Mama Drama: Where DO Babies Come From?
Dear Mama Drama:
When and how should you start talking about sex with kids? My 6-year-old daughter has yet to start asking questions but I know her friends have. I want to be proactive but don’t want to broach the subject before it is time. Also, do you have any books/resources to recommend?
~ Proactive Mama
When and how to discuss sex is certainly a personal question that all families have to answer according to their own values and beliefs. That said, being proactive and making sure your children understand reproduction in the way you would like is a great place to start.
The first step I recommend is not talking about “sex,” talk about reproduction or how babies are made instead. This is less stressful for us as parents and eliminates a lot of the judgment and discomfort parents may associate with the word sex. Framing it in that language can wait until later if you’d like.
You may want to ask your daughter how she thinks babies are made and/or if she has any questions about it. You could refer to someone you know who is pregnant or has a new baby as a concrete example. Another way to broach the subject is to tell her you know some of her friends have asked their parents about this, so you wondered if she had any questions.
Use her answers to guide how you proceed and continue to do this as your conversations grow over time. Start with just enough information and wait for the questions to help you clarify and expand as needed. Often we can overwhelm our kids or go beyond their level of development or interest when we give too much information.
Based on where she is you may want to read a book to give some information. My most favorite book, that I still have from my childhood and have used with my own children, is How Babies Are Made by Steven Schepp and Andrew Andry. It beautifully teaches the concept of reproduction starting with flowers and moving to chickens, dogs, and people. It is easy for young children to understand and non-threatening for parents to read.
Some other good options are Amazing You: Getting Smart About Your Private Parts by Gail Saltz, Where Did I Come From?: A Guide for Children and Parents by Peter Mayle, It’s Not the Stork: A Book about Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends by Robie H. Harris, and How You Were Born by Joanna Cole. I recommend reading the book you choose thoroughly before you read it with your daughter to make sure the language and extent of information shared meet your and her needs and comfort level.
Be sure to stay calm and relaxed when talking about reproduction and body parts with your daughter. If you are comfortable, she will be. Be prepared to say “Let me think about how I want to explain that,” when your daughter comes up with a tough question you can’t think of an answer for right away.
Inevitably you’ll stumble a bit, so be gentle with yourself. Look forward to some great lines to share with your friends – either from you or your daughter. They always come up with something to knock our socks off.
Share your “How babies are made” tales with us.
Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to Lisa@milehighmamas.com, and your Mama Drama could be in next week’s column! Lisa is also available for private consultations. All emails and identifying information will remain confidential.