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I’d Rather Honestly Answer My Kid’s Questions About Sex While He’s Still Listening

Oct 19, 2021

“Is she pooping the baby out?”

That is what my five-year-old son asked when April the giraffe, who became an internet sensation, gave birth a few years ago. It was also what led to his first lesson in sexuality.

It should come as no surprise that I didn't want him to think childbirth was a result of pooping. So, I gently shared my thoughts.

“No ... babies come out of a woman’s vagina.”

His eyes went as big as oranges. He took a moment to digest the information, and then he turned to me and said, “I came out of your vagina? That must have hurt!”


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Simplifying The Answer

From there he’d asked a few times how he came to be, and I would casually reply something simple like, “God made you.”

He seemed content, satisfied.

Skip ahead to a few months ago when my very inquisitive eight-year-old said, “I have a question — how are babies made? It can’t just be God … there has to be an actual way that babies are made.”

I knew this question was coming.

“Is she pooping the baby out?”

I had tried to prepare.

I’d done some research.

I’d asked friends how they’d approached the topic of sex with their kids.

And the best lesson I took from it all was to only answer what he was asking, and nothing more.

Don't Squirm, It's Just Sperm

I stuck to the question at hand, answering in a way that could relate to my own experience. “A man has sperm. A woman has an egg. And together they make a baby.”

Again, he was pleased with my answer. “I knew it wasn’t just God” was his reply, and off he went.

My son likes to mull things over. He will ask some pretty heavy questions, we'll give him honest answers and he'll sit with the information for a few days. After some time passes, we can almost guarantee he'll return with follow up questions.

And that’s exactly what happened here.

Several days after the “sperm and egg” explanation, he came to me with the question that has sparked sex talks through the ages: “But how does the sperm get to the egg?”

'The Talk'

I’d interviewed a child psychologist a few months ago about tips on giving your child “the talk” — it was a somewhat selfish pitch to get a bit of advice for my own situation.

She said that it’s important to “check” ourselves as parents when we’re asked questions about sex and sexuality. Basically, she meant that it's better to not present as uneasy.

Kids notice everything, and if you seem taken aback or show any sort of discomfort, they’ll pick up on it. It’s important to keep your cool, I was told. I secretly took a deep breath and very straightforwardly said exactly how the sperm gets to the egg.

Again, I got follow-up questions:

  • “That’s what you and Daddy did once to make me?”
  • “How long does it take for the sperm to come out?”
  • “What do you do while you’re waiting?”
  • “Where is the sperm kept?”

I simply explained the answer to each of his (very intelligent and equally surprisingly inquisitive) questions, but I kept it as short and as sweet as possible.

What To Do With All This New Information

It’s been a few weeks since we've had any sex chats.

But we have had other conversations that are related to sex but aren’t strictly biological.

After explaining what sex is, we spoke about how important it is to keep this information between us.

I wanted him to know that it's not his responsibility to share this information with his friends because they will learn in their own time.

"We said the same thing when we told him the truth about Santa Claus."

My husband and I told him that sex is something that should be explained by his friends’ parents because it’s something very personal.

We said the same thing when we told him the truth about Santa Claus. And luckily, our kid isn’t one to divulge such things to his friends.

I think that is because we have demonstrated that we trust him with adult information, and we are always honest with him when he comes to us with big questions. As a result, he doesn’t want to break that trust.

In a way, I get the impression that he likes feeling like he's on the inside of some very grown-up stuff. So he respects our request to keep it on the down low.


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A Culture of Honesty and Openness

We have always commended our son for asking such good questions. We told him that he can ask Mommy and Daddy anything. And we really stressed anything.

Since we explained sex to him, I’ve also noticed how often and how casually sex is brought up in our everyday lives, from TV to radio and more. So, this led to an age-appropriate discussion on the intimacy factor of sex — how even though it seems like something “common” and like it is “not a big deal” because we hear about it all the time, we believe it is, in fact, a big deal … a very big deal.

Do I think eight years old is the “right” age to explain sex? Not necessarily. It all depends on the child and their capacity for understanding bigger ideas.

For us, we felt like our son was ready to hear the truth about sex. It all came down to trust — we try to be very authentic in our parenting because we want our son to feel like he can not stump us or ask the wrong thing.

"We told him that he can ask mommy and daddy anything. And we really stressed anything."

We have family rules, but we explain why we have those rules. At the end of the day, we want our home to be a safe place to have heavy conversations if they need to occur.

That's why when our son has a question, we answer it as honestly and as best as we can.

Kids don’t need to know about sex or sexuality all at once — approach it one topic at a time, because there's plenty of time. And as uncomfortable as it might seem to explain the intricacies of sex, I believe parents think it’ll be much worse than it actually is.

In the end, kids will appreciate candidness. When they know that they can openly ask questions about their bodies, their sexuality and sex in general, I believe that honesty will translate into trust.

At some point, as he grows up, he may stop relying on us for answers. I just hope by then we’ve given him enough honest, factual answers so that he knows how to make smart choices for himself.

And as I see it, that’s the foundation of a healthy parent/child relationship.

Article Author Jennifer Cox
Jennifer Cox

Read more Jennifer here.

Jennifer Cox is the mama behind Whoa Mama! on Instagram and Facebook, where she shares her craft and DIY projects at home. She is also the mama of an eight-year old. She is a self-proclaimed addict of kids' books, and she admits to spending way too much time after her son goes to bed scouring Pinterest. She's also written for Today's Parent, Parents Canada, Today's Bride, and more.

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