I have read a lot of great articles lately on the topic of talking to your children about sex and consent. Articles like ….
“This Is What Sex-Positive Parenting Really Looks Like“, by Lea Grover, which talks about the importance of being honest about human reproduction so that our kids don’t grow up feeling ashamed or confused about their bodies. I especially thought this paragraph was really powerful:
“Telling children the truth about sex isn’t giving permission for them to have it — and this is the most important part — because when the right time comes, nobody has the right to deny them permission for sex but themselves.”
And this article …
“By the time we teach our sons about rape, it’s 15 years too late“, by Cassie Werber, which talks about the importance of talking about sex and consent with your children as young as kindergarten. The hope being that when your children get to university, all conversations about sex education would be the “culmination of a long process, rather than a beginner’s crash course”. The author talks about an amazing program – Our Whole Lives, or OWL, that was developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). I highly recommend that you check out their Facebook page and like it to stay up to date on the great work they are doing.
After speaking about these articles with a good friend of mine, she reminded me that I needed to share the two great books that I found to use as a guide for speaking to my kids about sex in an age appropriate way. This friend also used these books with her daughter and will very enthusiastically tell everyone how helpful they were!
The first books is “Amazing You!” by Dr. Gail Saltz, Illustrated by Lynne Avril Cravath.
I recommend this book for kids around 3 to 6 years of age. It talks about your “private parts” – the ones that stay hidden under your clothes or underwear – and the importance of knowing the real names for them. It talks about how your body will change as you get older – and that girls will begin to release tiny eggs, and boys will begin to make sperm. And then it simply says that the egg and sperm join together to make a baby (pictured below).
I found that this book was enough information for the first few years. When I discuss important conversations with my children, I let them lead with the questions. We don’t need to give them more information than they ask for – but they are often ready for more information on a topic before we would expect them to be. So, until the child starts to ask, “well, exactly how do the sperm and egg join?”, this book is great. You can also add more depth to this conversation by talking about two men or two women loving each other and deciding that they want to have a baby – which can then lead to a conversation about adoption or IVF that is still below the level of exactly how the sperm and egg join.
As soon as my kids started thinking it through and wanting to know more, I moved on to this book – “What’s the Big Secret, Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys”, by Laurie Krasny Brown, Ed.D., and Marc Brown.
There is so much beauty in this book. It starts out talking about how boys and girls differ. Is it their names? No, boys and girls names can be different or the same. Is it their clothes? No, they can sometimes wear different clothes, but not always! Their hair, their play, their feelings? No. Girls and boys are allowed to look and feel exactly how they want to, and it might be different, but it might not be. It talks about the importance of touch, and the importance of respecting if someone doesn’t want to be touched. And it talks about the fact that “no one has the right to touch you in a way that feels wrong or uncomfortable”. And all of this is done in really simple language that kids can understand.
And then it explains how the sperm and the egg join (pictured below), in one beautiful sentence, in a book full of beautiful words and ideas. Then it moves on to talk about the growing baby and the birth of the baby. It is a gorgeous book from start to finish.
I hope that you check out these books, especially if you are feeling a little unsure or nervous about when and how to talk to your kids about sex. I really did find that these made the conversations so simple. And they have helped open to the door for more conversations with the kids. I want to be one of the adults that my children, and all the kids in our community, feel comfortable talking to about any topic. I don’t want to react with any kind of hesitation or awkwardness to any conversation. I want the kids to feel safe coming to me. And I think that in order for this to happen, I need to be building that feeling of safety now, while they are young. I need to listen to their questions and let them lead the conversation. I need to be open and welcoming. And sometimes this means that I need to do my research and have some tools in my tool kit, like these two great books, so that I am ready for any conversation.
I will keep sharing any great resources I find with you so that we can build a community of super adults that our World-Changing Kids feel comfortable talking to.