If you’re the parent of a kid who’s old enough to use and understand words, then chances are good you guys have had some pretty interesting, wacky, and even eccentric conversations over the years.
Questions and talks that come from a kooky and psychedelic place called the kid brain have to be answered and addressed with the kind of care, skill and finesse that only comes from a parent or caregiver.
I mean, we all know to expect, going into parenthood, that a huge part of our job description involves fielding questions—countless awkward, sensitive, and totally bizarre questions—that span the better part of our kid’s childhood.
We also know that a lot of these questions often spill into real conversations—some of which are often necessary and relevant.
But just as many of them are embarrassing and awkward. And we’re on call for all of them.
But there’s one talk that sits high above all the other talks on the awkward-but-necessary ladder. The one that every self-respecting and pro-active parent has to have, no matter how nervous or embarrassed or petrified we are. I’m talking about the sex talk.
My girls are both grown, so our sex talk is ancient history, which is precisely why I’m allowed to speak about it here. If it had been any more recent, I’d be crucified for sharing any of it with the world. But because the statute of limitations on my gag order has run out, the time has come for me to spill my guts. Sorry, girls. Mommy loves you.
Here’s how it all started for us: My then five-year-old daughter came home from kindergarten and shared that her best friend told her all about “sexting” at lunch recess, on the way to gym class. (Just what you wanna hear in the pick-up line on the way to swimming lessons).
And although I wasn’t exactly prepared to have that specific conversation at that exact moment in time, I saw it as a wide-open window that needed to be jumped through. So I jumped.
Lucky for me, my husband and I have always been super open with our girls about body parts and birds and bees and how they all fit together, so my five-year-old already knew that what her friend was trying to tell her was a little bogus. (Take into account, too, that the sexting her friend was talking about wasn’t the mainstream definition of the word we know today, it was her own made-up word for having sex.)
We’ve always figured that by educating our kids about their bodies early on and giving them the basics as soon as they could handle them, the shock value of the whole subject wouldn’t be quite so, well, shocking.
In as much as we could, we pre-empted questions like what body parts were used for and why they were private and where babies come from and tried our best to make talking about sex as matter of fact as possible. Not an easy task, but doable.
We brought home some of the standard age-appropriate books and read them together and we checked in with them after every painfully awkward grade-level puberty talk at school.
And we never made up cutesy words for body parts (ok, except for vajayjay, because it just happens to be the world’s most perfect body-part name) and we never acted goofy or uncomfortable whenever the topic of sex or periods or boys came up.
For all intents and purposes our master plan worked because our girls have always been comfortable asking us questions or talking the talk whenever the subject has come up.
So as long as you understand that educating kids about sex and sexuality and their bodies is a gradual process that takes a lot of time and patience and persistence, the talk won’t be that bad in either camp.
Just don’t expect that your kids are ever going to be totally comfy accepting the fact that you’ve done any of the things that you’re telling them about. Or that you actually have any of the same body parts. Because that’s just icky. We’re their parents, for God’s sake.
This means that even though their rational minds know that we’ve had sex at least the number of times that correlates to how many kids we have, we’re all still asexual as far as they’re concerned. So just don’t push that issue and you should be just fine. And if you have to laugh at any of the really goofy-sounding stuff, just pretend your nose is dripping and you need to run to the bathroom for a tissue.
Lisa Sugarman lives on a tiny peninsula, just north of Boston, with her husband and two daughters. She writes the nationally syndicated humor column “It Is What It Is” and is a regular contributor on LittleThings.com, Hot Moms Club, BeingAMom.life, GrownandFlown.com, Mamalode, and Care.com. Lisa is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is and Untying Parent Anxiety (Years 5-8): 18 Myths that Have You in Knots-And How to Get Free. If you want more Sugar, visit her atLisaSugarman.com and on Twitter. Click here for an exclusive offer to order her book Untying Parent Anxiety.