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?
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.
- “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