by Valerie Zilinsky
A few nights back, I was enjoying the nightly ritual of combing out my daughter’s long hair after her bath. [WIDGET1]She always engages me in thought-provoking conversations during this time. It’s become a special bonding session for us each evening, even if it’s just to go over the new experiences she’s had that day.
This time, though, she caught me off guard. My darling daughter, who won’t even be five years old until next week, asked the famous question, “Mom, where do babies come from?”
I immediately started to respond, “Well, honey, when a man and a woman love each other, their love can make a baby….”
At this point, she quickly interrupted me…”No, mom, I mean, how does the baby get inside the mommy’s tummy?”
That was all it took for me. Ten years of reading parenting magazines and advice books continuously, and I had forgotten everything I ever read on the proper response to this line of questioning. My chin dropped to my chest, and my mind was blank.
Luckily, I realized that I had to recover from my momentary brain-freeze, and come up with some sort of answer. My daughter isn’t the type to let something go unanswered. To buy myself some time, I told her it wasn’t easy to explain, and I’d look for a book that we could read together. This seemed to satisfy her for the time being.
Now, with a few days to get back to her, I can help other parents avoid being caught in the same situation. I’m sure I am not the only parent unprepared to have this conversation with a child this young. So what’s the best approach, according to the ‘experts’?
According to Pandorah Turner of RaisingKids, “Your 5-year-old daughter may be happy with the simple answer that babies come from a seed that grows in a special place inside the mother. Dad helps when his seed combines with mom’s seed, which causes the baby to start to grow” (Article: Talking To Your Daughter About The Birds & The Bees). To me, that seems like a very comfortable way to answer her question. However, it scares me to think what she might ask next!
Many experts state that you should only offer the information that your young children ask for. If you get too involved beyond their specific questions, most likely they won’t retain what you tell them. There is nothing wrong with admitting to your child that you don’t know the answer to their question. Instead of possibly providing incorrect information, offer to look up the answers and get back to them, but make sure that you follow through. Be sure to use correct terminology when answering questions, especially when referring to anatomy. If the words make you uncomfortable, practice saying them when you are alone, before you try using them in conversations with your child.
When talking with a 2.5 to 5 year old, according to siecus.org, “You could say, ‘Babies grow in a special place inside a mommy called a uterus.’ If your child seems interested and asks more questions, offer more simple answers. The actual information you give your preschooler is less important than showing you’re willing to talk openly about sexuality.”
There are many books available on the subject, also. For example: How Babies Are Made by Andrew C. Andry, Steven Schepp, Blake Hampton (Illustrator)
Did the Sun Shine Before You Were Born… by Sola Gordon, Judith Gordon, Vivien Cohen (Illustrator), Sol Gordon
How You Were Born by Joanna Cole, Margaret Miller (Photographer)
And there are videos for your use, too, like:
How To Talk With Your Young Children…
So, moms and dads, help is out there – make sure you look for it before you get stuck in my shoes! After picking up a few books, I’ll be ready to educate my daughter. I’d rather have her learn about it here at home, than from the media, or her classmates. We live in a society where sex is everywhere we look. We can’t simply avoid these uncomfortable conversations. Our children will learn about it. The important thing is to make sure they learn correctly. And if we keep them comfortable with asking us now, they will be much more likely to turn to us later in life as the outside world gets more complex.
My daughter reminded me once again that our children will continue to grow up, whether we are ready for them to or not. Sure, she’s only going on five years old now, but I look back at these last five years, and I wonder how they could have gone by so amazingly fast. The next five years, and ten years, will be gone just as quickly. In today’s whirlwind world, procrastination is not our best option.
Article reprinted with permission.
Copyright © Valerie Zilinsky. This article may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author.momhood
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