Today I want to talk about something all parents will need at some point. Whether you’ve had “The Birds and the Bees Talk” with your kids or not, the point is to have an open, ongoing discussion with your kids, not just one talk.
Sure, the first time you talk about it with your children it can be a little awkward, but I promise, it will get easier.
My two tips for teaching about the birds and bees are:
- Use books (my 5 favorite)
- Create times for private discussions (Late Dates & more)
1. Use Books (my five favorite ones)
At our obSEUSSed home, we use books all the time. I want to share a few of our favorites on this subject. As I share these books you’ll see links to Amazon. I am an affiliate and receive a percentage of sales made using the links. I recommend checking books out from your library first to see if you like them too, then Amazon is one place to get them. These are resource books and good ones to purchase to keep on your shelves. I checked #2 book out twice then realized I just needed to have it for years as I teach my three children.
BOOK 1 (set of 3): 30 Days of Sex Talks, Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy by Educate Empower Kids. I asked to review this set of three books. I received the books for free but was not compensated to write this post. I am very passionate about this topic and would recommend these books to my friends and to you, my readers.
Volumes 1-3 cover Ages 3-7, Ages 8-11 and Ages 12+. I’ve got children in each of these age ranges. Let me tell you, I sat down and read all three of them in one evening. They took about 45 minutes each. It was helpful to read the whole book to think about topics that are age appropriate and have the info in my mind for those moments when a discussion suddenly presents itself. I want to be prepared. Each book is broken up into 30 topics so you can sit down with your child and show them 1-3 pages and cover the questions or bullet points in a short conversation. There are also downloadable discussion cards to print and use during your talks.
Here is a sample page.
The book walks you through exactly what to say if you are uncomfortable finding your own words.
It covers some basics like the difference between boys and girls, how to show appropriate affection, predators, curiosity, pornography, social media, teen relationships, healthy vs. abusive relationships and pregnancy. They cover they topics in a very sensitive and informative format. The pictures are modern and not too graphic, just right for kids.
It has several authors from Educate Empower Kids and does not mention any particular religious overtones, but over all it seems to flow well with my Christian morals. I agreed with all the topics they encourage you to discuss with your children. They leave a lot of questions open ended so you can present your view to your child. The 12+ book was a little too open on some subjects but it is probably realistic in today’s world and it made me think more about some topics I wasn’t as familiar with. Use your own discretion as each of your children are different. I strongly recommend having this set on your shelf and keeping it accessible for times you need an overview on topics you need to share with your children.
Here are two helpful articles I recommend on Educate Empower Kids, follow them for more tips:
Another great book to have on your shelf as a resource is How to Talk to Your Child about Sex by Linda and Richard Eyre. I actually just saw Linda at the grocery store this morning but I don’t personally know her so I just pointed her out to my husband. Her daughter Saren is one of the founders of Power of Moms which I’m an ambassador for.
This husband and wife team are recognized for their plethora of parenting books on the NYT best sellers list. This is the book I relied on to prep me for my first “Talk” with my children. It is much longer and in depth, but you can pick out certain chapters to focus on. It is Christian based, very straightforward and shows how to teach this topic with love. You can pick one up pretty cheap on Amazon.
My next favorite resource is by American Girl, The Care and Keeping of You. I love the whole series of American Girl self care books. This one has simple cartoon pictures and discusses the maturing of girls in a fun casual way, like friends talking. There are 3 versions for different ages: 1 for Younger Girls, 1 for Girls and 1 that is called The Care & Keeping of You 2 for older girls.
I Said No! A Kid-to-kid Guide to Keeping Private Parts Private by Zack and Kimberly King. This is a great book about a boy’s true experience at a sleepover. It is written from his perspective showing kids what they need to watch for. It has a very powerful message.
TRICKY PEOPLE: We often talk about certain topics with all three of our children together. We remind them that there are some people who may try to trick them at some time, either showing their body parts or saying it is ok to touch their private parts, or showing them pictures of someone naked or asking them to say bad words or try to smoke or take drugs or drink alcohol. The point is, we cover a lot of things very openly about people who may try to trick us. It could be someone we know, a friend or family member or a stranger. We want to recognize if they are trying to trick us or if anything makes us uncomfortable and tell them NO! Then let mom and dad know if anyone tries to trick them.
Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids by Jenson and Poyner came out last year and has been a hot topic at play group. As moms, we are concerned about the easy electronic access to pornography. Children are being exposed much earlier and more often to pictures we need to protect them from. This book helps you have that discussion with your daughters and sons and outlines a plan of what to do when you see an inappropriate picture. It also explains the science of how your brain becomes addicted to those images.
My Experience: I don’t let my kids have much electronic access but they’ve already seen pictures that make them uncomfortable. We tried watching American Idol one night and J. Lo is often wearing something too revealing, then a Victoria’s Secret commercial comes on. Too much for young eyes. Then my 8 year-old son went with Grandpa to the barber to get his hair cut. He came home and was embarrassed to tell me he picked up a magazine that showed women’s chests in it. At first I was outraged thinking this barber leaves porn magazines out for his customers, then upon further research I found out it was the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit edition. – I guess that made me a little less upset because it wasn’t a subscription to a porn magazine, but it is pretty close. You never know where your kids will be exposed to it so you need to start the discussion earlier than you think. This book will help you do that.
Now, about how to have these discussions with your child once you’ve done some research:
2) Create times for private discussions (Late Dates & more)
We have three children. It is hard to have a private discussion without siblings interrupting. We’ve realized we need to create those times and take advantage of any alone time to openly discuss age appropriate topics about maturing and relationships in a safe environment. Here are a few of our favorite ways to create times for private discussions.
LATE DATES: Each child has a special night each month called a Late Date. Sometimes we do it twice a month. They get to stay up an extra hour with mom and dad to talk, choose a snack and a special activity. The activity is often a board game or dice game like Tenzie (see above photo). Sometimes my son likes to choose a science project. It is their choice. They love having their Late Dates. These times alone with each child allow us to ask questions like
- Who do you play with most at recess?
- Do your friends ever say things that are inappropriate?
- Do you have questions about anything you’ve heard, or anything we’ve discussed before?
- What can we help you with most?
- Discuss special age-appropriate topics about maturing and relationships. This approach made it very natural to start out with smaller topics about our bodies then build up to the birds and the bees talk. Then we keep talking about different topics as needed (see the first book above for 30 different topics). It really made “The Talk” so much easier.
We’ve had such great discussions during these Late Dates. Several of my friends have started doing Late Dates too with much success. This creates a private, safe environment to discuss topics with mom and dad showing attention to each child as an individual.
BATH TIME: This is a simple one to incorporate. As you give your younger children baths, talk about how special their bodies are. Talk about the correct names for all their body parts. Talk about who is allowed to see their private parts and why they are private. Ask them if they have questions about their bodies.
BED TIME: As you tuck your child in before bed, ask a few simple questions or bring up a topic you think they may need to discuss. This is a great time to read a picture book about bodies maturing then talk about it. They don’t have anywhere else to be, no need to rush off and play. They know it is bed time and they have a few minutes having your attention.
I hope some of these books and tips about creating private conversations will help you as you approach these sensitive topics. I’d love to know if you have any other book suggestions or tips you’ve used. Please leave a comment below.