The Birds and The Bees

Time to have the Talk

The other Sunday sitting down in church my nine year old daughter leans over and whispers to me.  “Mummy what does rape mean?”

I responded, “I will tell you after church”, hoping that she would forget to ask, she didn’t.  She promptly asked the question again as soon as we got in the car.  I paused and said.  “It’s when someone has sex with you against your will.”  

Interestingly enough her response was a very nonchalant “Oh” accompanied by a head shake.  I thought Oh? Oh!  I was expecting a blizzard of questions.  One of them being what is sex? But noooooo, all I got was “Oh”.  I figured she was going to come back to me later that day and question more, but she didn’t.  So of course, I started thinking that it is probably time for us to have that proverbial “Birds and Bees” talk.

Sigh.  Already!  Yes Already.  If she already knows what sex is, and I am still crossing my fingers that she doesn’t, then its best that she gets her information from me and not the fast little girl at school. 

That little encounter encouraged me to start thinking about this whole subject.  I started asking myself some questions. Like “What is the right age to have the “Talk”?  How much information should I give?  If I do have the talk too early will I rob my child of her innocence?  Again, why don’t these kids come with instruction manuals?  As parents we are left to figure this out on our own.  And each parent handles it their own way.
I came up with three very different categories of parents. 

The first is the “Spell-its”.  These are the parents that cannot say the word sex so they prefer to spell it.  Many of your parents may fit into this category.  These parents resort to saying to their children;.  “If you get pregnant, I’ll kill you.” Or “ Boy, you better not bring no baby home to this house. Keep ya tings in your pants”.  They never explain anything and they are certainly not entertaining of questions from a curious young mind.  They are quick to call their children “brazen” or “fresh”.  And if their children are ever caught with the children of the “TMI-parents” the girls are threatened with a bottle of hot sauce and the boys are threatened with castration.

The “TMI-parent”, too much information parent, are those that are too willing to talk and share information.  They buy videos and books and do demonstrations using inanimate objects.  While their hearts are in the right place, the embarrassment the child feels usually over-shadows the information they are giving.  I personally do not feel that I need to show my child a video of copulation.  That brings up another point, the TMI parent uses the text book words to describe genitalia.  Or God forbid the slang words.  They would never see the need to say the word V-jay-jay.

The final group is the “Need-to-knows”.  This group only gives the child the information that they need to know at that particular point in their life.  They can also be called the “Just enoughs”.  Just enoughs only give you the information you are asking for and nothing more.  They only discuss the topic if they are cornered.  They carry a strict “Don’t ask, don’t tell” rule.  I feel this is where I fall. 

After being pressured for weeks by my husband, I finally had a talk with my nine year old about having her period.  She has not had hers yet and I was figuring I had a few more years.  However, my husband was very paranoid about her getting the information now.  So I mustered up the courage and talked to her.  It went fine.  At least that is what I thought.  So, a few months later, her Dad asks her if I told her what to do if her period comes, you can obviously see which of the three categories he falls in.  She answers “No.”
I turned around shocked.  “Yes I did!” 

“No you didn’t.  When I asked you what to do when it happens you said “Just come to me.”  

Mission Unaccomplished.

Most of my friends say that their parents never even tried to talk to them about the birds and the bees.  Yet they turned out alright.  But, I liken it to finding a store in the US without a map.  Yes, you will eventually get there but you would probably take a route that was full of toll booths and it might take you twice as long.  It is definitely a talk that should happen.  But the question remains, When?

I am open to your advice.  Let me know what you did and how you did it.  Leave your comments below.

Until next time,

Member of the Just enough club.


Sandena Neely said...

Hi Ernesta,

I understand your plight :)

Please don't beat yourself up too much because each child is different and the most important thing is to know your child well enough to know how to navigate the conversation. It is also a good idea to find out how much she might already know, that way you can correct any erroneous information that she may have picked up and you can verify any portions of the information that may be correct. Additionally, always always always try to be comfortable talking with her about it and disarm her so that she knows that she doesn't have to put up defenses with you.

I had a good long talk with my then 8 year old about it 2 years ago. Several reasons prompted the talk, firstly was the fact that I saw my period at 9 years old so I wanted to pre-prepare (if that's a word but you should get the point) her and secondly, I have nieces who are just a few years older than her and had had their periods and they would all have discussions from time to time and thirdly and probably the most problematic is the conversation that can be had with kids her own age (closes eyes and breathes deeply at this point), so I have to literally keep abreast of the information that goes from their mouths to her ears, heart and head (Jesus keep me near the cross).

Hence, my advice to you - know your child, be open always, disarm her as much as possible, be clear and outline the facts of the birds and the bees, be very frank and you can even walk her through the steps when you have your own period from PMS to completion, let her know what to expect, how she might feel and what to do in various situations, etc and let the conversation flow from there, encourage her to ask questions, take her shopping for the toiletry items and show her everything through that aisle, let her know that she might soon need to start wearing panty shields as the discharges increase over the next few months, etc. I have found that ongoing conversations is the best route.

Hope this info helps!

Anonymous said...

Nice article.

Do not be so quick to judge "the fast little girl at school", makes you sound more like a "Spell-it" than you may realize. Consider investigating or at the very least questioning why she/he is so "fast". What has she/he been exposed to that makes her/him so overtly sexual? Let us ensure we protect all our children.