Telling 5yo "Where do babies come from." - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 01:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Hm, I'm sure this has been brought up b4 on Mothering.com but... I have no idea what to say, or how much to talk about. My son has brought this up before when other moms in his class are pregnant. But his dad's new wife is pregnant and based on what my son is relaying, they have been rather explicit on babies and how babies come out etc. Ewe! I haven't gone there. Up till now my son and I have been simple, not so "magical thinking" as I believe he is somewhat growing out of that (in terms of ages and stages.) But still....

So, my question is: what do you find appropriate to relay to a 5 year old? For example, my one friend doesn't talk about "death" to her 5 year old as being permanent b/c she doesn't think it is appropriate to a 5yo relationship to the world. Maybe by 7 he will be more secure, kind of thing. That I get.

My instincts tell me that I don't want to go into the vagina and blood and pushing etc at 5.

So what do you tell your 5 year old? What's your rational? When do you think "sex talk" is more appropriate then for their age?

Thanks so much! I"m single and want to check in with how other moms relate to parenting!!

Single mom, raising a spirited boy (6yo) superhero.gifin the middle of the farms outside the city.
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#2 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 01:58 PM
 
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I think this really depends on the child and the comfort level of the family, but for us, we usually determine what she is ready to hear about by waiting for her to ask questions and answering them in as little detail as necessary, and then filling in more as she asks more. We gave her some basic information about her vagina and vulva and explained about private parts so she can protect herself in the event that someone were to attempt to molest her, but other than that we wait and see what she's curious about.

What is important, IMO, is to separate your true parenting instincts from any personal feelings of guilt, shame, discomfort, etc you may have about sex, birth, and sexuality in order to give kids adequate information at the level they're ready for.

My DD is 5 has seen birth videos in preparation for the birth of our next child and knows all about the vagina, the blood, the pushing, etc, but she hasn't asked too many questions about how the baby got in there, so she doesn't have a lot of information about penis-vagina intercourse. That's what's working for us so far.
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#3 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 02:21 PM
 
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I'm pregnant with my third and have had to explain to my almost 5 year old where babies come from. We've told him that mommies have a special opening instead of a penis in the same area that the babies come out from. Daddies help to put the babies in the mommies tummies so mommy can help them grow from tiny little things to a good size. And that mommies have to push the babies out using their tummy muscles. He seemed to accept that. When he gets older we can get more technical. In the meantime, he's preoccupied with keeping the baby in the tummy warm. I can't sit down without him bringing a blanket. Thank God for a/c.

Don't trust anyone under 5! Mom to 3 boys under 5. Blogging to save my sanity.
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#4 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 02:29 PM
 
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I think you have to go at the child's pace. Most of them don't want a lot of detail so the information they don't need just goes over their heads.

I really love this book, although it seems rather expensive in the USA, but you might want to have a good read of the reviews to see if it fits in with your ... er ... world view.
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#5 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 02:33 PM
 
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since my dd has been following me to the bathroom she knew about blood and babies before she was 2. at 4 she was done. i want to know EXACTLY how it happens. no i already know the sperm meets the egg but exactly HOW does the sperm meet the egg?

so i went thru the whole daddy puts his penis in mommy's vagina talk and at 4 dd learnt the whole nitty gritty thing.

like pp said my dd WANTED to know the whole truth, i was comfortable telling her. never again has that conversation arisen.

there are many threads here about where babies come from and death.

again as pp pointed out - its the family comfort level. and i think its perfectly ok to say you are not comfortable talking about it, instead of giving half baked or incorrect information esp. when your child wants more.

for my dd it was important that she KNOW and i had to respect that, no matter what i thought. if i hadnt responded the way i did and she felt the information was incomplete she would try to find it elsewhere. and honestly i find myself the best teacher for her sex education. i want no one else to tell her anything incorrectly.

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#6 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 02:55 PM
 
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When my dd was five I read books to my dd and talked to her about the sperm and the egg making the baby (though not how the sperm got in there because she didn't care to know), where the baby is, where the baby comes out, and what the baby does when they get out. She was happy with those details. I didn't go into the gory details because she isn't comfortable with those things. When she asks again about it I plan on going into more detail as I will if she ever asks how the sperm gets to the egg. If she doesn't ask by the time she is nine or ten I will tell her about it anyways. For now I just answer the questions she asks and don't give her more information than she wants to know.
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#7 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 03:04 PM
 
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My DD is almost 6 but has spent nearly the past year of homeschooling focused on birthing. It's one of her true loves and becoming a midwife is on her short list of things to do one day.

So, we have seen it all. Talked about it all. It is one of her true passions, and I've just let her lead us to her next questions.

I'm a firm believer in answering questions honestly but not providing more detail than they are asking.

When she asks, "how are babies born?" we don't tell her the mechanics of how babies are made. We just focused on the specific questions she asked at the time and took it from there.

Her favorite book is a "A Child is Born".

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#8 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 03:08 PM
 
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My 5yo knows that babies come through the vagina. She is not fazed by this. She knows the body is designed to stretch accordingly and that it hurts, but that the pain goes away. She understands that women's bodies are amazing and were created for this function (among other things, of course). She knows that some babies are born at home and some in hospital and some need surgical help to be born. I don't think kids find the idea of birth as traumatizing as adults who have been bombarded with media misinformation their entire lives. She has not asked specifically how the baby gets in there, but we have told her that when a mom and dad are ready for a baby one starts to grow. I'm sure we'll be adding to the story soon.

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#9 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 03:21 PM
 
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I think it's important for kids to have basic, correct, age-appropriate information, and not necessarily to wait for them to ask -- some kids NEVER ask! When my daughter was five, I did tell her how babies are made. I didn't talk about blood during birth, because taht's a little alarming to a kid, but you have a vagina nad a uterus, a uterus is where your babies will grow if you decide to have them, men and women together make babies.
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#10 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 03:44 PM
 
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When my dd was five I read books to my dd and talked to her about the sperm and the egg making the baby (though not how the sperm got in there because she didn't care to know)
My ds is 6 and has started really pushing for answers on this. A few weeks ago he asked and I told him "the daddy's sperm and the mommy's egg meet in the mommy's tummy and they join together to make a baby". He was satisfied, or so I thought. A couple hours later, at dp's soccer game.... surrounded by other people.... ds asks "Mama- do you have to eat Jason's sperm to get it in your tummy with the egg?". I could have died. Everyone who heard was trying hard not to laugh. Nobody succeeded.

Steph, DH Jason (1-1-11), DS Owen (10-3-03) and DS Kai (10-13-11)

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#11 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 03:54 PM
 
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This really depends on how you (and your ex) feel about bodies and all that stuff. I'm honest but not gruesomely detailed with my kids. I have a book out from the library by Lennart Nilsson (A Child is Born) that starts with sex and ends with baby coming out - lots of pics and information. I've perused it a bit with DD (4.5yo), but ended up setting it aside because Daddy couldn't handle the details (HA! and he was there twice - go figure!).

I think if your ex is going to talk about this stuff clearly, then a book like I mentioned will give you a very AP and similarly open talking point.

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#12 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 04:08 PM
 
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I have an almost 4 year old and she knows most of where babies come from, she doesn't know exactly how the sperm and egg meet, but we have watched videos on YouTube about human eggs how they are released etc...She wanted to know.

We had a baby last year and she went with to dr appointments from the first u/s to many of the last appointments. She knew I had to have a c/s, even though most babies are born vaginally. I explained I had to have surgery due to things that happened during her birth(crash ec/s that ended up with a T-incision on my uterus). We recently talked about it again, she's interested in it so I follow her lead. Plus like a PP she's been going into the bathroom with me since she was really little, she knows a lot about women's bodies.

I think it totally depends on the kid how you approach it, my DD was really into it, so I just give her the info she asks for.

She also knows about death, we had an old dog we had to put down last year, plus Dh's grandma died last winter so we went to the funeral and such, we had to explain that she was very old and she lived a full life(also the dog). She told everyone for awhile her great grandma died.

Both are part of life, and if my kid wants to know-I tell them as much as they want.

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#13 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 04:25 PM
 
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Another vote for: Answer the questions they ask.

But, I'll warn you, this means that my dd knew the "facts of life" when she was 4. At 3 1/2, she asked how babies were made. I explained that an egg from mommy and a sperm from daddy get together and make a baby. The baby then grows in a special place called the "womb".

That served her until she was 4. At 4, she wanted to know how the sperm and the egg got together. So, I told her the truth. "Daddy and mommy put daddy's penis in mommy's vagina and the sperm come out and go up into where the eggs are." Honestly, I wasn't all that comfortable telling her this, but I wanted her to hear this from me and not someone else. And I really didn't want to make it a huge deal and have it feel shameful somehow. So, I swallowed my discomfort and just said it. It wasn't that big a deal really.

Ds was about 7 before he asked that question. And he only found out the fact that babies are made from an egg and a sperm because his little sister told him. Before that, he didn't really care.

I'd also highly recommend the book "It's Not the Stork". It's a great book with age-appropriate vocabulary. It does talk about 'sex' in a very general way, but mostly it's about differences between male and female bodies and labeling/explaining the reproductive parts.

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#14 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for sharing! I do have home birthing books here in the house, but I needed some more specific info on "how" to talk to a child at certain ages, so the suggestions made here have been wonderful for me. Honestly, I am not a prude, I am quite blunt about anatomy & physiology, and I am studying nursing and have no shame about the human body. My son uses anatomical names for body parts, while some kids in his class dont'. Also, I am honest about death unlike my friend's level of comfort. So. Most of my hemming and hawing is wanting to take the reign more so than the ex as he is not so sensitive to kids (he's not around my son that much) and his wife hasn't been around kids either. This is great to hear other parents talk about what their own kids asked and how they dealt with some sensitive issues. Like I said, some parents I know would be shocked by our frank talk here even---even at 5.

Single mom, raising a spirited boy (6yo) superhero.gifin the middle of the farms outside the city.
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#15 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 08:41 PM
 
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My dd is obsessed with questions about birth. I showed her some YouTube videos of animals giving birth and then of a homebirth. She loves it.

Mother to dd, 3.
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#16 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 08:50 PM
 
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DD (5.5) has asked how babies come out, but I have so far given vague answers like 'you go to the hospital and the doctor helps you get it out' because DS (almost 4) has always been in the room at the time, and I don't think he needs to know yet.

We have friends who have had the entire frank discussion with their DD who is the same age as mine.

I'm slightly concerned about telling DD the whole truth, because then being so amazed/surprised, etc that she goes and tells her whole class at school about it, or tells DS who would then tell all the kids at preschool. Obviously, the other parents might have a problem with it because they were planning to tell their kids when they were older, or with their own terminology, etc.

Anyone share this concern, or have this happen to them, or am I just being paranoid?

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#17 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 09:05 PM
 
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My four-year-old knew that the father puts his penis in the mother's vagina, the sperm and egg meeting up, the baby growing in the uterus and coming out the vagina. (I didn't get into the blood aspect, although he knew all about periods, too). Kids will take this information in the spirit it is presented. Be matter of fact, and they will be, too.

Answer questions as they are asked. However, it's a good idea, when they ask, to first ask "What do you think?" Because it's likely your kid has picked up or dreamed up some very...interesting theories. Which can be very funny.

I wasn't concerned about ds telling the kids at school. Mostly because, as I said, I presented this as all very normal. It wasn't like a big hush-hush secret that he couldn't wait to share. His attitude was more, "Huh. So that's how it works. Can we have ice cream for dessert?"
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#18 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 09:08 PM
 
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Hm, I'm sure this has been brought up b4 on Mothering.com but... I have no idea what to say, or how much to talk about. My son has brought this up before when other moms in his class are pregnant. But his dad's new wife is pregnant and based on what my son is relaying, they have been rather explicit on babies and how babies come out etc. Ewe! I haven't gone there. Up till now my son and I have been simple, not so "magical thinking" as I believe he is somewhat growing out of that (in terms of ages and stages.) But still....

So, my question is: what do you find appropriate to relay to a 5 year old? For example, my one friend doesn't talk about "death" to her 5 year old as being permanent b/c she doesn't think it is appropriate to a 5yo relationship to the world. Maybe by 7 he will be more secure, kind of thing. That I get.

My instincts tell me that I don't want to go into the vagina and blood and pushing etc at 5.

So what do you tell your 5 year old? What's your rational? When do you think "sex talk" is more appropriate then for their age?

Thanks so much! I"m single and want to check in with how other moms relate to parenting!!
uh, why is it "ewe"?

Anyhow, I think there's nothing inappropriate to talk about with a 5 yo (or even younger) about biology. If they ask a question, they deserve an answer. In fact, I try to answer questions before they ask them, because I don't want them to pick it up from somewhere that it's an embarassing topic and NOT ask me when they have questions.
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#19 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 09:58 PM
 
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I read "It's Not the Stork" to DS1 this past winter just before he turned 5 yo. I am really glad that I presented the information at this age because a) I didn't want him to start hearing odd things from other kids who have older siblings and b) he didn't bat an eye! The book starts with details about how people grow, and how kids' bodies change at puberty, and then has one page that describes the "special kind of loving that a mommy and daddy do" (all in a very kindergarten-friendly way). DS was interested in all of it but did not seemed shocked by the idea of sex any more than any other ideas in that book. I feel strongly that if I'd waited a year or two it would have been much more difficult and awkward to have the conversation. Since then we've talked about animals mating (he saw lions mating at the zoo!) and it's been another way to discuss the idea in a neutral context. I also took the opportunity of reading that book to discuss menstruation because he has not had exposure to that and I feel that since I have 2 boys I really want him to understand and appreciate the experiences of females as well (I don't want him to be a kid that says "eww, that's so gross!" at the idea of the menstrual cycle). He also thought that that was interesting but not shocking, gross, or any other negative reaction that he might have had in a few years.

FWIW he had not been asking these questions (he'd already known for years about babies growing in their mother's uterus and about labor and birth). I just wanted to preempt any incorrect information and have an open conversation at an early age.

BTW, I much prefered to read to him in a neutral way about the details of making a baby rather than having to make it personal by saying "Daddy put his penis in Mommy's vagina..." that would have really wigged me out!

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#20 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 10:06 PM
 
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I'm slightly concerned about telling DD the whole truth, because then being so amazed/surprised, etc that she goes and tells her whole class at school about it, or tells DS who would then tell all the kids at preschool. Obviously, the other parents might have a problem with it because they were planning to tell their kids when they were older, or with their own terminology, etc.

Anyone share this concern, or have this happen to them, or am I just being paranoid?
This has not been an issue at all for us, because DS found the information no more amazing than, say, my explanation as to how the earth goes around the sun. He just took it in as one other detail about how the world works-- just a matter of fact detail about sperm joining egg, and how it's done. It's only we, the adults, who attach the emotional baggage to the process! And if your DD did mention it at school, I don't see how other parents could have a problem with the truth being told. It will be far worse when they start hearing distorted information passed down by older siblings!

Mommy to two boys, ages 4 and 6.

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#21 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 10:10 PM
 
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When DD was 3 and I was pregnant, we watched animal births on you tube (maybe a human birth? I remember having a hard time finding one that I liked). We talked about birth and went to a sibling class here where they did a slide show of a birth and talked about pushing, the placenta, the umbilical cord, and "food blood" that helps the baby and doesn't mean the mommy is hurt. The instructor (Penny Simkin), also had a mommy and baby doll and kind of acted out a birth while talking about it. My dd loved it. She loved to talk about it and none of it bothered her.
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#22 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 11:15 PM
 
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My instincts tell me that I don't want to go into the vagina and blood and pushing etc at 5.

So what do you tell your 5 year old?
At 6, my daughter watched her sister be born, blood, vagina and all.
She wanted to be there, and I'm so so glad that she's had the unique opportunity of witnessing normal birth, of her own sibling, no less.

I agree with others that answering as questions arise is the wisest answer.

4 kids under 10
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#23 of 32 Old 08-05-2010, 11:52 PM
 
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At 6, my daughter watched her sister be born, blood, vagina and all.
She wanted to be there, and I'm so so glad that she's had the unique opportunity of witnessing normal birth, of her own sibling, no less.

I agree with others that answering as questions arise is the wisest answer.
That's something that's really unique to each child so, while your 6 year old did fine, others wouldn't. My ds is 6, almost 7. If he were to see me give birth he would FLIP OUT. He would probably end up in a full-out regression, sitting in the corner rocking and crying. He hates the sight of blood and he's very protective of his mama. The sight of his mama bleeding would send him over the edge. He flips out of I get a paper cut If/when I have another baby ds will definitely not be anywhere around, for his own good!

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#24 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 12:47 AM - Thread Starter
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tatermom-I think I will read this book to my son too. I like your presentation of how to read the book and include the topic in normal life.

Re: being worried about what your child brings to school, my son uses the word "penis" and he was actually corrected by his preK teacher to say "wee wee" because other parents (yes, parents) do not like their kids to use that word. Actually, that incident made me bring my question to mothering.com to find out what "other" 5 year olds are comfortable with knowing. I mean, if some kids aren't allowed to handle the word penis, then I started to think...hm, really? Should we not talk about vaginas and the birthing process at 5 then? Anyway, glad to hear everyone's voice, I am encouraged!

Single mom, raising a spirited boy (6yo) superhero.gifin the middle of the farms outside the city.
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#25 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 01:50 AM
 
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Re: being worried about what your child brings to school, my son uses the word "penis" and he was actually corrected by his preK teacher to say "wee wee" because other parents (yes, parents) do not like their kids to use that word.
Um yeah. I have to say, I'd be having talk with that teacher and giving her a copy of Protecting the Gift.As for the other parents, that's their issue, not my kid's issue. If it was a curse word, okay, but I absolutely would not be alright with my child being corrected for using the correct term for his body parts.
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#26 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 01:55 AM
 
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Um yeah. I have to say, I'd be having talk with that teacher and giving her a copy of Protecting the Gift.As for the other parents, that's their issue, not my kid's issue. If it was a curse word, okay, but I absolutely would not be alright with my child being corrected for using the correct term for his body parts.
Yeah, I hope you had a long, long talk with the teacher about how inappropriate that was of her/him.
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#27 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 03:35 AM
 
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Actually, that incident made me bring my question to mothering.com to find out what "other" 5 year olds are comfortable with knowing. I mean, if some kids aren't allowed to handle the word penis, then I started to think...hm, really? Should we not talk about vaginas and the birthing process at 5 then?
I know, it's shocking to hear others' views on this subject sometimes. I was at a birthday party and overheard another mother talking about how a young girl in her neighborhood "knew everything about where babies come from -- I mean everything, like the ____ goes in the ____ and everything!!" And the 3 mothers she was talking to all tsk-tsked, like what horrible parents she must have to be telling her such awful things. I was standing nearby just baffled/dismayed at what I was hearing.

Anyway, to answer the OP, I've answered DS's questions as he's asked them, and just last week he got very specific and badgered me to tell him exactly how the sperm gets to the egg, so I told him. I was just very matter-of-fact, and he asked a couple of questions about it, but he seemed satisfied with the answer and hasn't brought it up since.

I did tell him that different parents choose to share this information with their kids at different times, and that he can always always ask me questions but to please let his friends' parents be the ones to discuss it with them. If he slips up and mentions it in front of a friend I guess I'll be the talk of the next birthday party.

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#28 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 10:32 AM
 
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Originally Posted by StephandOwen View Post
That's something that's really unique to each child so, while your 6 year old did fine, others wouldn't. My ds is 6, almost 7. If he were to see me give birth he would FLIP OUT. He would probably end up in a full-out regression, sitting in the corner rocking and crying. He hates the sight of blood and he's very protective of his mama. The sight of his mama bleeding would send him over the edge. He flips out of I get a paper cut If/when I have another baby ds will definitely not be anywhere around, for his own good!
That was what I meant. I meant that it's not outside of the realm of possibility to tell a 5-year-old about birth if a 6-year-old can watch it. Not all 5-year-olds or 6-year-olds are the same, but it's within "normal".

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#29 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 02:06 PM
 
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I guess I don't see advantage or value in a child NOT knowing -- there's nothing horrible about reproduction, and I feel safer with her knowing about her body. I didn't want her to hear weird garbled versions from other kids, or draw her conclusions from pop culture.
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#30 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 03:01 PM
 
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Everyone has given such good advice. I'm just chiming in to add that you do NOT want overly-cartoony books on this topic.

I was reading at 4, and somehow brought home a book on where babies came from. It was an older book, with lots of goofy cartoons*. My mom went through it with me, and thought I'd figured everything out and was good. Fast-forward to that Christmas. My former-Navy grandfather had just gotten a lovely silk robe with a paisley pattern. Imagine everyone's delight when I exclaimed, "Grampa! you've got sperm all over your robe!"

*in the book, sperm looked almost exactly like paisley. So, you see, beware of cartoon sperm lest your whole family think your preschooler is a total weirdo.

Doctors aren't out to kill you or your children. Childbirth isn't inherently safe. Science is actually smarter than your intuition. Lighten up. Use sunscreen.

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