Full disclosure, or here comes the scary spam

You know how I never talk about sex here? That’s about to change. Sort of. Hang on; let me rev up my spam filter, because I’m about to get slammed with a lot of spammy links for things that I’m desperately going to wish I could unsee. (Like, you know, yesterday’s thing. Apologies to those of you with delicate sensibilities.)

So I spend a lot of time lamenting the thing I do wrong as a parent or the things I think I ought to be able to fix as a parent, and it was pointed out to me that I really am not given to appropriately celebrating the things I do RIGHT as a parent. Today I thought I would simultaneously alienate my conservative readers AND totally congratulate myself on something I think I do really well.

And that thing is: I talk about sex. Extensively. With my kids. And I always have, and I always will. Because my feeling is that they can learn this stuff from me, or they can Frankenstein together indistinguishable facts and fiction from their peers, and I’d rather they at least have their information straight.

I can vividly recall an “argument” (I’m not sure I can even call it that; more like, a conversation in which I was completely gobsmacked) I had with my ex when we were still married, before we even became parents. My ex told me—without irony, in all seriousness—that he didn’t see a reason for parents to discuss sex with their children, ever. They would learn basic mechanics in school and then it was simply the parents’ job to reinforce the notion that the children should wait until they married. End of story. I recall at the time telling him that he could certainly take that position, but that I believed healthy, open communication is necessary and I planned to talk to our kids early and often.

(In retrospect, I maybe should’ve realized there was more to that conversation than us having a slightly different take on the situation. Ahem.)

Anyway. In a world where we have politicians trying to redefine rape and 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes and, heck, growing up is just weird and sometimes worrisome, I am not going to just pat my kids on the head and tell them not to worry their pretty little heads about it and that when the time comes they can just lie back and think of England. (Okay, I just made myself laugh out loud, thinking about what response that might evoke from my darling Literal Boy.) I have a history of tackling those hard facts-of-life talks whenever the situation warrants, even when it’s difficult.

So last night at the tail end of dinner I mentioned having clicked on a link that didn’t warn me it was going to be a picture of someone naked. WHOOPS! And at the end of that bit of conversation (consisting mostly of “… and that’s why we use parental controls on your computer, so you are not similarly scarred!”), I said, “Well, at least if I wanted to know whether or not that guy was circumcised, NOW I KNOW!”

“What’s circumcision?” asked Chickadee.

Otto dropped his head into his hands. He knows me well.

I offered that he could go back up to his office and leave us to do the dishes and discuss embarrassing things, and I’m not saying he RAN out of the kitchen, but while he was gathering up some stuff I turned to Chickie and said, “Okay—” and was immediately interrupted by him interjecting “WAIT!” He then flew up the stairs and yelled over his shoulder, “Okay!”

He’s so cute when he’s terrified.

My daughter and I retreated to my office, where a lengthy discussion of circumcision (the hows and whys and a line drawing I found online to illustrated the visual difference) led to a discussion of, um, male mechanics and slang terms for things boys like to talk about. And from there we decided to check out the female anatomy (line drawings, again, because as my daughter said, “I think I’m okay with a diagram but I would really rather not see any ACTUAL PEOPLE naked because EWWW”) and discussed that for a while and finally I pulled out a book I’d been saving for her and wrapped up with my standard disclaimer:

“You know you can come to me any time to ask ANYTHING. I’m always willing to talk about this stuff with you. It’s important for you not to be embarrassed about understanding these things. I’d rather we talk about it now when it’s all theoretical than for you to get older and not know what’s true and what’s something someone on the bus said that is totally wrong, and before you have some boy trying to convince you that hey baby, it’s all good.”

She nodded, and after a little more chit-chat it was time for her to go get ready for bed.

We may be enduring the stomp-stomp-SLAM ’round here more than I would like, and Monkey may still have some challenges ahead, but I’ll be damned if I raise kids who think their bodies are mysterious or shameful or that sex is some mystical thing that only happens between married people for the purpose of making babies.

Of course, there’s a fine line to walk, here. I’m not going to be making her wear a shirt that says, “I totally know what a clitoris is,” or anything.

I mean, as long as she behaves.

62 Responses to “Full disclosure, or here comes the scary spam”

  1. 1
    Neil February 9, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    I have to hand it to my parents who were always very open about discussing sex and answering any questions that I had, although because they were old school themselves, I’m sure they had trouble talking about it even between themselves, and their advice usually was to “be nice to girls,” so I usually had to go to my friend’s house and look at his sister’s copy of “The Joy of Sex” to get the real answers.

  2. 2
    elz February 9, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    I can just see Otto sprinting out of the room. We’ve always talked at a level we think the girls can comprehend (6 &4) when they ask questions. My favorite was when daddy was gone and Em asked what a weenie was. That was fun. NOT.

  3. 3
    Bibi February 9, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    Hahaha. Totally agree with you. Laughing about the clitoris shirt.

  4. 4
    Stimey February 9, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    Yay, you! My kids kept not asking, so I finally had to go ahead and bring it up to them last summer. I think your philosophy on this is right on. I just wish there was a deal with it book for boys. I need to do some searching around for a good one.

  5. 5
    StephLove February 9, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    My 4th grader was reading a book in which a young Inuit woman is exiled from her village for being unmarried and pregnant and he asked me how she could have gotten pregnant if she wasn’t married and I was shocked because we have talked about this, many times, he knows, or he should.

    He has understood the mechanics of reproduction since he was four, both the traditional way a woman can get pregnant and the way I got pregnant with him (insemination). But he still has no clue about the whole social structure that’s built up around sex, and he forgets that sex isn’t just about reproduction, that you might do it for another reason. He’s a Literal Boy, too, and very rule-bound and has trouble remembering people sometimes break rules.

  6. 6
    Grace February 9, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    I think you’re definitely handling this one right. I plan to handle it the same way. And I think that’s how my mom must have done it, as well, because while I don’t remember her talking to me about sex, I also don’t remember ever having any misinformation.

  7. 7
    Rachel February 9, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    Once again, you ARE a rockstar! I’m totally with you on the open-and-honest discussion. My mom, unfortunately, was totally in line with your ex. My dad, the doctor, gave me the nuts-and-bolts (HA!) medical discussion and somewhat-jokingly threatened to kill me if I got pregnant before I got married. Nice.

  8. 8
    My Kids Mom February 9, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    Go Mir!
    My mom’s philosophy (which I espouse) is that children should be taught everything they might ever need to know about anatomy, reproduction, sex, and sex/personal safety before they are ten. After ten, they won’t ask questions anymore and the playground will be their source of knowledge.

    Yes, I was the kid on the playground who corrected the cabbage patch myths. Among others.

    Can we all mention good books here? Starting with my TODDLERS, we’ve read “It’s Not the Stork” and other books by Robbie Harris. He uses cartoons to explain the facts and has books for ages 3 and up to puberty. Yes, three. At three they have the same reaction to “oh, that’s an ankle!” and “oh, that’s a vulva!” and you have no need to be embarrassed.

    Then, for older elementary kids, I suggest adding What’s Going on Down There? by Gravelle

    Amazon links to them:
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=robbie+harris&x=0&y=0

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0802775403/ref=lst_llp_sl-0

  9. 9
    Shannon February 9, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    You handled that exactly the way I hope to handle these things. This full disclosure thing is what my hubby and I are aiming for. So far it has gone well, but our kids are still fairly young. Way to go!

  10. 10
    Shannon February 9, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    Oh, and I was going to ask, what is the bok you gave Chickadee? I’m interested in what’s available out there for that age group What’s your recommendation?

  11. 11
    Marissa February 9, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    I completely agree with you; we give age appropriate answers to our son’s questions (and eventually to our daughter’s too) and sometimes challenge him about his knowledge when something slightly “adult” is mentioned on TV and he snickers.

    We are in a bit of different position as my son and his cousin were both born before their parents were married and both were in their parents weddings. We struggle with how to talk to our son about the relationship between marriage and having children without making him feel weird or upset.

    This post is perfectly timed, just this morning I read note from my son’s school notifiying us that 5th graders would be learnig about puberty in health class in a few weeks, and to let the school know if you did NOT want your child to participate.

  12. 12
    Michele D February 9, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    Hooray for you pretty Mir! I have an awkward situation here because my daughter (soon to be 10) is super smart and will ask questions that I answer for her, but I can never tell when I am getting too technical. She is smart, but she still plays with stuffed animals. I figure if I tell her too much, well then she can just block it out of her head and ask me again when her brain is ready to remember. That whole better safe than sorry thing. My husband who is wonderful would have also bolted out of the room. And I must admit when I read “line drawing” I thought for a second that YOU were drawing it. Ooops sorry about that.

  13. 13
    Aimee February 9, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    You rock. Seriously. I know too many women who are part of that 1 in 4 statistic. Information is good, and you are awesome for making sure your kids have it.

  14. 14
    Kristi February 9, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    Good for you. And good for her. I have the same thoughts as you and my husband, while he hasn’t said what your ex has in no uncertain terms, has clearly left it to me to handle. Maybe he is like Otto?

  15. 15
    suzie February 9, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    Oh, this reinforces my love for you!!

    I totally agree, and have had relatively similar conversations in my house recently (7th and 9th grade girls), complete with book provisions. I went with It’s Perfectly Normal and Changing Bodies, Changing Lives.

    I have always been pretty open with the girls about such things, but the necessary level of detail is definitely increasing as they get older. I force myself not to squirm, and to do all I can to make conversations about sex and bodies a natural thing in our family.

  16. 16
    RuthWells February 9, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    You’re so damn pretty. Way to go.

  17. 17
    Nicole February 9, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    I totally want to be that kind of parent as my son gets older but I’ll admit, when asked HOW the baby gets out of the mommy’s belly by my then three year old I was flustered at first. Then I explained how with the right words and as completely as I felt appropriate for a three year old. He asked some questions and then we went about our business.

    He has been curious about the differences between boys and girls and I’ve answered his questions. My struggle is knowing what is and isn’t age appropriate. I checked a book out of the library but he was completely uninterested. I suppose with this age the best strategy is to just answer questions honestly as they come up. I don’t know, that’s my strategy anyway.

  18. 18
    The Mommy Therapy February 9, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    I love this. I feel exactly the same way about discussing sex and our bodies and all those things with my kids. When I was pregnant with my third child, my 4 year old son was fascinated by my body and how that baby got in there. I actually had several people tell me to tell him that God put it there.

    I was shocked that so many people chose to basically avoid the question when there was an open door to give information. Why should I be embarrassed in front of my son that I have a baby in me? Same thing about nursing in front of him. I couldn’t believe I was actually being told to be ashamed in my house to nurse in front of my kids. (Though in public I totally believe in having a good share of modesty.)

    My sister in law doesn’t get think her boys should know the word vagina because it is embarrassing. A good majority of my friends have all sorts of names for their body parts other than what they are named. Ridiculous. So thank you for telling your kids how it really is, I think it’s a healthy recipe for success later on!

  19. 19
    EmJay February 9, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    We take the same approach which is the polar opposite of what I was raised with. My Dad is really uptight. My parents live close by and my kids spend lots of time with them. My mom called me yesterday to inform me that I should have seen the look on my dad’s face when my 4 year old girl was explaining that their dog was “Smelling her vagina, well actually its my labia.” Made me laugh out loud.

  20. 20
    Midj February 9, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    I lost a friendship because my daughter had “too much information”. It was years before I found out why. Would I change a thing?? No! I have a happy, healthy, well grounded 21 year old daughter who is unafraid to question anything and a 17 year old son who has respect for himself and the girls with whom he has friendships. Information is key. They have always known where they came from and how they got there in age appropriate language. My husband squirms but participates in discussions. The favorite part of my son’s birth story has always been how he was almost born in the bathroom… No squeamishness on his part about reproductive anatomy… :-) Keep up the GREAT work Mir, and I’m glad you took the time to pat yourself on the back. Spammers be damned!

  21. 21
    el-e-e February 9, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    Well, after watching Teen Mom for only the 2nd time last night, I totally agree with being open and honest and talkative about s-e-x with kids. They need to know things, dude.

    Otto’s escape: So funny!

  22. 22
    Frank February 9, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    Disclaimer: my son is only 4 1/2.. so I am not doing this any time soon…

    Open question: Anyone ever heard about, seen, or read something like this that is designed for boys?

  23. 23
    Lori N February 9, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    Yay for open communication!!

    I’ve been talking frankly and honestly about their bodies, reproduction and sex (along with a wide variety of other subjects) with my kids since they’ve started speaking. My husband, while a firm believer open communication, has seemed to miss out on all of the conversations with our daughter (she’s now 11). Fine, I figured he’d be there for our son’s questions. :) Apparently he’s fine with me handling everything because last week when my son (6 1/2) was asking questions about sex my husband pointedly stayed in his office until I was done answering questions. “You’re doing great!” he assured me when I confronted him on his lack of participation. “I was ready to come in and help if you got into trouble!” LOL

    On another note — apparently my daughter has reached the age of embarrassment. My son was whispering euphemisms for various body parts during a conversation (at home) so we had a little recitation lesson which consisted of saying various body parts 10 times loudly. (Penis! Breasts! Elbow! — you’re welcome.) My daughter was dying of embarrassment even though it was just the three of us at home. I apologized to her that I didn’t have her shout these words when she was 6 1/2 so that she wouldn’t be so embarrassed now. Not sure it would have changed anything, but it did make her laugh instead of cringe.

  24. 24
    Nelson's Mama February 9, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    My youngest daughter is totally into conversations like that and I feel like I’ve been able to do a good job preparing her. However, my older daughter was completely resistant to those kind of “talks” so I did the best I could with her – I made sure she had information available, but as you know all kids are different. You have to reach each kid at their own level.

    @ The Mommy Therapy – my husband didn’t like it when I was using the word vagina either – his comment “what if they go to school and say that? My response: “Fine, I’ll teach them to use twat, let’s see how THAT goes over at school.”

  25. 25
    Kate in Michigan February 9, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    Nelson’s’ Mama:
    BWAAAHAAAAA. I love LOVE it! That made me laugh.

    At our house my kids (7 and 9) have heard all the terminology, but I tell them that ‘correct’ anatomical terms can send certain people into fits of the giggles, so we generally refer to them as, collectively, “girl parts” and “boy parts.” You know, allowing for the correct terms when absolutely necessary, but avoiding the snickers of hearing a 7 year old boy talk about testicles.

  26. 26
    Heather @Critter Chronicles February 9, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    I plan on having “the talk” with my daughter in a few months. I’m homeschooling her for first grade this year and one of our science units will be about the human body, which will be a good segue into that topic. I feel as though seven is a perfectly acceptable age to bring up the concept of sex and how babies are made. My husband and one of my friends were a bit horrified when I made that announcement, though.

    She already knows where and how they grow and how they get out: when I gave birth to my son in 2007 my then almost-4-year-old daughter was present in the delivery room and saw every detail of that process. (My sister was also there to whisk her away should a complication arise or she get too distressed, but it was a very calm and easy birth and I was a calm birther, and wouldn’t have considered allowing her there if I thought either one of us couldn’t handle it.)

    My mom’s a nurse so I was raised with all the proper terminology for body parts, and my kids both know those, too. My three-year-old son constantly talks about his and our body parts to us, and we answer him just as matter-of-factly. (Well, I do; my husband is still a bit bashful but then his parents NEVER discussed sex with him. EVER.) In fact, one of his favorite books in our house right now is The Complete Human Body book, and the other day he amused me by pointing out cross-section pictures of mammary glands and his understanding that these were breasts on women. Apparently I could stand to be more discrete when I get dressed around him… :)

    I never remember having a BIG TALK with my mom; how our bodies work were always just a part of my knowledge. I feel that keeping this as a taboo subject is one of the best ways to lead a kid to learn more on their own… and I don’t want that happening.

  27. 27
    Lucinda February 9, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Early and often! Yes, yes, yes!!!!!! (Oh, sorry about that). I have been talking to my kids, especially my daughter since she asks the most questions, since they were very young. I remember my daughter, when she was in kindergarten, telling me that she wanted to be a scientist and study all about sperm. She was completely serious. My son doesn’t ask many questions, but I think he overhears a lot of conversation. I hope.

    The other thing we talk about a lot too is the media portrayal of sex, sexiness, what is attractive and what is important. In 3rd grade my daughter is already becoming aware of body image but she also knows that what she sees on tv isn’t real, and she should never aspire to that fake standard. It’s so sad to me how sex has become such a distorted thing in our culture.

    I also keep telling my husband that his job is to model respect for women to his children because they both are getting important lessons. For our daughter, that she is worthy of a man’s respect and she is beautiful. For our son, that a real man treats a woman with respect and wants a woman who challenges him. I can only talk about that for so long. My children need to see it in action, and I am so grateful they do daily.

    I love they way you talk about sex to your children and the husband you have married to give your children that strong foundation!

  28. 28
    Anna February 9, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    Good job, Mir. I was allowed to read Teen magazine, and had questions for my mom but she never wanted to talk about them. So then, after my wedding (yes, changed out of my dress and walking to the car to leave for MY HONEYMOON SUITE, she says “You know, honey….”

    Ok, now, I WAS a virgin, but at age 21, after nearly ten years of TEEN mag and the public school system and COLLEGE- hello? I think I had the general concept. lol

    So yes. My 8yo has nearly all of the details, and I love that she comes to me a couple of times a month about that and other personal questions. I’m happy, she’s happy, it’s all good.

  29. 29
    Tracy B February 9, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    I totally agree with you and have done the same myself. I even bought condoms for my son when he reached the age I knew he was interested. And even with all the information and knowledge about sex please understand that it doesn’t make them practice safe sex all the time. Just sayin’….

  30. 30
    Billie February 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    Thanks for the wonderful laughs Mir (and Nelson’s Mama).

    I have always had open discussions with my son about sex, boy parts, etc. I can’t remember how old he was (6 or 7) when I told him that it was time for him to start covering up certain body parts because it was not appropriate for others to see them. Before that time, he thought nothing of taking a bath and then walking out of the bathroom in the nude.

    When I was pregnant with my 2 1/2 year old and then my 1 year old, we had many discussions about the changes that were going on in my body. He would even sit down with me to read, “What to Expect When You are Expecting.” I loved it because he got to ask any questions without embarrassment.

    We have been having a lot of conversations recently regarding PUBERTY. This one is a hard one for me because I am not a boy (SURPRISE!) and have never went through what a boy goes through. I have 4 sisters, it never crossed my mind to discuss things like wet dreams, etc. I usually try to read up on puberty in boys online before our discussions. I have quizzed my husband on his experiences as well.

    I for one can’t wait to hear about their health discussions at school. I have heard that it should be happening soon for our 5th graders. My friend’s son got the talk from their principal and said that he walks into the room full of boys and says, “Penis, Penis, Penis. Laugh now and get it over with because we are going to be talking about it today.”

  31. 31
    Kim February 9, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    Awesome job! I absolutely believe honesty is the only way to handle these convos and the discussions of other facts of life too – illness, death, depression, etc. Glossing over the uncomfortable just makes it more uncomfortable. I’ve always tried to make sure my girls knew things were not taboo. The other thing that has amazed me is how I have to keep explaining things. They hear it when they’re younger, but clearly don’t understand because they continue to ask questions about things I thought they already knew. I’ve also tried to keep it non-judgemental. My mom did a decent job of being open, but there was always the air of here is the info, but this is not for you. Which rather than changing anything I did, just made it clear to me that she was not a resource. Good job!

  32. 32
    Mare Martell February 9, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    I’ve been the go to gal for the sex talks for many of my friends. The first time I was asked, I was maybe, 26 or so. My friend and I had talked at great length about what happens if her girls came to me with questions. By the end of that conversation, I knew where she stood, knew I could answer openly and honestly.
    Not long after that, my friend’s daughter came to me rather shyly and asked if I would take her to get contraception. I asked if she were thinking about or already active. She said thinking, insert sigh of relief.
    I knew her mom was receptive and open to the talks, but I was also aware that sometimes talking about “The Big Nasty” (that makes me giggle every time) with a parent isn’t always comfortable. I made it a point to talk facts, separate the wheat from the chaff, talk about the emotional aspects, and answer questions.
    When all was said and done, I took the young woman to get the contraceptives, then quietly informed her mother. Her mom then opened the dialogue with her and it worked out fine.
    I do that now with my friend’s children. They come to me when they feel afraid to ask mom. It also helps that I can reassure mom that the little baby they held isn’t having sex yet. They trust me because they know I’m not going to make up names, answer inappropriately, or mislead them into the foolish notion that sex is only between married people.
    Mir, you amaze me with your frankness. I’d let you talk to my son about sex if he needed someone besides “mom” to do it for him.

  33. 33
    J from Ireland February 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    Oh Mir I am in full agreement with you there. I too want my kids to hear about sex from me or their father. As my husband is not as enthusastic as me on these matters they are mosty left to me except when I force my husband to talk to our sons about the stuff I have no clue about. Good woman.

  34. 34
    Megan February 9, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    Heh. My daughter came back from a fishing expedition with her dad one day (she was… about six?) and he informed me they had ‘had the talk.’ When I pressed for details he said that she asked some questions and he had given her a lovely demonstration of eggs and sperm – thanks to the salmon they had caught – talked a bit about the mechanics of that bit, and then informed her that ‘people just do it on the inside,’ which left her totally happy. I knew that talk had sunk in when, a few weeks later, she loudly declared ‘ew! My salmon just SPERMED on me!’ in front of her fundamentalist Mormon grandmother.

    Of course, that grandmother is the woman who left me convinced that ‘virgin’ was a fancy word for corner when I asked for a definition after listening to Silent Night. She talked so long and so bafflingly that I completely tuned out and settled on ‘corner’ as at least fitting the line of the song!

    Good for you for talking openly, honestly, and thoroughly. I wish it had happened for me, and I’m glad I did it for my kids!

  35. 36
    Misty February 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    Here are books called “The What’s Happening to my Body Book for Boys” and one by the same title for girls. I think the best thing is to go look and see which book fits you families values best.

    My husband is military and often deployed. I’ve tackled the “what’s masturbation” question from our oldest when he was about 11. Most recently, the 12 and 14 year old made reference to a joke with reference to a “BJ”. I asked if they knew what it meant and neither would answer. So I sat them down and we discussed what it is. I feel if they are going to hear about, or talk it, they will be educated about it.

  36. 37
    MomCat February 9, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    My daughter lost a friend over this, too, in fifth grade. The poor kid thought she was going to die when she started her period at school, and my daughter told her it was normal, and answered a couple of her questions. In the Girl’s bathroom. The horror. To hear the gossip, you’d think my child had advocated prostitution.

  37. 38
    mamaspeak February 9, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    Hi Mir!
    You rock. And you’re pretty.
    I agree wholeheartedly with you about this subject. We have a shitload of science people in the family; hubs is a scientist, (deals w/genetics & pharmaceutical,) FIL, a surgeon, UIL, an ophthalmologist, multiple cousins who are GPs & nurses… As you might guess, our dinner conversations are not for the weak of stomach. If gross you out medical stories are OK, then body functions/parts are no big deal.
    My girls are 7 & 4 and both are MAJOR questions askers, (future scientists I think,) so once the questions started to stray in that direction, (age 3ish,) I wasn’t sure how much info was appropriate. We too use the “It’s Not the Stork” series. Mostly, when a question comes up, I’ll suggest we check the book. I do this for two reasons; 1) it helps me understand how much to tell them, and it has illustrations to help me. 2) It teaches them how/where to go for answers if they feel like they want to go it alone. Most of the time they forget by the time we get to where the book is, but not always. I do find them browsing on their own from time-to-time too.
    So Yeah Me! And Yeah You!
    Here’s the kicker, I’ve had to warn the neighborhood parents; “My kids have the correct information. If you tell you kid you get pregnant once your married and have a special hug, (no, I’m not making this up,) my kid will set your kid strait.” I can’t believe that in year 2011 parents are telling their kids they can get pregnant from hugging, but there you go.
    Hopefully, I can get back to read all your comments later. I’ve very curious to see what everyone wrote.
    Have a good day!

  38. 39
    Alice February 9, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    Hear hear! And Misty, I loved the ‘what’s happening to my body books’ (I got the girl one, but borrowed my brother’s because I wanted to make sure they weren’t holding out on me! I can’t remember all of it, but I *loved* having a reference, for times when I didn’t want to ask my parents about things. Also made it much easier to share info with friends once periods came along, because I have a somewhat fallible memory, and was paranoid about giving people the wrong information.

    I really can’t fathom the mindset that believes that silence is an appropriate approach towards puberty and sex. I know it’s uncomfortable (said the currently-childless lady), and I sympathize with parents who squirm. But the potential repercussions – from disease to pregnancy to ingrained shame – are weighty enough that kids shouldn’t have to face them in absolute ignorance.

  39. 40
    SassyApple February 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    Mir, you’re pretty and smart, as always. Love reading everyone’s stories, but I have one demonstrating what happens when you skirt the topic. My 3 yr. old niece, after asking, was told that her milk had come from mommy. She then pressed for further details, and my sister told her it was just like baby calves getting milk from their mommies. A long pause, and my niece says, ‘I drank milk from your butt?’

  40. 41
    Flea February 9, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    My Hunny is so much better at discussing these things with the kids than I am. Especially now that they’re teenagers. Gah. I’m a prude. It’s very sad, really, but I’m glad one of us is comfortable having the conversations. Unlike Otto, I usually stick around for them. You never know when you might learn something.

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    liz February 9, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    When I was a kid, my mom gave me Changing Bodies Changing Lives (not this edition, obvs.) Lots of information for both boys and girls about their own and each others bodies and perspectives.

    I’m going to get whatever edition is current for my son in the next couple of years.

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    liz February 9, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    The edition I had also listed resources of safe places to go for medical, legal, and other advice. I don’t know if the current edition also has that.

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    Little Bird February 9, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    Mir, Google Prostitutes and Cheez-puffs, little bird. The first thing that pops up SHOULD be (I make no promises) my blog. That entry is the story of how I learned about sex. At age five. It’s nowhere near as dirty as it sounds like it might be. My mom had a way of… giving far more information than I asked for. All I asked was what a prostitute was (we had a few who lived about a block over, we lived in a pretty bad neighborhood).

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    heather February 9, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    My mother was a sex ed teacher. I was correcting her tests while she cooked dinner from a very young age. I’d read the answers people wrote for essay questions out loud and she’d tell me how to score it and any comments to write on the paper. By the time I hit puberty I was an expert! LOL.

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    Cindy February 9, 2011 at 6:31 pm #

    oh it would be fun if this could be a “regular” segment.

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    Chris M. February 9, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

    De-lurking again just to say: you are my hero. Between you and Otto, your kids are in very good hand!

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    vanessa February 9, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    Do you have a Unitarian Universalist church around there? they have a program for 8th graders that teaches comprehensive sex ed. It’s a really brilliant program.
    Also, OMG I HAD THAT BOOK!
    I also love “It’s Perfectly Normal” and, when she is a bit older (our 8th grade kids get this in OWL) S.E.X. by Heather Corinna.
    and yay for you–if more moms were honest with their kids about sex, we wouldn’t have such madness!

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    All Adither February 10, 2011 at 12:28 am #

    Okay, I now have an Amazon cart full of sex books. Thanks! :)

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    Varda (SquashedMom) February 10, 2011 at 1:26 am #

    I am also 100% with you here. Thanks for risking the spambots and talking about this here! We also use the book “It’s So Amazing!: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families” (same writers as “It’s not the Stork”, but the middle book, age wise).

    I had a kid who, a year ago at age 7, DID NOT WANT TO HEAR about where babies come from, but I knew 2nd graders and they were starting to talk, and I didn’t want his head filled with misinformation. So I got the book and I left around on the coffee table & pretended it was mine, not his and acted like I wasn’t sure if I thought he was ready to look at it. Worked like a charm, he grabbed it and read it and then we read parts of it together & he asked good questions & I answered. We’ll need to revisit again soon, and step things up in the next year, but I feel like I’ve laid the foundation.

    Now, all that is with my “typical” kid. My son on the autism spectrum, we’re just at the “correct labels for body parts” and “babies grow in mommies” level. Conception is WAY too abstract a concept for a kid with such significant language processing issues. Sooner of later I’m going to have to figure out how to tackle this with him, but not yet.

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    Jennifer February 10, 2011 at 8:17 am #

    I hope you included the all important ‘and make sure no one is getting pregnant until the baby has a place to live’ part. My boys (7 and 10) think they should buy the house first, and have sex second ;-)

    And nothing beats explaining what a scrotum is while cooking dinner. Nothing at all.

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    Sheila February 10, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    I commend you for your approach to this and am stealing sentences wholesale to use on my own daughters, but what I really needed to say is:

    I totally misread your post title as ‘Here Comes the Scary Sperm.’

    Now that I think about it, they ARE kind of scary…

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    Marsha February 10, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    You’ll be happy you did this later. I have a 17 year old and I am so happy I kept the communication going with drugs and sex. He is at the age now where they start to “experiment” with things and he is very forthcoming about telling me things.. .which I don’t think he would’ve if I just would’ve patted him on the head and walked away ignoring realities. Thank goodness he is heavily into sports and always has been so he doesn’t have a girlfriend or the time for one and I know he hasn’t had sex yet because of the questions he is asking me. Quite embarrassing questions but I answer them because like you, I want him to know the truth. He’s been through sex ed as well but you still gotta reinforce it at home. Same with the going to bon fires where there is alcohol, etc. and peer pressure.. we talk about stuff. If you start now, they’ll talk to you later… harder to get it out of em for sure.. but they eventually talk to you. Good for you.

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    jenn February 10, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    HA – sounds just like my house. I’m very open about sex with my kids because they’ve told me some of the crazy crap they hear at school. I’m with you, It’s better to get it all out in the open (within appropriate guidelines, of course) My husband? He’s usually got his hands over his ears. :)

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    s February 10, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    I commend you for this – I had an awkward relationship with my mom surrounding the “sex talk”. She was clearly uncomfortable with it all and I took on that same feeling. She made sure I had the basic info and we endured a horrendously silent car ride there and back to the mom/child sex ed series of classes but that’s about it. And I still feel awkward and not totally comfortable but I do try to talk to my daughter. I should start with my middle son… yet its all awkward and comfortable with my daughter! I’ve talked to her a bit, I watched the same movie she saw in school, I gave her a book and we’ve done a lot of note writing (she asks questions, I answer but its all on paper). I can’t imagine having the conversation you had – not that I find it embarassing in terms of subject, but I know our conversation would be awkward for both of us. I’d love to change that. I wish I had started earlier. And then how far to go….some new book wants girls to know self satisfaction is an option. I can’t even imagine breaching that subject, yet I do want my daughter to be comfortable with her body and know she is in control not some hormone driven boy (and yeah, I’ll need to be teaching that to my son who will one day be a hormone driven boy). argh. its so hard! and i so don’t want it to be!!

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    amy February 10, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    I do believe that we are cut from the very same cloth. My parents liked to tell me that they were open and discussed everything with me, but they did the bare minimum (looking back). I learned how a baby was created, and how it grew inside the mother, but I didn’t get to discuss all of the aspects of sex (acts and consent and self-worth) and slang terms etc. Kids are talking about sex amongst themselves at much younger ages now, it amazes me to hear women talk about this issue as if it doesn’t exist and/or they don’t need to address it with their children ‘yet’. At the very least, children should know the proper terms for ALL of their body parts when they can talk.

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    Another Dawn February 10, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    You know what they call parents who won’t talk to their kids about sex, don’t you? Parents of teen parents. They’re also the type who turf their pregnant teenaged daughters out of the house, despite having completely failed her themselves. Interestingly, I don’t think they throw their teen sons out when they get someone else’s daughter pregnant. Interesting species, aren’t we?

    I personally would like to see the words vulva and vagina used appropriately. Until they are, I am going to insist on calling my buttocks my anus in protest. :)

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    Brigid February 10, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    Umm, I have a monogramming machine. So you want that shirt, just give me a few days heads up.

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    elza murphy February 10, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    Nicely done! My mom never discussed any of it with me, never even gave me a book. (Not even the really basic mechanics part) and we never had it in school either. Honestly, except for the dirty jokes my brothers told and reading *Forever*, I don’t know how I ever learned any of it.

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    Heather February 10, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    My husband completely freaks out over the fact that my kids (4 & 2) call their bits & pieces by the appropriate names. Evidently hearing a 2 year say “vagina” wasn’t on the top of his life list. ;) I applaud your honesty with your kids- they’ll thank you for it!

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    Liza February 11, 2011 at 5:41 am #

    You are such an awesome mom.

    I still think the “under the sink” post is one of the top 5 funniest blog posts I have ever read, anywhere on the whole entire Internet.

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    Karen February 11, 2011 at 7:12 am #

    If there’s a clitoris shirt out there, I expect to see a link on WantNot so I can get a discount through you.

    Love the post. Love you.

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