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When (And How!) to Talk to Son About the "Birds and the Bees"?

I have an 8-year-old (almost 9) son in 3rd grade. I've been told that this is around the age in which to start discussing the birds and the bees. Part of the reasoning is that it's better to discuss it openly now before he hears the wrong info around the older kids at school. My son is with 4th and 5th graders a couple times a week in after-school care, so I'm considering that also. Although he is very mature, he seems so innocent right now, and I'm not sure how far to take the discussion. He's a pretty sensitive kid. We don't let our kids watch commercials or any of the "older" kids shows, so I think he's pretty sheltered that way. I have no problem talking to him about this, just not sure how much detail to go into!
Has anyone gone through this yet with their 8-year-old? Or if anyone has any good book recommendations that address this, I'd be grateful! Thanks.

4 moms found this helpful

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Featured Answers

When: when he asks about it.

How: Simply. And with as little info as possible. Some kids don't really want to hear much about it, and you don't need to shove it down their throats if they don't.

I;ve heard of new books they have out on this subject. Look up "body Science" on teh internet and see if you come up with anything good for his age.

Good luck!

More Answers

The problem is putting 41 year old ideas about the body and self on an 8 year old (we all do it). What does that mean? It means all the years of "junk" we have learned to associate with our bodies and our negative ideas of self are sitting there and we expect someone young to understand that. What will make this discussion easier is to take yourself back to a point of innocence! A body is just something interesting at this age. Wow, you got pokey things that I don't! Um, gee, you are missing something I don't have! It's more about curiosity than it is about lust and sex drive. So, approach it from that angle.
Son, you probably have noticed how different men and women are, kinda weird and cool huh? What do you think is the purpose of that? (then listen to what he has to say!) Uh hm. Well, the cool thing is we both, meaning men and women, have different roles in making kids! A woman's body is built to hold a child inside until it is big enough to survive outside her body. A man's body is built in a way to add the ingredients for making that baby. Isn't that cool??
As we grow up we go from being a baby to being a kid to being a young adult that is capable of having/making a baby. In a couple years you will reach that age but you aren't quite there yet but I think it is important for you to know what is coming and how women and men are different.

With that you take a trip to the book store and look at different books on anatomy, both in the medical section and in the kids section of the store. I would then help him pick one or two. Tell him that you will be having more talks in the future the closer he gets to puberty (around 12) but that if he has any questions at any time to come to you.

You will first see the books on the bookshelf, then "hidden" under his bed. When he gets to that stage you may want to ask him again if he has any questions. WHEN he gets to 12 then have the discussion again, but this time add in the importance of things like birth control(this can mean abstinence as well), responsibility for one's actions, STDs and how to act like a young man around women.
Growing into a man is a fact of his life. It isn't dirty, it isn't wrong, it is just part of being a human being. And I personally believe that when we act ashamed or embarrassed we project the idea that our bodies are "bad" and that our sexuality is "wrong" to our children. By giving him the knowledge of how things work and approaching him in a calm way he will have a better self image and will be MORE willing to come to you when he has issues as a teen and young adult.

3 moms found this helpful

Having taught 3rd graders, I think it is definitely a good time to approach this subject now because, yes, kids will get information from somewhere, so it's better to come from you than from older kids or TV. I was a pretty innocent kid way back when (though my older sister did her best to change that) and my parents gave us a book called "Where Did I Come From" (and later nearing puberty we read "What's Happening to Me"). They are by Peter Mayle and available on Amazon. Both books offer a straightforward, child-friendly approach to these touchy subjects. They can be read by the child alone or with an adult. Depending on your son, I would say you can start a conversation with him about "the birds and the bees" by asking him about any questions he might have, then you can offer him the book if you like and say we can read this together or you can read this on your own and then we can talk about it after. In my opinion, a straightforward, calm approach that is mostly led by the child's curiosity is best. You're less likely to overwhelm him with too many details if he's the one asking questions, though you may need to initiate the first conversation to let him know that it's OK for him to ask and that you will tell him what he wants to know. And if there are things that make either of you uncomfortable, it's good to acknowledge that and talk about it, like if he says "what do you and Dad do?" and that makes you squirm you can say something general maybe but then say that this kind of stuff is private between 2 people and you're not comfortable sharing details with him. If you haven't already, this would also be a good time to talk about (or reiterate) that everyone has private parts and how to keep his private/protected (I don't have much to say about that conversation but I'm sure someone out there in the mama universe can help). Also, make sure you and your husband are on the same page about how to talk about things because there's always the possibility that your son will ask him too. You don't need to have identical answers exactly, but it might be confusing to your son if you and your husband have extremely different outlooks on how to talk about sex.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

Hi N.-
I am not sure what the appropriate age is, but when I was 8-9 years old, someone made a comment about it and I asked my mother. She pulled a book called the ABC's of human anatomy out and explained it, drew a picture, and basically said it was for mommies and daddies and that while I was informed, I need not worry about it until I was an adult. I was well informed, knew ALL the gory details, and was not interested to say the least.
My thought is to tell him as much as he will hear and tell him that if other people start telling him about it, to refer to you- and you can make sure they get it right so that he is not misinformed. Some times kids just like to know that they know the RIGHT information, even if they are not going to be using the information. =)
I hope this helps. Good luck!
-E. M

1 mom found this helpful

Yes! Talk to him because statistics show that boys ages 8-14 are the largest population among those viewing pornography. Why? Because parents don't make it a priority to put filtering software on the computer that their children are using. Even You Tube has inappropriate sexual videos that somehow get by the web administrators. Google "How to talk to your child about sex" and you should find a wealth of information on the topic. Good luck...they grow up way too fast...boo hoo.

1 mom found this helpful

There is a children's book that's called "It's not the Stork". That one is for children around 5. There is another two books for older children in different age ranges. It breaks it all down first from a scientific, matter of fact perspective but it tells the real deal and goes into naming all the body parts and w/ cartoon pictures that even show what the inside of our sexual organs look like etc.
I think for some people this might be just too much information but for as long as I can remember I never had a question of how things worked so the book makes sense to me.
I'm also from a super big family so I learned to have great respect for life and the very real consequences of engaging in the act that can make a baby. I respect sexuality and the life that comes from it. I want my children to share that value and understand our sexuality is sacred so I have already covered the facts w/ my daughter (now 7). As she gets older it will become increasingly important to me to continue the topic in the context of the sacred/divine.
I will never forget that my mom said to me when I was a teenager, "YOu just have to always remember that if you have sex w/ someone, you need to ask yourself, would you want him to be the father of your child." That really caught my attention. I have no idea how old I was then or if I had even become sexually active yet but I do know that even as a pro-choicer, I was very concerned w/ avoiding pregnancy so as to avoid abortion too. I knew that I pretty much had no interest in having any dumb boy father a child for me.
I don't know if this helps at all but I think it is good to lay the facts out straight now so that there grows a space to be honest and ensure responsible actions among your boys on their path toward manhood. (The authors of that book had lots of professionals guide them in constructing the way the info is given so I encourage you to look it up-if you can't find the bk, ask me to look forthe author's name.)
The number 1 most important thing I will be teaching my very willful son, is never, never assume you can have your way w/ sex, never force your will, and ALWAYS, every time, ask! ASk if she will. I want my children to become adults whose will is 100% completely honored when it comes to intercourse. I think to ensure that this happens, the conversations can't wait too long for kids to grow up.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I think it's always best if kids grow up with any questions they want answered when they ask them, at whatever level they can understand. If you just answer their questions straightforwardly as the questions come up, without taking off on a long "birds and bees" explanation that they may not want, you'll gradually give them all the information. And if you're straightforward about it, and reasonably comfortable with the conversation, they'll ask the same questions in greater detail every few years, as their understanding grows.

You'll have to start now, DON'T wait any longer, although if your son has come to believe that reproductive anatomy is "nasty," and sex is "dirty," you will have a harder time, because he'll be embarrassed. (I'm not saying you taught him those things--- I'd be willing to bet that other kids have, though.) Get him a couple kids' books on sex. A librarian can help you with this. The book that I always liked best was one called "Where Did I Come From?," although I can't remember the author. It had cartoony illustrations, and was good for introducing kids to the basic mechanics. My boys had that book from 4 or 5, but I think it might be good for an 8 year old, as well. Be prepared for him to know a lot more than you have ever taught him, and be prepared for him to have picked up a lot of misinformation, because in my experience, little boys start talking about sex in the first and second grades, if not earlier. You may need to do some correcting of misinformation.

How much do you tell him? It depends on him. If he is satisfied with just a basic explanation, then give him that, and always encourage him to ask for more information. But don't let him grow into his teens without at least offering more conversations with greater detail, and more books, especially if you see that he is embarrassed by the subject.

In addition to the straight "mechanics" of sex, teens also need you to initiate the really important discussions about sexual morality: about not using or taking advantage of your sexual partners, and taking responsibility for wearing condoms, and ensuring that they always use birth control.

When he becomes sexually active, you will also want to make sure he has access to information about how to satisfy his partner, and information about women's sexuality. If you don't give him these kinds of information, he may get some really ugly notions from other kids, and/or from pornography, which teens have no problem getting ahold of, regardless of how vigilant you are.

1 mom found this helpful

When my son was 8 years old he aske me how the baby got in a woman's belly so I told him we would get some books. I love to read books to help me discuss life issues. We went to the library and he asked me to get the books; he wispered in my ear while he went to get some other books he wanted. I read them to him and his older brother who never asked anything. We read and talked. I told my friend and she tought she should read the books to kids too. They rolled around on the floor laughing as hard as they could while she kept reading about the birds and the bees. When I looked for my granddaughter ten years ago I was shocked how graphic the books were! But there were still some that showed Mommmy and Daddy under the covers showing how much they loved each other and not on top of the covers and the different positions! And these books were for young children. One book shows how baby animals are made and then humans are last but done very well. They talk about seeds and eggs and the Daddy doing his part. I always talked to the kids and also left books in their rooms if they wanted to read them on their own too. When I was young our Pastor's daughter told my friend and I some really weird stories and we swore we would never ever get married! Swim in a lake nude and everyone watching us was one of the stories.
F.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi N.,
I know how hard it is when your kids getting older and It's a very serious step. I am 35, my oldest son is 16 yrs.old. And you know how kids are now, they more mature, especially if your son has an excess to computer, you know what I mean. I let my son start using computer when he turned 12(when my 2nd son was born). We always shared computer, we had only 1 computer at home, so 3 of us(me, my son, my husband) were using. And only a month ago we got 2nd computer, but I still cheking the history. So, back to the topic. It depends how much your son knows about human body. My son asked me once about pads and tampons when he was almost 10. So I exsplained to him why women use it, and then we started talking about the kids and everything. First, I felt kind of weird talking about that stuff, and then it just went so well and smooth. And again it depends how close you are with your kid. If you and him can talk about any stuff like friends, it won't be a problem. But I think what helped me to talk to him because he started that conversation, and it started with menstrual cycle. And I thought why not now if we're already talking. You won't belief how great I felt, I did it, it was like a big relief. And my son is not that kind of kid, who is shy, or quiet, he is very hyper, at school he was the loudest kid and in our apartment complex when we used to live in OR. And still now, I keep talking to him about safety sex, we saw couple of show with Dr. Philip about teens sex;and he was shocked a little bit, because how early some teens start doing that, and he was only 15 when we saw that show; now I have no problems talking to him, eventhough he is 16. So, if you have any particular questions you can ask me, I just gave you a little warm up of conversation. Feel free to ask me any "?".
Thank you,
A.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, I would also recommend the book "It's Not the Stork" as a great starting place. It's by Harris (maybe Harris and someone else, but Harris is definitely the first author if you're looking it up). There are several other good newer books on this out there also, which you can find by browsing in a good local bookstore. This particular book is the first in a series, all at different age appropriate levels. It has all of the correct information but it is also done with a touch of humor which can make it easier (less scary or less embarrassing, depending on the sensitivities of the particular kid and/or parent). I think the best thing to do is sto sist down and read it with your son (maybe both of them) so you can answer any questions they might have as you read it and the questions come up. Then they can have it to read again whenever they want.

1 mom found this helpful

I;ve heard of new books they have out on this subject. Look up "body Science" on teh internet and see if you come up with anything good for his age.

Good luck!

i love this question. I actually did it young so that now they just come to me with questions. first off, make sure they understand that this is a conversation you just have in the family not with your friends. nothing worse than your kid being the one explaining it on the playground!

I started with telling them why their "privates" are private. I asked them questions about what they might already know, how are babies made? how did it get in mom's tummy? etc. then told them how it works. It turned out to be no big deal and i feel safe knowing that they know why their private parts are just for them.

when asked what it fels like, i did stumble a bit and ended on the answer of, "when you are in love it feels really good, when you aren't it does not." good luck, it is a great age to start the dialogue.

I'm always amused when I read a question like yours. We all struggle with this, but the real answer is that you begin when the child is born! I know that may sound a bit unrealistic, but it is true. Even though you haven't been having a direct conversation, you have been giving him hints all along without knowing that you were.

Having said that, now that he is 8, my suggestion is to not simply start a conversation with him, but when he brings up something that leads naturally into the conversation, ask him what he already knows first. Too often parents go into a detailed explanation of sex, only to find out what their child needed was something entirely different at that time.
I think we've all probably heard the joke about the boy who asked his Mom where he came from and after she had given 'the talk' he said "Oh, well Tommy said he came from Chicago and I just wanted to know where I came from."

As others have mentioned, there are a number of books available that can help you. The ones I used are quite out of date, so I doubt if they are available any longer, but you might look on a bookstore shelf - or at the library - and check for some that are comfortable for you to use. If you are a person of faith, you might also want to check a Christian bookstore (or wherever items are sold for your particular faith) as well, because those books would give the information from a perspective that fits your beliefs.

One type of book that would likely be useful is one that simply teaches children about the human anatomy, without sexual information. Using that type of book with him may lead into a more comfortable discussion as he sees the difference between boys and girls and begins to ask questions.

Hi N.: With our 5 children ( one was 16 when adopted), we started even younger than your children. We naturally talked about how their bodies were made special, and that they were to be treated always with love and respect. Then we would get books of pregnant women. Tallk about how they are in a partnership with God , to create a child that will be loved and cared for. Because we believe in adoption, we talked about how some families can't have their own baby so sometimes another mothe will have to help, and be the answer to the prayers sent for a child. As our children got older we made sure that they understood at thier own leval. Unfortunetly, becasue of things in movies and on TV, our children are exposed to grafic sexual things they may not be ready for or understand. Then ou have to deal with that as best as you can.
We always said that to protect their bodies -- "Your body is a temple of God, not a visiting center"---, or as teens we would tell them when you make a sexual decision it's not 2 making it, it's his mind & body, and her mind & body, so it's 4, and 3 out of 4 may win!, my girls told me recently that hearing that phrase, over the years helped them when a guy got agressive, sexually pushy, or they had to make a decision.
But we started young and simple for what they could understand. I am so glad that you are addressing the issue. Many parents decide to wait and then the kids learn from friends and that iss not always the best teacher. NanaG

Hi N.,

I began talking to my 10 yr old daughter before she started school because of the questions she had when my other two children were born. However, we did not get into a lot of details until she was about 7. She had a friend whose family values were different and her friend would talk about things she saw her parents doing. So, we left it open. We said something like, "We know that you are hearing things at school about sex. So, if you ever want to ask anything or find out about something you have heard, you can ask us and we will answer your questions." After letting that sink in, "Do you have any questions now? We would be happy to tell you about anything you want to know. Also, if you would feel more comfortable talking to one of us to start that would be ok too."

Now, my daughter feels comfortable asking us anything about sex. She will be having family life in school this year and we did not want her to hear about anything there that we had not talked about at home.

Chances are that your son has already heard a lot more than he is letting on. If he knew that you were willing to talk to him about his questions, then you could really protect him with true information. I really feel that I can arm my children with information. They are better prepared to handle the things the kids at school throw at them if they know the truth about mature topics.

I hope this helps.

D.

It is best for him to hear stuff from you than the misconceptions he will hear at school and that he knows he can come to you anytime with any questions he may have about what he has heard. They sell books anout girls and their bodies and Im sure they must have them for boys as well. I started there with my daughter which really helped because she could understand her body a bit first. 8 may be a little young for the big birds and bees but some stuff is ok for now.

At 8, my son received some misinformation on the school bus. I clarified that and gave some basic info. But when he was 9, he started to have wet dreams, not a true wet dream but according to the doctor something similar that can happen as early as 7.
I went to Planned Parenthood and they have some great videos, pamphlets and books they loaned me. Also, there are books on the internet if you want to go that route.
My son seems to be developing a little early (but he's still pretty innocent about it) so that has pushed the issue in our house but I think its a good idea either way.

When: when he asks about it.

How: Simply. And with as little info as possible. Some kids don't really want to hear much about it, and you don't need to shove it down their throats if they don't.

My boys are pretty innocent too...and they still go "ewwww' if they see kissing. Only you know what level of information your son can understand... I haven't had a conversation about it specifically, but a couple of years ago, I went to a book store and perused the science section. I brought home two books on the human body that are age appropriate, and they have a lot of pictures of body parts and baby development. The questions about babies stopped after that. = )
I also have a book specifically on puberty for boys, and we talk casually about getting hair on their body when they get older, and about getting acne, and things like that.
S-E-X is always a word that some kids will write, or say, at school, and it is always mysterious and exciting, because they don't really know what it means...I think that kids just need to know about body parts and babies, and then the "interactive" activities will get figured out in their minds. In fifth grade (public school)they discuss puberty, they don't do sex info at all.
I had human development books when I was young....I think it makes it seem natural, and not so "ooooooh", and full of silly innuendo, like in the media.

Community Presbyterian Church in Danville having a discussion on this topic coming up soon. I would check their website for more info.

I'd probably ask if he was curious about anything to figure out where to start. I didn't tell my daughter anything until she started to ask. There is a great book called It's Not The Stork. Best of luck!

C.

If your son likes nature programs and learning about different types of animals and things, the questions will probably arise naturally out of scientific curiosity, and you can use that as a context for explaining the basic biological facts. When one of my daughters was about 6, she surprised me by out of the blue asking "why do moms and dads have to mate before they have babies?" Since she already had a fascination with honeybees and flowers and fruit, I told her that it was similar to how plants have to be pollinated in order to make fruit, and that was a good enough answer for her at the time.
Later on as friends started getting younger siblings, questions started getting more specific. I try to keep my answers simple and scientifically accurate, and not add any more detail than they ask for, and remind myself that they're asking mostly out of scientific curiosity so there's no need for me to feel uncomfortable about their questions.

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