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

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#1 of 46 Old 02-26-2011, 08:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm pregnant with my 3rd baby (so excited!).  My dd turned 8 in October and knows that babies come from Daddy's seed meeting Mommy's egg in my tummy.  We are also very open about our bodies and what happens at maturity, etc.  She wants to know exactly how the "seed" gets to the "egg".  It's the first issue I haven't immediately explained to her.  I think she's ready, but dh thinks she's way too young.  I think she's a very smart girl and already probably has some ideas, so I want to make sure she has no misconceptions.  I bought a book "It's So Amazing!" which is geared toward her age group and explains the mechanics, to use as a conversational aid.  She knows everything already except that the penis enters the vagina.  So, should I override dh on this one?  Thanks in advance for your opinions.


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#2 of 46 Old 02-26-2011, 08:48 AM
 
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What's his concern, exactly?

 

Honestly, I think that when they ask about it, that's when they're old enough to hear the answer.  I wouldn't have a problem telling a much younger child.

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#3 of 46 Old 02-26-2011, 10:37 AM
 
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I agree on the if they ask, they are ready to know point. Course, I don't think you should just tell her without your DH knowing. You just need to convince him that she should know. More than likely, she's heard stuff from friends and you don't want her getting super incorrect information that you just have to work through later.

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#4 of 46 Old 02-26-2011, 10:59 AM
 
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That would be very late in my house. I told my kids when my oldest was about 5 and my youngest about 2 or 3. They were interested and wanted to know and it's much, much, much easier to start to have these kinds of conversations when they're little than when they're an awkward 12 year old blushing and looking at you like, "Mom, I know all this already, why do we have to talk about this, you're so embarrassing!", so my take is it's definitely not too young! My DH was on board, too, and read the books with us. "It's So Amazing" is a great book, although you may want to pre-read because there are sections in there about miscarriage, and some controversial topics. There is a book by the same authors geared toward younger kids called "So, It's Not the Stork" which is also good if "It's So Amazing" is too much for your DH!!

 

By saving it up for a "big talk" you de-normalize sex, sexuality, and puberty. By having a series of conversations over many years you keep it normal and not "dirty". That's my take anyway.

 

If it would help your DH you might make a poll here or in Childhood Years and see what the general MDC pop says.

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#5 of 46 Old 02-26-2011, 11:49 AM
 
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Agree that 8 is late in our house.  We have never done "big" talks but have talked about our bodies, reproduction, masturbation, etc as part of everyday life. By 8 there is a good chance someone else might beat to you it. My son learned the word vagina and the different way girls and boys urinate pretty early and proceeded to share this knowledge with his younger and more sheltered cousin.  My SIL was pissed!

 

If your daughter is old enough to be curious she is old enough to know.


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#6 of 46 Old 02-26-2011, 11:54 AM
 
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Growing up in my house 8 would have been late too. My mom is a CNM so I honestly can't remember a time where I didn't know how you got a baby nor do I remember any big "talk" - reproduction was never a bad or dirty subject for me and asking questions about it was never awkward. If she's asking a specific question, give her the answer. The real question is why *wouldn't* you give her the information? 

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#7 of 46 Old 02-26-2011, 11:58 AM
 
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I don't think a child is ever too young to hear that information. It's a biological function, like breathing, or blood cells fighting off viruses, or digestion.
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#8 of 46 Old 02-26-2011, 12:07 PM
 
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Not too young at all! I think 8 is a good age, especially seeing as she's asking.

 

I was 4 when my parents told me. :)


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#9 of 46 Old 02-26-2011, 12:09 PM
 
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Not to young. If she asking, it's best to be honest anyway. Otherwise you set her up for not trusting you later.


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#10 of 46 Old 02-26-2011, 12:14 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kokopelli-mana View Post

I'm pregnant with my 3rd baby (so excited!).  My dd turned 8 in October and knows that babies come from Daddy's seed meeting Mommy's egg in my tummy.  We are also very open about our bodies and what happens at maturity, etc.  She wants to know exactly how the "seed" gets to the "egg".  It's the first issue I haven't immediately explained to her.  I think she's ready, but dh thinks she's way too young.  I think she's a very smart girl and already probably has some ideas, so I want to make sure she has no misconceptions.  I bought a book "It's So Amazing!" which is geared toward her age group and explains the mechanics, to use as a conversational aid.  She knows everything already except that the penis enters the vagina.  So, should I override dh on this one?  Thanks in advance for your opinions.



When she asked I'd have just said the mans penis goes in the womans vagina. At least with my kid it wasn't necessary to sit down formally with a book to answer that question. Not that I'm against sex ed books in general, but I like answering the questions kids ask when they ask them.

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#11 of 46 Old 02-26-2011, 10:18 PM
 
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Dd learned at 4. Ds at 7. (He learned because she learned!)

 

No, it's not too early. The more factual you can make it, the easier it makes it to talk about safe sex, birth control, and the emotional issues surrounding having sex when they get closer to puberty. And I hate to break it to dad, but she's going to be starting puberty in 2 years or so.


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#12 of 46 Old 03-01-2011, 08:24 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.


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#13 of 46 Old 03-01-2011, 08:36 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.


I would tell them because they asked. Children deserve to have their honest questions answered honestly.
 

 

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#14 of 46 Old 03-02-2011, 12:38 AM
 
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I would go to the library and borrow a few books on the subject, sit down with your DH and go through said books and decide on one or two that you both find acceptable. I'd tell your dh that your dd is wanting/needing answers and he needs to help you decide what and how much she should learn. Let him know that if he does nothing that you will assume he has delegated the matter to you and that you will proceed as you see fit. OK, some might say that's agressive. I'd call it actively looking for a solution. Your child wants and deserves age appropriate answers. It's his responsability to help you formulate them.


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#15 of 46 Old 03-02-2011, 08:15 AM
 
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Penis goes into vagina. You aren;t telling her the explicit details. If you don't explain to her, she could go ask at school and get some very wrong information from friends.

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If you don't tell her, you will be giving her the very clear message that you and dad simply are not people to EVER talk to about sex. Eventually she'll find out that the penis goes in the vagina, but the message that you can't handle her questions about sex will never go away. She'll take that one right through her teen years and into adulthood.

 

Tell your DH to get over it (say it nicely, of course).

 

I like the book you selected.

 

The other option besides you tell her that facts is that she gets them from her friends, who tend to not be very clear on things. One of my DD's friend's thought that the man peed inside the woman. Really, hearing the actually truth from a parent is far easier on a child. 

 

(BTW, by the time my kids were 9, they both knew that if two people want to have sex and they don't want to make a baby, they should use 2 forms of birthcontrol)


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#17 of 46 Old 03-02-2011, 11:49 AM
 
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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.

 

If they asked over and over again I might give more detail but it would not be information I would volunteer. I asked when I was seven. I was given details and I started thinking about it all the time. I looked at reproduction pages in the encyclopedia after my parents were asleep. I feel it just made waiting much more difficult. I wanted to get married as soon as possible and have babies because I had been thinking about it since I was seven. 

 

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. 

 

We don't believe in birth control. No way ever would I talk to a young child about it. When they're going through puberty I will explain how some people don't want babies and take steps to not have them and why DH and I feel it is wrong.

 

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.

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#18 of 46 Old 03-02-2011, 11:59 AM
 
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I don't think 8 is too young to know about the mechanics of sex. I think any discussion about the mechanics should also encompass a broader discussion about relationships though.

 

For those who would wait past age 10, I'm wondering what you would tell the menstruating 9 y.o girl about sex? It's not uncommon for 9 y.o's to menstruate, or show signs of puberty. Do you advocate giving partial information about the changes they are experiencing? I think any curious 9 y.o. is likely to research answers themselves, especially if they aren't getting full, open and honest answers from their parents.  

 

As for abortion, I honestly can't recall how old my dc were when I talked to them about it. I know that I would have explained it, in age-appropriate terms, at whatever age they asked about it. DS was about 7 y.o. when he saw a used condom on the ground and asked about it. That was an interesting conversation! I did explain, as best I could, what it was and what it was used for - both birth control and disease prevention. 

 

 

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Originally Posted by asraidevin View Post

Penis goes into vagina. You aren;t telling her the explicit details. If you don't explain to her, she could go ask at school and get some very wrong information from friends.



Yep. This.

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#20 of 46 Old 03-02-2011, 12:28 PM
 
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My dd knew everything at 4.  I think 8 is late to be finding out.  I bet she has heard something at school or from friends at this point, though not necessarily correct information.

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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.

 

If they asked over and over again I might give more detail but it would not be information I would volunteer. I asked when I was seven. I was given details and I started thinking about it all the time. I looked at reproduction pages in the encyclopedia after my parents were asleep. I feel it just made waiting much more difficult. I wanted to get married as soon as possible and have babies because I had been thinking about it since I was seven. 

 

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. 

 

We don't believe in birth control. No way ever would I talk to a young child about it. When they're going through puberty I will explain how some people don't want babies and take steps to not have them and why DH and I feel it is wrong.

 

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.


How do you explain when its *not* a husband and wife who have a baby? What about a single parent? A same sex couple? 

 

If my child asked me about abortion I would use age appropriate words to explain what it means.  I want my child to learn from me, not someone else.


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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.


When my older DD asked about abortion when she was about 6, I explained to her that it meant a pregnancy ended. When she asked how, I explained the sometimes it happens naturally, and sometimes the doctor has to do it.

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Yeah, my daughter asked at some point, around 4 or 5 I think, what happens if someone is pregnant and doesn't to have a baby, and I explained what abortion was.  It wasn't more complicated than any of the rest of it.

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Eight is late at our house too. I agree with Linda on the Move (I think it was her) that you are absolutely setting the tone and the precident for how future discussions will go, not only on this topic but on a whole host of them.  

 

I completely disagree with the notion that withholding information on something like this protect's a child's innoncence in some way. Information given from a trusted source in a way sensitive to their personalities is one of the more gentle respectful ways they will learn about sex and sexuality. IME it's the kids whose parents aren't able to be open and honest who take away the message that sex is something shameful or ridiculed or a verboten topic. 

 

For the PP who asked - yes I answer my kids questions honestly whatever they are - abortion, drugs, sex, war, ethics. I always want to be one of their most trusted sources of information.

 

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Originally Posted by elus0814 View Post

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.


Yup, we have talked about abortion because it came up. We explained the difference between a spontaneous abortion and an induced abortion. 

 

By age 10 and 11 many girls and boys are going through puberty. They have a right to know about their bodies and how they work. They have a right to accurate information regarding sex. Someone asked, what happens when a 9 year old girl who is "not old enough to know that stuff" starts her period, well what happens to the 11 year old boy who is "not old enough to know that stuff" starts having wet dreams?

 

What happens when your kids get tired of hearing "you aren't old enough" and they go ask a friend, who tells them that sex is fun and "it's not like you can get pregnant if it's your first time/your not married/you don't have boobs/you pee after/[insert one of hundreds of myths surrounding sex that are floating around out there]"?

 

My daughter is no less innocent now than she was before she learned about sex (with the exception of the growing up she did between the time she learned, 4, and now, 12). She didn't suddenly turn into a little grown up because she knew how humans procreate. She didn't suddenly decide to go out and start having sex when she found out.  She did want to know how her dad and I were ever going to give her a younger sibling though since "you have a penis and daddy has a penis". So we explained that there are other ways to have a baby, like adoption or surrogacy.

 


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Yup, we have talked about abortion because it came up. We explained the difference between a spontaneous abortion and an induced abortion. 

 

By age 10 and 11 many girls and boys are going through puberty. They have a right to know about their bodies and how they work. They have a right to accurate information regarding sex. Someone asked, what happens when a 9 year old girl who is "not old enough to know that stuff" starts her period, well what happens to the 11 year old boy who is "not old enough to know that stuff" starts having wet dreams?

 

What happens when your kids get tired of hearing "you aren't old enough" and they go ask a friend, who tells them that sex is fun and "it's not like you can get pregnant if it's your first time/your not married/you don't have boobs/you pee after/[insert one of hundreds of myths surrounding sex that are floating around out there]"?

 

My daughter is no less innocent now than she was before she learned about sex (with the exception of the growing up she did between the time she learned, 4, and now, 12). She didn't suddenly turn into a little grown up because she knew how humans procreate. She didn't suddenly decide to go out and start having sex when she found out.  She did want to know how her dad and I were ever going to give her a younger sibling though since "you have a penis and daddy has a penis". So we explained that there are other ways to have a baby, like adoption or surrogacy.

 



Totally agree with this. 

 

 I mean some of the things my DD hears on the playground are just ridiculous.  Our kids learned between 4-7, first with pregnancy and periods ending with the full monty so to speak. 

 

 

Now, we have a lot of discussion about our Christian values surrounding sex and relationships. 

 

Us beginning the discussion  has also allowed us to make sure that our children know they could come to us with anything , abortion, safe sex, and homsexuality, and we will be there for them with love and nonjudgment instead of running to their peers for guidance. 

 

I also agree that abortions and any other issue (drugs etc) should be spoken with truth and not sugar coated. 

 

 

 


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#27 of 46 Old 03-02-2011, 02:58 PM
 
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When my older DD asked about abortion when she was about 6, I explained to her that it meant a pregnancy ended. When she asked how, I explained the sometimes it happens naturally, and sometimes the doctor has to do it.


This! My daughter at around the same age asked what happens if someone gets pregnant and they DON'T want the baby. I explained that sometimes it was a very hard decision and there were different options including ending the pregnancy, adoption or having the baby and keeping it anyway. We also talked about women's rights to decide what happens to their bodies and used this as an opportunity to stress that she was in her charge of her own body and no one should make her do anything she didn't want to with it.

 

Sometime in adolescence my mother explained to me what happened BEFORE abortion was safe and legal. I asked and she told me honestly as it was something she had experience with.

 

I think it's really important to explain when children ask. At my neighbors school the kids were running around acusing this one girl of having had "sex" since to them, that meant kissing. My neighbor had not explained sex and reproduction to her third grader. I was like YES - it's time. another good book is "It's not the Stork," very funny with cute pictures where the kids basically explain it all to their parents. Includes cute cartoons like "This--- goes in --- here." It's cute graphic, not gory graphic. Quite light hearted. I recommended it to my neighbor but my DD and I just had the conversation.
 

 


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#28 of 46 Old 03-02-2011, 03:07 PM
 
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Totally just remembered a conversation DD and I had the other night. 

 

She is asked if DH and I still have sex if we do not want anymore kids, so we had to go into how the chances of pregnancy can be reduced (condoms, vasectomy)  and also got into how God made sex a way for a married couple to experience love and connection.  We then spoke about how sex can make you more vulnerable becuase you are sharing a part of yourself with that person so it can hurt more if that relationship ends.  Therefore, when two people have stood up in front of their family and friends and promised to stay with eachother it is a safe  forum to share that part of you.  Which lead into then why do people get divorced. I needed a drink after that conversation.

 

 

I guess I am saying that all you can do is teach them ideals or beliefs that you would like them to follow, arm them with the facts, and be there to love them through it all.  Teaching the mechanics is the easy part. 

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#29 of 46 Old 03-02-2011, 03:39 PM
 
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This thread is straying into dangerous territory.

 

elus0814, I wouldn't use your wording to explain abortion anymore than I would sit down and have a detailed discussion of sexual positions and techniques with my child. Just because you don't agree with something doesn't make it not exist. You can give the basics without being graphic, and make it clear what your opinions are without making your child feel like they are wrong or shameful for asking an honest question.


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#30 of 46 Old 03-02-2011, 03:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elus0814 View Post

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.


A child who knows the mechanics of sex has had nothing taken away from her innocence. That you would think this says a lot about the way (some) people put a heavy gloss of adult sexuality on the most basic and innocent questions. When a kid (like my 4yo, when I told him) hears that the penis goes in the vagina, he receives that information as the mechanical explanation it is, much as if I had told him that his heart pumps blood to his body.

Telling a small child that the penis goes in the vagina is not at all the same as discussing the deep emotions or all the complicated cultural assumptions that exist about sex. It doesn't address gender roles (except at the ultimate basic level) or sexuality at all. It is only when parents confronted with the question "But how did the baby get inside the mama?" hem and haw and blush and stammer that kids have any conception in the slightest that the topic is a loaded one.


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