Apr 062012
 

 

Friends. I miss you.

Here is what is going on over here:

I’m writing to you from a new office this morning – Craig’s office, which used to be the “baby’s room.” Since no baby ever came, this room became Craig’s work-from-home-office, and I did all of my writing at a desk in our bedroom.

It soon became clear that we were going to need to trade offices. Because the thing is that when your desk is right next to your bed, your bed attacks you. Sort of like the Botox situation. So every time Craig came in to see “how my writing was going,” Theo and I were sound asleep in my bed. Soooooo coooozy. So this morning Craig moved all of my things into his office and made me sit in here. It’s nice and bright and I like it. New perspectives are always good. I’m still tired, though, and I’m not afraid to snuggle up on the floor. We’ll see.

So: Yesterday a Monkee asked me when and how to talk to kiddos about sex.

Oh, my goodness. I don’t know.  We haven’t really gone there yet. We’re easing into the tough stuff.

A few months ago, Chase starting mentioning “bad words” a lot. My guess is that some kiddos in the neighborhood or at school were talking about it and he was getting curious. Maybe obsessed would be a better word. What are the bad words, mom? Why are they bad? How can words be bad?  And my favorite- Mom, are bad words just misspelled words?

Craig and I decided to sit down one night and tell Chase every bad word we knew. It became important to us that Chase understood that there was no information “out there” that he couldn’t get straight from us. So we listed all the bad words we knew and we sat together in his bunk bed and we said them each aloud to him. Except for the F word.  Neither of us could bring ourselves to say the F word to our little man’s sweet face. So we told him there was another one that started with F, but we couldn’t say it. And unfortunately Chase said, “Ooooh. I think I know that one. Is it the one you say when you can’t get the front door open, mom?” And I avoided eye contact with Craig and said. Yeah. That one.

We explained to Chase that there was nothing inherently wrong with any of these words, because they were just letters strung together – and because “bad words” are different in every culture and time. We said that they do have power, though, because in our particular culture, these words, along with many, many others, can cause strong feelings in other people. Maybe not all people, but some. You never, ever know who will be affected by them and who won’t. Sometimes people will even act like certain words don’t hurt them, but they really do. And since we love people and want to be very, very careful with their feelings, we try not to use words that can hurt people.

We also told him that if he shared any of these words with his buddies he was dead meat.

He seemed satisfied.

But sex. IYIYIIIII. Not so simple, to me.

The sex talk scares me, for one simple reason. I don’t have sex figured out yet. I really don’t.

I know it’s not cool or maybe even reasonable to say, but I really do believe that it’s best to save sex for marriage. Because I have ALL KINDS of issues with sex, and I think some of them stem from the way that both Craig and I used sex with other people before we were married. Irresponsibly, lightly, recreationally, desperately. Not good. And there is residual damage for both of us.

But then again….how would I tell that to Chase? Sex before marriage is a mistake, Chase. I mean, sex before marriage also resulted in the most precious gift I’ve ever been given- Chase, himself.

Tricky.

And I know they say, stick with basics, right? Just talk about vaginas and penises and fertilization. But- that’s so not it. That’s like trying to teach a child about God by describing a church. Or explaining marriage by describing a wedding ceremony. It’s just not it, at all.

So anyway, I don’t know, is my answer. I have no idea how to talk to kiddos about sex. I don’t think I’m the right one to ask.  It’s like how scared I am to talk to my girls about body image and food and the like- because- ummm…I’ve never been an expert at walking that line.

So I was hoping you brilliant Monkees might have some sex talk ideas. Do you?  If so, help us please.

Maybe we can start here. I think this is a brilliant place to start.

 

And let us remember, there’s probably no “right way.” Probably just lots of good enough ways. We don’t want to be perfect, ladies.  If we are, our kids will have NO MATERIAL. That would suck.

 

 

Love you,

G

 

 



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  167 Responses to “Let’s Talk About Sex”

  1. I just discovered you through Kelle Hampton. I’m so glad you two are friends now! Like attracts like…awesome attracts awesome in this case. I loved your vulnerability and honesty in sharing your story. Thank you.

    Couple thoughts on this post:
    I haven’t had to teach sex yet, (it’ll be a while, my firstborn is 10 months) but there are two things I KNOW I will say when I do:
    1. Our bodies are sacred
    2. Sex is sacred, because through it, we become partners with God to create new, beautiful, never-before-created life and that is truly amazing.

    Why do we save it for marriage? Because that newly created life deserves to be born in stable circumstances. Inside the protection of a marriage covenant. With the safety and balance that come with two parents, bound not only by love, but also by commitment. In essence, we save it for marriage in selflessness because it is the appropriate and necessary thing to do.

    Do mistakes happen? Yes. Do people misunderstand or disregard this principle? Absolutely. And children are born without the safety of committed, long-term family. And those can be smoothed out and corrected after the fact. But, you know what? Those are exceptions. We teach the rule. If we taught the exception, where would protection come from? Where would consistency be?

    No, teaching sex is not an easy thing, but hopefully it is simple. Because, as you share on your blog, we are children of God, and are therefore sacred. Respect the sacred and you have your boundaries set.

    Love you!

  2. Hi G.
    I’m Megan.
    I’m new, and I’m really glad I found you:)
    Every night, every single night, literally from as young as I can remember, my dad put me to bed, and the last thing he asked me was, “What questions do you have for me tonight?” I would ask him to explain everything and anything to me, from clouds to bugs to meanness to friends… to his favorite, straight from the mouth of his 5-year-old babe…
    “Daddy, what are shitting, fucking, and pissing?”
    True story.
    He always answered thoughtfully, without dumbing things down or getting squeamish or rushing towards bedtime. (Reminds me of your conversation about Bad Words.) I was not afraid to ask my dad anything. So we ended up having “The Talk” over dozens of conversations. He fostered such a climate of honestly and non-judgement between us that decades later, in my late twenties, when my entire world fell apart due to my own terrible mistakes… I, a ridiculously private person, went straight to the only other person I could share my broken self with… my dad.
    I don’t know what words to say during “The Talk”, but I know I want my Littles to feel exactly how I felt.
    Respected. Informed. Loved unconditionally.

  3. I’m not ready either but my time is coming for the talk. Loved Jukia Sweeney’s comic relief on the subject which caused me to check out her blig. Must say I’m not impressed with her “Letting Go of God”. Whatever that is. So, no longer a fan…

  4. G–

    True story: I learned about sex from the encyclopedia, when I was 6. I also learned about sex changes, sexual identity, homosexuality, sexual dysfunction and sexual assault from the same source. And I still ended up with a pretty healthy opinion toward sex, AND saved it for marriage.

    So I think you’ll be just fine. ;)

    -Sharyn

  5. I told my little girls that, just like there is a recipe to make a cake, there is a recipe to make a human. The daddy has half the ingredients and the mommy has the other half. When the mommy and daddy want a baby, they mix the ingredients together in a special way, and the baby grows in the mommy’s tummy, just like a cake bakes in an oven.

  6. Hey there! My friend just posted your blog. Very fun and congrats on your book deal!

    I rarely comment, but I have some ideas on this subject. My philosophy was to never have “the big talk,” but lots and lots of little talks. Whenever there’s an opportunity to talk sex, I do. I have four daughters and I have led with three of them (the youngest is 2 so she’s not there yet) around 3 years of age or so with the child molestation stuff. As in, “There’s a difference between a surprise and a secret. A surprise is a secret like Mommy’s birthday present…one that I’ll find out someday. But if someone tells you that you have to keep a secret….then you need to tell me. If someone ever touches you (you get the idea….describe it), and tells you that you will be in trouble for telling your Mom and Dad, that is a very wrong thing on that person’s fault and you need to tell Mom and Dad and you will never ever, ever never, never ever be in trouble!” And I repeat that story several times over their childhood.

    Then I segue as they get older into seizing any opportunity to talk about sex. If there’s something that they accidentally saw/read….I just say “Mommy’s going to talk about embarrassing stuff because I’m sooooooooooooo embarrassing!!!!!” and that’s their code for “Mom’s talking sex again.”

    In fact, I actually explained sexually transmitted diseases before I really explained the act to my oldest because the opportunity came up. :) I was so stoked about the conversation and then I thought “I HAVEN’T EVEN EXPLAINED THE ACT TO HER!” so I had to quickly have “a talk” to clarify myself.

    There’s a great book out there called Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know About Sex, but Were Afraid They’d Ask: The Secrets to Surviving Your Child’s Sexual Development from Birth to the Teens” that I highly recommend!

    My philosophy as my girls are getting older (oldest just became a teenager) is that I want to stress to them there’s a long time to marriage and you never go back. So go slow. Hopefully it will work!!!!!!!!

    Good luck and congrats again!

  7. thank you glennon, for the candidness, and for the best belly laugh i’ve had in a while. julia sweeney is my hero(ine). awesome.

  8. I read this and couldn’t help but be confused… I thought you wanted your son to be gay?

  9. http://www.michelleinthemiddle.com/boys-and-porn/ – I read this article a while back and after reading this post and some of the comments I couldn’t help but think how helpful the information was for me.

  10. Hi Glennon, I’ve been reading your words for a good while. I relate to you in many ways. I’m writing now because I want to take some steps necessary for my good health. Your site and the Monkee community has inspired me. I’m so so scared, petrified really. I’m not even at the point where I can put any of it into words, but I was hoping you could ask for prayers for me. I need to develop some strength … a lot of strength. I’ve seen your site do wonderous things … maybe it can help me. You are officially my very first step in what I hope is the right direction. I figured Easter is a perfect day to start anew. Thanks.

    • Pauline, praying now. Praying for you, your words and your strength. Congratulations on being brave and reaching out. You can do this whatever your “this” may be.

      • Thank you, thank you LIFE.

        I’ve officially taken my second step, I called my doctor and made an appointment to get a game plan established. Still scared, but still stepping … Thanks.

    • Praying for you, Pauline.

  11. I love this article from a Christian sex therapist named Nancy Houston.
    I never even knew there was any such thing until I met her! She did an article for Destiny in Bloom, and online magazine (a free one) for Christian women specifically on talking to kids about sex http://destinyinbloom.com/minivan-moments-raising-sexually-healthy-kids/

    but if you search the archives there are a few different articles having to do with healthy sex and how fabulous it is on there!

  12. My mom likes to recount how, when she had the initial “talk” with me, she made sure that we were in the car, so that eye contact wouldn’t be an issue, and that I burst out laughing. I was around 4 and it was just after my sister was born. I have my own story, but the one that I want to mention right now is my husband’s.

    My husband grew up with very open parents who talked to their children very clearly, factually, and frankly about sex. However, I don’t think they ever broached the topic of abuse, and if they had, it might have made a difference. From the time that he was about 6 until 11, my husband was forced to participate in sexual activity with a bunch of neighbourhood kids (mostly boys, mostly quite a bit older) who were “experimenting” with one another. He certainly had the language to tell his parents what the other kids were making him do, but he never did, and I believe that a large part of why he never told them was that one of the perpetrators was his brother. He was conflicted because he loved his brother and didn’t understand that someone he loved could hurt him. The problem was exacerbated because he and his brother shared a room and his parents didn’t know that his brother would wake him up during the night.

    Yes, I think that the neighbourhood parents, his included, should have supervised the play much more diligently. However, I also think that if his sex education had included information about how someone you know and/or love can hurt you, and that if that happens, it’s not tattle tailing, he might have talked to his parents about it. As it was, the abuse only stopped because he grew big enough to defend himself.

    My sex education most certainly did not include much talk about abuse, but I do remember a childhood song “My body’s nobody’s body but mine. You run your own body, let me run mine.” I lived a very sheltered (and supervised) life and thankfully never had to deal with anything remotely like these issues. And I don’t think that kids need any detail about this sort of thing, but knowing the basic mechanics isn’t enough, even for very young children. Hopefully they will never need to implement their knowledge, but they should have it nonetheless.

    Thankfully, the experience did not leave him permanently scarred. Of course it had an impact, and it deeply affected his childhood and adolescence, but time has really done good things for him and my husband is a very well-adjusted adult.

    One day, when we have children and they inevitably ask why we never see Daddy’s brother, it will be difficult to explain. I don’t know. I guess I’ll deal with that when the issue actually presents itself. Because, yes, it is very important to forgive people, but sometimes someone can hurt you enough that it’s healthier not to have them in your life. I am a *very* forgiving person. I don’t hold grudges, I see the best in people and in situations. But he is the one person that I have not forgiven. If he showed remorse, then I think that I could probably do it, but he doesn’t, and someone who hurt someone I love that horribly, well, it’s hard to forgive. But that’s another topic for another day.

    • Thank you for this. Your husband’s story is encouraging for me. That time will continue to heal the wounds of sexual abuse, and things can and will be okay. This is exactly what I needed.

      • And thank you for responding to my story. Really.

        I think that what allowed him to grow past that time of his life was not letting those experiences define him and not blaming himself that they occurred. When the topic arises, he talks about it thoughtfully and openly with me, and the only time I really see him struggle with it is when someone asks at what age he lost his virginity. Of course the memories hurt, but he surrounds himself with loving people, and focuses on the positive and on the wonderful life he has now.

        Good luck to you.

  13. Wow! I have never posted here before but I had to give you this resource: http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Truths-Mary-Flo-Ridley/dp/0982787510/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_t_1

    It is a set of DVD’s about this subject. I watched with a group of my friends and then insisted my husband watch it with me. We immediately started talking to our 4, 6 and 8 year old children about things. I would never have thought that I would be comfortable talking to my kids (especially so young) but she explains it in such a way that it makes sense to do it early. Please, please check out this woman’s video. She is a Christian educator but it is NOT too preachy and it really sparked good discussion between my husband and I about the message we want to send our children about sex (which is different from what both he and I did before we were married). Hope this helps!

  14. My little one is only 5 so I am pretty sure I have some time, but I do remember what I was told..not the actual physical mechanics of it all, but about saving yourself until the time is right. I should preface this all by mentioning that I was raised Catholic and attended a Catholic high school.) I was in grade 11 (so about 16 years old) some of my girlfriends were having sex and I was thinking perhaps I was missing out…that is until a group of us had a unscheduled impromptu chat with our school Deacon on day after class. He told us a simple story that I will always remember and will tell to my daughter when she is old enough to grasp it’s deep meaning. He told us of a guy that bought his girlfriend a beautiful necklace. He loved this girl with all his heart and when he gave it to her, she loved it..time went on and they broke up. She gave him back the necklace. Soon he fell in love again with another girl so he gave her the same beautiful necklace and they were happy for a while, but then they broke up..this happened a few more times over the years..then he met the girl of his dreams..YOU! You loved him and he loved you and he took out a beautiful necklace and gave it to you, but you knew that it had belonged to many girls before you…how “special” or “precious” is that necklace now? The End………well at least that is how I remember the story almost 25 years later. I’m not sure if I did the story justice, but the story and it’s meaning always stayed with me. Having sex with someone is a wonderful meaningful thing,and you can only unwrap it for the 1st time once..and that 1st time can never be recaptured.

  15. Hi G,

    “Sex before marriage is a mistake, Chase. I mean, sex before marriage also resulted in the most precious gift I’ve ever been given- Chase, himself.”

    The best way I’ve ever heard this reasoned is “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” This is true, even though not all things are good. So Chase is precious and wonderful and a gift from God, even if sex outside of marriage is not good, itself.

    I’m not eloquent, but I hope that helps :)

  16. I enjoyed this. We shared the link on our Saturday Sampling at stonewritten.com. I hope more people read it. http://www.stonewritten.com/?p=3766
    Peace,
    Emily

  17. How to see older comments? Am I missing something obvious?

  18. G, I’ve been there. I was terrified, too, but it was easier than I thought it would be. One thing to remember- it’s an ongoing conversation. That means you don’t have to get it all right at the beginning! You really can just start with the mechanics. Be honest, use real words, but just start with the mechanics. Let them know they can ask you anything. Then answer their questions as they come up. You can tell them that saving sex for marriage is the best choice and give them a list of reasons why, when they ask. GOOD LUCK! You can do hard things, Glennon! :)

  19. Dear Glennon,
    I was pregnant with our son Carter before my husband and I were even engaged. For many reasons, we decided to have the baby first, then we had our wedding 3 months later. I was 22, scared and not really ready for all that being a mom/wife entailed. 17 years, and 3 kids later, we are still making it. Trying to explain to Carter (the 17 year old love child) and the 2 kids after him, about sex, marriage, God, love, choices, timing, (the list goes on forever) has been challenging, entertaining, embarassing, emotional and most importantly, a really good teaching tool when you are explaining to a 17 year old boy about the importance of protected sex. Anyway, my point is, you will find the right words, some wrong ones too, and the conversations will evolve as they grow. At the end of the day, what I really want my kids to know is that maybe we didn’t do the whole thing the “right” way, it was messy a lot of the time, but I am so proud of who we are and I really concider him one of the greatest gifts I was ever given, reagrdless of the package he came in.
    If you want more specific entertaining stories about our conversations, email me. I have eaten my words more times than I care to share publicly :)

  20. I just know that after giving the “talk” to my oldest (just about to start 5th grade, nearly 12), I told him he could come to me at any time with any question… this is an ON-GOING discussion, not a one time thing. He said to me… “I do have one question…Is Santa real?”

  21. I didn’t get “the talk” as a kid. As a matter of fact, it was never talked about, ever. I received all my information from peers and t.v., which as you can imagine, was not exactly factual. I had a poor self image because the human body was foreign to me. “Was I normal?”, “Is that supposed to happen?” were frequent questions I had. I made many bad choices, with very hurtful consequences, because I just didn’t know.

    I am a mom now, and I push myself to get over any uncomfortable feelings I may have, because I don’t want my children to be left in the dark. We talk about age appropriate topics, and I am lucky, that they are willing to talk to me and ask me questions.

    Talk about it. They’ll learn it from somewhere.

    • Jenn, your comment hit home for me. I had an identical situation in where it wasn’t talked about at all and I’m still dealing with the ongoing poor self-image issues today and I just turned 43.

      My girls are only 5 and 7 so we haven’t yet talked about much in terms of ‘sex’ outside of body part names and the “your body is yours/no one else should be touching it” kind of thing but I know it’s coming. Like you, I’ll be pushing myself to deal with any uncomfortableness I have as I fully intend to give my girls the information that I never received. I don’t want them to ever have to feel like I did.

      Sounds like your plan of action is working well–keep up the good work! Hoping I’m so lucky when my time comes…and I know it’s hurtling towards me even as I type this!

      :)

  22. How about you tell Chase that our very merciful God in His grace sometimes blesses us and always redeems our bad choices. We still have to suffer some negative consequences of those choices but Chase is proof of the grace in it. Better to make good choices and just receive God’s blessings without the consequences!

  23. I desperately hope that I’m able to have conversations like these with a child of my own at some point in the future. I want that so badly.

    Sex isn’t the end-all-be-all of my marital relationship, but being sexually compatible is something that has always been important to my husband and me. Our sex life is highly enjoyable, and that intimacy has been a source of joy and comfort during what is, for us, the most dark and terrible time.

    Since I’m not religious, you can probably guess what my stance is on premarital sex. I find the taboos our society puts on sex hard to relate to, and I have a question for those of you who firmly believe in waiting until you’re married to have sex: What if your child does that and then is relegated to a lifetime of unsatisfying, even miserable, sex?

    • Perhaps I am naive. Or perhaps I am just really really lucky, but here’s my thought. If two people really love and respect each other, and to me that means more than that they are “hot” for each other but can wait, then each person does everything they can to ensure that the other person is satisfied and enjoying the sexual part of the relationship. There may be times in this hypothetical relationship where the sexual part is a little colder, but through good communication and love and patience, both individuals can grow together. This requires in part that each person is greatly concerned for the happiness and well being of the other. This requires that each is sensitive to the others needs and desires. This requires, like all parts of marriage, some give and take. This also requires in a way that each partner is thinking along the lines of “will this work for US, is this good for US, will this make US happy” instead of wondering if it’s good for me and does it work for me.
      In my experience, If two people can implement this way of thinking before they are married in every other aspect of their lives, money, travel, resource usage, etc, and they have very open and caring lines of communication, then they can pretty much know that they will be able to learn and grow together sexually too. So the trick is to make sure that before you get married, you are choosing someone who treats you this way, and whom you can think this way with/ about. That is harder than it seems, and it takes some soul searching.
      I don’t know if that answers your question, but there are some rambling thoughts that your question brought up for me. What do you think?

    • I am for waiting till marriage. I think it’s so important for the fabric of society to wait until you are absolutely committed to a person before you enter into sex. But I get that this situation is ideal and hormones and emotions can get the better of people. What I don’t get is this idea that two people who love eachother in every way would somehow be sexually incompatable. What? Does not register. What does that mean, specifically?

  24. I’ve read your blog for some time but never chimed in. However, teaching/discussing sex with our kids is one area that I can never keep quiet about. Here is a blog post I wrote which lists the resources we used with our three kids, now 21, 19 and 13. We just finished up Passport To Purity with our 13 year old and I would stand on the mountain top and sing the praises of this resource. As with any resource, however, we customized to meet our needs and rather than finishing it in one weekend, we began with the part they could handle at age 9 for our girls and age 11 for our son. Then did a few sections each year over 3 years as a mom/daughter, dad/son weekend getaway. It’s a phenomenal program and I wish every parent would use it. It opens the door to communication in a most intimate way. I wish with everything in me my parents would have helped me with this. We never wished for our children to face the issues we faced early in our marriage. GOOD STUFF!!!

    http://thestunzfamily.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/baby-oh-baby/

  25. I was taught (aside from the function of sex) that it is a gift from you that you give to your spouse, so you want to save this special, intimate thing for just him or her. You don’t want to casually throw this gift around at every person you meet. You care so much for your future life partner that you want to save this special gift that only they may have.
    Yes, not everyone does this, but sex is more than just a physical act or pleasing experience. Every time you’re with someone you leave a bit of yourself with them. Emotionally speaking this can wear you out and make you feel tired & empty. Remember also, your body is a temple. You want to take care of it. That means spiritually & emotionally too.
    God didn’t create boundaries for us (including waiting for marriage) to punish us and make us mad, He did it because He loves us and He wants what’s best for us. He doesn’t want us to get hurt. That is why I believe it is best to wait for that one person that God has for you.
    ————————————————————————————————————————
    This is what I will likely tell my son when it is time for the sex talk. I might expand upon it, depending on his maturity level.

  26. My son is only 22 months old, so I figure I have a little time, LOL. BUT, I have always believed in using proper terms for body parts, and that much of the kids discomfort is stuff they pick up from the grown-ups. So I talk to him, now, at bath time, and during diaper changes, and when he sees me getting dressed, using proper words for everything, and I’ve done a practice “sex talk” or too, figuring if I’m going to screw it up, now is he time, when he won’t remember, ha ha. I figure by the time he’s old enough to to ask questions, hopefully we’ll be used to talking about all this stuff and it won’t be a big deal.

  27. We have the book “It’s So Amazing.” When they have a question, we reference the book. It’s much easier for me (even though I have most of a biology degree) to get started with what the book says and then I can answer questions and add details from there. As they get older it gets a little easier.

  28. Had the sex talk with my daughter when she was in the 4th grade. She already had some basic body info from an American Girl Doll book, which i really liked.

    The way “the talk” came about is actually kind of funny…..now! My 10 year old and I were out doing a little retail therapy when she noticed, I mean REALLY noticed lingerie in Kohls for the first time. She became extremely, persistently vocal (in the store) asking about why a mommy would wear something like that! Finally, I told her if she would stop yelling the question, I would have a very important, special talk with her when we got home. Just the two of us, and we could have a mommy-daughter sleepover night!

    Luckily, I had by chance watched an episode of The Doctors that week on TV, and their OB/GYN (I forget her name) gave an example sex talk to girls age 9-12ish. She approached it from the point-of-view that it would be kind of an uncomfortable topic for the girls, and maybe the adults, to talk about. The way she expained an
    “erection” to the kids was actually really funny. She said that a man likes how his wife looks and sometimes that makes his penis get a little bigger, and a little bigger because it just gets soo excited, until it just explodes with happiness when he has sex! The girls were giggling a little by then. At the end of her talk, she didn’t ASK
    them if they had any questions. She said, “I know you must have alot of questions.” And then she waited and waited….. (she later told the audience that you must try to wait for them to ask something. Don’t talk. Just keep waiting…) Sure enough those
    girls had a ton of questions and now that they were more comfortable, the conversation actually turned more serious all on it’s own. This was an interesting approach, since “the talk” with my own mom had been very serious and i definitely didn’t ask any questions afterwards. She explained what it was and that it was for marriage and that was it.

    As my daughter and I arrived home from our shopping, she turned and said, “Now its time for our special mommy-daughter talk and sleepover.” Oh dear God, I prayed, please don’t let me screw this up. Please help me find the words…. It would turn out to be one of the best nights of my life.

    I did start with the “light” approach from that TV show. Predictably, my daughter looked a little freaked out and embarrassed. But the most amazing thing happened. First she listened, really listened, and after the momentous statement “you must have alot of questions” she paused a L O N G pause…. then the questions came in droves. And her questions did allow me to then be more serious. She asked if everyone “had to have sex.” Her 10 yr old brain thinkng that it was pretty gross. But, that opened the door for me to emphatically explain that NO, everyone did not have to have sex and that if anyone ever tried to make her do that it was WRONG.

    We did talk about God creating sex for marriage. And, she did ask what would happen if an adut had sex before they were married. Again, another gracious door opened for me to explain that God makes rules for us to protect us. If we don’t follow the rules, then we suddenly have to protect ourselves from the things that could go wrong. I asked her what some of those things could maybe be….she had great answers- pregnancy, disease, maybe a boy would want sex and then wouldn’t talk to you again and that would hurt…..maybe make her cry.

    THREE hours later, we made popcorn and started a movie. I kissed her innocent, or now not quite so innocent, little forehead and told her just how much I loved her. That whether she waited for marriage or whether something different happened or went
    wrong, she could always come to me. I would ALWAYS love her and forgive her. How could I not, when God infinitely loves and forgives us all on a daily basis.

    She fell asleep curled in my arms, that dichotomy between her being older and yet
    still so little. And I didn’t sleep, I wanted to soak up all her “littleness.” Like I said, one of the best nights of my life.

  29. I have pretty strong opinions about talking to my kids about sex. I came from a family where sex was an open subject and it was talked about openly and freely, yet respectfully. I am the mother of almost-four (my fourth- a little girl- is due any day now) and I have 10, 7 and 4 year old boys.

    I think that the biggest thing we need to overcome in talking to our kids about sex is our our discomfort. We WANT our children to come to us first. We WANT our children to ask US their questions and they only way they will do this is if we are open and ready the first time to do come to us. Or better yet, we beat them to the punch.

    The arrival of this baby has spurred many conversations on sex. How it got there? How it comes out? And my children know that there are many things they don’t know and when they want the answers, they can ask. They know the basics and the mechanics (Children’s Encyclopedias are great to help with this. Great pics and explanations) and they know WHY we believe it is best to wait until marriage.

    The bottom line is, as a parent, I think it’s our job to approach the subject first, just as we would with drugs, alcohol or whatever crazy thing kids are into lately, and they can sense your discomfort, regardless of your opinions, thoughts and feelings on sex. So, for the best interest of your child, put that aside and just have a good chat with them. I blogged more about it here.
    http://whaddyashay.blogspot.com/2010/04/lets-talk-about-sex.html

    Good luck and if you are reading this article or the comments, you are on the right path.

  30. “I know it’s not cool or maybe even reasonable to say, but I really do believe that it’s best to save sex for marriage.”

    Thank you for including that tiny sentiment. It’s almost unheard of for someone to say that and share why. Thank you for being so open and honest.

    I agree 100% and do believe it is possible. :)

    • It is possible.. I was 23 when I got married…and was a virgin on my wedding night!

      • Me too! I was 23 and my husband was 24 and we were both virgins. It was hard to wait, but I’m so glad we did and I hope the same thing for my daughter.

        • I was married at 31, and my husband was 28. We were both virgins also. I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to wait (although it’s not easy). In my little corner of the world, I would guess that I know over 100 people who waited. I think it has been great blessing for us.

          • I’m 25, still single, still a virgin, and still waiting (trying to be patient :)) for my husband! I know it will be very worth the wait!

  31. I tend to shoot straight for the most part. I always remembered my developmental psychology teacher in college telling us that she told her kids pretty much everything open and honestly but she did it from a science angle. I’ve decided to do the same. Occasionally my kids go “WOAH MOM! That is more than we needed to know!” and I say ok…let me know when you want the down low! I feel like if I act like it’s all this big taboo mysterious secret then they will only be more curious. Hope I made the right decisions!!!

  32. No one-except a friend ever talked to me about sex-big mistake! I am not sure why we get all carzy about talking to kids about it. Now having said that, we have never actually done the whole-the guy does this and the girl does this and then you…discussion. Instead we waited for them to ask us. It always ,always,always starts the same way-where do babies come from. It also always,always ,always happens in the car-the talking not the sex! Anyway,for my kids,we tend to have the best conversations-the most honest ones anyhow,when my back is to them, or we are in the dark . I am sure it’s because it is easier to ask uncomfortable stuff when you are not face to face with someone. It usually depends on their age at the time. I usually say, why don’t you tell me what you know, and then we will go from there. Usaully I am ready to tell them way more than they want to know, so I carefully add on, or correct their current knowledge-then I wait for more questions. Sometimes I have to say-I am not ready to talk to you about that-so give me some time and I’ll get back to you. Mostly because either I am uncomfortable-or I just haven’t figured out an age appropriate answer. So here is the stuff I focus on and I got to this point mostly because my husband was raised by a single mom and her “talk” with her sons mostly revovled around respect for your partner-for this I owe her the world! I say something like-I personally feel a person should wait until they have that feeling that no one can ever describe to you, but that feeling when you know it is right-right to share something that special. You will know that feeling when you have no need to involve all your girlfriends in your relationship. You’ll know it when you do not need to defend your special someone to all your friends-like if you always have to say”you just don’t know him” or “he’s not like that around me” you will know. You honestly will know. I say to wait not because sex is bad-because we know its not, it is really nice-when you are in true love. It is not bad,it feels good-that’s why people want too. It makes you feel amazing-when you know in your heart, in your mind that you are emotionally strong enough to endure loss. When you are emotionally strong enough to realize that sometimes true love is for a life time-and sometimes it is just a short moment in your long life. When you and your mind, heart and body are strong enough to last a life time with one person-you will feel free enough way down deep in your soul to trust yourself enough not only to fall in love-but to be loved,and that is the hardest part of all of it. Trusting yourself enough to be loved. I say you are smart,you are beautiful,God has trusted your will enough to give you the power to make choices based on faith,love,and trust…you will choose the right thing at the right time no matter the outcome every single time-if you remember to trust the love God has for you. You were given all you need when you were born-so love yourself enough to be the best you can possibly be.

    • Wow. Tracy, this is amazing. I LOVE what you say. Here’s a momma of four who will definitely keep your words in mind when I have to talk to my kiddos!!!!

    • I love how you touched on choosing a partner that you didn’t have to defend to others. I did not save myself for marriage and I don’t regret that. But there are some partners along the way that I do regret. All the things women I know have come to regret can be summed up with safe sex and careful choice of a loving and kind partner. It would have prevented pregnancy scares, STDs, Abuse, Shaming, Cheating, and a lot of regrets, remorse and pain.

  33. This is where going to a Catholic school has paid off for my kids. We have this wonderful teacher, who gives the sex talks at our school. They send home all the info about when the talks will start, and a booklet about how they are going to explain it.

    This lady is just phenomenal. She talks about married sex as being sacred and incredibly special between two people. I swear my oldest thought angels appeared during married sex for the longest time. Somehow, she makes it sound that, if you are having in any other context but marriage, you are missing out on the most special bond there is between two people and you are cheating yourself out of the best experience possible. Which is true and what we want our kids to know, right? And I’m just super glad she says it to the kids, because we all know that anything we as parents say, can be reasoned down to , “You just don’t want me to have any fun”

    With my first, I went over the basics with him, when I knew she was going to talk, and asked if there were any questions. He was shell shocked, and didn’t ask much….even after he got the talk from her.

    My second was a different story. He got the basics, and then had the talk at school on a Monday. On Wednesday, I get a phone call from the teacher, telling me that my child had some questions she didn’t feel comfortable answering. ????!!!! So I sit down with my son, and I ask him what questions he had. He hemmed and hawed, and I said, “You need to be able to talk with me and you can ask me anything.” Like Julia, I got more than I bargained for. And if I ever doubted the existence of God, it was erased during this conversation because He answered…the answers that were running through my head are in parenthesis…they did not come out of my mouth.

    Son: Ok mom, well, first of all, how long does it take?
    Me: Take for what?
    Son: To get the sperm in the vagina
    Me: (with your dad, three minutes) God: Well honey, it takes a little bit of time, let’s say 15-20 minutes.
    Son: What are you DOING while the penis is in the vagina. I mean, do you just lay there and watch TV?
    Me: (Sometimes, and sometimes I am doing my grocery list) God: When you are having sex with someone, it’s best to love them a lot, and be married because then you have things to talk about.
    Son: How do you know when it’s over? How does the guy know the sperm gets out?
    Me/God: I think it’s a little like peeing. You’ll know when its over.
    Son: Mrs. T talked about masturbation. What exactly is that?
    Me/God: I’m not really sure how guys do that.
    Son: Is it like playing with your penis?
    Me/God: Yes, exactly.
    Son: Wy would anyone want to do that?
    Me; (I don’t know why men are obsessed with their penises, kid. Neither does any other woman I know) God: I don’t know honey, why don’t you ask Daddy?

    And I remember this because I wrote it down after our conversation, planning to read it at his wedding…or give it to his friends for the bachelor party…:) Not really but I wanted to keep the thoughts…

  34. The iPod made us discuss sex sooner than we wanted. She watched my little pony on YouTube until a girl in school told her to type sex related words. 4th grade 9 years old. I was devastated by the content she was taken to. We had the ratings set we thought we’d done the things we needed to do to protect her. Lesson learned. Those sites aren’t rated and slip right through. When I caught her she was in a chat room chatting with a male stranger! I can’t tell you the fear and shock I felt. Thankfully it seems I caught her the 1st time and after only a few lines. Immediate lock down of all Internet content, grounded from iPod for a month, and a talk about Internet strangers. Then a call to school girls mom to make sure she checked her stuff too. Then to see what we needed to discuss, what questions she had about the images, and discussing all the bad things that come from that sort of exposure. She still didnt get into the full questions of the mechanics of actual sex. For days I kept saying she’s 9. She shouldn’t know these things but she’s aware and we need to be proactive and as straight with answers as possible. I make a point to warn other moms now too. Don’t be shy about being nosey no matter how young or old.

  35. As a mom and a psychologist, I’ve always used the correct terminology for body parts with my kids and tried to answer questions honestly. But, I also think it’s o.k sometimes to say that some conversations or details need to wait until they are a little older. The funny thing is that “the talk” isn’t really one talk but many. My daugher (who is 13 1/2) was turning 11 when I had the initial “talk” and I used some books to guide the conversation. She was resistant and even angry about the discussion. She looked horrified and even said, “You and Daddy did that??!!” I told her she needed to have the information in order to keep herself safe and correctly informed and that I needed to do it as a parent. There are so many different conversations to have (birth control, oral sex, emotional aspects, pressure from boys, respect etc.), and it is too overwhelming to most kids to go into all those details the first time. It has gotten easier over time to broach each new topic and she seems to want to talk about things since starting middle school. Now that my son has turned 11, I’m gearing up to start the talks with him. Yikes! Keeping the lines of communication and checking in regularly is the key. For a lot of kids, it also helps to have them doing something so they don’t have to look right at you while you go into some of the details :).

  36. My husband and I have always tried to tell the age appropriate truth. We have tried to give chunks of information as they are ready. Our youngest is 7. Right now he knows he has a penis and girls have vaginas. Babies live in their mom’s tummy until they are born. He knows babies start as an egg. He finds this very humorous. I still think he has an image of a chicken egg no matter how much we talk to him. In a previous job I investigated allegations of abuse and neglect. The best thing I learned as a parent is to give my children the power of knowing the real worlds for their private parts so they can tell clearly communicate if someone tries to harm them. Also, if we as parents are comfortable answering their questions and talking to them they will talk to us when it is important.

    Lori

  37. When I was in 3rd grade and learned about sex from my the older girl next door, I was horrified, stupefied, incredulous! I first figured she was lying, and then kept my eyes and ears open and realized she was right on target. Not the best way to learn! (By the time my mom talked to me in 5th grade as part of the school curriculum, there was little left to learn.) In hopes of sparing my kids a similar moment, I wanted to control the message from the start. So, much like letting your children be around lots of family & friends before stranger anxiety hits, I approached it proactively, medically/scientifically, and from a very young age – as young as 3. The kids would talk about eye color – “Well, it all has to do with sex.” Or they’d ask about why they have different hair colors – sex talk again. At that age, it’s as “whatever” to them as learning about sports or music or anything else. I wanted this knowledge to seem like they always had it, not a moment when their world was rocked, or they were shocked or confused or disgusted, or started looking at people and envsioning them doing the deed. Now that my oldest is in 6th grade, our talks are about feelings and responsibility with your own feelings and other people’s feelings, respect, self-love and other-love, but the mechanics are a given. We keep the books It’s Perfectly Normal and It’s So Amazing around the house as books they can look through if they’re interested. I thought I would put this out there as another option, because it’s a different approach than the answer just the question they ask approach. As with all things, we each know our own little ones best, and you have to go with your own strengths!

    • Hey Michele, Thanks for this! I have the same books and talk to all 3 of my kids (8,6 & 4) about certain aspects of sex from the actual technical details of how a baby is made (the older two) to how a baby comes out and things like that for the youngest one. We call all our parts their proper names and a variety of other names and I try to be open and comfortable about talking about sex but also respectful and appropriate. However, I was nervous about starting them so young. But telling my 5 year old how a baby was made (the basics, there’s not much to discuss about the complicated part at that age) was completely different that telling my 7 year old (that’s how old he was when we decided to take this approach) he was a little embarrased and she truely was a blank slate, it was the same as telling her that a baby comes out of a vagina. (A daddy’s sperm comes out of his penis and into a mommy’s vagina though a big, loving hug and then through their love and God’s special miracle that makes a baby.) She had no questions, and loves to look at the younger version of the book. My older son is still a bit uncomfortable, which is fine, but I want to do everything I can to be their first source of information. I was in second grade when I learned about sex on the playground at school (and I am almost 40). It wasn’t traumatic or anything, but I want to create an environment where my kids feel comfortable talking about this stuff and where they come to me to get their questions answered. After seeing my daughter’s response to how baby’s are made, vs. my son’s, I am more confident in my decision to start with the basics, but the real details about how it happens at a young age. I like your approach of just bringing it up as an underlying fact of certain things over time. I’m going to add that in. Our very dear family friends are having their first baby, so I’m sure more and more things will come up. And as someone above illustrated, they can accidentally come across some disturbing things on the internet even with a lot of supervision! They need to know that they can come to us! I don’t know how I will deal with explaining some of the things like rape or abortion when the time comes, but I do want to be the person that explains these things to them. I was told to just plan on having a million small conversations about this stuff and I think that is a good approach. I’m glad to hear that your kids are older and this has been a good approach for you! Let me know if you have any more pointers!

  38. My son asked several months ago why you need a man and a woman to make a baby. So I answered. Fast forward to dinner time this week. My son was trying to list all of the things that make me so wonderful (a very long list!). At the end he pointed out that I had actually grown him all by myself. (so true!). Then he turned to his father and said “all you did was put your penis in.”.Hysterical! See it is worth having the sex talk just so that these moments can happen.

  39. Your family is beautiful :)

    I would so totally tell him ‘it’s something that married people do’. By the time he’s mature enough to figure out married people don’t, he’s mature enough for a deeper answer. And I’d tell him ‘it should only be done in marriage.’ By the time he’s old enough to do the math, he’ll be old enough for a deeper answer.

    If he ever does the math. You know men. His future wife will probably be the one who puts it together for him. He’ll call you at age 35, crushed and confused ;)

    • Lol, so true! Years ago, my poor hubby was so worried that we had forgotten that it was his parents’ 25th anniversary the year prior… because he was 26 at the time, we must have missed it right? No, his mom and I told him, it was coming up this year – lots of time to do something special for it. The look of his face was priceless: complete confusion. How could that be? We looked at him and burst out laughing. His mom asked, “Seriously? You have never done the math? Who did you think that cute baby in our wedding pictures was?”

  40. i love that you said the piece about marriage versus a wedding ceremony. my hubs and i talked about that when we were engaged….that we wanted a marriage, not a wedding. the wedding is the party…the marriage is the investment of time, hard work, and dedication, just as sex is the beginning fun stuff before the investment in children and intimacy. i remember my mother, who was extremely open with me, explaining that sex was best saved for someone that you would want to share your everything with, because that’s what you’re doing. it’s not just the physical act, it’s the emotional act. because you explained to chase to be careful with other’s feelings, maybe that is an approach? we should be careful with our bodies and feelings AND with another’s body and feelings….?

  41. One more thought. I’m not thinking the conversation needs to be avoided entirely. And my comment sounded like I’d avoid it until forever. But being sure that’s what he’s really asking, or if it’s really the right time. When it is, factual to the point, and look for some response for satisfaction of given information. I’m sure there are other more interesting/helpful answers… be sure to read those again… good luck. :)

  42. I don’t have an answer about a sex talk, but thanks for the tips on the cursing talk. I’m wondering how I will explain to my son why English curse words are allowed on German radio:-) I still have a few years to think on it, I guess.

  43. I’ve never been big into ‘using exact names’ but they need to know them. But it’s just like anything else (great analogy to God & church). Describing something clinically, doesn’t seem to get the point across unless you really just need to know the clinical terms. One day my son asked me what ‘sexy’ meant. I told him more what it meant, less about ‘the deed’, the TMI episode of birds and bees. He’s 8 and although everybody seems to think every kid needs to be exposed to every element of sex & the hazzards, consequences, diseases, alternative lifestyles, his little brain was just not ready to picture Mom & Dad. He just wanted to know if he should call his friend ‘sexy’. So we broke it down. Sex means boy or girl. God made our bodies terrifically interesting. No matter what sex you are. But to only see someone as ‘sexy’ at age 8 means you only see them as that. And that often when people are describing people as sexy, they are much older, and are able to appreciate the maturity that’s taken place. Not something and 8 year old should need or want to notice. (parent makes the judgement here, not the neighbor kid). But noticing someone is normal. (not to make them feel all prudish if they happen to notice the opposite sex). Maybe my approach sounds naive or too protective, but it’s what’s worked for us so far. We’re specific about ‘where the baby is & how does it get out’, and exactly where it’s located because they asked. But sometimes, specifics are just way more than they need to know. I’m not into hearing my kids repeat names of genitalia, so I simply said, you know there’s an extra opening, and that’s how it comes out. (‘and it’s called’ did come into the conversation) It’s small and it can hurt (major understatement) for a baby to come out, but I’m all over ‘need to know’. So many other things to figure out at age 8. I realize Mr. Chase may be older (I love your blog, but can’t recall your kids ages and will lose my comment if I try to look it up) but my 2 cents says go for a need to know, ‘this is a private thing we ask mom & dad about and don’t share with others’ kind of approach. My oldest asks things privately, my youngest is another matter. I see many challenging conversations in my future.
    I’m not into programs, books (unless I just can’t answer it– then we look it up) I can’t imagine watching a video with my child about this… ? ) but there you have my 2 cents. btw, adoption is a part of our life story, so we have talked about childbirth from that perspective as well.
    I love you Ms. Glennon. I think your blog is the bomb-zilla. I know you & I might never quite line up on some discussions, but you have really, really made me think about life, mine in particular & I hope you know, how much you are appreciated.
    btw:w — I love the ‘these are all the words we know, and that one, well, that one we just couldn’t say to him.’ And the consequences of repetition to friends, and that it had been said by a particular parent in dire straights of door opening.
    Gotta run, this monkee needs to go chant… @ kids.

  44. A very smart early childhood teacher once said: answer exactly the question that is asked. If you are uncertain what question is being asked, then ask a clarifying question. Kids will not ask for more information than they are ready to hear, and stop talking when they are satisfied. (The example she gave: the kid asks, “where did I come from?” and mom launches into the bird and the bees . . . kid stops her and says, “no, Timmy comes from Cleveland, where do I come from?”)

    I also think that far more important than setting some arbitrary “sex is OK if . . .” benchmark (like marriage) is to teach our children to value themselves and their bodies, and to honor themselves and their eventual partners by making loving, respectful choices, by giving themselves space and time to make choices and mistakes, by forgiving themselves (and their eventual partners) when they make mistakes, and by viewing it all as another avenue to learn more about themselves, this world, and who they want to be in this world. Sex is important, but it’s also really fun. Food is important, but it’s also really fun. Friendship and love are important, but they’re also really fun. All of these uniquely human experiences can be nourishing or depleting, and none of us starts off knowing how to deal with any of them. We learn how to be nourished by them by trying, and sometimes failing, and trying again. I don’t regret any of my pre-marital experiences (or my pre-marital experiences with my husband of 15 years.) Has sex changed over time? Sure. So have I. I wouldn’t be able to be the full partner that I am with my husband – in our daily life and in our intimate life – if I hadn’t learned some hard lessons along the way. I’m sure my understanding of sex will only continue to change and evolve as I move through the next 40 years of my life. If I can pass *this* feeling onto my children, I’ll by happy.

    (I have also been heard to exclaim, upon hearing of a close family friend who’s 20 year old daughter is unexpectedly pregnant and getting married, “When these boys of ours turn 13, I am sitting them down and drilling safe sex into their heads. I’ll put the condom on the damn banana myself if I have to.”)

    • Thumbs way up. I jive with so much of this. And so beautifully and eloquently put.

      I’m confused, though, about why being 20 and pregnant is a bad thing, unless they don’t want the baby? To me, it sounds like a joyous occurrence, especially since it looks like the father is stepping up to the plate.

      My perspective has definitely changed since I lost my baby, and I can’t relate to some of the things I used to relate to in the past. Please understand that I’m not questioning how you feel about it, I just don’t understand myself–?

      • I have really mixed feelings about this girl’s pregnancy, mostly because she’s lost in a number of ways: uncertain of her path in life, dropped out of college, . . . she’s just starting to figure her own self out, and while having a baby doesn’t make that process impossible, it sure makes it more challenging. She’s got very supportive and involved parents, and I hope and pray she’ll figure herself out sooner rather than later. No one is ever prepared to have children, but these kids are extra unprepared. I guess I’m just disappointed for her, that she will miss out on the chance to figure herself out before she is consumed by caring for another human, while simultaneously building a marriage. Clearly, none of these things are impossible – and I will greet this baby with deep love and support the baby’s parents with fierce love and offer all the help I can (from halfway across the country.)

  45. Best advice I ever got on the subject of giving “the talk” was from a professor of child development. He advised us, his students, to answer our children immediately, no matter what, and just keep talking ’til you hear the answer, “Oh.” The reasoning behind this approach, he explained, was that what the child is really asking you is, “Will you answer my questions?” So we did this, especially with our first child, who must have asked “Where do babies come from?” the first time when he was about two years old. Some months passed, and he asked again. Every once in a while, he would ask again. The way it worked with him reinforced my belief in what I’d been taught. BTW, I loved the video! :)

  46. Thanks for sharing this hilarious video with us!
    Once again you show us the lighter side of “life”…literally!
    I had a good laugh! Julia’s version of the “sex talk” is very similar to the talk I had with my then seven year old Son, except ours was about birds mating not frogs…
    & it took the same twists and turns as Julia’s. I think not over thinking “the talk” worked out well in my case, I let my Son lead the way, ask the questions and go down the road he needed to go down to understand what he needed to understand out of it…
    I think no matter which road you go down with “the talk” it always ends up in the same place….”YUCK that’s so gross! You did that?!”

  47. I agree with the “answer the questions they ask, when they ask them” view on this subject. My daughter is 21, and we did that at each stage. She grew up knowing that she could always come to us (me, mostly) with all questions.

    Her earliest questions had me in stitches at the time. SOOO hard to answer some of these with a straight face, especially when the questioner is 3, and sitting on her potty chair in a tiny bathroom.

    “Mommy, I have a hole in the front where the pee-pee comes out.” me: Yes.
    “Mommy, I have a hole in the back where the poo-poo comes out.” me (already seeing where this is leading): Yes.
    “Mommy, I have a hole in the middle. What’s that called.” me: your vagina; all girls and ladies have one.
    “Oh. A burrginer. You have one?” yes
    “Miss Karen (preschool teacher) has one?” yes
    “Grandma (my uptight mother) has one” me: yes, but we don’t need to discuss it with Grandma, OK?
    “OK, Mommy.”
    [end of that conversation; see why i was suppressing laughter to the point there were tears at the corners of my eyes??]

    And the questions got more detailed as she got older. And I answered all of them clearly and succinctly. So by late grammar school she knew about the mechanics, with liberal sprinklings of emotions. We moved on to conversations only about emotions, and my belief that it was important to have a loving emotional relationship with a young man before having a fully physical relationship. We also — and VERY importantly — talked frankly about safe sex, both as regards pregnancy and STIs.

    As a result, she was well out of high school her first time. Unfortunately, the young man was 2 years older than she, someone she had a crush on for a few years, said he loved her, and dropped her like a hot brick right afterwards. She was a little heart-broken, but decided it was his loss. (He approaches her via email or phone every time he’s home from college, but she refuses to have anything to do with him. “Fool me twice, shame on me” and she’s not going there. She firmly does not believe in Friends With Benefits!)

    She now has her own apartment, her own life, a steady boyfriend and a responsible job. And she dated her boyfriend for a while before beginning a sexual relationship with him. She’s very healthy for her age — a lot more so than I was at that age. But I think the difference is that my uptight mother was never as open and honest, and I refused to repeat those same mistakes.

    One other resource we found helpful as mother and daughter is the WB series “Gilmore Girls”. We got them on DVDs at the end of each season. That mother and daughter were always very open and honest with each other. My daughter and I could sit side-by-side and watch the show, and talk about the issues raised as they happened onscreen. Several mother-daughter groups of our friends also got a lot of help from that well-written show.

    Too long-winded, as usual. Sorry.

  48. G – thanks so much for addressing this issue. I’m so honored you chose to answer my question. I luv ya hun. TY for all the help and for all the comments. They are helping.

    I’m pre-viewing the ‘puberty’ video this next Tuesday and hoping it will be something I approve of. I guess the hardest part about this whole “talk” is watching the innocence disappear. That in my heart makes me so sad. And yet. I know this will happen for my DD as it does for everyone – I’m just in such denial to allow it.

    Thanks again hun.

    Hugs,
    Andi

    • Edit: My daughter is 10 and adopted – so I too have to walk the fine line between sex before marriage as I wouldn’t have her without it. Make sense? Ugh. I’m sooo going to hit my knees praying for help with this talk. TY again.

      • Ok peeps, one more comment from me – Sorry ’bout that.

        I forgot to add that I had an LDS Bishop who put sex the best way I’ve ever heard it. He said

        SEX IS NOT LOVE – IT IS THE ULTIMATE EXPRESSION OF LOVE. That is one sentence I know I will use. TY for all the help people, I have to give this talk over the weekend. When did I become the parent of a ‘tween? Somebody tell me that one! LOL. hugs to all.

  49. I haven’t the time to read through the other comments yet (very eager to though…my 7 year-old is getting more observant and curious daily about everything! Only a matter of time before this topic comes up…), but I’m excited to hear what people who have already been there/done that with this parent/kiddo topic of discussion have to say!

    I wanted to pass along the way that my nephew’s school approached the conversation on sex outside of marriage (full disclosure, this was a Catholic school, for whatever difference that makes to anyone, also this was in addition to biology-based sex ed too.). All of the students in his grade were asked to line up, then the teachers put heavy tape (sticky side out) around the students hands. They were supposed to walk around sticking their hands to other people’s hands, and as they did, the teachers asked them to notice that the tape was losing its stickiness. Then, they applied this illustration to the concept of sex outside of marriage:

    Cliff notes version—With each sexual interaction or each different sexual partner, there is the potential for this beautiful part of you, so wonderful to share, to be come less “sticky,” less able to connect with other people, less apt to stick for good to someone eventually.

    I thought this approach, along with discussions of actual biology, etc. was quite interesting. After all, it avoids the “sex outside of marriage is just plain wrong” angle which makes most of us very uncomfortable for many reasons by instead focusing on what their really is to be lost: NOT heaven or God’s love, but instead the joy and complete intimacy that can be shared when you enter into an eventual sexual relationship with that one right person.

    Maybe not right for every child or family, but I plan to incorporate this lesson into my own “talk” with my daughter someday. All too soon, I’m sure…

    • I like this approach. I tried to cover it by saying that my son’s body was special and I never felt I accurately explained what I meant. I love the stickiness analogy.

      • I saw a teacher once use this analogy, only they stuck the tape to the teen or child’s arm and then allowed the child to pull it off relating the discomfort of pulling the tape off to how much more painful it can be to have to break up with someone after you’ve had sex with them than it is without having had sex with them. As a parent I might also mention that sex between a husband and wife is one way that God has given us to help us as a couple be closer to each other and closer to him.

    • Have heard this before and love, love, love this analogy. So helpful. :)

    • I mentioned this below, and I don’t want to sound dramatic or judgy, but I’ve worked in sex education, and with young women, for a long time and I have serious reservations about the tape analogy (which is HEAVILY used in religious sex education programs, so I’ve seen it come up with a bunch of young women I’ve worked with).
      My experience has been that young women from religious families really, really internalize the “lose your stickiness” = “lose your value” message. And for instance, when one girl was sexually molested by her uncle for years, she viewed this in religious terms: that she had lost her value, and she was used up sexually. It was awful, and while she’s been in therapy, it drove her very far from the church and her parents.
      I’ve seen it so, so many times.
      I would encourage all parents to think about how to talk about their values of sex within marriage (or whatever) with a very, very sensitive eye to what messages they’re sending their kids. There are ways to do it without making them feel demonized (and unlikely to come to you) if they are raped or sexually abused.

      • BRS, your comment is spot on. When you talk about sex in those terms, victims of rape or incest often feel like they have lost their value or lost their “virtue”. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

        Few have mentioned the role of repentance in these discussions, which should always be discussed, especially when talking with teenagers about sex. People mess up. People have sex before marriage. But I believe that through Jesus Christ, everyone who is repentant can be forgiven and they are clean and whole again before the Lord. I believe that with all my heart.

        Two close family members got pregnant before marriage. They have both gotten married and are wonderful mothers. But so many people still condemn them and treat them awfully. I hate it because I know them and know that they’ve repented and know that they are clean before the Lord.

        I think the kind of teaching referred to earlier also perpetuates judgment and cruelty toward people whose sins are more visible. And that is just wrong.

      • Hi April—
        I sincerely appreciate that you took the time to share your experiences with us. It is heartbreaking to think that the message taken away from the lesson I described would be one of value lost, and that the message could/does cause girls or women to feel guilt or shame from being sexual abuse victims. This is not obviously not a message I would ever send to my daughter or anyone else’s daughter, for that matter. Mostly, I want my child to know that 1) Sex has the potential to be a wonderful special thing and should be respected as a gift, but also 2) Her sexual experiences (consensual or not) do not affect God’s love for her or my love for her. This sounds like no easy feat. Sigh…..

        In the conversation I had with my nephew and his mom following his “tape analogy” lesson at school, they related that his school (I’m sure this varies greatly) emphasized that the it was NOT specialness or value of the person lost, but instead the potential for specialness of the act itself to be lost. That is why I thought this analogy was a good one.

        However, having said that, I hear you that this is A VERY FINE LINE(!) to walk, especially with young women, and that messages, even those delivered with the best intentions, can be misinterpreted, or internalized in damaging ways, etc. and your comment/insights has given me serious food for thought. So thank you.

        One more thought, I’m curious if my nephew’s take on the lesson would have been very different if he were a girl. I know that boys and girls internalize messages (especially those having to do with sexuality) in very different ways, and it would be interesting to know if the girls in his class had a wholly different take on the lesson than did the boys. Just a thought.

        Ok, sorry for the long ramblings, and thank you for being part of the discussion! For those of us that have yet to begin these conversations with our children, it is great (tremendously valuable really) to hear from those who’ve been there already. That’s one of the things I love most about this “safe place” that Glennon has created.

        • Sorry, I meant “Hi BRS” not HI April! I saw the date and thought that was the name of the person replying…oops!

    • Sarah,

      Thanks for the sticky tape example. I, for one, feel that the more senses we use when teaching our children, the more apt they are to remember and internalize the message. I love that this technique uses more than just their ears.

      I also really appreciate what BRS said. Being aware that the message could be interpreted as a loss in personal value is critical knowledge to have when doing the teaching.

      My son is in Catholic school, too, and I can only hope that they use a similar program. Actually, I may get involved just to be certain. :)

      *These* are the issues that are important when raising our kids but so difficult to talk about with acquaintances because they require so much vulnerability and trust that our thoughts and concerns will be valued by the other.

      Thanks to Glennon and to all of You for making this conversation so open, loving and valuable!

  50. In the summer between 5th and 6th grades, my son was getting a whole lot of bizarre information about the physical act of sex from his friend Arnett, who ” happened to be just standing in his mother’s closet when some magazines with lots of pictures with naked people in them, fell down on his head.”

    As a single parent, I was the one who had to make sure my son got some accurate info that was age appropriate. I went to the bookstore and started looking for the right book for us to use for this milestone conversation. I picked one I thought was the best and told my horrified son what I wanted to talk about. He was horrified… playing with GI Joe’s to avoid eye contact but listening very attentively. I learned a lot because I actually didn’t know that pubescent males went through so many physical changes.

    I also learned that if the book you pick to guide your sex talk asks you to read of every slang word ever invented for the word penis and have your child pick the one he wants you to use… he might pick DONG. You will then have to describe the DONG’s every change at every age and all it’s activity while calling it a DONG. I really should have skipped that part as we had always said penis comfortably and DONG was not so comfortable for me. My son LOVED it each time I said it though.

    At the end of the talk, I told him that he could tell Arnett that if he had any questions he could ask me because Arnett seemed to have a lot of upsetting misinformation from
    the unfortunate incident of the magazines falling on his.

    The next week at our cub scout meeting I heard him telling Arnett that his mother would be glad to answer any questions he had about the DONG.

    Really sorry I read that list of words.

  51. Honestly… I just thinking talking to your kids about sex, in any way shape or form, is better than nothing. It’s better than them learning it from their best friend’s older sister… or not learning it at all. I’m not a mom, but I am in nurse practitioner school and recently started working in an underprivileged area, and it is absolutely mind blowing how little the teenagers I’m working with know about sex, what’s safe, what isn’t, and even what “sex” means. “sex” and “abstinence” have so many definitions for these kids… If you’re worried about explaining why sex outside marriage is bad, even though your darling was a product of that, why don’t you focus less on that part and point out the difficulties of being pregnant and giving birth, etc, without a husband by your side? Honestly though, reading your post makes me so happy – even though you aren’t sure how to address the issue, the fact of the matter is that you WANT to address the issue, and that’s a beautiful relief to me!

  52. Love this post, as all of them :)

    When my now 24 year old son asked deep and curious questions when he was a wee thing, and I tried to answer with just enough information. When he was only six (and loved to snuggle), he started asking he asked about sex. I explained that, when two adults are in love and married, they love to snuggle, and that God made our bodies to fit together really close, and it feels good…And I forget exactly how I relayed the rest….Maybe something about God planting sees?! In any event, my son did not miss a beat, and, with dreamy eyes enthusiastically replied, “Oh, when I’m married and have sex all the time!”

    When he gets married, I’ll be sure to pass that story on!

    My daughter, who’s now 17, never asked those probing questions. Finally, when she was around 10 or 11 and seat-belted in the car, I tried to casually bring up the topic, and gave the basic info. She saw a billboard and totally changed the topic to whatever it was about. A year or so later, I found out that she truly thought one could get pregnant by french kissing. She obviously had tuned out my birds & bee talk when she had been held hostage in the car!

    They are all so different! My advice would be to try to give tidbits of info here and there, over the years, follow your instincts, and, give just enough information to satisfy.

    • Sorry, quickly edited and left MANY mistakes!

      Meant to say that my son replied, “Oh, when I’m married I’m going to want to have sex all the time!”

  53. Hi Glennon – my two are 18 & 20 now. When they were about 5 or 6 we looked at anatomy books and had scientific discussions. Kept to the facts. Once middle school started we moved on to emotions attached to sex- they had friends having sex in 6th grade. In high school we discussed the diseases ( with pictures too) and life as a teenage parent. It was at this point that my husband felt comfortable talking to them about sex and how a gentleman behaves. And humor was always a part of the conversation.

    It’s hard to find the right way to talk to kids about sex. What was important for me was that they were comfortable with their bodies and knew they could talk to us anytime.

  54. I’ve used the God’s Design for Sex with our four children (10, 10, 10 and 9) and have loved how it talks about how great sex is when it’s done at the right time–within the confines of marriage. (I will say, though, that it doesn’t cover the changes a girl’s body goes through–periods, hair and stuff like that.) I’ll also add that just because you pick a perfect time and sit down and discuss it doesn’t mean that it won’t come up at the most awkward moment some other time!

  55. First, let me say that video had me crying :)

    I’m not a parent yet, so I can’t really offer any advice on “the talk” with your kiddos. I am a newlywed, and my husband and I were both virgins when we got married – in our thirties! It was not any easy road to walk – there were lots of opportunities to have sex – but we are both so very, very glad that we waited. Sex is such an incredible and precious gift that we share with each other and no one else. It IS possible to wait, and to do so out of joy and love, not out of religious laws. I come from a pretty conservative Christian family, but it was never treated as what defined my right-ness with God. I think it is possible to encourage your kids to wait until marriage for all the right reasons, and honestly share with them the wounds and scars you have because of the mistakes you made. This isn’t a scare tactic- I think it is about honestly sharing problems we’ve had so our kids can make different choices My mom did this with me and I’ve always been touched by here honesty and vulnerability, and blessed by the wisdom she shared from her own experiences. But I always, always knew that my parents’ unconditional love for me extended to everything – even sex.

  56. I’m sort of a Glee fan (ok, not sort of, HUGE Glee fan) – anyways. On Season 3 Episode 5, one the the character’s father had the best sex talk ever with his son. I’m sure you can find it on youtube or hulu. It’s between Kurt and his dad Burt.

    “When you’re intimate with someone in that way, you gotta know that you’re exposing yourself. You’re never gonna be more vulnerable, and that scares the hell out of a lot of guys…With two guys you’ve got two people who think that sex is just sex. It’s gonna be easier to come by and once you start, you aren’t gonna want to stop. You gotta know that it means something. It’s doing something to you, to your heart, to your self-esteem, even though it feels like you’re just having fun…When you’re ready, I want you to be able to do everything. But when you’re ready, I want you to use it as a way to connect to another person. Don’t throw yourself around like you don’t matter, because you matter.”

    Although this was specifically directed to Kurt who is gay, I think the message transcends genders and sexual preferences.

  57. Loved this post… I particularly love how you explained bad words. I believe that myself, but didn’t know how I was going to explain that to my child as he grows older. I also didn’t want to be the one mom with a child spouting off every “bad” word in the book and getting calls from his teachers or angry parents. Thanks for posting!

  58. This video sparked an entire post for me…

    http://krissywatson.blogspot.com/2011/12/let-me-tell-you-bout-birds-and-bees.html

    It left me with tears running down my cheeks. My boys are only 2 and I already wonder how that conversation will go…

  59. I wrote a post about a conversation I had with my son. It’s full of oh-my-word-I-can’t-believe-I’m-saying-this details. Caution: it may make your face burn. http://bit.ly/c6TfeG

  60. In your weakness, He is strong. It is because of your struggle with these areas that you are uniquely qualified to talk to your child about how damaging sex outside of marriage can be. You can tell him (in terms that he will understand) that sex out of marriage may seem like a good idea in the moment but that is what sin does – it clouds the reality that you are in fact damaging yourself and your future relationships. Teach him that the most powerful thing he can do for himself in moments of temptation is to turn his thoughts upward for clarity. You don’t need to tell him everything you know – just what he needs to know. And remember that the discomfort you feel while you’re talking to him is only because you know you’re witnessing a piece of his own sheltered innocence being removed. That goes against our very nature as mothers. We want our babies to be our sweet babies forever. But since we know that can’t be, it’s our job to teach them truth before their friends and the media tells them otherwise. P.S. Someone recommended this book series to me – it tells how to talk to kids about sex depending on their age/maturity. I haven’t read it yet but it’s Christian based so it might help! http://www.christianbook.com/gods-design-for-sex-books-revised/stan-jones/pd/060130?item_code=WW&netp_id=458252&event=PPCSRC&view=details

  61. Great suggestions and great question! The best information I ever received on the topic coming from the standpoint of the law of chastity (wait until marriage) came from a BYU devotional address by an LDS apostle. It really cemented the education I received at home and church. http://www.familylifeeducation.org/gilliland/procgroup/Souls.htm

  62. We have three sons (the oldest is now 7). We’ve always made a point to be very matter of fact and accurate when questions arise. After all, a toddler asks about his penis in the same way that he asks about his nose! It is just another body part.

    Also, our kids have had quite a lot of information/knowledge about childbirth earlier than most I think, because I’m a doula and our youngest was born at home.

    Around age 4 or so, we started talking about privacy and how certain parts are only for you, or mom or dad, or a doctor. Last year we got this book for our 6yo and read it together.

    http://www.amazon.com/Before-Was-Born-Designed-ebook/dp/B002WJHZ0A/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

    He wasn’t embarrassed, just thought it was kind of “weird”. The book remains on his shelf by his bed and he gets to read it whenever he wants (just like his other books) and we’ve made it clear we’ll answer questions if he has any.

    Sex is SUCH a tricky topic in this culture. My little boys are bombarded with partial nudity on billboards, the beach, walking past women on the street. Teaching privacy and modesty without teaching shame…? Hard. We’re doing our best. Thanks for the discussion, Glennon!

  63. You know, there was an episode of Glee last season wherein a dad has a talk with his kid – and it’s not about the mechanics, but about the stuff tht matters a how it’s easy to forget that there are people with feelings on both sides of the equation, and that no matter what you or your partner says, it’s never just sex – it affects you, big time. So you don’t throw yourself around as if you dont matter, because you do.

    There’s a lot of dreadful stuff on TV, but I saved that episode.

    • When my husband and I watched that together our mouths fell open. Loved it, have copied it down for future discussion!

  64. There are so many great suggestions here already! In my family, we have kiddos that stretch from 23 to 9 years old (both boys and girls) and they all seem to approach this topic in different ways. The most important thing is to be honest with them. If you find it difficult or embarrassing, then say so along with saying “Even though we (always we, never one parent) may find this hard to talk about, it is so important to us that you get all the right information.” This will help them get over their embarrassment. It will also let them know that they can come to you with anything and even though it may be tough, you will talk about it. My parents NEVER discussed this with my sister and I and we found out in school or from friends. My husband and I wanted to make sure that our kids were informed and “armed” with as much info as possible to keep them safe. Because kids ARE talking about it or doing it (even scarier) at younger ages. Whether or not you include your religious views is up to you but this is a perfect time to put them in. Just watch your kids’ reactions to judge how far to go. Good luck and God bless you!

  65. Sadly, you don’t want to wait too long…we had an experience this last summer where my sweet then 7 yr old was told things about sex that she was NOT ready to hear much less was the boy that was telling her and trying to get her to do these things w/ him (yes, the ball was put in motion to get him help because boys that age don’t think these things in this way w/o something bigger and uglier going on in their own life…he moved so no idea if he’s really getting the help he needs or not)…i kept the nuclear mommy melt down i was having inside so that all she saw was calm mommy willing to talk to her about what happened and answer her questions and be honest with her (no gory details, but we talked about how it’s special, sacred, that God made it to help mommies and daddies make babies and to help them love each other more but that it’s for when you’re married because it’s so special…when she’s older i’ll include the info about the deep emotional scars it can cause because you give a little bit of yourself away and if you’re tossing it willy nilly you’ll wind up w/ little to give the one you really want to give yourself to fully)…she knows that she can come and ask me questions anytime and when she does i keep the calm mommy facade all the while freaking out inside…my mom did an amazing job teaching us about sex…she started when we were young w/ simple stuff but it was always understood that it was special and sacred and to be saved for marriage

    not looking fwd to needing to have continual convos about this but i’d much rather my kids learn it from me than get misinformation or crude information from kids at school (if i ever send them to public school again LOL)

    and YAY for an office!!!

  66. An older girl next door recently told our 6yo about the middle finger. My husband related their conversation about it to me that night. Our son was as incredulous about a finger being bad as yours was about a word being bad. He just couldn’t understand, “But how can a FINGER be bad? Mean a bad thing? It’s a FINGER!”

  67. Glennon, I love your blog…so honest and real. I’m a mom of two and an author and speaker in this area. I would love to send you a review copy of the book I wrote with my friend who is a father of three: How Far Can We Go? A Catholic Guide to Sex and Dating. It is aimed at teens and their parents, but it has lots of basic ideas about the spirituality of relationships, dating and sex which can supplement the technical information.

    I loved the Sweeney video…so funny, and have started having some of these sorts of chats with my precocious 4-year-old. But we have added the spiritual components alongsidethe technical stuff. God is the author of sex. We talk about how love and marriage make people ready for sex and how God allows people to share in creation with him, when he allows mommies and daddies to make babies with him. We will talk about how sometimes people get confused and sometimes babies do not have mommies and daddies who love each other, but that we have a God who can make all things new and how extended family and friends and step-parents and adoptive parents can help moms and dads to love kids. We talk about our bodies as special and holy places that God lives. We talk about using nice words and actions with others because this acknowledges how special everyone is to God. It is awkward sometimes, and we use the “only answer the questions asked” principle too. Anyway, we are working through the practical too and are glad that others are struggling to find the right answers in the right moments right along with us. So thanks for sharing. And if I can send you a copy of the book, send me an email.

    • Thanks for sharing your book, Leah! It’s great to know of a monkee who has published on the topic. Looking forward to checking this one out! My kiddos are young, but I tend to like to over-prepare….

  68. Glennon,

    I believe our family probably has a much more sexually liberal environment than yours, but we also try to make sure that our kids know they can get all information from us – that there is nothing that is secret or shameful in our home.

    We told the oldest the physical details around the time the youngest was in the womb. We explained penises and vaginas and childbirth. We’ve always been available to answer questions as they came up, including one embarrassing (for me) incident when they came across some of the uh “toys” and asked about them. I try to keep everything matter of fact and without shame. “Sometimes people use those as part of sex. I would like you to stay out of our personal things.”

    As they have gotten a bit older (they are 13 now) we have tried to talk about our personal views a little more. We still make sure they have plenty of information (how birth control works, why it is important, where the condoms are kept). I may or may not have made sure they could hear me “secretly” telling my husband where I am putting his box of condoms.

    We also try to share our hearts. I talk about how I waited until I was in love with their Dad and knew I wanted to be with him forever. I talk about how it complicates things and I hope they wait as long as they want and not to feel pressured. The thing is… almost everyone makes “bad” decisions about sex. I feel like the best we can do is show them our hearts and love them. And make sure they have the best resources available. And love them.

    The main thing is, if they think you are ashamed, or that it is forbidden fruit then it will become a touchy subject. If they know it is something that people who love each other do and they have all the relevant information, hopefully they will feel less angst and temptation and instead see it for what it really is. I hope (and pray!).

  69. A long time ago I heard somewhere that when your child brings up the birds & the bees always go with the simplest, shortest answer and let them lead & while my kids are only 3 & 5, it’s worked & it worked over the years while nannying & babysitting (in addition to saying that’s a great question for your parents…& then letting the parents know it came up)…..example: “where do babies come from?” “mommy’s tummy”…..in the beginning that’s all they need – “ok” and off they go….if they ask a followup question, then you still go with the simplest answer. You let them ask the questions and you start by keeping it simple. We freak out thinking “Oh it’s time to have the talk” when they ask the innocent curious questions when they are little when all they need is simplicity.

    Sadly, our culture “sexes” our kids up way too soon (Don’t EVEN get me started on the latest BRATZ creation…”BRATZ CATZ”) and it’s hard to fight. I find that we as parents probably need to be more proactive with the conversations about sex and its ramifications. And I admit I already struggle with when that should be…especially when I hear that middle school kids are already dabbling. My husband and I have already agreed that when the time does come for “THE” talk, that we feel we can’t preach abstinence – it’s not realistic – we will do everything to encourage it as sex is not something to be entered into lightly. We feel it’s more important to make sure they know that it is a responsibility, that they have to be smart about it, that they have to be prepared to deal with the ramifications….

    And I REALLY hope that they will wait to have sex…until they are like 40….but I would rather they are responsible & “smart” about it, because it really is their choice if and when they have sex so I would rather they use protection than be naive. And while it may not be popular, I would be more disappointed that they didn’t take necessary precautions if they decide to have sex than I would be in them having sex. I really hope my girls wait, that’s what I will encourage, but I will educate them and tell them only you can make that decision but once you do, you can’t go back….and to not be stupid!!!! And my goal is to teach them that their worth is not tied to their sexuality and that when they hear “if you loved me you would” they can immediately say “If you loved me, you wouldn’t push me…” and if necessary to say “later, dude!”…so my “comment” was on a bit more than just sex ed…but it’s a hot topic with me, especially when I see that stupid BRATZ commercial….

    • TLW I have a boy so the horrid little bratz dolls aren’t a temptation here… but things like on the superhero movies, how the women are dressed and or shaped makes my blood pressure rise. You are so smart about how you approach it. Thank you so much for your thoughts!

    • TLW, I think your approach is so awesome! It actually is the approach I was raised with and it worked. My parents really encouraged abstinence but also let us know how to be safe and smart if we decided to have sex. While my kids are 4 and 1 it is the approach that my husband and I plan to use with our kids and the short answers are what we use in our house also.

  70. Growing up, I lived on a farm. Sex was just knowledge–it was how our mommy bunnies had perfect baby bunnies to show at the fair. I bred the rabbits myself, went with my momma to breed my pony, and just KNEW. Having four older sisters helped too…I don’t think my parents ever sat me down and had the sex talk with me.

    While I know a lot of families don’t have a lot of animals, and don’t have the ability to breed said pets, maybe a trip to a farm or zoo is in order. With any luck, you’ll see some animals procreating and can have some ready explanations ready. Baby animals also help to diffuse any yuckiness factor :)

  71. The Pritchard Family has amazing ideas about how to raise kids, which includes “Rites of Passages” for certain milestones. Sex and sex ed is the first milestone. You should check out their blog. They live out here, in the Pacific Northwest, and are adoption 3 kiddos from Ethiopia thru the same org that we used. They have 11 kids, 8 biological, so I think they know a thing or two about this topic! Check them out and let me know what you think!

    :)Meliski

  72. I haven’t figured out that answer yet either. So far I’m winging it. Having a baby girl makes it easy. “Mommy, where’s her weewee?” “She doesn’t have one. She’s a girl. Girls have vaginas. That’s a hole for their babies to come out.” “Aaagghhh! She’s gonna have a BABY?” “NO! Well, yes. I mean, someday. When she’s a grown-up lady. Not while she’s a girl. Her vagina’s not even really developed yet. Just like your penis isn’t grown up yet. What do you want for lunch? Maybe it’s time to go play outside. Or take a bath. Did you brush your teeth?” Lol.

  73. Growing up as a kid in a family who didn’t talk about sex – it was awkward to go out into the world and NOT know!!!

    The best info I got on it was from my mother-in-law when I got engaged to her son. I had known her for several years and she knew the kind of family that I came from, and was willing to help “bridge the gap” in my knowledge. One of the best wedding gifts we received was the book “Sheet Music” by Dr. Kevin Lehman – I would recommend it to any couple – newlywed, long time married, unmarried, divorced, engaged – it is so REAL about the topic and really makes you think about the emotional complications as well as the physical complications of sex. I now give it to every couple that I know as a wedding gift, because the info is just SO good that I don’t mind the embarrassing aspect of it. :)

  74. Well, the bad news is that if u don’t tell them the basics by about age 8, someone else will. And like u & the bad words, I wanted information on something SO important to come from me. I also wanted them to know I will always answer any questions asked to the best of my ability (in an age appropriate manner). Honestly, as for the real meaning of sex, we simply left it as something really special between ppl who love each other & r committed to one another. And I think it’s more than reasonable to say, “ur dad & I really messed this up & we want to help u get it rt.” U can throw in that God can turn our worst mistakes into our biggest blessings (but mayb we shldnt make God work overtime ALL the time. ). :) And b aware, after the talk, questions will come for a couple of weeks. The good news is that after that, it becomes the new normal–they accept what u say & move on. IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL. Did u hear that part? It’s important. It’s not a big deal. It becomes just another part of the landscape. Will more questions arise & things get tricky again as they turn into teenagers? Yep. Absolutely. Life is always tricky, but u hve laid the foundation. And that’s the place to start. (FYI: I’m no expert, but I hve a 10 yr old girl who’s had the talk, boys who r 5 & 7 who hvnt, & I’ve taught 7th grade thru college over the past decade.)

  75. I’m certainly no expert in this as my oldest daughter is only 8 and just starting to ask questions. But when she came in from playing with the neighborhood girls asking “what are sperms?” (after quietly freaking out for a moment), we went to my bedroom and had a private talk, just us girls. I explained what “sperms” were and how a part of daddy went into mommy and parts of both of us went together to make her and her sister. We also got a chance to talk about puberty, which freaked her out WAY more. Sex is definitely way more than the mechanics, but that is not what an 8 year old needs to know about yet. As she gets older, I’ll share more with her. It will become less about mechanics and more about the emotional and relational parts. But she is in NO way ready for that yet. And it really wasn’t a big deal, for either of us. I was calm and so she was too.

  76. I just received this from a very, very dear friend who wishes to remain anonymous. I just think there are some incredibly important messages for us parents in here.

    ****

    I know I should post in the comment section, but Monkeedom has gotten so BIG and I don’t know who is out there, so… I think if you (or anyone) talk to your kids about not having sex before marriage it should be for the reasons you spelled out – that when treated as recreation everyone can get damaged (say it more eloquently, though). BUT…be careful if you take the stance that having sex before marriage is “morally wrong” or “wrong in the eyes of God” because that’s how it was presented to me, and then when I was raped as a teenager (and a virgin), not only was I dealing with…you know…RAPE…but I was also thinking I had let down God and disgraced my family, which led me to not tell anyone for months, which led me to getting REALLY F’d UP before someone finally got me into therapy, not to mention losing any physical evidence that would have allowed us to go after the mf’r, who was in my English class and I had to see three days a week. I was really religious back then ) and the guilt and shame made my situation so much harder. So tread carefully tying sex up with God/morality. That’s my 2 cents.

    • So so so wise. I hope that your beautiful nameless Monkee friend knows how loved and wise they are.

    • This is my personal stance on sex before marriage: If you have sex before marriage, make sure it is for the right reason’s. If your head and your heart aren’t in sync, then don’t do it.

      I think God is always wound intricately with all that I try and teach my kids. I pray that there is never shame involved with any decisions my kids make or in speaking out against decisions other people make for them. It is my hope that I do a good enough job of communicating with them so they always feel comfortable coming to me with issues, questions or concerns.

      My heart goes out to your friend. What a terrible thing to have to keep to herself for so many months. XOXO

      ~Melissa

    • G – please thank her on our behalf for sharing this. Totally get her desire to remain anonymous, but her story is an example of the needless suffering we are in danger of putting our children through if religion is used as a scare tactic. I’m grateful she was brave enough to have you share it. XOX

    • I was actually trying to figure out how to make a very similar comment G.

      I have worked with SO, SO, SO many young women who would not and could not tell their parents about sexual abuse and rape because they were so deeply immersed in cultures that aggressively and religiously linked virginity with holiness and righteousness.
      I think parents believe their children understand the “difference” between what they’re talking about when they talk about remaining a virgin until marriage (or that awful tape analogy) and rape/sexual assault. I know many parents do it with love and a desire to spare their children religious, emotional, and social pain.
      But I have seen the repercussions again and again: girls (in my case, but I know it applies to boys too) whose physical and emotional pain after assault is made so much worse by feeling they have been “ruined”. That they have let down God, and their parents, and that they are now unpure and unworthy of love. Frankly, many of these young women have gone on to have really unhealthy consensual sexual relationships because they are trying to make sense of it all, and feel that since they’re already ruined, they might as well.
      When we are talking about sex, try not to make virginity “the thing” that matters. Talk about specialness of sharing. Talk about the value of loving and trusting your partner. But try not to give virginity value, because you may be silencing and shaming your child later, in the worst moments of their life, when you most want them to know your unconditional love.

    • My friend says “purity is a journey.” When the church teaches us purity is a possession that we either keep or lose (i.e. our virginity), then we can only hold tight in fear while we have it and then “give up” once it’s gone. But if purity is something we are moving towards wholistically (as in, growing more Christlike in all our actions), then we are still pursuing purity even after marriage as we learn to grow in our ability to love, to share, to be honest with ourselves and our partner. How I wish someone had taught me that purity was a journey, not a possession! It would have saved me a lot of anxiety.

  77. Honestly, I don’t ever intend to have a “sex talk” with either of my kids. We answer questions about body, heart and soul as it comes up in conversation. Unfortunately, this leads to my daughter telling her little brother “You came out of Mom’s butt.” in the middle of Bj’s Wholesale Club in a loud clear voice. To which he cried “Like Poo?” and needed to be reassured…In the Middle of the Store! I couldn’t stop laughing which earned me some strange looks from the woman in the next aisle. In out family, It isn’t against the rules to talk about difficult things. It is hard enough being a kid without having to watch everything you say to your parents. I remember friends that were afraid to ask about drugs, sex, or body concerns with their parents because when they tried, they were immediately interrogated as to their involvement with such things. When they are ready to know, they ask. If you tell your ten year old they are “too young to know” about sex and drugs, they probably won’t ask you again. They will ask their friends. They don’t even want a complete answer. The little people need just enough information that they aren’t going into the world so innocent that they will fall into trouble without knowing. It may not matter today. In the years to come, they will still remember what you said when their friends bring it up. And they won’t be afraid to ask more questions after those conversations.
    Sorry for the long comment….:)

  78. I LOVE maturation programs at school. They need to know information before going to them, but it is also a great time to talk more.

    God gave us our body’s and want us to be happy. He gave us the amazing power of procreation, but wants us to wait until we are married to have sex and children. Satan has a counterfeit for every blessing Heavenly Father want to give us. But the counterfeits don’t bring lasting happiness.

    I understand your side – some of our greatest blessings and knowledge comes from mistakes we make. As we learn and change through them.

    I waited to have sex until I was married (so did my husband). It has been a blessing to share that awesome part of life with each other, and while I know my kids will make their own choices, there will be no question for them about what I feel and think will bring them the most happiness in life. Self control takes a life time, but helps us become better people, we try to not get mad at little things or hit when we are mad and to teach our children these also. It is possible to wait and builds trust in the person you are hoping to share your life with.

  79. I love the metaphor you used about explaining God by describing a church or explaining marriage by describing a wedding. Because you’re right on– that is so. NOT. IT.
    Also I am glad you all are solving this issue for me now, while I still have a few years to worry about it with my little bug. Thanks in advance. LOL.

  80. In my opinion when they are old enough to ask about it they are old enough for an answer! My boys are 12, 10 and 10. We’ve had several talks about sex. It started with the basic mechanics and has grown from there. I always give them the most honest, concise answer I can and then tell them there is MORE to that answer if you want it or was the information I gave you enough? Usually they don’t want MORE.

    • I like that approach! Leaves the conversation open if they don’t feel the question was answered, and leaves the ball in their court!

  81. My kiddos are older than yours Glennon, so we HAVE had the sex talk in our house. When my oldest son turned 9 we started talking with him about puberty and personal hygiene and social/emotional issues related to his age group. We also talked about the “bad words” at this time :) Our son was embarrassed at first and even hid behind his pillow while we talked (okay by us as long as he listened). We also presented him with a great book about all things boys and told him to read it whenever he wanted to and to ask any and all questions any time. We made sure to get a book that was relative but humorous too and not too “sciency.” He liked the book and over the next year or two would abruptly ask me questions while were in the car (now that my both my boys are teenagers I have come to realize that speaking with them in the car about touchy subjects is good because they are more at ease without the direct eye contact). Our second son got the same “talk” and book when he turned 9 and he didn’t need to hide behind the pillow so we think we may have perfected our approach :) The real nitty gritty about “the act” came at age 11 and the first thing our oldest said to us was “so, you guys did THAT two times!” Obviously, because we have two biological kiddos…haha! Now we are onto dealing with the “talk” with our adopted daughters. Same thing goes, but with a different book!

  82. Ahhh, the sex talk. I’ll never forget it. I was giving the kids a bath, and was at the corner of a sort of “L” shaped room where the kids in the tub were at one end, hubby was lying on our bed at the other end, and I was in the corner (so I could see both). My daughter (about 5 years old at the time and 21 months older than my son) said “Mom, how are babies made?” I saw my husband freeze, then pump his fist in victory that I was the one she had asked and could see and he was “off the hook”. LOL

    Generally, we just did it in stages. “That’s called your penis. That’s called your vagina” to “Babies are grown in their mom’s tummies.” to “They get there when the daddy plants a seed”, to “When two people love each other very much …” and so on and so one. It wasn’t really one big talk, it was several small talks over many years. I know I also got them a book.

    You know who’s a great resource for this? My friend Amy Lang of http://birdsandbeesandkids.com/ Coaching parents on how to have these conversations is precisely what she does, and she’s really good about accomodating and respecting the variety of boundaries and beliefs that different families hold.

    Much love,

    Leslie from Peeling Mom Off the Ceiling

    • Love Amy Lang and her advice. I’m so glad someone brought up her website because I was going to mention it. I think it is important to give children the acts at a young age before the “ick” factor sets in and they have trouble discussing it with you. My 7 year old nephew was just visiting and started discussing his testicles with my son who is also 7. My nephew didn’t have the correct words or know what those “things under my penis that feel funny when I squeeze them” we’re for. My son informed him that they were for sex when they were grown up. My sister who was sitting there reading a book was secretly dying and laughing inside. My son looked at her and said “he doesn’t know what sex is, does he?”

      • Yay! Glad to know you like her too.

        I think what surprises a lot of parents is being told (as Amy says) that their kids should really know the basics of sex (penis goes in the vagina) *before they start school*. Kids are going to be talking about this stuff with each other…where do you want their information to come from? The more open we can be about it now, the better groundwork we lay for that communication to continue as the kids get older.

        :)

  83. Brilliant, G. Love the post – as always. I particularly liked how you explained to Chase the use and harm that “bad words” can have on others. I hope I remember that when my little ones come to me with the same questions.

    I have to share that I learned of a book called, “It’s Not the Stork” that talks about body parts, good and bad touchs, sex, etc. and it’s appropriate for kids 4-8. We used it already with my kids (3 and 4) when they started asking questions like, “How did sister come out of your belly, mama”? It made it so easy to talk about factually and comfortably. They also have two more books in the series as the kids get older. Love, love it!

    • I LOVE the book “It’s Not the Stork”.
      My friends have four little ones, and they just left a copy in the kid’s room so they could read it and ask questions at will. It’s worked really well for them and started great conversations, so we now have our own copy that lives in the Hobbit’s room.

  84. I would like to share that I think it is so IMPORTANT that kids no the correct names of their parts. I find it so strange that people are mortified when kids know the words vagina and penis. You would think my kids are dropping F bombs by the reaction they get from family members. What message does it send when adults are even uncomfortable using the language? I worked for Children and Youth Services for years and sadly too many child abusers got away with it because victims were unable to describle what happened to them. Cute words are fine but children should be able to identify and name their vagina and penis with confidence. I know this is off the subject but I think it is important for people to know.

    • Agreed. We called ours a “sweet pea.” That as also a term of endearment used by my teacher. “Good work, Sweet Pea” sounded to me like “Good work, Vagina.”

      • I agree with using the real names for things. What I’ve found, however, is that many moms/women refer to all of the female “equipment” as the “vagina.” Actually, the vagina is the inside part–the part you can’t see. (And yes, that’s where the baby comes out.) The part you CAN see is the vulva.

        Just like we make sure boys know the difference between a penis and testicles, girls should know the accurate names for their vulva and vagina.

        Thanks!

        • Yes! I hate that our society has chosen to use the word, “vagina,” as the generic word for a woman’s “private” organs.

          Back when my oldest was not quite 3, but potty training, he told me that his little friend (who was a girl), had a wee-wee. (He already knew the word, “penis,” because we generally used the scientific terminology around him.) Thinking that this was problematic, because I didn’t want to be the mother of the little boy who grew into a man who thought girls had “wee-wees”, I decided (hubby was at work so this was a solo decision) that I had to offer a correction. I hesitated a second but eventually told him that girls’ special parts were called “vaginas”, but he couldn’t see them because they were on the inside. (After all, he might know the correct word, but I didn’t want him hunting for them!)

          Anyway, why couldn’t we use both words more freely? In truth, however, I haven’t taught my daughter or either son both words, because I’ve been too scared of the weird looks I might get.

      • Brooks, that made me snort – oh.my.golly. Bless your heart, sweat pea…

  85. The Julia Sweeney clip is hilarious!

  86. I am not shy or reluctant when it comes to discussing anything with my kids. My 15 year old daughter has stated on several occasions, “I can’t believe you just said that Mom!” But I am also aware that I tend to go into overload when it comes to answering questions, they want a handful of details and not the boatload I am willing to supply. Again my oldest daughter often tells me ‘Stop now, that is all I want to know.” Since I tend towards overload, I ask lots of questions on the front end so I can try to figure out what kind of answer they are seeking. It helps a lot.

    As for sex, this is how I handled it when my oldest got curious around the 5th grade. We headed to the library where I looked through every book they offered on the subject. Once I found one that seemed pretty through but not overly complicated, I checked it out and my daughter read it. About two days later she started with the questions and to my surprise they were not ones that I thought she would be asking but I answered every question as directly as possible until she was satisfied. This approach worked surprisingly well and I plan to use it with my younger girls this year.

  87. That video….shut up!! Too funny!!

  88. I don’t know if this is much help but I’ve always thought one of the things I would teach is that sex is like a good secret, you don’t want to share it with too many people…

  89. I dread the moment I am not ready that my oldest (9) asks me about sex.
    So – I *try* to get the convo started. If we are watching the news and a abuse/rape/etc…story comes on, I ask him ‘do you have questions?’ More often than not he says ‘No’. Then I tell him ‘if you have questions you can ask us – anything….mama and daddy kno a lil more than your friends think they do’.
    IF he does have a question, I answer him honestly in words I think he will understand.
    OR if in the car, I will ask what his friends talk about. Or what the kids at the bus stop talk about. Does anyone ever bring mags to show you?

    Thats as much as Ive figured out.

  90. I think de-mystifying sex is the thing. So yes, you start when they’re pretty young when they start getting curious. And you tell them the truth. The whole eye-popping penis & vagina (“So you and Dad did that? TWICE?!?)

    You’re right, the physicality is oddly somehow the least of it, but that’s how we ever learn anything. We start with the very least and work our way up and out. Simple addition becomes quantum physics. Shazam!

    I haven’t figured out the tough parts yet. That’s partly because my kids don’t need me to yet. At 9 and 10 they are still grossed out by girls and would rather be stabbed in the eye with a red-hot poker than even dance with a girl.

    Our society sends such weird mixed messages about sex. (Sex! Sex! Be sexy! Own your sexuality! BUT NO NUDITY! Be ashamed of your body! Sex! Have lot’s of sex with lots of different people! Don’t be a slut! Sex!)

    I just don’t want to confuse them further. I would like to be a port in the storm, but I haven’t figured out just what this port should look like. I want to give them a framework for their sexuality without mixed messages but with a hefty dose of reality, and I don’t know how I’m going to figure it all out.

    But I did start small. Penises and vaginas, menstration and sperm, and very clinical, no-mention-of-pleasure orgasms. I started where they are and with what they need to know today.

    Soon, though, I’ll need to figure out the tough stuff. And physics was never my bag.

    • AND, my husband, son and I all crawled into bed together with a book on a comfortable summer evening and read and talked and explained. I don’t want my boys to think that I am not accessible for sex-talks just because I’m a girl. I didn’t push it off to my husband. We’re a team in every other part of our kids’ lives. The same is true for sex.

  91. yup, I’m with you. My son said he wants a baby brother and a baby sister. I told him he can’t have a baby anything because mama isn’t married. He said, “so. you weren’t married when you had me!” Capital YIKES!! Lucky for me… he fell asleep and hasn’t said anything since. There are several very hard conversations coming and probably coming soon. What happened with my dad? Where do babies come from? and the “bad words”….. wow.. I’m not sorry I had him, but it is going to be so hard to explain “dad’ to him. I’m scared but praying that God puts the right words for all of these and the others I’m sure will blind-side me. Hugs, Glennon. I love you to bits. You are helping me heal.

    • Ah, the power of a child to identify your inconsistencies :) My daughter does the same for me. Now 5 1/2, she has also begun to ask questions and draw her own observations about my divorce from her father, and recently informed me that “I’m the only one in my class who only has one grown-up in the house. What’s up with that, Mom?” I think we’re both in for it, Sister! Good luck to you!

      • Bree, my son is 5 1/2 too! It scares me because of the hurt the man put me through to know that I am going to have to talk to him about things like sex and why he only has a mommy. Right now if he asks I tell him that God makes all kinds of different families. Right now he accepts this.

  92. I think at a young age, super factual science-y is the way to go. Use the right words for all the bits (which is how I would refer to them if I had my way. lady bits.) and don’t tell them more than they need to know. If they ask a question, answer THAT question. When my mother talked to me…well, let’s just say she overshared. Not good.

    When my son asked about it (he wrote us a note telling us he had questions about “the process” – needless to say, to this day that is how I refer to it. Because- awesome.) I let my husband handle it. This may or may not have been a mistake. Visual aids in the form of Tinker Toys were involved. I still can’t look directly at them in the play room.

    I felt much more stressed about talking to my daughter. It felt heavier.

    In the end, I’m not sure there is a right way, but emotions and values and consequence- in equal measure- need to be at least as big a part of the discussion of “the process” as the mechanics.

  93. OOOOOOOH LOVIES!!! Please excuse the kiddos before watching that video!!!

  94. What a beautiful post and wouldn’t the healthiest of sex talks start with some humor and honesty just like you used here? The basics are the same but the emotions and the history are different for all of us. There will be a day that your kids won’t want to have this talk with you because they will be embarrassed teen-agers. Our window to share with them some of our regrets and hopes is very small. Thank you.

  95. Why is my comment still awaiting moderation? :(

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