36 answers

When Is the Right Time to Have the 'Birds and the Bees' Talk?

My 8 yr old is asking my to explain what is "sex". I've side stepped the topic at least a few times. I have the book "Where Did I Come From". That's what my parents used to explain it to me, but I think I was much older (10 or 11). I know everybody has their own feelings about this, but I definitely want him to hear it from his parents first, and not on the playground. My husband and I are both physicians, and we would be fairly comfortable talking about the body and its functions. However, I want to make sure he's ready. Any comments or suggestions?

4 moms found this helpful

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I believe the time is now. If he is asking then he is ready. Give him the answers as he asks. Don't give him more information then he is asking for. If he knows you will give him answers then he will always come to you. This will develope the trust you want to have with him in every area of his life. Side steeping can be dangerous. He will soon go to someone else and who knows what they will tell him. If you think the book you have is too old for him, don't use it, yet. Just answer his questions honestly as if he has ask you, "what makes the clouds?" I have raised one son,two step sons and two daughters. They all come to me with thier problems and questions. I will never forget my first sex talk with my youngest step son. This created a bond between us that is pricless.

I first gave the book to each of my kids and told them to read it in private, then I sat them both down together and explained what it was. When I was done, I asked them if they understood me and if they had any questions, they told me that the book pretty much said the same thing as I did. The only issue was when I first explained how the girl parts and boy parts "fit together". My 10 year old son covered his head with a blanket as if to hide because he was embarrassed and my 8 year old daughter said, " I think I'm gonna throw up." She was somewhat joking, but it was an honest reaction. Hope this helps.

Well, it's probably about time to begin the discussion if he's asking about it. Kids are becoming sexually involved at an alarmingly young age these days and it's best if he hears the basics form his parents, and not in the school yard. Good luck!

More Answers

Hi M.,

I know this is a "late in the game" response; apologies if you've heard this point of view before.

If you want to be the "source" of sex information, tell your son what he wants to know when he wants to know it. "Where Did I Come From" is a great book (so is its companion "What's Happening to Me" for puberty). I've done this with my two sons (now 11 and 15) and my eldest swears I was the "source" at the local intermediate school when he was there. Everyone would ask my son their sex questions because they knew he could ask me ANYTHING and I'd tell him straight...and he'd pass the information on!

The best thing about talking early and soon about sex is that you can inculcate your son with your values because you can wrap the biology with the morality in a way that works for your family.

I would caution you, though, to speak plainly. It's amazing what our kids hear when we don't even say it. For example, my husband and I never told our sons they had to wait until married to have sex. We always told them they shouldn't have sex until they are willing to become fathers and that birth control was as much their responsibility as it was the girl's. What did my sons hear? Wait until you're married! Not surprising since my husband and I started dating when I was 17 and married 4 years later. All they've ever seen in their lives are long-lasting, committed marriages!

Good luck with this one.

2 moms found this helpful

My daughter has asked me about sex as well, and I told her it was something that mommies and daddies do and that that is how babies are made. I also have shown all my kids, my daughter is my oldest, Nova's "Miracle of Life" video. I made the explanation age appropriate. They don't need details yet.
I wanted to answer their questions openly so that they won't be afraid to ask any other questions they may have as well as give them information. Children today are learning about and in some cases having sex at such young ages that I want to be the one who gives them their information instead of them learning it from friends or worst case scenario, experience.
Bottom line, if they ask give them an answer. Better from you than from other sources.

2 moms found this helpful

If he's asking, it means he's getting confusing signals and wants reliable information. Don't worry that hearing it so "early" will "ruin" his childhood - you want your kids to come to YOU with the hard questions, not to the kid down the street!

It's perfectly acceptable to be accurate but but not overwhelming. Say something like, "The word 'sex' means the things parents do that makes babies." Explain that it's personal, private and since it creates babies, nothing to be treated casually (he may have heard a phrase like "abstain from sex until married,") and tell him that when he's older, you'll explain more, but "it's pretty complicated, and I don't think you'll remember it all if I tell you too much now."

Then you could go on to explain how very often people use the word "sexy" to describe something attractive, even a car, but those descriptions are slang and therefore not very accurate. He might want to know more about baby making, and you can explain rudimentary fetal development, but most likely he just wants clatrification on the definition of the word, not details about the process. Ask him where he's heard the word, because that will give you an idea where to take the conversation.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with Erin.

He's asking for a reason. Either someone at school brought it up or something he saw in a movie or TV has sparked his curiousty. I would ask him what about 'sex' he wants to know. Be as candid as you think is appropriate, but more than likely it's just wanting to understand the basics or what it is.

At least he feels he can ask you!! I'm not sure of books, but you can check on Amazon for age appropriate titles that might help you show him the body today.

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter is only six. Instead of avoiding the topic I tried my best to example it in terms she would understand, and hopefully not be more interested in. I've never liked your too young for that, I remember being young and curious and that answer always made want to group up faster to just to know what the fuss is all about. I am hoping to avoid this with my children. I guess I am just not weirded out by the topic. Don't get me wrong, I am not into parents being friend and being all open with my children. I just know that someday they are going to learn it from 'somewhere' (media, peers, other) and I am hoping to beat 'somewhere' to the punch and be the ones to teach my children the facts.

1 mom found this helpful

i think if hes asking most likely he heard other kids talking about it at school. talk to him about it in a way that he can understand it. ask him why she wants to know about sex. then base your explination off of his questions. good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

When I was 8 years old, I asked my mom what "hump" means. She asked me how I heard the word used and I told her that I heard so and so humped so and so in the playground with their clothes on at school. I will never forget that conversation. She told me the word was slang for sex and then told me the basics of sex. She talked about how babies were made etc. She also clarified that they probably didn't have sex in the tire, especially if they had their clothes on. After our conversation, I couldn't stop thinking you did what with dad?!

Although I thought it was disgusting, I was glad to understand what was being talked about at school. I was glad to know what the truth was and I was also glad that I could go to my mom and trust that she would answer me honestly.

Like the other posts said, if your son is asking, he is ready. You should definitely be the one to educate him. Talk to him in basic terms as though he were one of your patients and you'll be fine.

Be prepared for him to feel various emotions about the subject, but know that ultimately he will respect you.

1 mom found this helpful

If he is asking then he is more then ready. Use explanations that are somewhat "clinical" but age appropriate. I think it is also a good idea to have "the talk" in stages- or a series of talks- that answer his questions but wont overwhelm him with too much information at once.

I would consider the introduction to your 5 year old too. Nothing to detailed, just an explanation of body parts (appropriate touching versus inappropriate touching). Kids are REALLY smart and know much more then parents give them credit for.

An open dialog now will let your kids feel comfortable with asking questions and coming to you in the future. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

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