As a parent, the one thing I get antsy talking about is the mechanics of sex. Our family is very open but I want to make sure that the information is age appropriate. On TV shows and movies, having “The Talk” is a big deal. The parents sit their child down and tell them about the birds and the bees. They have a wonderful albeit awkward moment then hug and cut to the next scene.
This is far from reality. At our house, I’ve had two nervous laughter sessions when talking to my children.
In middle school, my mom and I would sit down together and read through this book about becoming a woman. Out Loud. While we read, we would come up with animal sounds when we got to the section about body parts. It was informative and I was anatomically knowledgeable about the ins and outs. The reason this book was bought was because I had gotten my first period several weeks before at the ripe old age of 10. She knew it was time to have “the talk”.
The First Technical Conversation About Puberty
The barrage of books came into our house after my daughter told me she had a cramp. I immediately thought, “Oh crap I have not prepared her for what’s about to happen with her body.” The conversation was not one of those magical moments instead it happened minutes before heading out the door for school.
I had no time to prepare a speech and totally had to wing it hoping I didn’t scar her for life. It was not articulate, by any means, and I was the one giggling profusely. The basics of menstruation were discussed and how to protect your clothes from the blood. Luckily, that was all we had time for this go around.
After dropping her off at school, I opened up a bazillion tabs on my computer reading every article explaining puberty and sex to your 10 year old. Once I got my fill, I requested no less than six books from our local library to have at the ready.
She loves to read and knowing we have an open relationship, I was prepared to answer any questions she had. Since day one, we have talked about our bodies and the difference between boys and girls. The kids all use the right terminology when talking about their private parts, even the little guys. Anytime the boys ask why their sister and I don’t have penises I tell them. When my daughter recently ask about the sac under her little brother’s penis when he was drying off from a bath, I explained what a scrotum was. Point blank.
Deep Breaths, You Won’t Hyperventilate
In passing, one night as I was putting the kids to bed, I said something along the lines of: I can’t have a baby right now because it’s the time of the month. Little did I know I opened a can of worms. The slew of questions that followed literally knocked me on my ass. Plus, I’m pretty sure my daughter now looks at her dad and I with a small bit of the eww factor.
It all came flooding out, including the nervous laughter. With her persistence of questioning exactly how a baby is made, we both got through it. I did my best and asked afterwards if she had questions, she did. We talked some more and she was satisfied with the information I had provided to her.
Deep conversations happen naturally in our house all the time because we have given our children a comfortable environment to ask whatever is on their mind. We answer their more difficult questions in the same manner as “What should I take for lunch today” or “Is it going to be hot or cold out?” Neither parents takes them aside and makes it a big deal because we have slowly introduced puberty into our daily talks. There are one on one chats when they have private issues they want to discuss. More often than not I answer out loud so everyone can benefit from the answer and learn something new. Nothing is off limits.
I Remember When…
As a kid, I don’t really remember asking my mom about boys, sex or intimate love. My parents divorced when I was two and not until I left for college did my mom really start dating. She maybe went out on a handful of dates but nothing serious where I ever met the guy or even saw them together.
In fact, when my mom told me she was getting remarried, I was taken aback but really happy for her. The sheer reason was that I had never really witnessed her in a romantic relationship. EVER. It wasn’t on my radar nor was it part of my childhood.
I had to figure the intimacy aspect of relationships on my own through trial and error. Whatever I did, worked. After two decades of being together, my husband and I are able to keep the magic alive. Our children are able to see us being loving towards one another through hugs, kisses and appropriately flirty interchange. For the most, they are not grossed out by anything we do.
Granted, we are now in the stage where they are embarrassed by kissing in movies.
We are open about our feelings towards one another in front of them, making it an environment where we have never uttered the words, “You can’t ask that!”
In fact, my boys are very loving towards me and treat me with the utmost respect. They tell me all the time how much they love me and how beautiful I am. My daughter and I have a great relationship where she knows she doesn’t have to be embarrassed to ask me questions. We do not sit down and officially have “the talk” because the best conversations happen every day.
Put your oxygen mask on first.
Self care is essential for all parents to make it through the day.
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