"Are Babies Pooped Out?"
Talk to your kids about sex.
Posted Nov 01, 2019
Recently, my friend Karen’s son, Bradley, told me in passing that babies are “pooped out.” I asked Karen what she had told her son about sex. Her response was, “nothing.”
I often get asked, “how do I teach my children about sex?” by friends, family and clients alike. A healthy explanation is really important to ensure children are not learning false information, or giving other children misinformation.
Karen is a single mother who was afraid of having that talk and asked for my help. So, Karen and I took him aside and told him about sex. I asked my young daughters to join me since they have been learning about sex for a while, and they are really helpful in chiming in when appropriate.
You should start explaining the biology of sex when your child starts comprehending and understanding body parts. This can be done in a very simple way by providing basic facts: there are seeds inside the man’s penis, there are eggs inside the woman’s uterus, and so on. Children have a lot of questions, so I often reference things from within their environments, such as seeds on a tree or a pregnant mother they may have seen.
We had a wonderful conversation together and Bradley’s curiosity was piqued. Flash forward to a week later when Karen took him to a group dinner in New Jersey and shared this story with me:
I was invited with Bradley to have dinner at my friend Nina’s. She has two sons, ages 8 and 10. Nina’s mother, grandma Joan, had just moved in with them after a long and painful divorce.
We sit down at the beautifully set dinner table. A white linen tablecloth, candles, Nina’s mom’s china plates...the whole nine yards! The kids are finally seated as well, although the excitement of seeing one another makes them forget their manners. They chatter, fidget and continue to giggle nonstop. Thus, the situation was a mix between serious and playful.
All of a sudden, Bradley announces “oh! I know where babies come from!” “Tell us, tell us!” the other two scream enthusiastically. I begin to shrink. My son, energized by their support, proudly declares, “babies come from a VAGINA! A PENIS goes into a VAGINA and then the seed grows into a baby inside of a woman’s uterus, and the baby comes out! At first the VAGINA is very small and then it stretches this wide so the baby’s head can come out.” He spreads his arms widely for the dramatic effect.
The boys clap and giggle in total awe and amusement. The quiet and conservative Grandma Joan, digs her fork deeper into a lonely carrot on her plate, failing to hide her utter shock. Nina and her husband, progressive-thinking suburban parents, are ambivalent about showing their open support. However, it’s the time and place, more than the narrative, that makes them feel uneasy.
Determined to shift gears and alleviate Nina’s discomfort in a non-violent communication manner, I thank my son for an informative female anatomy lesson and remind him, in a more assertive tone, of the proper table manners. Nina gratefully looks at me and asks cautiously: “Where did he learn about that?” “My friend, Dr. Lea” I replied.
Nina was uncomfortable when this first happened, but later thanked me. It was a really hard conversation for Nina to have with her children as well. She was glad her children learned about sex in an informed, healthy way...even if it was over appetizers and white tablecloths in New Jersey.
There are so many questions on a parent’s mind: when is the “right age”, the “right time,” and the “right way” to do it. I use quotations around “right” because there is no direct answer to these questions. My advice to all parents and guardians is to explain sex to your children as soon as they can talk.
It is important to talk with children about the biology around sex early on. Then as they get older, emotion, love, intimacy, relationships, and connections can be layered in.
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