Is 8 yr old too young to learn the mechanics of sex? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-02-2011, 05:01 PM
 
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I honestly don't remember when I talked to my older two kids (now 7 and 10) about the whole penis in vagina thing. I do remember that my dd (now 7) worked it out an her own and asked me if that's how it worked while we were riding in the car (amazing what they'll talk about in the car!). It basically went like this. "Wait. So the egg is inside the woman? And the sperm comes from the penis to meet the egg? Does that mean the penis goes in the vagina?" And I said "Yep, that's how it happens." And she said, "That's kind of gross." lol.gif I think she was 5. That's when we had a good talk about how it's something grown ups do together that feels good, but that children's bodies aren't made for that sort of thing and that no one should be trying to do something like that with a child. And that if something ever feels "gross," that that "grossness" is a good reminder to come and talk to a trusted grown up about it - and that even if it doesn't feel gross, she should still talk to someone about it. It was a really wonderful and productive conversation. As a survivor of sexual abuse, it's really important to me that my kids know how their bodies work and what's okay to do with them and what's not okay for someone else to do to them. Learning from a trusted adult about what sex is is far better than learning about it from experience.


My oldest probably learned about it while I was pregnant with his little sister. He was only 2.5 when she was born, but very verbal and asked pretty much every question known to man about the pregnancy, so I suspect it came up. My 5 year old has never really asked much about sex or baby making, but he's been present during conversations with the older kids, so I'm not hiding anything from him.


The kids also know that sex is not just for making babies, and that babies come to families in ways other than sex. (Be it adoption, doctor assisted fertility, etc)

As for the issue of abortion, we've touched on it. When my son was in kindergarten, his school shared a building with a gynecologist office. Once a week, there were protesters out front - I had to talk about it before I otherwise would have. I've tried to provide a fairly balanced view of the abortion debate. I'm politically pro-choice, but I "get" the other side, so we make sure we talk about it from a lot of angles.
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Old 03-02-2011, 05:03 PM
 
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I wanted to add that when I had sex ed in 6th grade, they never explained that the penis went inside the vagina during sex. They used the whole "a man and a woman get soooooo close" line that drives me batty. Had I not known the mechanic of it going into the class, I wouldn't have known it coming out, either.
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Old 03-02-2011, 05:34 PM
 
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I can't remember how hold my kids were when I first explained abortion. They had heard the word, and wanted to know what it meant. I explained that an abortion is a medical procedure that happens when a woman is pregnant but doesn't want to be, either because it isn't a good time in her life for a baby, or because something about the pregnancy is very dangerous for her, or because the baby is so deformed that it would be in a lot pain and not be able to have a decent life. I explained that some people feel that abortion is always wrong and should be against the law, and that some people think that abortion is deeply personal and that every woman has a right to decide such things for herself.

 

I emphasized that birth control isn't 100%, which is why using two forms of birth control if a couple doesn't want a baby makes a lot of sense. Abortion is difficult for everyone involved, and it is much better to prevent pregnancy than to end it.

 

I've also told them my personal view, that abortion is sad to me, but that I think it should always be legal. I would prefer to work to make it it less in demand than to make it illegal.

 

My kids are old enough now that they understand what rape is, and that has also shaded our conversations about abortion. But this information has come out slowly over a period of years. I've done my best to answer every question honestly, not giving any more or less information than they are ready for at the time.

 

Because I feel no judgement on this issue, I've heard many women's stories. I feel compassion.

 

I've tried to state EVERYTHING I say to my children in very soft terms. Eventually, they will be making their own choices, and I would really prefer that that always consider me someone they can talk to. That is really more important to me than the age at which they first have sex or what sort of birth control they use. I never had that kind of unconditional love from my mother, and I'm giving to it my DDs.

 

But all this came out very slowly over many years. The answer to the OPer's question is quite simple: the penis goes in the vagina.


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Old 03-05-2011, 10:59 AM
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I'm returning this thread with some posts removed. You can read this thread for more information about which posts were removed and why.

I'll be starting a new thread about how to talk to preteens and teens about abortion shortly, so please continue that discussion there. If you want to continue discussing telling an 8 year old about the mechanics of sex, you can continue that discussion here.

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Old 03-05-2011, 12:05 PM
 
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I'm on your DH's side.  I think 8 is too young to know the mechanics of sex.  My children are 10, 8, and 5 and we have not even considered getting into that discussion.  Instead of asking why not tell them I would ask why tell them?  What purpose does it serve for a child to know explicit sexual details.  When my kids ask questions that we don't feel they need to know the answer to yet we just tell them that it is a discussion for when they are older.  I think it would be really wrong to go behind your DH's back and tell her details he doesn't feel she is ready for.  You wouldn't want him to do the same to you. You need to sit down together and discuss it and see if you can come to an agreement on how much information should be shared.



Im wondering if it is possible that your 10 year old knows and has just not spoken with you about it. Im not sure if you send her/him to school or if you homeschool, but I can tell you that at 10 years old it was weird for me to know someone at school that didnt know what sex was. And if my friends and I found out someone didnt know, we told them. Its extremely possible that some of your 10 yos peers are mensturating. Id feel super weird about not telling my kid about sex when they are likely to be around others who not only know, but their bodies are functioning in a way that could make able to become pregnant.

 

 

As far as why children need to be told, I personally think its because that is how life is formed, and its weird to me to allow my child to go through life not really knowing how they came into existance. As pp's said, penis goes into vagina. seed meets egg and a baby grows. Its not "explicit sexual details".


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Old 03-05-2011, 12:57 PM
 
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DD was interested earlier than DS, probably because she had an example right before her of the outcome of sex, lol.

 

She was of the age before "It's Not The Stork" came out, so we read "It's So Amazing."  I really like those books because since they basicallly have one topic per page it is VERY easy to skip topics you dont' want to cover right then (or the child is not interested in).

 

I felt very strongly that the kids should really know the mechanics of sex *before* going to elementary school.  I didn't want them getting the wrong information from someone at school!  When DD was in 2nd grade and we were carpooling I overheard her, her 2nd grade friend (male) and DS (then 4) talking about what sex was.  I was really impressed because DS gave a very good, basic explanation (penis into the vagina summary).  None of the kids were uncomfortable or embarrassed.  I would have felt *horrible* if I had overheard my child being misinformed OR misinforming.

 

That said, I have also been on the other end.  I was pretty unaware as a child and really didn't understand a lot and didn't feel I had a way to find out what I wanted to know.  Apparently my oldest brother asked a question in 8th grade health class (he was born in 1960 and went to Catholic school) that was completely age inappropriate in that *everyone* else already knew the answer and thought it was really funny he didn't.  He had always been ahead in school (went on to be both high school and college valedictorian) and this was, apparently, a horribly scaring experience for  him.  He had never felt so *stupid* and behind and I've been told he really carried a grudge against my parents for putting him in that situation.  I just never asked, but I know I had no idea exactly what a penis looked like or how it "worked" until I was in late high school and actuallly experiencing it.


 

 

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Old 03-05-2011, 06:44 PM
 
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I'm pretty sure I have read research that found that children who had good sex education were *less* likely to experiment at a young age than children who had been given limited or no information.

 

I don't really feel that discussing the biology of sex equals a loss of innocence anyway. Although I guess when they start asking questions about some of the harsher realities it is.

 

We haven't got there yet but I cannot think of a single topic which I wouldn't discuss with J if she asked. And I'd much rather she was getting her information from me or DH than the playground. And I am absolutely convinced that, if she wants to know, she will get the information from somewhere. I would never assume that she'd lose interest because I fobbed her off. In fact I think that would only pique her interest.

 

The Sex Education Handbook by Dr Martha Gelin provides suggestions for parents about how to talk to their children about the facts and the values of different sexual issues. She actually gives examples of ways to say things too which I quite liked. It's not designed to be read with your children though, it's for parents who want to prepare themselves to answer tricky questions.


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Old 03-05-2011, 06:54 PM
 
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thats how i've always known it.  Being armed with all the information gives you a better chance of making a more informed and mature decision than just being left to trying to ignore our hormones with no concept of why or how.

 

At any rate, I'd prefer my daughter know all about sex by the age of 8 than to be like a few friends of mine in high school who were still figuring things out and horribly disgusted by the idea and freaked out by their own bodies.  THEY were unhealthy about sex and they weren't even having it.  Being unhealthy about sex goes in both directions and knowledge is the best way to be healthy.

 

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I'm pretty sure I have read research that found that children who had good sex education were *less* likely to experiment at a young age than children who had been given limited or no information.

 

I don't really feel that discussing the biology of sex equals a loss of innocence anyway. Although I guess when they start asking questions about some of the harsher realities it is.

 

We haven't got there yet but I cannot think of a single topic which I wouldn't discuss with J if she asked. And I'd much rather she was getting her information from me or DH than the playground. And I am absolutely convinced that, if she wants to know, she will get the information from somewhere. I would never assume that she'd lose interest because I fobbed her off. In fact I think that would only pique her interest.

 

The Sex Education Handbook by Dr Martha Gelin provides suggestions for parents about how to talk to their children about the facts and the values of different sexual issues. She actually gives examples of ways to say things too which I quite liked. It's not designed to be read with your children though, it's for parents who want to prepare themselves to answer tricky questions.



 

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Old 03-05-2011, 07:01 PM
 
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 The real question is why *wouldn't* you give her the information? 


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Old 03-05-2011, 11:59 PM
 
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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 


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Old 03-06-2011, 09:39 PM
 
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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. 

 

I think "Can I have a baby?" is a pretty common question. My explanation of conception will include the information that it is only something which happens when our bodies are old enough and that little children can't have babies. Not sure exactly how I'll word it yet but yeah, that'll definitely be in there.

 

 

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? 

 

Yes. The scenario you describe is *exactly* the time I would explain what the word meant. Age and circumstances would depend on how much detail I provided. If they said "Mummy, what does abortion mean?" then I would define the word. If they followed up with "How does the doctor do that?" then I would explain the mechanics of a D&C or suction TOP. I would also provide age-appropriate information on my values related to termination of pregnancy. Everything I have read (and my instincts) tell me that the best way to provide info is when the opportunity naturally arises in conversation or when your child asks questions. And I personally feel much more comfortable doing it that way than saying "Sit down Dear, I have to tell you about termination of pregnancy" at some arbitrary time determined by me as the right moment.  



 


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Old 03-06-2011, 09:49 PM
 
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Katelove, when DD asked "can I have a baby?" we told her that when she gets older her body will go through some changes that will make her into a woman. That some of the changes are visible (like growing breasts) and some aren't (like producing eggs). She was happy with that answer for a few years at least, before she wanted to know how she would know her body was ready to have a baby.


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Old 03-07-2011, 12:30 AM
 
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Katelove, when DD asked "can I have a baby?" we told her that when she gets older her body will go through some changes that will make her into a woman. That some of the changes are visible (like growing breasts) and some aren't (like producing eggs). She was happy with that answer for a few years at least, before she wanted to know how she would know her body was ready to have a baby.



Yeah, that's the sort of thing I'm thinking of. Thanks.


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Old 03-07-2011, 07:40 AM
 
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I talk to my kids openly and honestly when they have questions like this. I think dd asked when she was about 3. Ds was probably around 3 as well. I haven't gone into graphic descriptions or anything like that.

 

For the record, I have two good friends who are much younger than I am. They are 21 and 23. They are both still virgins, and credit that to their parents talking openly and honestly with them about sex from a very young age.

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Old 03-07-2011, 07:25 PM
 
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A family member was able to sexually abuse me when I was 6 by taking advantage of my innocence, so innocence is not something I care for my kids to have! I think if I'd known about the mechanics of sex and heard some of my mom's values on it, I probably wouldn't have gone along with it--in fact, he probably wouldn't have even tried. Even if the abuse had happened, if not for the fact that sex was a total no-no topic in my home, I would have at least been able to tell my mom about it and not had to live the guy for the next 13 years. :/ (And maybe I'd have been able to tell my mom when I started my period... that would have spared me a lot of stress, guilt, and embarrassment in fifth grade... and let me keep that pair of white shorts.)

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Old 03-07-2011, 11:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

 

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.

 


This is an excellent point and I just wanted it restated.

 

If you don't answer a question, any question there are a number of ways a child will respond.  They will either harass you into answering, look elsewhere for the answer or decide the topic is forbidden (or decide you don't know the answer).  None of those options are something I am comfortable with.

 

A great thing about children is they really only take in as much information as they are ready to handle.  As mentioned earlier in the thread---- a child will reread a book multiple times and get something different from it each time.

 

I know by the time I was into puberty I knew well enough to NEVER ask my mom about anything sexual in nature. 

 

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A family member was able to sexually abuse me when I was 6 by taking advantage of my innocence, so innocence is not something I care for my kids to have! I think if I'd known about the mechanics of sex and heard some of my mom's values on it, I probably wouldn't have gone along with it--in fact, he probably wouldn't have even tried. Even if the abuse had happened, if not for the fact that sex was a total no-no topic in my home, I would have at least been able to tell my mom about it and not had to live the guy for the next 13 years. :/ (And maybe I'd have been able to tell my mom when I started my period... that would have spared me a lot of stress, guilt, and embarrassment in fifth grade... and let me keep that pair of white shorts.)


hug2.gif  Totally true--- part of knowing what is normal/expected/acceptable is the other side of the coin--- knowing when something is not normal.  It can have huge health impact as well as the acceptance of so many children of abuse, they literally don't know saying "no" or getting help is an option.
 

 


 

 

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