The Accidental Sex Talk.

by Risa Green

 

A few years ago, when my daughter was five, she asked me how babies get made. It was not the first time she asked, and my old ‘an egg and a sperm meet in the mommy’s tummy’ trick wasn’t working anymore. But how do they meet, she wanted to know. So after about a half an hour of question-dodging that would put any politician on a Sunday morning news show to shame, I finally gave up and told her the truth. The daddy puts his penis inside the mommy’s vagina, I told her. Which pretty much shut her up.

 

When I told people that I’d had “the talk” with my then-kindergartener, the responses ranged from shock and judgment to good for you. Of course, I spent days, maybe weeks, worrying that I’d done the wrong thing. Maybe I should have continued to put her off for a few more years, maybe I shouldn’t have been quite so honest. But in retrospect, I’m really glad that we had that conversation when we did, because we got it over with and out of the way, and also because I’m pretty sure it would be a whole lot more awkward to have it now.

 

But of course, I always knew that there would be more questions. I told her how babies got made, sure, but I didn’t tell her that daddies put their penises in mommies’ vaginas for reasons other than making babies. I told her about procreation, but I didn’t tell her about sex. So I wasn’t entirely shocked last week when my daughter asked me how a person can possibly get pregnant by accident. I mean, I just don’t understand, she said. How does someone accidentally put their penis inside someone else’s vagina?

 

My entire life flashed before my eyes, as if I were in a car, plummeting off of a cliff to my death. It’s funny – when people think about having these kinds of talks with their kids, we tend to imagine that we’ll be in control of the situation. We’ll sit down, together, as parents, and we’ll decide that yes, perhaps it’s time to have The Talk with little Johnnie or Janie. And then you think that you’ll go into her room and sit down on the edge of her bed and say something like, sweetie, I think it’s time we have a talk. And you imagine yourself laying it all out there with the charts and graphs and Power Point presentations that you diligently created in preparation for this monumental parenting moment, while your child just listens and nods, eternally grateful to you for clearing up the mysteries of life. So having my kid ask out of nowhere how a penis can accidentally end up in someone else’s vagina was not exactly how I thought it would go down. But, the best laid plans, blah, blah, blah.

katiesmama
11.03.10

Ha! As a single mom, also in the open & honest camp, I've been through this too. In the middle of a retail store, my daughter busted out with "at school Nena asked how come I got born since you weren't married with daddy and that's how you get babies?" I think a couple people got whiplash heads were just spinning our way. I laughed it off, reminded her of our sex talk, and assured her people had to be married to make babies no more than the dog did when she had puppies accidentally with a neighbor's dog (heat cycle 3 days before spay day appointment!)so she should always remember there are responsibilities for actions. Magically, those nosy people were clearing out...

vlarson
10.22.10

You'll probably have a lot more 'splain' to do about that "married" portion than anything else you've told her.
Because, as much as you may wish sex only happened between married people, that's not the truth — and she knows that.
Good luck!

kmayer
10.21.10

good for you to start talking, and pledge to keep talking. the sex talk is dinner time convo at our house, making guest blush but everybody knows the scoop at an early age. Middle school is where it gets awkward but even more necessary, with science behind the slang spelled out. Makes them cringe, but they need to know. good job mom!

KMayer
http://www.returntoworkmom.com/

Michi
10.19.10

Yikes! That would strike fear in my heart. When my daughter asked for a baby brother at that age we were able to shut it down with a simple "no, because mommy isn't married".
OK, somewhere down the road though someone is going to tell her that mommy was never married to daddy - if she still remembers the whole baby brother thing by then I expect that will be an even more difficult conversation.

lengeft1
10.19.10

I am not sure how old your daughter currently is. But then, I am mystified as to why parents are uncomfortable about the sex talks, plural. Hopefully, if a parent's relationship with her child is based on honesty, truth and trust, there will be many such talks during the time of the parent's phase of full responsibility for her child.

I am a bit surprised that you told your child that sex for pleasure, not procreation is only between MARRIED people. You are certainly setting yourself up for a potentially embarrassing situation should you develop a friendship with a couple who is cohabiting happily without official sanction. Or a gay couple if you reside in a state that rejects same-sex marriage. Because children sometimes say the damnedest things, and innocently ask the most uncomfortable questions.

I also don't agree with telling her that only STUPID teenagers have sex, much less end up pregnant. Teenagers' brains lack development in the centers that control restraint, understanding of cause and effect, and comprehension of consequences. And far too many teens have irresponsible parents who don't explain the full consequences of sex to their children: the emotional burdens, the fact that both genders can...and do...lie, that birth control fails, that sex feels very good, that the urges can be absolutely maddening, that masturbation is an excellent source of relief, and that having vaginal sexual intercourse. protected or not, always has the potential to lead to pregnancy. And that not having sex is about mutual respect...for the subject of your affection and for yourself, and responsibility, and caring, and love. Even STUPID kids can understand all of that, if parents take the time to teach them. And very intelligent kids are sometimes never taught a thing except DON'T EVER DO IT...or take it into their heads to do it anyway, and to hell with the consequences and full speed ahead.

I am still having sex talks with my 19 year old high functioning autistic son...who is not very clear about women, or things sexual. He comes to me with his worries, not his dad, with whom he lives, and who claims that our son doesn't care about these things. He does...they upset and confuse him. When he was younger (he is very immature socially) he couldn't comprehend them at all. He is always much happier after we talk. My 13 year old still asks constant questions, and he always has, as we have given him embarrassment-free, age-appropriate honest answers. We don't lie to him, or give him misinformation.

I guess I had no preconceptions about The Talk. My mom told me that you had to love the person (after a clinical discussion at five after a viewing of rabbits mating. I deduced the entire business from there, on my own...and was entirely correct except for wondering just how people did it as fast as rabbits) when I was about fifteen.

roseherring
10.19.10

I'm in the "good for you" camp. Better to have the conversation too soon than too late. My mother was always inappropriately early with sex talks but in the end, I was armed with the right information before hearing my pervy 12 yr old boy next door neighbor's rendition.

millerjess
10.19.10

LOL This article made me laugh out loud..really! And it reminds me that I need to really having something prepared for my 7 year old, because...it won't be long now before I start getting questions.

oldskoolmom
10.19.10

I think you did the right thing, Risa. I believe that honesty is the best policy in situations like these, even if they're uncomfortable at times. If nothing else, your daughter will appreciate that you were truthful with her in an age-appropriate way. This will build a good foundation of trust in the future. Well done.

abbynewman
10.19.10

Funny column, Risa.
I was always a believer in getting the basic factual information to my kids before they'd be in a position to hear (and believe) inaccurate information on the playground or wherever. So I started reading "It's So Amazing!" and "It's Perfectly Normal" (both great books) aloud to my three boys when they were very young (early elementary age or younger). I didn't actually think my youngest was paying attention, let alone absorbing any information - I was reading mostly for his older brothers' benefit - but then one day he came home from pre-K and said, "Mom, the kids at school were talking about babies growing in their mommies' tummies. But I told them they were wrong - that a baby grows in a mommy's UTERUS!"
I think it's OK, even preferable, to give your kids basic information about sex at a very early age. Don't overwhelm them with details and don't answer questions they don't ask... but better they should hear it from you than from the grossly uninformed neighborhood kid.

amywillardbrown
10.19.10

My daughter is nearly five and just asked me some questions that are making me think that I need to get the junior version of the powerpoint ready. I definitely go for accurate information rather than protecting them. I would rather she heard it from me than on the playground at school!