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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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!

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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.

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