I had an experience this week where I talk to my kids about sex. They had a lot of follow up questions, so I thought I’d write about my experience. I’d love to open up a conversation and get your guys’ thoughts, and then provide some resources on some of my favorite books about the topic. I want to preface this by saying I am definitely not an expert in this area. I’m just sharing my own experiences. In fact, I have a friend, her name’s Kristin Hodson (same last name but no relation), and she was a speaker at the Birth Without Fear conference that I was a speaker at a few years ago. She actually is an expert in this area. I use her page a lot for advice on the subject, so feel free to find her on Instagram for some expert advice! I’m trying right now to get her on the show, but for now you can follow her Instagram.
Talking With My Kids, and Using Books to Help
It was probably about a month ago now when my kids started having some questions. It actually started with periods. Lincoln made the comment, he said, “Mom, you know how sometimes when blood comes out of your butt?” I kind of laughed because I thought it was funny. And then I thought, since he’s nine, he’s probably at the age where I should have a talk about sex with him. I felt kind of nervous because he’s my oldest child, so I’ve never done this before. I talked to a bunch of girlfriends and they recommended some really good books. One of the books that a lot of people recommended (and I would definitely recommend as well) was called It’s Not the Stork by Robie H. Harris. Another one was called Who Has What?, which is by Robie H. Harris as well.
I also talked to his dad about it and I just said, “Hey, I want to have this conversation. Are you guys comfortable with it?” They were, and he said, “I’ll talk to them about it first and let them know that you’re going to have a talk too.” That was good because he heard it from his dad and then he heard it from his mom. Initially I was just going to sit down my nine year old, but then my six year old was really curious. And so I thought I’d just let her be a part of the conversation too. We sat down and took about 30 or 40 minutes to go through the books and I just tried to make it very conversational and not a big deal.
One of the things that I’ve learned when talking to your kids about sex is that it’s mostly about you, and just a little bit about them. I was nervous about it just because of my own experience as a kid. Honestly, I don’t really remember if we had sex talks. I remember when I was in high school my parents always let me talk to them about any issues, but I didn’t have a lot of boyfriends or anything in high school, so I wasn’t having sex. I didn’t talk to them about it. I don’t remember it being a big deal, but I also don’t remember us talking about sex very often. So I don’t really remember what my parents did.
I just tried to make it very conversational. When my nine year old kind of got embarrassed, I made sure to tell him it’s nothing to be embarrassed about and that we were just learning. It’s just human anatomy. I told them everything is very normal, and tried to avoid making it awkward. Since then I’ve gotten a lot of other really good recommendations. C is for Consent by Eleanor Morrison was recommended to me. Another is No Means No! by Jayneen Sanders. This one doesn’t necessarily have to do with sex, but it has to do with gender roles, it’s called the The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. That book is about a princess who fights off this deadly dragon with only a paper bag and we can’t see her face, and it’s really cool. All of those books have been really helpful to help me with starting these conversations with my kids.
Sexuality and Gender Norms
A couple of other things happened that I thought were interesting conversations that I wanted to share as well. So I was in the car yesterday with my kids and somehow one of my son’s buddies was in the back seat and something came up. I think they said something like, “You’re gay,” or something. My little girl said, “Mama, what does that mean?” I said, “Well, being gay is not a big deal. That’s just when, instead of a man and a woman falling in love, a man and a man or a woman and a woman fall in love.” Lincoln got really embarrassed and he said, “Okay, we’re not going to talk about that.” I said, “No buddy, it’s okay. We can talk about it. Love is love, and sometimes boys fall in love with boys, and sometimes girls fall in love with girls.”
I asked if he remembered Ben, who was someone my kids knew, and asked if he remembered that his twin brother was gay. I talked about how he was a really nice and awesome person, just like a lot of my other friends are. Lincoln just kind of sat there for a minute and he had a bunch of questions. Regardless of your religious beliefs or your personal beliefs on this, I still think it’s important to have neutral conversations with your kids. I know some people might disagree with me on this, but the truth is they’re gonna run into situations in real life when their friends are talking about gay people, or their friends are talking about sex, and I would rather them hear it from me rather than from other people.
Lincoln had some questions, he said, “So if people are gay, does one person to have to wear boy clothes and does another person have to wear girl clothes?” I told him no, and that they can wear whatever they want. We talked about what boys and girl clothes mean. He talked about how I wear dresses, but I brought up how I also wear sweatpants. We talked about how he wears sweatpants too, and how sometimes he wears pink shirts, but it doesn’t mean it’s a girl shirt. I said that the cool thing is that you get to have a choice and you get to decide, and I just kind of left it at that. He didn’t have any more questions so I didn’t push it. I think keeping that conversation normal so it wasn’t weird is how I want to raise my kids.
Teaching Kids About Anatomy
I was talking to one of my girlfriends this morning and she was telling this funny story about how one of her friends at work has a lot of young male interns, like 18 or 19 years old. One of the boys made a comment that girls pee out of their butts. We started laughing about it and she was so surprised that these older teenage boys somehow didn’t know female anatomy. Then she said her friend heard the story and was like, “What? Girls pee out of their vaginas!” And she was even more surprised, that even this grown person didn’t have it right, because we don’t pee out of our vaginas either! We were all talking about how there’s even a misunderstanding about anatomy and how we want to raise boys and girls that each have an understanding of the female anatomy.
So she went on to explain that girls have a urethra, and talked about the vulva and the clitoris and the vagina, and how the vagina is the internal canal that connects to your uterus, which is where babies and menstrual flow pass through. She had to do little anatomy lesson, and he said he did actually know some of that, but kind of forgot, and sort of thought it all came out of the same place. This is why I really loved the book It’s Not The Stork, because it does goes through little boy anatomy and then as you get older, how your body develops and changes. It was very informative without being a weird sex talk. I just think we’re in a different day and age where this should be a topic that is easy to talk about.
Times Have Changed a Lot
I recently started watching the show on Netflix called Mad Men. I don’t know if you guys have seen it. I’m late to the game because I think there’s nine seasons now, but I’m on season one and it’s so fascinating to me because I was a history major in college and to look at it from a historical perspective it’s very interesting. I had some friends that don’t like it because it’s so degrading towards women. The way I see it, it’s just interesting how historically these things have changed so much over the last 60 years. In that show, they talk about how men really objectified women, and how being a secretary was a huge deal. But the secretaries were degraded, and constantly had their bodies talked about, and were always hit on, and how a lot of men didn’t really understand how a woman’s body functioned or operated.
My mom would tell stories about back in the day, when my grandma gave birth, and how men weren’t in the delivery room when babies were born. They’d wait in the waiting room or they’d go to the bar down the street while their wives gave birth. Once the baby was born, they’d all come in with cigars. A lot of times, even the women were blacked out when they gave birth. We’re in a day in an age now where we have so much information available to us that our kids are going to stumble across it anyways. So in my eyes, I think it’s best to make this a normalized, very easy to talk about conversation.
What I would really, really love is for this to be an open conversation. If you guys want to come back and maybe tell me your stories about how you had a sex talk or how you talk to your kids, or maybe if there’s any surprises that you had when you’ve talked to your kids, or if there were any issues. I’d love to hear more from you guys and if you guys have any suggestions on resources or books, let’s add that to the conversation as well.
Talking with my kids about sex made me super anxious, but I was so happy my kids feel comfortable enough to ask me about it. That way I can help them create a healthy view about sex and all the things that branched from that topic.
Tell me about your experience having the sex talk, or any books or you’d recommend! Or maybe even the funny things your kids said about the topic!
Thanks for reading,
P.S. I also talk about this topic on my podcast, listen HERE!