Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

How to Talk to your Child about Sex: An experience based book review

My son turned eight recently. As part of his birthday celebration, he received a special dinner out with mom and dad where we told him he would get to hear about the most wonderful and amazing thing in the world. We set a date and he chose the restaurant. I checked out the book Where did I come from? at the library and my husband wrote down a few notes for our planned discussion as outlined in the book How to Talk to Your Child About Sex: It's Best to Start Early, but It's Never Too Late -- A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents by Linda and Richard Eyre.

I'll be honest, I really wanted to delay it longer. Surely he was too young and wouldn't hear anything dirty from his friends already? Yes, he had asked a few questions in the past year, but did he really need to know about sex already? According to the Eyre's, eight is the best age to give the full facts because children are still open to hearing their parents' opinions and values. We also wanted him to hear the facts from us first. No time like the present!

It is recommended by the Eyre's that before eight, give simple basic answers, use correct terms for body parts and tell them about how when they are eight they will get to hear all about the most wonderful and amazing thing in the world.

So we forged ahead, eating barbecue at a favorite family restaurant in a back corner booth. My awesome husband started off the discussion by asking him to name some of the amazing and wonderful things in the world. He then asked him what is the most amazing and wonderful thing in the world? People! (It helped that we had our newborn baby with us.) We talked about the importance of love and how important it was for babies to have parents who loved them and cared for them. We discussed how the creation of babies was an amazing and wonderful thing and then, since we were finishing up our ice creams we got back into our car and started reading out loud the book Where did I come from?

We had chosen this book because we liked how nicely it was written and the illustrations. It presents the facts of sex and how sex starts the creation of a baby in a way that we liked. It uses the term "making love" which helped with our point that love is an important part of the whole process. Overall we felt like it matched up well with the values we teach as much as the facts. Several different books like it are discussed by the Eyre's in their book, and we chose Where did I come from?

After reading the book, we asked if he had any questions, which he did, but they were all very science based.  We talked about how now he knew this big grown up thing and it wasn't normal every day conversation because it was so special. We told him if he ever had any questions about something to come talk to us and we would be happy to explain or discuss it with him.

So we had the first "big" sex talk. It went well! I felt relieved afterward that it had been so easy and seemed like such a good start to future conversations. I recommend the Eyre's book, How to Talk to Your Child About Sex: It's Best to Start Early, but It's Never Too Late -- A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents as an excellent resource to helping you plan and give the first sex talk.

What age were you when your parents told you the facts of life or did you just learn from other sources? What age do you think is best to explain sex?

By Malina.
You can learn more about Malina and her family at her personal blog.

Image from Dreamstime

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