In my home we call a penis a penis and a vagina a vagina, we have from the start. My daughter, who is definitely more mature (at the ripe old age of 3!) than her brother and can talk about her body parts much more fluently than him doesn’t even think twice about using those, and other names of body parts. When she was about 2 1/2 she took such pleasure telling people what genitalia they had. She was so proud that she knew this information, and I was proud of her, but I would also try to let her know that we don’t just blurt that out all the time. Not everyone felt the same about her knowledge. Many people would try to tell her not to say those words and to say “fill in many names here”. But I would quickly say, no, a vagina is a vagina and a penis is a penis. I don’t want to perpetuate that shame or embarrassment many people have of their bodies. I want my kids to be well aware of their bodies, what they can do and what goes a long with having either a vagina or penis.
My kids also know they didn’t come from a stork, they came from “mommy’s tummy”, and yes we will get more detailed when the time comes. They will also learn about IVF and C-sections, which were very much a part of their conception and birth, as well as vaginal delivery.
My kids know about breasts and their many uses. When my daughter sees a woman breastfeeding her baby she will usually grin and say “guess that baby was getting crabby and needed some milk”. She doesn’t stare or point wildly, she sees it as normal as when she sees a baby getting a bottle.
Then there’s the more touchy areas, and yes the pun was intentional… Every kid I’ve ever known has always been fascinated with their genitalia, and my kids are no different. When Thing 2 started touching herself in the living room I would tell her that we do that in our bedrooms or somewhere in private, not in the living room while everyone is watching television. There were no “stop doing that!!!” or brushing her hand away, just a calm “that’s something we do in private”. Thing 1 has been in love with his penis since the moment it was formed while still in utero. I think all men are like that, it’s in their DNA! And he gets the same “we do that in private”.
As they get older the information will get more detailed and cover much more. I want the conversation of sex and our bodies to not be something that they dread or never happens, I want it to be the norm. If either has a question I want them to be able to ask me and not have any hesitation. I want for them to already have so much knowledge that many of their questions are already answered.
It’s tough growing up and the pressures regarding sex seem to be getting more and more (or maybe is just seems like it now that I’m a parent). I truly don’t feel you can ever stop your kids from having sex, they will find a way no matter what, but what I can do is make sure they know what they are getting into. I won’t give them the fantasy talk of sex is to only happen between two people that are in love and want to be together forever. This will for sure rub a few people the wrong way, so be it. On the other end, I won’t be saying how sex is the best activity ever and you just can’t get enough. I’ll tell it as I see it, sex can happen between two people that are just attracted to each other as well as two people that are really in love and want to be as close as two people can be, and everything in between.
Amongst all this will be the “be responsible for your own body” talk. Don’t rely on the other person to protect you, bring your own condoms and your own beliefs and the ability to stand by them.
When the time comes that my kids feel they are ready to have sex I want them to be aware of all that can happen, to be able to make that decision for the correct reason and not out of feeling pressure. Ultimately, it is their decision and I want that decision to be made fully informed. Sex can have consequences, disease, pregnancy, feelings of shame etc….
My children are three, so we have many more years until we are dealing with the “heavy” stuff, but that just means I have many years to build up to it so it isn’t so “heavy”. And up until then I will happily take the eye rolls and negative comments from the people that don’t believe in being so open with their kids or that believe our genitalia should have happy little names. Besides, vagina is that bad…