Impromptu Sex Education With My Five Year Old Daughter
It’s a tricky one, knowing how and when to address sex in a conversation with kids. Do we wait til it comes up? Casually ask what they know? Sit them down for “the chat”?
The approach we’ve taken is to be 100% open with our kids, without burdening them with information that wouldn’t be helpful to them at this stage in their lives.
Our five and seven year olds know that sex is how babies are made, and they’d be able to give you a decent description of how that works. They’d also be able to tell you what condoms are for, thanks to this situation the other day.
In the media, sex education for kids is often referred to as “The Talk”. I think it’s helpful to think of sex ed as an ongoing and developing conversation rather than one event of ‘The Talk’. This encourages openness and questions as and when they come up, and takes the pressure off parents to get all the essential info into ‘The Talk’. Sometimes bite-size is better.
The first fairly lengthy conversation I had with our eldest daughter about sex was around two years ago, when she was 5. We were spending the day at Southwater Country Park and had popped into the toilets. As we washed our hands, Esmae asked me what the dispenser was on the wall- the one with sanitary pad and tampons in.
“That’s a machine to give out sanitary pads and tampons, love.”
“What’s a sanitary pad and tampons?”
“Sanitary pads are a squishy pad that soaks up blood when ladies are on their period- you just stick it on your knickers and it keeps all the blood on it.”
“What’s a period?”
“When girls grow up- when they become teenagers usually- their body gets ready to have a baby. So every month there will be an egg ready to grow into a baby, and if the woman doesn’t get pregnant the egg and some blood comes out of the lady’s vagina. It’s called a period.”
Esmae raised her eyebrows and pursed her lips in a thanks-but-no-thanks kind of way. “Ew. Does it hurt?”
“No, the blood doesn’t. Sometimes you get a kind of tummy ache.”
“Oh. And what if she gets pregnant?”
“Then you don’t bleed until you have the baby, and you don’t need a sanitary towel!”
“How do you get pregnant?”
Some context- we were still standing in the bathroom, because Esmae was still looking intently at the buttons and products in the machine. A small queue of women were looking at us – perhaps in vague amusement, perhaps wondering why I was bothering to have this conversation right now. (The answer being because it was natural and appropriate, basically, and the only reason I wouldn’t have had the full conversation is because of embarrassment, which isn’t a reason not to do worthwhile things). I took her outside.
“Ok, so to get pregnant, a man puts his penis into the woman’s vagina and a seed called sperm comes out, and goes into a tiny egg in the lady, and that grows into a baby. There are other ways of getting pregnant but that’s the usual one, and there’s always an egg and the seed.”
I waited for more questions.
“…. did you know, Mummy…”
“At that cafe right there, they sell ice cream FOR DOGS?”
“Really? No way!”
“Yep.” And off we went, with her clued up about sex and periods and with me wondering who on Earth realised there was a market for ice cream for dogs.
There are some great books for children with regards to sex education, for all ages.