G.H. asks from Fort Thomas, KY on September 08, 2008
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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So What Happened?™
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!
S.D. answers from Indianapolis on September 09, 2008
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.
F.R. answers from Columbus on September 09, 2008
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!
J.W. answers from Columbus on September 09, 2008
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...
D.R. answers from Fort Wayne on September 09, 2008
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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D.T. answers from Indianapolis on September 09, 2008
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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A.B. answers from Toledo on September 09, 2008
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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A.K. answers from Indianapolis on September 09, 2008
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.
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M.G. answers from Cleveland on September 09, 2008
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.
L.B. answers from Canton on September 11, 2008
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.
C.P. answers from Kokomo on September 08, 2008
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 :)
N.N. answers from Columbus on September 09, 2008
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.