The Birds and the Bees! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 03-13-2011, 10:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Coming from a Waldorf/Steiner bent, when is the appropriate age to teach a child about "the birds and the bees"?  Thanks for any info!

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#2 of 10 Old 03-13-2011, 11:55 AM
 
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Regardless of the educational bend I believe that conversations about the human body, reproduction, puberty, sex, masturbation, etc should be a fluid part of everyday life. We have been routinely discussing the "birds and the bees" since at least age two.  

 

Of course spending lots of time outdoors/in nature and owning pets makes it pretty easy because you see these things in real life and they can spark great talks.  

 

Bath times are great time to correctly label body parts and talk about the difference between boys and girls. 

 

Owning some age appropriate books is good too, they can add a really nice dimension to conversations especially if your child is a visual learner.

 

So as you can tell I am not a big believer in "the talk". I think its not good for a couple of reason. One is you may decide age X is appropriate to tell your child how babies are born but their friends might already know.  I want the information to come from us not on the playground. Another is I think it puts too much emphasis on one subject and it can be information overload for a child of any age!

 

I also like the layering approach to education, adding age appropriate information as the child matures.  Kids have a natural curiosity so while one child might be satisfied with "a woman's eggs are fertilized by a man's sperm" another might want to know more, like how the sperm gets there.  This allows for the child to lead the conversation and have information flow based on there interest.  It give a child time to digest the info and come back for more if they want to know more.

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#3 of 10 Old 03-15-2011, 04:51 AM
 
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Looking in curriculum notes from a Steiner school near me, the sex education is taught as a part of the environmental studies/biology. In class VII it is health and hygiene and in class VIII physiology and anatomy, so children are 11-12 yo when they start.

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#4 of 10 Old 03-18-2011, 09:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much!  I do like the natural layering approach.  A lot of the basics we have covered....just not HOW a mommy and daddy "make" a baby.  Then again, she hasn't outright asked.  I think we'll try and keep it in the "etheric' as long as possible..".When a mommy and daddy are longing for a baby, one special baby in heaven will choose them and travel down the Rainbow Bridge to them.",Etc,,Etc    ...instead of dragging her into her head too soon with stone cold facts.

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#5 of 10 Old 03-19-2011, 12:48 PM
 
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Originally Posted by AK_MtnAnSith View Post

Thanks so much! I do like the natural layering approach. A lot of the basics we have covered....just not HOW a mommy and daddy "make" a baby. Then again, she hasn't outright asked. I think we'll try and keep it in the "etheric' as long as possible..".When a mommy and daddy are longing for a baby, one special baby in heaven will choose them and travel down the Rainbow Bridge to them.",Etc,,Etc ...instead of dragging her into her head too soon with stone cold facts.

Really? I am very surprised. Unless that is a tenant of your faith that you believe it sounds like lying to me. I would think the truth would end being quite a shock when you finally get around to telling her. there are age appropriate answers/explanations that would be better than a flat out lie.
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#6 of 10 Old 03-20-2011, 08:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AK_MtnAnSith View Post

Thanks so much! I do like the natural layering approach. A lot of the basics we have covered....just not HOW a mommy and daddy "make" a baby. Then again, she hasn't outright asked. I think we'll try and keep it in the "etheric' as long as possible..".When a mommy and daddy are longing for a baby, one special baby in heaven will choose them and travel down the Rainbow Bridge to them.",Etc,,Etc ...instead of dragging her into her head too soon with stone cold facts.



Really? I am very surprised. Unless that is a tenant of your faith that you believe it sounds like lying to me. I would think the truth would end being quite a shock when you finally get around to telling her. there are age appropriate answers/explanations that would be better than a flat out lie.


Agreed. And the "stone cold" facts of human reproduction are so much more beautiful and fascinating than a rainbow bridge! There are absolutely age-appropriate ways to explain this at any age. We told our daughter the *very* basics of sex (in response to pointed questions like "Yes, but HOW does the sperm get to the egg?") when she was four. She thought it sounded silly/gross and hasn't really brought it up again, but next time she does, we will talk about it without shame. We also have the wonderful book "It's Not the Stork" which helps a lot. This is a good example of why I could never be a serious Waldorfian. My daughter's imagination is not a fragile flower that needs round the clock hot-housing. It is sturdy, ever-expanding, and nourished, not depleted, by stone cold facts.

 

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#7 of 10 Old 03-22-2011, 09:07 AM
 
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I was about 8 when a boy in my class told me about the mating bull he had seen and that my parents had mated to make me. I was quite horrified and asked my parents for an explanation.

 

I was in a Waldorf school, with anthroposophists for parents. We lived on a dairy farm.

 

I seem to remember my parents saying that people don't mate, animals mate. I can't remember what they told me about how people made babies. However I do remember thinking that the little girl who insisted that babies came from angels was in for a surprise.

 

So far this has not been an issue for my 3 year old, despite him becoming a brother. I reckon I'll take his lead and not tell sanitised versions involving storks, angels etc.

 

But then again, I am Waldorf inspired, not wholly into the Waldorf thing.

 

 


Megan, mama to her little boy (Feb2008) and introducing our little girl (Dec 2010)
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#8 of 10 Old 03-22-2011, 01:54 PM
 
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I'm not a Waldorf purist by any means.  Even if I was, I think my strong belief in answering direct questions with direct answers would trump any Steiner-ish recomendation. 

 

DS is four and has been figuring things out gradually.  When he asks me a question, I answer.  He's known babies grow in bellies for as long as he could look at his baby album.  He's never asked how they got there!  Right now I'm pregnant via IVF, so it's a bit simplistic, but I was able to say that the doctor put it there.  It's also not my baby (carrying for friends) so that adds to the interesting spin at my house--it's also an important part of the doctor part.  I was able to explain that the doctor put their teeeeeeeny tiny baby in my belly to grow big and strong.  Otherwise I wouldn't have introduced the doctor at all.  But in this case, it was true and vital to explaining what we were doing (esp explaining it so that the truth is there for when he learns more as he gets older and thinks back about this pregnancy!!).  At some point, I told him that boys/men couldn't grow babies in their bellies.  Only mommies.  And he did worry that I had to eat the baby to get it in there (that's when the doctor came up).  And then he worried that when I ate, the food would fall on the baby.  So we discussed mommies having a special tummies just for growing babies (he thinks I made up the words "womb" and "uterus".  He has some theories about how the babies get out, but he hasn't asked me yet, so I haven't been very forthcoming.  (He thinks they come out the belly button -- gently scooped out by a doctor.)  One small bit at a time as he asks me.  One day, he'll ask the big questions.  I intend to answer them simply until he is satisfied and stops asking for the next layer. 

 

I know that my parents told me the full explanation when they were expecting my sister (I was four).  I had a little more detail than I was probably ready for at the time...and apparently educated my whole kindergarten class during show and tell one day!  Oops!

 

I just believe very strongly in very slowly introducing information.   If he's old enough to think of the next question, he's old enough for the next layer.  I use that in every aspect of our lives.  We'll see how it plays out! 

 

Good luck!!

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#9 of 10 Old 03-24-2011, 11:00 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandy'smama View Post

Looking in curriculum notes from a Steiner school near me, the sex education is taught as a part of the environmental studies/biology. In class VII it is health and hygiene and in class VIII physiology and anatomy, so children are 11-12 yo when they start.



Whatever age you discuss it, most children will find out from their peers before this time. I was told in elementary school and it came as a huge shock. It was a source of a lot of shame and embarrassement and sneaking around in the library because I didn't feel like I could talk about it with my parents. Most schools discuss the clinical aspects of reproduction around this time but most kids know much much earlier.

 

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#10 of 10 Old 04-20-2012, 11:37 AM
 
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This is a great topic, and I really appreciate the OP for putting this out there, especially in the context of Waldorf/Steiner.

Waldorf resonates so much with me because although I tend to want to share knowledge and prepare my children (and as a former health educator for a non-profit for many years) I have to remember that developmentally, young children are not always ready for the content, regardless of who shares it with them first.

For my youngest's fifth birthday this year I told him a Waldorf Birthday story. My oldest loved it just as much as my youngest did (it was about how he was a little star and chose us as his earth family and walked the rainbow bridge to join us). Now my oldest (8) heard earlier in the year exactly how a babies are made from a neighbor and he asked me if it was true, and it was so I said so without elaborating, just being open to him and listening and confirming. After I told the story for my youngest's birthday, I expected my oldest to wink at me and smile, knowing that he already knows the science behind how babies really arrive. Instead, he later told me that he realizes how he "picked" us to be his family. He was into the magic just as much as my youngest child!

I also believe that the meaning gets lost when we introduce concepts and content our children are not ready to grasp. To me, communication and connection with our children mean everything. If my children ask, I will answer. So far, he seems to share what he hears with me, knowing I will not judge or embarrass him. To me, is is the key and I am working hard to maintain that connection with him as he approaches the 9-yr change and beyond.
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