What did you grow up calling private parts? We had all girls in our family, so we never had occasion to use "penis" regularly, and had no goofy name for it. On the other hand, we referred to the female "private" as a "goose." As in, "Don't touch your goose" or "My goose itches," etc. This really warped me, and to this day I cannot say "goose" without blushing. I usually have to word a sentence in plural to talk about an actual goose, as in, "One of the geese."
What is the best word to use for a child? I don't like "vagina" because 1, it isn't entirely accurate (we would actually be referring to the vulva in most cases, right?) and 2, it sounds so technical. I don't really like vulva either, it just sounds weird. I have no trouble with the word penis, so that won't be an issue. Any ideas or thoughts here? Should I just get over it and use vagina?
Now it is penis and vulva. A more accurate name for that part of the body, from what I've read. It also sounds better imo.
My vote is get over it and use vulva.
We use a sanskrit term for the vagina- yonni. It has a much nicer ring to it IMHO, but we do use the traditional penis.
I don't use the technical terms, although I do agree in spirit about why the correct terms should be used, because there are just too many parts to try to explain to a small child and vagina alone is not accurate. My six year old still says pubby, but she has begun to learn the accurate terms for the various components. :
SMC to Sophia, age 15, and Eleanor, age 9, and mother hen to too many nursing students to count!
OFF TOPIC: my son is at a home daycare with one other little girl the same age. This little girls mother doesn't want her daughter to see my son's private parts (don't know what word she used) or for him to see her daughter's private parts. They are THREE YEARS OLD and have been together since they were 18 months old! At least I'm not that screwed up.
Anyhow, we try to use the word vagina or vulva but I admit "between your legs" does get used on occasion. Since we have three girls and no boys the penis question has never come up.
Like some other posters, we found "vagina" and "vulva" rather sterile (well, I guess it depends on the individual vagina... and technical-sounding. Inspired by Ina Mae Gaskin, I liked the softness of "puss," but my dh thought it sounded vulgar. "Crotch" sounded also too vulgar and rather insulting, and naturally, "cunt" was not an option. We never thought of "yoni," but if we had, we wouldn't have gone for that -- just not our style, no offense intended.
That being said, we went for "privates" as a general all-purpose term for her vulva, and "butt" for her butt and rectum. When she's seen babies born on video or in books, we've called the vagina the vagina or the "birth canal," but "privates" works pretty well. It doesn't offend, it isn't cutesie, and it is a term that will work well into adulthood.
Hope this helps!
Just today she said that her and I have a vagina and Uncle Jamie and grandpa have penises. Hee hee. My dh cringed at the words because it is his father she was referring to and he just didn't want to have to think about it, kwim.
I dont think we had names for them growing up, maybe just like your post we called them 'private parts'. It was a little awkward for me at first when Delaney started using the words vagina and penis but hey, I would rather teach them to her now when there is no pubescent angst regarding the whole matter. No need to teach a word twice!
I try to use "vulva" because it is more accurate, but my dh has a harder time with that. I'll admit I don't love saying it either, but I feel it's important.
But, I find the "goose" thing too funny. I have an immediate mental image of the backsides of the two geese in the Aristocats waddling away.
First off, I don't think "shameful" is the appropriate word. The fact is, private parts, whether male or female, are not noses or knees. There is a difference, in the way we treat these body parts (ie keeping them covered in most situations, refraining from touching them in public, not allowing others to look at or touch them without a good reason) and in the way society treats these body parts. I think dealing with them in a different way (whether or not that includes "code" words) transmits the message that they are different. Not bad, but a special part that is treated in a special way.
Secondly, if the nose or the knee was encumbered with a medical-sounding name, you might well use an alternative word! I still say belly button, not because I think it is a shameful body part, but because navel has always sounded too technical and kind of ugly. ("I want to get my navel pierced." Ugh.) If the only official word we had to describe fingers was "phalanges," I'm sure there would be a kid-friendly term in use for them as well. I'll wager you use "funny bone" instead of "ulnar nerve" yourself!
I could go on and on. Not exactly a body part, but when potty training, do you say, "Can you urinate in the potty?" "Do you need to defecate?" "Say bye-bye to the fecal matter!" Maybe you do. I don't think that's for me; I prefer the cutesy words!
Lastly, if I feel goofy saying "vulva," I'm sure dd will pick up on that. Wouldn't it be better to find a term I can say without feeling weird about it? Of course when we are discussing a serious subject like sexual contact or reproduction, the official words would be used.
SO, what do you think? I'm glad someone from the "correct-names only" crowd finally posted b/c I'd like to hash some of these ideas out and make sure I feel comfortable with the decision I do make.
We use vulva, vagina, penis, testicles and bottom.
DS: 18 DD: 15 DD: 8 11/10 4/11
DD: 3 8/11
I understand your point about keeping these parts covered in normal circumstances, but so what? Women who cover for religious reasons don't generally show off their arms and thighs in public, but they don't (as far as I know) make up silly terms so as to avoid using the word "arm."
I grew up in a house where my parents used euphemisms, too, but as a kid I thought it was dumb, and it made it harder to use the right words later. I will freely admit that initially I felt awkward saying the correct terms out loud to my kids, but after a few times it wasn't a problem, especially since I started when they were just learning their body parts.
I guess in general we do try to use the right word for things--my 5 yo daughter knows where to find her uvula, her patella and her tibia. We use navel most of the time, but will use belly button interchangeably since that's what her day care person calls it.
But use whatever terms you want. I don't think your kids will be permanently warped from it.
I really don't like using vagina. It means "sheath" in latin (like for a man's sword) and I prefer defining my own anatomy. I also think yoni just sounds nicer.
When telling friends this (when they ask what we say), most laugh at yonni cause they think of Yoni--the "singer"
Still, I like yonni a lot. I don't, however, care for yoni.
my girls , now almost 14 and almost 3 - neither could say vagina when they were young. my older girl called it her giney (pronounced jiy nee. long i, long e) so both say "giney" now
so we have a hiney (or tushie) and a giney.
penis is penis tho. not hard to say. my 3 year old says it very well. tells every boy she meets that they have a penis just like her daddy has a penis and her baby brother will have a penis too when he comes out of mamas belly.
We use the actual body part names for all body parts.
I also agree that using nicknames for selective body parts sends a slight message of shame with regards to that area. Seems somehow unhealthy.
Having grown up with nicknames for "private parts" it at first felt weird to me using words like vulva, vagina, penis, labia... but the strangeness quickly passed and now the idea of not using the actual body part words seems strange.
I'm glad my dds can refer to all parts of their body with the "real" words without blushing or feelings embarassed.
I'm teaching my kids a variety of terms. For the specific parts, they learn vagina and vulva, penis and testicles... When referring to the genitalia in general we say "wee-wee" or "privates". this avoids saying, "Okay, w it's time to wash your ____, ___, and ___" and we can just wrap it up in one term. Oh, and "butt" refers to the buttocks/rear end while "bottom" refers to the rectum.
I think it's fine to use cutesy terms for the parts as long as you still teach them the correct terms.
I was taught that the vagina is very dirty, ugly, and stinky. If you touch yourself you will go to hell. Once, my mother caught my sister masterbating and made her smell her fingers and then wash her hands for a long time.
My ds says vagina, actually he shortened it to gina and penis. I never thought about vagina technically not being the correct term.
I am not demented like my parents thank goodness. Children need to know the correct terms even if they don't use them. They also need to know that it is a private part but not a part to be ashamed of.
We use penis for the penis. I imagine that after ds's birth, we'll find out which is more popular: testicles or balls
both boys do call their penises pee-pees occasionally..which is fine with me, as long as they know what they are really called and that there are different parts.
edited to add: the correct pronunciation of yoni in Sanskrit rhymes with pony not Bonnie. Also, I didn't realize until I read back over the thread that someone else had already made the same point I did. Oh, well.
SMC to Sophia, age 15, and Eleanor, age 9, and mother hen to too many nursing students to count!
I grew up not being given any words to call private parts, they weren't even called private parts, they were just ignored. I worked with a girl whose mom taught them to call their privates a "peachie"??
I have a 4 yo DD and a 2yo DS, and we use vagina and penis. Even though vagina isn't all-encompassing, it's enough for now. I wouldn't feel comfortable using a sanskrit word, when that's not the main language here, we don't speak sanskrit, if DD went to the doctor it wouldn't be called a yoni, and it wouldn't be called a yoni in any books we would read, etc. It might be something I would introduce later on, but not for the initial "what is this?", as I think it would still cause confusion, like if I told my kids female privates are called a peachie.
Maybe we could petition for a name change to yoni, cuz it is nicer sounding and has a much better meaning!
There's a difference between using a non-technical name and using a euphemism. Belly-button is simple and descriptive. "Private parts," on the other hand, conveys the impression of something shameful or not to be talked about. And using a word that means something else, like goose, is not something you would do with most body parts.
My two and a half year old daughter just discovered her clitoris. She said she had a "tongue in her bottom." I told her she only had one tongue, and it's in her mouth. She said, "No, two tongues."
-Alice, SAHM to dd (2001) and ds (2004) each of whom was a , who each self-weaned at 4.5 years , who both 'd, who were both, and both: . Also, , and !
I really have enjoyed all this input and hearing other people's experiences!