42 answers

9-Year-old Asking About Sex

My daughter has asked me what the word sex means and what sex is. She is 9. I explained to her that some questions are very difficult to answer and that I would like some time to think about it so I answer it the best way I can. She accepted that but I feel I need to give her an answer soon. Any suggestions? How much should a 9-year-old know? It's obvious someone, probably a kid at school, has used the word or talked about it. Otherwise she wouldn't be asking. I do realize she could have also gotten it from TV.
We have already talked about her body, periods, developing, and those other basics.
In the last few minutes, since I originally posted this, she has added the question "how does the baby get in someone's belly?" She already knows how it comes out. I told her I would answer that question with her others after I have time to think about it.

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Thank you for all the wonderful responses. My daughter and I talked this afternoon. She had quite a few questions so being vague wasn't an option. She pretty much knows how babies are made, how the egg is fertilized, how the baby comes out and exactly what sex is. I was sure to stress that it's an act that should happen between two adults who care about each other. I checked out a few books to let her skim after we talked. It was very hard and I thought she was going to vomit when she realized what sex actually was but I'm glad we had the talk and have opened the lines of communication. Thanks everyone!

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9 is about 4th grade, right? That's when my school started segregated "health" classes. As girls, we learned that sex was what two people who loved each other did to make a baby. Other than that, we mostly just learned about menstruation, hygiene, etc...
I think she's old enough to learn that sex is what two people who love each other do and that if it's a man and woman, they can make a baby this way. She doesn't need to know any more about it for now.

Hi G.! My son asked me about this over the summer. He will be 7 next week. Scary to think they are hearing things at sucha young age. He went to latchkey over the summer and there were a lot of kids in 3rd-5th grade that mingled with the younger kids on recess (whole other topic in itself) anyway. I answered him by explaining it has different meaning but the most common is the scientific way to expess whether you are a boy or a girl (ie - the doctor may say - the sex of the new baby is a boy). He seemed okay with that new found knowledge and I told him if he has any ?s later, feel free to ask, and we will deal with that when it comes. Good luck to you!

I would be very factual about it - kids this age are close enough to puberty to begin knowing the proper terminology and functions of body parts. However, I would put extra emphasis on not having sex much, much later in life...

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Arlyssa who posted an answer on this topic mentions that she knows of a 9 yr old girl who is pregnant--I hope that Arlyssa reads this--has someone reported this to child protective services? A 9 yr old does not get pregnant because she is seeking out sex with boys! 9 yr olds who are sexually active are being sexually molested/raped and need to be protected from the abuser. This brings up another very good reason that ALL children should know what sex is and the real words for their body parts--estimates are that 1 in 4 girls are molested and 1 in 7 boys are. When you have the talk with your child and explain that this is something for mommies and daddies to show their love and sometimes make babies they need to know that there are some VERY bad people in the world who will hurt them sexually and how to protect themselves--if you have a very open relationship with your child they are more likely to come to you and tell you that the neighbor/uncle/minister/teacher did something sexual towards them.(also important that kids know that bad people are NOT usually strangers or ugly--many kids think ugly is bad and good looking is good because of how people/cartoon characters are portrayed in the media) As a few other moms have said this was actully less of a problem back when most people lived on farms and kids were around lots of pregnant women. Our kids today are more isolated from real life sexuality and exposed to stuff on tv, internet etc which is often very distorted images of sexuality. Use every opportunity to talk to your children about every subject they will need to know about as they grow older. I have often used the example of talking to my girls as we were driving about safe driving habits--I did not think they were going to steal my car and go joy riding because I am explaining safe driving while they are much too young to drive--I was just getting those ideas in their heads long before they needed the info!

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Be open with her and tell her everything. What grade is she is? Around here, they take the 5th graders to the Lilly Center the 2nd week of school and they get the full-on sex-ed talk there. The schools tell the parents in the informational meeting ahead of time (like in the spring) to discuss it with their children before the field trip. It's never too soon to start the dialogue because a ridiculous percentage of 10 year olds are having sex these days. Last year while delivering my 3rd child a hospital nurse told me an 11 year old was in the room next door delivering a baby. She said that it's not that uncommon anymore to have a 12 year old pregnant. That's just scary. Most of the time, the kids say they had no clue because the parents hadn't told them the facts and they learned the "facts" from other kids (which are almost always wrong). I don't want to scare you, but you should jump on this and tell her everything she needs to know to protect herself.

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My son at age 8 wanted to know how babies were made. We had just got pregnant, so his questions were normal. I bought a book called "It's so amazing". It's geared for kids and it's all about the reproductive system and, of course, sex. I think it's normal for kids to ask these questions. Good luck!

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You've gotten so many great suggestions and I'm so glad that you posted a question like this. It's a real issue for a lot of us (my oldest is 2, but I'm sure will be asking these things soon enough).

Tell her what she wants to know. I would maybe consider asking her where she heard the word and what she heard about it. Go from there. If a simple answer like "God created sex for husbands and wives so they could make babies" works, then leave it at that until she asks for more.

Most important thing is to meet her where she is and let her know that she doesn't need to be embarrassed or ashamed of wanting to talk about it. Far too many children feel this way and don't have 'the talk' until it's too late and they end up either with disease or unplanned pregnancy.

It sounds like you really value what she has to say to you or you wouldn't have told her that you needed some time to figure out the best answer. That's awesome. I like to do that too when I don't know exactly how to answer a question.

Let us know how it goes.

God bless,
A.

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I remember I was in 2nd grade when my mom finally answered that question although I had been asking at least for a year. She bought a book and 'showed'me how it works. I was totally disgusted at first, but in a couple days I was ok with it! I think it would've been better if she had talked to me more instead of saying 'here's the book'... and she's a teacher! LOL Anyway, I dread the day my girls start asking this, but I would suggest, from my experience, letting her ask all the questions she wants and answer them all factually. Good luck!

I don't know if your library carrys' books such as these but I did have a couple at home. It was for chidlren your daughters' age and went into alot of specifics but with a child in mind. I would check at your local library since she is asking so much more and see if you can't find a book for her to read. As the librarian for such a book. I'm sure she will be very happy to meet your needs.
I wish you luck and I'm sure you will find just what you need and at your childs' level.

G.,
Don't over-think this. Give her factual answers with proper names and keep it light. My 7-year-old daughter knows exactly how babies are made, where they come from, etc. It does help that we live on a farm! One day she asked me how the mommy goats get bred and I told her that the boy goat puts his private part in the girls' and they make a baby. At that moment I realized this was my chance to get things out in the open before she got old enough to be too embarrassed to ask, so I then elaborated, telling her that ALL babies are made that way, animals, fish, birds, humans. She then was half-horrified, half-amused and said "You and Daddy did that?!" I said "yes" and she asked "Where do you do it, in the shower?"
I told her that it can be done anywhere, but most people do it in bed, and she just cracked up laughing! At the time, she and her little sister were in the tub getting their bath, and by the time the conversation was over, we were all laughing hysterically! My point is, at the moment, yes, I had that feeling of, "Oh my, we are going to have 'the talk'." But as soon as I let go of the initial embarrassment, we had a really great dialogue and she knows that no matter what she asks me, she will get the honest truth without being judged. Just imagine what you would want the trusted adult in your life to tell you, and give her the same respect.

Just a couple thoughts--you will want to try to satisfy her curiosity about sex so she doesn't go elsewhere for the answers. It will be difficult because you don't want to tell her too much considering she's only 9. Ask God for wisdom and the appropriate words to tell her.

Unfortunately sex appears more frequently in TV shows and movies. Even the PG13 rating is deteriorating. I have 3 daughters, a stepdaughter and a grandson. My youngest is 14 and knows more than my other two did at this age.

Good luck and God bless.

L. B.

Not to long ago someone asked a similar question, they suggested the American Girl book...they have several and my 9 year loves it. It doesn't address sex per se but talks about body changes etc, I found it at Books Amillion but have seen it at Target and Meijer. May give her answers but not quite to the questions you want her to have :)

Hi G., I have an 8 year old daughter and have fretted about this conversation also. I didn't learn about the birds and bees until I was in the 3rd or 4th grade, however my sister said she found out in kindergarten. That was 30 years ago. You may be surprised how much she already knows. I have the American Girl Body book and its great for talking about her body and changes that will happen and how to care for herself, but it doesn't talk about sex or boys at all. So that info must come from you. Really, that's where you want it to come from anyway. There is a series of books called "The Story of Me, God's Design for Sex," by Stan & Brenna Jones. I've heard that they are very good. There are 4 books in the series and they are developmentally appropriate for different ages, the 2nd builds on the 1st and so on. You may want to start with the basics, then let her read some about it. That way she is clear about what she knows and it all seems factual. My daughter just ask me the other day what "gay" means. In my explanation, I told her about girls loving girls and boys loving boys instead of girls loving boys. She started to ask about the difference between marrying love and friendship, so I know its coming. Good luck to you and let us know how it goes. I'm sure that it will be better than you think, it always seems that we stress out over nothing.

I would be very factual about it - kids this age are close enough to puberty to begin knowing the proper terminology and functions of body parts. However, I would put extra emphasis on not having sex much, much later in life...

please let me know what answers you get. i have the same problem.

Hi G.. Keep it simple. You don't have to tell her a lot of detail. You can very briefly explain that sex is when 2 people love eachother and that is how the baby gets in the belly. She is 9 and doesn't need to know a lot of detail.

HI G.,
I was a single mom for twelve years and it's hard to know how to respond to these kind of questions. My son asked, (and please don't think they get it from some dirty mouthed kid). I used to only let my son watch TV shows like Discovery and Animal Planet and they use the word "sex" when talking about animal and plant reproduction.
I was always very honest and open and I hope you are too. Maybe using very basic descriptions? I also let him know that waiting for marriage is the best thing and it would be special. I've also told him about condoms but I waited until he was older (14). I now have two daughters 9,4 and the four year old ask me "how the baby gets in the tummy"? I know she didn't get it from school because she stays home with me.
I have already talked in very basic terms with my 9 year old about getting her period. As you probably know girls are getting their period younger and younger. I had a friend who's daughter got her period at 8. Amazing! It was very hard because they didn't know why she was having mood swings and outbursts. Then she started and that answered everything. I just wanted my daughter to be prepared and I'm sure you do to. Good luck. I hope it goes smooth for you.
SAHM of 3, very happily married.

WOW my son just turned 9 and this post made my heart stop. Firstly understand that while she might have heard something at school it could just as likely be television, daytime televsion is TERRIBLE. I've ahd to explain many things i'd rather not, like why the man was dressed as a women, ect. becaue of something my kids walked into the room and saw, and we are talking about between 5-6 at night. But regardless the more you can find out about what she thinks sex is the better you can gage what she needs to know at this point. fix any misconceptions she might have and be sure to convey your veiws whatever they might be. good luck.

The only advice I can give you is to be open with her. My parents didn't talk to me about anything, so I was clueless and naive about, well.........everything!! Needless to say don't be graphic, lol, but the more you act like the subject is off limits and the more uncomfortable you are with it, the more curious she'll be!!

I am completely open with any questions my kids have. I figure if they're asking something particular, then it's my job as their parent to answer their question honestly and openly. If I don't, I can't expect them to return the favor to me. I have a 6 year old who every once in a while will ask questions like "how does a baby come out?" I tell her. She asked how it gets there and I said that "women carry eggs, and when they're fertilized they sometimes create a baby." If she would've asked more questions, I would've answered them, but she didn't and hasn't. I think 9 is plenty old enough to know about the birds and the bees. I think it's best to let them know before they find out about it from their friends because friends tend to make things strike a kid's curiosity too much. If a kid already knows about it, they would hopefully have the outlook of "Oh, well I already knew that." It wouldn't have that enticing sense that kids can put on it.

HI G.. What a tuff one. Sounds like maybe someone at school is expecting a new baby at home. How does the baby get into someone's belly....well, I tell my kids God puts the babys in the mom's tummy. As too the question what is sex, my girls have never asked and my oldest girl is 9. I hope that question isn't coming for me any time soon. I agree that the library would be a good starting spot to get age appropriate material. Best of Luck!

My parents sat me down at age 9 and explained to me the technicality of sex. I was a bit mature for my age (I got my period a year later--at age 10) so it was easy for them to recognize that it was the time for "the talk." I say answer her questions and tell her basics. No need to make it complicated.

Good Luck!

Your daughter has likely heard a LOT, but hasn't understood everything. She has probably heard a lot of slang and foul language concerning sex, but may not have put the slang, etc. and sex together. Please, give her the facts of life without slang terms and with anatomically correct words. Sex isn't a bad word. She is not too young to have her questions answered tactfully, accurately, and completely. Some girls start their periods by the time they are 11. You don't want her to be scared and confused if she were to start early. I had to explain about "how the baby got there" to my son when he was about the age of your daughter when our unmarried babysitter was pregnant. Try to relax. If you are tense, your daughter will pick that up. It is a natural part of the life cycle. If you treat it that way, I think that it will go much smoother for you.

By the way, I have a good friend that sat her 4 y.o. daughter down and explained everything to her along with her values concerning sex. It went very well and the daughter had no problems with that.

Both my friend's daughter and my son are adults now and neither one was damaged by the sexual info they recieved. Rather they both have a healthy attitude toward sex. Personally, I'd rather explain sex to my kids and then share my values with them concerning sex than to have them hear it for the first time in science/biology class while other kids in the class may make crude or embarrassing remarks.

Good luck!

Carol B

I just turned 50 this year and I'm a mom of 2 sons ages almost 25 and almost 27. I'm a substitute teacher for grades 1-12. CB

Tell her anything that you feel like she should know. Tell her really how a baby gets in the stomach.

ask her pediatrician for advice and resources, there are great books and literature that will help you explain it to her in an appropriate way for her age.

Perhaps you might ask her what prompted her to ask about this?
What she heard.....
This might give you an idea of what she actually wants to know....then I would go to the library and look at the books that are available for children about this.
There was an excellent book that I used 20 years ago (and I am sorry I cannot remember the title) that told how a baby is made in a very gentle way and emphasized the love between a man and a woman.
Perhaps it is still around.
At the least I would hope that you could find something similar.
I always explained "sex" to my children in terms of married love because that is what I believe in, and sadly, today it has been devalued by society and the media to nothing more than an impersonal and selfish act of pleasure.
So I think that the important thing is for you to decide what value you want to pass on to her before you just plunge into explaining the mechanics of the act.
Often, I found that a minimal amount of information satisfies children.
So, if you said, "Sex is how a man and a woman show their love for one another when they are alone together" that might be all she needs right now.
That she knows she can ask you and that you will answer is the important thing too.

When my 7 year old daughter asked me about babies, I told her that a daddy plants a seed in mommy's tummy. That seed grows into a baby just like plant seeds grow into plants. That seems to satisfy her. When she asked about sex, I told her that it's something that only moms and dads do to show they love each other, and it's a very private and personal thing, and that's why private parts are private. They are used for sex. That worked for now.

LOL..Hi G.,
I too had to deal with this. I have 3 girls, but at the time was single with just two. My oldest never and still don't act like she's interested in knowing and she's 12. But my middle child she's 10, but she was asking questions since she was 4yrs of age. And alot of that has to do with the fact that she was at her dads house and they were watching a movie with that stuff going on. He told me that he thought they were asleep. Also, when times got rough, we had to go stay with grandma and she lived out in the country, we lived on the ranch and been around animals, she had seen pigs mount each other and she would ask what they were doing. I really didn't want to answer, because she was only 4. She had went out and helped her grandpa out in the pig barn another day and asked him about the pigs and the piglets. He had told her that they mount to make babies, I could just imagine what was going on in her head. When great grandpa came around she told him that pigs have sexes, males which mount the female and create more babies. He thought that was funny. I left it be. By the time she was 5, she had watched Austin Powers with her adult cousins, which didn't think anything of it "Do I Make You Horny?" She had asked, "What is Horny?" I couldn't help but laugh..at the same time didn't have any clue what to tell her. So I ended up saying, "Its not a right time to tell you." But she insisted, of course I didn't want her to go around saying, "Do I make you horny?" So I told her that its when someone bumps their head and it leaves a big bump on their head. MISTAKE!!! She had went to school and some kid got hurt a few days later and she said to him, "Oh no, now your horny!" The teachers got pretty upset over that. But couldn't help but laugh. They told me that I should be telling her the truth. But I couldn't and I didn't want to rise curiosity in her. So from than on, we couldn't tell her stuff like that anymore. Now she's 10 and she knows the difference a little better, but she don't know the great details. Thank God. Good Luck!

There are some very helpful books out there that have been designed to help parents talk to younger children about sex. If I were you I would go to your local library and get one. I know that that is what I am planning on doing.

Good Luck

The problem is that kids are learning more about the things we learned about as teens. My daughter is 34 and asked a couple quwstions at the age of 10. I was told that you tel them minimal info to just the questions they ask. I started to talk to her and she replied that she learned most of it in the 3rd grade. I was in the 7th or 8th when I learned it. I don't know how far or how many question even short answers will cause ofr you, but I still believe in telling just minimal to only their questions. Good luck.

G.,

If she asks a question, she deserves an accurate answer. She cannot possibly have been sheltered from every single implied sex act in every single movie her entire life. The problem with people getting away from the farm and country life, is that we now have a society filled with sex obsessed advertising and movies, but we've lost sight of biological fact. Face it, most kids on working farms have seen mating behavior in everything from cats and dogs to artificial insemination of cows or horses. It's no big deal--that's the way things happen. There is a world of difference between telling her factually and being pornographic. I'm sure some of the other mothers will have great books to recommend for you, but your daughter doesn't want to read a book--she wants you to explain it to her.

Best wishes,
K.

Just thought I'd share a funny story with you. When I was 9, I asked my mom if she was pregnant with me before she and my dad got married. She was shocked and told me that HER mom had told her she never had to tell me about that! But when she verified that I was right and asked me how I figured that out, I said nonchalantly, "With math." My advice is to keep it as simple as possible. Good luck!! Oh, make sure to tell her about periods, since girls typically get them between ages 9 and 16. I was nine when my mom told me.

Well, I would be as honest as possible, try to keep things simple, but most importantly make sure you make it clear that it is very very serious. It might just be time for you to tell it like it is no matter how awkward it maybe. You don't want her to get the wrong information.

This is so freaky because i am only about a year away from this! I would start by asking her why she wants to know, and maybe find out what she already knows. Then be honest with her but at her level. Use correct terminology so you avoid any further confusion. I would just make sure she knows how happy you are that she is comfortable talking with you and that she can always come to you with any of her questions. Let us know how it all pans out.

Be thankfull that your daughter is coming to you. The best way to have a sex talk with your daughter is to be Honest. I was told that this was the best approach by somebody else.

My oldest daughter asked me that question at 7 and I told her that is how people get their private parts together and make babies. It was enough for that age. Start, giving short immediate answers or even sit down with a picture book. You don't have to give long answers or delay the answers. It's best she hear everything from you and not from somebody else.

When my daughter was trying on her dress for the first day of kindegarten, we were in the dressing room and she looked in the mirror and said, "Okay, where are THEY?"
I replied, "THEY, breasts get bigger when you get older."

My daughter came home one day from first grade one day from Catholic grade school. She told me that one boy had asked her on the play ground, "What are boobs?" I was shocked! So, I asked her, "What did you say?" She told me, "That's something you should ask your mother about." So, even before the sex talk, kids have their mind in gear and want to know about the human body, gender differences and sex.

If your daughter is asking you questions, then get cracking. If you don't start answering her questions quickly, she will get the idea that you don't know what cooks it that arena. Keep us posted.

Try to look at www.sexrespect.com -- not necessarily for a place to start (although there is some info for preteens), but great information for guiding what you teach as she gets older and info for her, too. Just check it out and don't forget to PRAY PRAY PRAY, and the Good Lord will guide you,

God Bless,

M.

9 is about 4th grade, right? That's when my school started segregated "health" classes. As girls, we learned that sex was what two people who loved each other did to make a baby. Other than that, we mostly just learned about menstruation, hygiene, etc...
I think she's old enough to learn that sex is what two people who love each other do and that if it's a man and woman, they can make a baby this way. She doesn't need to know any more about it for now.

I have a 9 year old niece. In my opinion, talk with a male you respect to get his opinion also. Girls need to hear about sex from both points of view. Tell her exactly what, why and how it happens such as hormones, attraction, feelings, and use anatomical names along with nicknames she may hear at school. She is curious and you are lucky she is asking you. That means she has good open lines of communication with you and you have a great opportunity to keep those lines open. Think about it this way: It is better she gets the facts from you instead of misinformation from some one else. If you need help with how and what is age appropriate, call Planned Parenthood or the school nurse. Hope you find this helpful. I work with abused children also. Our children today are blasted with sex and the images of sex all the time. You do the talking or someone else will.

i think it's better for her to hear it from you than from her friends or a school teacher or a boyfriend or anyone else. so explain it simply, and open up the window of communication so she knows she can ask you anytime about anything that someone says...

Hi G., Boy they grow old fast! Honesty is best but only answer the questions they ask. Too much info can overwhelm and upset kids. Your local library should have a good selection of kids books that can help you give her the info she wants in a sensitive and informative way. That was smart to ask for time to answer that way she knows you care and she will be ready to talk when you are ready. Good Luck.
God bless, D.

Hi G.! My son asked me about this over the summer. He will be 7 next week. Scary to think they are hearing things at sucha young age. He went to latchkey over the summer and there were a lot of kids in 3rd-5th grade that mingled with the younger kids on recess (whole other topic in itself) anyway. I answered him by explaining it has different meaning but the most common is the scientific way to expess whether you are a boy or a girl (ie - the doctor may say - the sex of the new baby is a boy). He seemed okay with that new found knowledge and I told him if he has any ?s later, feel free to ask, and we will deal with that when it comes. Good luck to you!

Hello. I'm sure this may be a hard question for you to answer but just tell her everything. Kids now days know more than you think. i know a 9 yr who got pregnant. I started my period at the age of 9 so i think now would be the time to explain this to her. I've already began to tell my daughter different things about life and she's only 8. my dad told me everything about sex when i was 9. i'm going to do the same for my daughter because i don't want her to ask questions to any one else. I guess whenever you feel your ready to tell her you and how much info you want to tell her you can. well good luck!!!

some times honesty with out a lot of detail is enough to gross them out..sex= something married people do in the privacy of their bedroom with private parts EWE MOM
Babies get into bellies from that act. If she wants more, I'll explain more to you when you are older for now, that is all you need to know.
Or get her the AMERICAN GIRL book about our bodies, it is really good, explained well and you can TAPE SHUT theparts you don;t feel she is ready to learn at this time.

I just experience this with my 10 yr daughter. She had details because one of the girls googled sex and told them about it on playground. I had no option but to discus this with her. I have always told my kids they can ask me anything and I won't get mad. But that doesn't mean they are ready to hear everything. My 10 year old really didn't want to know about it. She was horrified! I tried to make it as light as possible but I could see her processing this and not being comfortable. I think there is no reason to go into details. Just because they ask, doesn't necessarily mean they are ready to hear. I would just try to keep it simple and just say, it is a way a man & women show love to each other. If she continues to ask, just remind her that it isn't something she need to worry about, when the time is right you will sit her down and discuss it with her. I know our school has a talk with the 5th grade girls so I am assuming we may have more questions then. If your school does that you might tell her that in 5th grade you will talk with her again.

I was a Psych major in college and in 2 different classes, 2 very moral great professors advocated for teaching kids about sex pre-pubescent, so 9 is a great age. Otherwise it becomes awkward when their vulnerability limits them from being open to communication. It is better she hear about it from you than from her friends. Kids can get so many views of sex from media, music, tv, friends, school, you name it. What a great way to shape and influence your daughter! This can build a great trust between you two, so that if she has issues, she can come talk. Depending on how you want to go about it, you don't have to go into great detail. (I'm not sure that at the age of 9 I would want my daughter knowing about oral sex, etc.) You could simply communicate that sex is between a man and a woman who love each other...choose marriage...yada yada yada... (you could also insert a bit about how people/media misconstrue sex as something as using another person as a means of gratification, and could talk to her about true love. You could also discuss with her about the menstrual cycle and babies and tie that in with the love thing.

How far you want to go with part names and details is your call. From what I'm gathering, you want her to be educated, but not a wikipedia source for sex.
Really, this start of conversation can be a continuous dialogue for years between you two. (More details and more questions as they get older). And the fact that you're open to talking to your daughter about it is a great starting point and you're setting her up for success. Best wishes and God bless! Hope this helps :)

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