur to her. the last i worry about perhaps because that was my reaction when i learned about the mechanics of this (in school - 4th or 5th grade iirc).
yeah, i don't want to make a big secret of it but ... anyway i will try to be more prepared next time she asks.
I got the It's not the stork book and another by Joanna Cole when my son was 3ish and just started reading them to him. My 2 year old likes the Joanna Cole book. That one doesn't discuss intercourse as the stork book does (which actually says it in a really low key way.) The stork book is really detailed so I don't think my 2 year old would like it at this time.
We also answered questions as they were asked. We didn't treat them any differently than any other question. I found that the kids were generally satisfied with a lot less information than I thought I'd have to give out. So whatever they asked, I gave as simple an answer as I could. If it wasn't enough information they'd ask for more, or ask another question.
I don't believe at all that giving kids the information they seek is going to make them want to try any of it. My 8.5 year old DD is quite grossed out by the idea of sex among people she knows (her parents, for example!) but I see that as totally normal for her age. OTOH, both my kids don't think of it as taboo at all, or that there is anything wrong with it. The idea of restricting info to stop kids "doing it" has been pretty much demonstrated to be counterproductive. I also think attitude plays a huge role: in our house we are quite liberal about the whole subject, and I don't shove moral lessons down their throat either. They ask, we answer. It's that simple. :-)
Ha! I said the same thing. I did, however, explain that it was probably not fun at all for kids. All dd, who asked at age 6, said about the whole idea of sex was, "Why would anyone want to do THAT?" And really, I couldn't convince her it was fun and didn't want to spend a whole lot of effort trying. I just stated that it was, despite her disbelief, and moved on.
To the OP, yes, when they're ready, you should tell them. It's not about you - it's about them. As to your concern that she'll want to try it, I highly doubt it. Studies have shown that kids whose parents don't talk openly about sex tend to have sex at younger ages than kids whose parents do talk openly about it. They're also less likely to use protection. So by telling her about sex, you make it more likely she'll wait a little longer and be responsible about it.
I've always answered their questions as simply and honestly as I can, here and there as they come about (my boys are 5 and 8). For me the hardest part was answering questions about the pleasure of sex - that it's not just for making babies (or for married people - nor is it limited to heterosexuals, people!!). But I pushed myself because I don't want to perpetuate our culture's idea that sex is shameful - it feels good! So why can't we talk about that? So I just answer honestly without telling them more than they are asking. Also, for now I tell them that it's not even really possible for kids to have sex, it's something that adults and sometimes older teenagers do. We have a few more years to discuss responsibility, respect, safety, etc. He knows what a condom is already. I'm taking it one question at a time and there may come a time when he is too shy to ask anymore so I'm trying to take advantage of the discussion opportunities I have while they last.
My son asked recently at age 5. We'd already talked about penis, vagina, egg, uterus, baby development, so he had that to build on. It was a quick, two-minute conversation in the car. I explained how sperm shoots out the man's hard penis when he puts it inside the woman, how sometimes the sperm meets an egg and then a baby starts growing in the uterus. I talked about how people have sex because it feels good and exciting. So far, that's been it for us.
My daughter asked at age 5 or 6, and we talked about it in the car, and I prefaced it by telling her that she shouldn't talk about it with her friends; that it is the parent's jobs to decide what and when to tell their own kids. I started with small bits of info, but she continued asking questions until she had the full story. When she heard that the penis went inside the vagina, she yelled, "Eww! Now I know why parents have to tell the kids!" But, that has opened up the ability for us to talk about lots of things about relationships, love, choosing a partner, pitfalls of some decisions, the difficulty of having children before you're ready, etc...