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Moms Talk: The Birds and the Bees

When is the right time to have "THE talk" with your kids? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

The other day at my daughter’s school I realized that spring fever had set in. 

I am not just referring to the typical absentmindedness that comes with the distraction of nice weather.  But rather, in the awkward interactions between boys and girls of the upper elementary grades—just a few months ago they acted as if they were from different planets now they linger around each other and are even in “relationships.” 

I will be honest, it kind of freaks me out-how quickly kids grow up.  Especially since the Kindergarteners have lunch and recess with the 4th and 5th grades.  On a personal note, I am concerned about how much of this social experimentation my 6-year old will be exposed to and wish to emulate.

On a larger scale, it makes me take a hard look at when and how I will educate my kids about the “Birds and the Bees”.  Since other mothers are our best resource I posed the following questions to the Moms Council both via email and a discussion group:

1. Have you already approached the topic?  If so, what was your strategy and how did it go?

2. If you haven't had any conversation, when do you plan to and what do you think your strategy will be?

3. What is the best age to begin dialogue with your kids about such topics?

Email Responses

Karen, mother of 2 boys: 

I have not had this conversation with Neil, as he is still so young.  I'm not sure what the appropriate age is; I know it's a lot younger than it was when my parents had to give me the talk! 

Even though he's too young for the "talk" now, he still has questions on occasion.  My approach is to be truthful without giving more detail than he needs.  I read about a strategy once (I wish I could give you the source but I truly can't recall) and I thought it was a great way to handle it.  When a child asks a question, ask them what they think the answer is.  It's a great way to find out how much they know and whether what they know is accurate.  If a child asks where do babies come from, you don't necessarily want to give them a graphic description if he is only trying to find out if it's true that the stork brings the baby.  If you find out what he knows, you can correct any inaccuracies and make sure that you are limiting the discussion to the specific topic at hand. 

Tina, mother of 2 elementary aged children:

We have not had the conversation with our 10-year-old.  I asked the pediatrician last check-up (June 2010) and he said we still have time, although I'm concerned about what he's hearing at school.  We will address this soon with him and my husband will be speaking with him probably w/in the next 6 months.  He'll be 11 June 27th.

Meryl, mother of 2 daughters, ages 4 and 6…

It is best when the kids ask!  This gives an easy opportunity to talk.  You didn't ask this, but…we should have comprehensive Sex-ed in our schools.  Not all parents will be able to talk about sex, sexual health, healthy attitudes and prevention of diseases/pregnancy.  Sex-ed is important to keep our kids educated and safe. 

Discussion Comments

  • “I can’t believe how fast he has changed!  Doing his hair, walking out of the room to take calls on his cell phone, I just wasn’t ready.”
  • “I found it suspect that my son is reading my Cosmo magazines.  Clearly, it’s time”
  • “My mom buried her head in the sand and never told me anything.  I learned from other kids or by experimenting, I do not want that for my kids.  But at the same time, I don’t want to be over the top and begin telling them more than they need to know.  It is a fine line to walk”.

Overall, the consensus is that the “birds and the bees” makes most of us feel uncomfortable.  Not with the topic itself, necessarily. The discomfort comes with the reality that our children are old enough to be entering this vulnerable stage of development.  A stage that, for the most part, they will navigate independent of us! 

***

Thank you to all the mothers who took the time to email and discuss this week’s topic.  I would also like to recommend a great book, The Big Book of How to Say It-Kids by Dr. Paul Coleman and Richard Heyman, Ed.D.  This text provides parents with concise ways to cover almost any topic with your kids or teen. 

Of course, the local library is always your best source of resources to assist you with any of your latest, “teachable moments”!

Some titles that I have found, (but have yet to read) are…

  • The What’s Happening to My Body?  Book for Girls, by Lynda Madaras with Area Madaras
  • When the Breast Fairy Comes-A Parent’s Survival Guide to Raising Girls, by Stacey L. Roberts
  • How to Talk to Your Child About Sex, by Linda and Richard Eyre
lowertaxes May 12, 2011 at 12:58 PM
Christine, at my kids school teh kindergarteners have lunch with 4th and 5th graders as well but it is because the 5th grade "helpers" are there to help them get their lunch, get seated, open milks, etc. They do not however have recess together. The Kindergarteners have recess before lunch and the older kids after. I work at the school and have never seen the interaction be anything but a pleasant experience and the older kids really seem to enjoy helping out the younger ones.
Christine Iacobucci May 12, 2011 at 04:54 PM
Unfortunately, at my daughter's school the older kids dislike being outside with the little guys as much as the K kids do. I am unsure if the older grades help the kids during lunch. I know that luch has to be very quiet and if one child is too loud or wild then the entire class has to walk around the playground twice (which takes a significant amount of time away from their 20 minute recess). But I don't fault the teachers, they are just doing what they are told.
Sarah May 12, 2011 at 06:03 PM
We have not had one "big talk" and my son does not know all the details yet (he is 5 1/2 yrs old). But, he often has questions and I answer what he asks honestly. He is a very curious and analytical and his questions have already gotten quite specific, so I have a feeling we will be having a more complete conversation soon. My parents were very open and matter of fact with me and I knew the specifics of where babies come from and how they were created by age 6 and knew about puberty/developmental issues by age 8. I suspect that my son will also, based on his own level of questioning and understanding and my personal parenting approach.
lowertaxes May 12, 2011 at 06:20 PM
Ah so your kids go to the Hansen School I take it. I have heard all about the "silent lunches" from many VERY upset parents. I have heard that it is incase the kids choke, which to me is crazy. When you have a 3 grades of kids together in one place of course there is going to be noise. So much more is expected from these children, especially Kindergarteners, than when we were kids. They need a little time to chat and socialize, it is a big part of the learning experience as well. They also need to let off steam at recess and the walking around the playground thing is just plain wrong. I am glad my kids don't go there and yes, I agree that it is not the teacher's fault, it is a Principal on a power trip who won't listen to the concerns of the parents.
Sarah May 12, 2011 at 07:23 PM
oh man, that lunch policy would not sit well with me. Socializing is just as important as any other subject in school. And to punish an entire class for one student's behavior is just wrong. IMO, kindergarten should be about 50% recess and free play, if we were to be truly developmentally appropriate. To take away any of a measly 20 minutes is just wrong. ugh!

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