You don’t always get a ready-made opportunity to cue up a conversation about sex with your kids.
Looking back, I remember my own; sitting on the brown polyester shag carpet of my grandfather’s living room when I was a 13-year-old and listening as he uncomfortably beat around the bush for what seemed like pretty near an eternity. What followed was neither graphic nor particularly informative. In his quiet midwestern way he simply said, “Son, the poop shoot is not a sexual organ.” I turned to see my brother standing perfectly still mid-stride with a look of sheer terror on his face. He was hoping not to get sucked into the vortex of what was shaping up to be the worst birds-and-the-bees conversation on record.
So, needless to say, when I had my own boys I endeavored to spare them the discomfort of being completely mortified.
As a man it’s hard enough to cover these topics with growing boys, and the task seems even more daunting for families that don’t have a steady man around. So, I’d like to share with you a few tips on things I’ve learned along the way, and hopefully make this conversation for you and your children a little less frightening.
My wife and I started early. And by that I mean I started early. When I started talking to the boys the first time she lit out of the driveway like Marty McFly; leaving nothing but fiery tire marks on the pavement. So, everything I offer in this article as advice was by necessity formulated without the help of a “helpmate.”
Kids are pretty smart, you have to give ’em credit. There is little to nothing that you can tell them in a sex talk that they haven’t already considered. The first time I talked to my boys they were 7 and 9. It was certainly time to start talking to the older one, but I figured, Hey … I might as well tell the younger one now too. No sense in having him learn it from his older brother, who would undoubtedly goof it up in the retelling.
“Boys, what’s inside an apple?”
They looked at me and then at each other, obviously wondering if this was a trick question. “Seeds,” they timidly replied.
“That’s right! and what’s inside an orange?” “Seeds!” They were slowly catching on. “What about a waterme-?”
“SEEDS!” They interrupted.
“Did you know that every living thing comes from a seed? Dogs have seeds, birds have seeds, giraffes have seeds, and orangoutangs have seeds.” The look on there faces showed that the wheels were slowly beginning to turn. “Even humans have seeds.”
They looked at me, still deep in thought, but with a definite question forming in their mouths. I gently stopped them and told them that the “unnamed” body part was in fact a seed factory. It made seeds for planting new human beings. Now the questions really began to pepper in:
“What do the seeds look like daddy? Did you come from a seed daddy?”
My favorite question though was from my oldest. It came after the other questions died down. He obviously had been thinking through the implications of all that I had said. He knew that babies grew in mommies’ tummies, and now knew that daddies carried the seeds.
“Daddy, where do you plant the seeds?”
Have you ever recoiled while being held in a place outside of space and time; filled with unimaginable horror and dread?
Then something incredibly pragmatic struck me between the eyes …
“Do you need to make a baby right now, Son?”
He thoughtfully looked up for a moment and quietly said, “No, daddy.” Apocalypse averted—at least for now—score one for team dad.
The Right Place for Answers: Establishing that You’re Smart
One of the things I have always tried to instill in my boys is that for every question there is an answer. Now, the most obvious part of that lesson is that children have a billion questions just brimming beneath the surface of their over-active imaginations, and neither you nor I have all the answers. So, I tell my boys, “I may not always have the answers to your questions, but I can help you find the right person to answer your question.”
The context behind that was preparing them for all the progressive content, evolution, and both random and pointed agnostic and atheistic information they would be bombarded with in the public school system. So, it was necessary to help them understand their schoolteachers weren’t necessarily the best place to get all the right answers.
Now, as it relates to our subject at hand, the absolute worst place your kids can learn about sex is from other kids who have learned from their older siblings, or movies their parents let play in the background, or the internet. So, I’ve done my best to enforce the fact that I am an expert at making babies.
“Boys, your friends don’t know anything about this stuff. I do.” They gave me a suspicious glance. “How many kids has Bobbie made?”
“How many have I made?”
“Two.” The light slowly begins to come on.
“Who do you think knows more about it, me or Bobbie?”
There Is Hope
So, here is a little note of encouragement. You can do this. I promise. It’s not nearly as bad as you think. They don’t need all the answers right now, but they could use some context as to why and how the world works the way it does, and the context you establish builds trust in their little heads and cements in their hearts who they will accept as an authority later on when their questions are more difficult.
So, be encouraged and don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about anything.