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February 26. 2007

The Birds and the Bees: Talking with Your Kids About Sex

jeanbee-sm

Studies say that talking with your kids early on about the “birds and the bees” makes them less likely to be promiscuous. I had read this; but like most parents, I was dreading the “talk”.  I knew it was an important part of their early childhood education yet I probably would have put it off another few years… but my brainiacs kept asking questions like “What are those white pad things under the bathroom cabinet?” and “Why do you have to get a male kitten fixed at the vet if he can’t have babies?” I am sure they could tell when my face flushed that something was up. I started getting ‘the panic attacks’ when we read books about animals and mating was mentioned. I either skipped over the content or read it like a commercial (where the announcer lists all the side-effects to taking a pill or the fine-print when you lease a car). Even the Bible provides much material for skipping over when you are nearing the age of inquisitiveness.

  Recently, I resorted to renting the 1975 version of Animals are Beautiful People rather than show them another modern day National Geographic documentary (we found out the hard way that NG sometimes goes a little overboard in the mating arena)… I was just sure another ‘Kangaroo incident’ was going to come on the screen and start up another discussion I couldn’t finish.

Somewhere in the past few months I had a brilliant idea: Get help! I started reading all I could on the subject of talking with my kids about sex. Somehow I sensed that it was going to happen soon – even if I had my feet stuffed in my mouth and a horrid case of the hives. I might as well be prepared. I discussed it with friends, also. A few of my friends have already let the “dirty little secret” out of the box with their own children. I wanted to know what to expect. It seemed as if things were moving into place without my help… as if God was guiding me to give this attention because He knew that I was going to chicken out unless I was pushed into talking.

This is the legacy we have been handed in Generation X: the mystifying and muddling of our sexuality. Because of the secrecy and the silence, a whole generation has grown up thinking of sex in a negative way – or just too much! Women are degraded on billboards, men are stopping off after work at the triple-x movie house down the street, and kids are having sex in the junior high lunch-rooms. Stringy clothing is less tacky than only the girls who are wearing it. Young kids are getting daily doses of sexuality and violence from prime-time television… while their parents are mute about values and the purpose of a WONDERFUL Christ-centered sexual relationship through marriage. We aren’t telling kids the real reasons why God made us the way we are and giving GOD the credit for the wonderful thing that we call sex. I want my kids to have godly and fulfilling sex-lives one day when they are grown and married. I don’t want them to be afraid to talk about it with their own kids. I knew that if I wanted to prevent the cycle of silence from setting them off track in their own lives, I was going to have to speak up and GET REAL.

Soon after the questions started, a discussion came up on one of the email lists I am part of and another mom was asking for book suggestions for talking with her own kids about the “birds and the bees”. There were many great books suggested and much kind advice given by other moms. I began to think that my panic was really unnecessary. I decided to order a book that would relay the story to them better than I could; one that we could read together as a family. Many of the moms who had already been through this phase of child-rearing suggested “Before I Was Born” by Stan and Brenna Jones.

When the book arrived in the mail, the kids were excited and thought they were getting a gift. They always love getting mail since we live so far away from family. I opened it up and told them it was a book that I wanted to read with them. I figured the moment was lending itself to us… and “now was as good a time as any”. We curled up on my bed and began to read. I introduced the book to the kids. “I bought this book to explain to you about how Mommies and Daddies raise a family. You’ve been asking a lot of questions lately that I feel deserve answers. Do you remember the discussion we had about the Daddy cat going to get fixed at the vet? This book will explain why the Daddy cat has to get fixed.” That got their attention right away! They were all ears until the book started to get graphic. It wasn’t near as uncomfortable as I had imagined talking with them to be. I got such a kick out of their responses and our discussion that it made the whole experience rather humorous.


The book was wonderful. It began with God’s purposes for people, sex, and the love between man and wife. There were scriptures interwoven through the story and pretty illustrations. I was glad that I was having this conversation early on (at 10 and 8) rather than finding out that they were learning all about this from some other (and less biblical) source. We managed to make it through the book (with quite a few comments and smaller discussions along the way). “Gross!!!” and “Eeew!” were accompanied by some pretty ill-faced grimaces. I had to stop and laugh at their expressions and responses, but I kept reading. My favorite moment was when Kaden asked (as most little boys will), “So that is what you had to do with Daddy for us to be here?” He looked so grief-stricken that I had to smile. “Of course it is, Kaden. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have you!”

Daddy walked in from work around the time we were finishing up the discussion after the book. He knew that something was going on when everyone stared at him in a strange, knowing sort of way as he entered the bedroom. I’m sure he felt as if he were walking into a hornet’s nest. “What’s up?” he asked, quizzically. The kids acted as if they wanted to flee the room. Kaden sheepishly said, “I am never going to get married”. His face was beet red. I showed Daddy the book and he proceeded to blush, too. Morgan said to him in her most serious voice, “Well…, I’m glad that you and Mommy… did sex… so that we could be here.” It was as if she thought it must have been awful and we needed some kind of award for our service to them as procreators. The things kids say! I wish I had a video camera that would have recorded these moments. They were priceless. When she said this, though, I thought Kevin might pass out. He quickly scanned the book (managing to regain his composure) so we could continue our discussion.

Daddy and I began to tag-team a “birds and bees” talk with the kids. We talked about how precious it is and how it should be saved for a man and wife. We talked about the reasons why some women get pregnant before they are married. They asked interesting questions and had both of us there to answer them. We talked about how men should treat women. We talked about what “hookers” were (the kids had heard the word in a great gospel song by Randy Travis) and how sad and hard their lives are. We talked about how the body is beautiful and the people who dress “trashy” are God’s creations and their bodies are not trashy – it is how they dress and ACT that is trashy. We talked about how God created sex as a gift for a man and wife to show each other love. It really was a wonderful discussion.

Amazingly, I feel a lot closer to the kids. I feel like I’m not keeping any secrets now. I’ve never been one to lie or hide things from them. I didn’t know that waiting this long seemed that way from their point of view. It struck me when my son said, “I always thought you guys were keeping some kind of secret. Now I know what it was.” I told him, “Do you blame me? It is kind of a personal thing to talk about bodies in that way, hu? It is pretty embarrassing. If you had a kid, would you be afraid to talk with them about it?” He smiled, “Yeah. I would.”

So there you have it. The bee is out of the hive. The bird is out of its nest. I am left to wonder why I was so afraid of spring. It really isn’t so bad after all.

Got bees?If you have your own little hive of kiddos and are nearing the “talk” yourself, here are a few of the resources that I was referred to below. Be sure to let me know what you think of them in my comments section if you have read them!

sexbooks

ONLINEHow to Talk with Your Kids about Sex – Whitney Hopler (Live It Editor)

Sex Ed at Home – Conquering your own anxieties is the first step to teaching your kids healthy sexuality – by Debra Evans

Abstinence Advocate: Concerned Parents Are Talking With Kids About Sex

Talking With Kids About Sex and Relationships (secular site)

Kevin Leman: Talking Turkey About Sex – by The 700 Club

Abstinence-Only Sex Education – Religion & Ethics

Spiritual Sex-Ed – Talking about sex involves more than the birds and the bees. Make sure you include the Bible, too. – by Jim Burns

Teaching Teens: Homeschooling with Christ – The Best Defense Against Pre-marital Sex – by Mimi Rothschild

BOOKSQuestions Kids Ask About Sex: Honest Answers for Every Age
by Baker

God’s Design for Sex (Pictured Above)
Revised – 4 Book Set
by: Stan and Brenna Jones

Talking to Your Kids About Sex
by: Mark Laaser

Life Before Birth
by: Gary Parker

RELATED BOOKS
Girls and Puberty:
God, Mom, Me and Tea
by Doorposts Ministries
PO Box U
Quincy, Calif. 95971
530-283-0427

Beautiful Girlhood
revised by Karen Andreola

Dating Books:

Secret Keeper Girl: The Power of True Beauty and Modesty (Eight Great Dates for You and Your Daughter)
by: Dannah Gresh.

I Kissed Dating Goodbye: A New Attitude Toward Romance and Relationships (Upgraded)
by: Joshua Harris

Teaching True Love to a Sex-at-13 Generation
by: Eric Ludy, Leslie Ludy

The Princess and the Kiss or The Squire and the Scroll
by: Jennie Bishop

———–

Update on 10/14/11 – Disclosure: Links in this post may or may not be advertising. I get a few pennies if you purchase Amazon books by linking through my site as well.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the great resources Sprittibee! My son is 8 and has (schooled, too-mature-for-their-ages) 10 and 12 yo cousins that he spends a good amount of time with. I’m going to be having this talk with my son soon before he hears things in another way. Your great story has inspired me!

  2. I have always appreciated the way my dad discussed this with me — including, in every discussion, the indication that this was for between a husband and a wife. But he drew pictures on the chalkboard and taught us all the proper names and I was never left, from curiousity, going elsewhere to find out information. I knew I could ask my dad. And I do remember this as being multiple conversations over time. where he went over things again, and we asked more questions, etc.

  3. I have always heard that God’s Design are great books. In fact I had looked into buying them many many times, but after I while I realized we were pretty open and talked to the kids anytime anything came up (Only because I figured it all out on my own, with my only “teaching” being “Don’t do it”).

    Sometimes it’s tough, especially having a 12 year old who has pretty well figured out everything (as in: Oh mom and dad’s door is closed hmmm….)

    But it’s so important to take those steps and open that avenue of conversation up.

    Glad you found a great reference!

  4. Wonderful!
    We set out to talk with our kids (now 15, 13, 9) when they were much younger (10 and 8 – and the youngest one not yet 4 just didn’t get it!). We planned a family camping trip because surprisingly daddy wanted to be in on the talk. (It surprised me anyway) It was a great family memory – and it helped bond our family. I am so glad we did it – my girls are determined to open their wedding present from the Lord on their wedding night and not before.
    I also wanted to say the God’s Design for Sex series was great in the first two books – but I think it went too far too fast in the last two. Just MHO.
    Kids WILL find out if parents don’t tell them what sex is. You don’t wait for the world to give your child its version – because it will 24/7. Look around.
    Great post!

  5. My mum explaind to me about the matter when I was about 7 (in public school you hear things quite early, from schoolmates who have older brothers)and I’ve never consider it as a “dirty thing” despite the fact religion and adult keep on scare children in the hope they wont do it..which it will produce the opposite effect!So..well done for you to explain it as it really is..a natural thing!
    Raf

  6. Well, that is one of the “post of the year” , just a great amount of information and links, thank you, thank you for all your work.

    Now, OG has seen AG being born, so he has part of the deal figured out, however it is time for me to have the dreaded “dad-son talk” and this post comes just at the right time.
    Thanks !
    (God willing, see y’all in a few weeks ! )

    RG for the entire G family !

  7. Oh wow. This made me nervous just reading about it. LOL. Dh has discussed some of this w/DS#1, but that’s it. And DD knows how babies come OUT, but not how they got there in the first place. I’m thinking it won’t be long until I have to explain it all to her. I just want to let her “be little” for a bit longer! Is that awful?

    ~Bev~

  8. Thank you so much for this. I have known “the talk” is coming, and have been dreading it. Growing up in a home which, as wonderful as it was, include NO discussion of sex, I wanted something different in mine. But I have been scared to death! Thanks for the great resources.

    Rhonda

  9. That was hysterical!!! Our boys are a little young for “the talk”, but I remember when our nephew (who is particularly close to me) learned about the birds and bees. My brother was afraid to come home, but when he did he was suprised to hear not disgust about what he and mommy had been up to, but disgust about what his aunt and her new husband were up to!!! It’s been 10 years. He still doesn’t like it brought up. :)

    So Glad your back to blogging. I missed you while you’ve been gone!

    Kathy

  10. Thanks so much for this information.
    I actually found those first 2 (or 3) books for .25 each at a thrift store.

    I put them away for now. My son is asking very basic questions, but I know the time is coming.

    Thanks again for all your work here.
    Lizzie

  11. Shannon – You are welcome. :) Boy, do I know about the mature kids who seem to know way too much! I am surprised that my children knew as little as they did at 8 and 10. I am so loving homeschool… my kids get to be kids so much longer than public school kids do.

    My Boaz’s Ruth – That is a neat story about your dad. It is great for kids to have both of their parents to influence and love them.

    Sheri – I really liked the one God’s Design book I read… but I can’t really recommend all of the others until I read them myself. I do plan to do the Doorposts girl study with Morgan and hopefully we’ll find a good study book for Kaden to do with his dad. I think the spiritual part of puberty and purity training is just as important as the physical discussion.

    Jewls – A camping trip sounds fun! Thanks for the advice about the older 2 God’s Design for Sex books. I agree that I don’t want the world to give my kids its version of sex-ed. You can’t be too careful about what your kids watch on TV these days.

    Raf – Yes, I remember those public school days… I learned things VERY early. I have never heard any religion that scares people into not doing it. On the contrary, the Bible talks about the wonders of Sex in the Song of Solomon. :) It talks about keeping it pure between woman and wife in many other places. The Bible is very open about sex.

    RG – I figured O was going to get the talk soon when A told me about I and the discussion that took place. I got a big kick out of that! ;) My kids are sworn to secrecy about the whole bees and birdies thing, though… so take your time in discussing things! No need to rush! We love you guys. Can’t wait to see you.

    Bev – Don’t worry. After the initial set of hives fades away and your breathing returns to normal, you’ll be OK. ;) I only told Morgan because her and Kaden are best buddies and I figured he would tell her if I didn’t do it at the same time!

    Rhonda – Good luck! ;) It came earlier than I wanted, but how could I avoid it with those probing questions?! My kids actually made me blush with that cat question. ;) I would take your time and read through the book if you get one that I listed… then let God lead you to the perfect moment and go for it!

    Kathy – Thanks for missing me! :) Wish mine were little still!

    Lizzie – Hey girl. I want you to email me. I have a question for you. You got a really good deal on those books! ;)

  12. OH SPiritbee you are one BRAVE BRAVE WOMAN!!!!!
    heheheh Im glad it worked out and you should write this down in a place your children can read it as they get older!! A scrapbook of sorts with posts that are your heart!! A bloggers book…anyone invented a service to do that??

  13. Sorry, Sprittibee,you are right, is not the “religions”‘s fault,but the men who taught (catholic in my case)religion,when I was young,that manipulate and scare our minds!!And as well I can say that the majority of the people from my (ex)religion never read more than few pages of bible so they rely on what priests teach them!
    Raf

  14. Hysterical! May I also recommend Elizabeth Elliot’s Passion and Purity for Christian teens?

    The MorningStar Academy Daily Education News

    PS: Thanks for your kind words about my blog. I don’t freelance, I head up The MorningStar Academy full time…blogging is just my hobby.

  15. Great post! I’m bookmarking this. Ds is nine years old, and he knows a bit from having gone through my pregnancy with his sister(17 months), and a previous pregnancy. We do need to fill in some missing pieces…I think you post will help me do this.

  16. Very informative! I’m glad that you blogged about this topic. I can remember feeling the same way. Our children ask more and more questions at young ages, don’t they?! The Lord has his perfect timing though, doesn’t He?! Breanna(12) began asking questions & I can remember she was 8 1/2 & just telling what the male/female body parts were was enough for her at that age… it was almost exactly a year later when the biological sex talk happened… she thought it was gross & doesn’t ever want to do that… still doesn’t. :) I am so glad that I was the one that was able to talk w/ her about this. And, that I can share w/ her that it IS a beautiful thing, but designed by God for only a husband and wife. :) Now, I’ll be doin’ this talk again in another 6-8 yrs. (Nathan is 2)…Thank the Lord for His wisdom moment by moment (or “seed by seed”) w/ our children. :)

  17. I teach parents to talk to their kids about the birds and the bees, so Google pinged me with your blog entry. I really appreicate the thoughtful way you approached the topic with your kids, and in particular your response to your son when he said he thought you were keeping a secret (ouch!). Good luck with your future conversations! Amy Lang

  18. Thanks everyone. I’m just really glad this is over and I KNOW they won’t be able to hear it from someone else in a “wrong” way since they already know the truth. It is a peaceful feeling knowing that my kids have gotten the truth FIRST from ME.

  19. THANK YOU KNOW I KNOW HOW TELL MY KIDS ABOUT SEX THANK YOU SO MUCH:)

  20. MY PEARENTS TOLD ME ABOUT THIS STUFF WHEN I WAS TEN THIS WILL HELP WHEN I NEED TO TELL MY TWO KIDS (TWINS 5 YEARS OLD) AGIN I THANK YOU FOR TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT SEX THANKS AGIAN SPRITTIBEE :)

  21. Heather! I googled this search on “birds and bees” — because I really NEED to have this talk with my daughter and I’m feeling so scared and tentative and unsure… (I haven’t ever in any way shape or form!) — and imagine my absolute delight to find you and this informative post!

    Smile, smile, smile.
    Really, you just bless again and again! I couldn’t be happier to read all of this from such a kind, wise friend. Thank you, Lord!

    You are a BLESSING!
    Happy gestating my dear friend…
    Ann

  22. Thank you for your post, and your suggestions!!

    I, too, have been feeling that the time is near for at least my oldest (turning 10 in August) ~ and now reading your post maybe my second (7ys). I will for sure look into the books!!

    I have two other kiddos….. 5yrs, and 2 yrs. Might have to have the same talk over again in a few years! :)

    Thanks again!!

  23. Thank you again for "The Birds & the Bees . . ." article. I too have been dreading 'the conversation'. After reading the article I am more at ease about the topic. Thank you for the multiple book recommendations. Thank you also for sharing the ages of your children & their comments/questions along with your responses. It was most helpful.

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