Our oldest daughter is seven years old and like many of our friends with kids this age, we have been wrestling with how much information to provide to her about sex and sexual health. We had a baby a little over four months ago and of course that spurred a number of questions about how the baby got in there, how it gets out, etc.
She is old enough to be inquisitive and ask lots of thoughtful questions. She is a thinker and will contemplate answers provided or something she has read and then come back with more questions a few days later. She is only seven and is not quite at the point where she has friends or classmates whose bodies are starting to change with early adolescence. At the same time she and her friends are getting to that point and we don’t want her to freak out when she does start going through adolescence. We want her to know that it is normal for her body to be changing and that things like menstruation are normal and not something to be afraid of.
Ever since she and her sister could speak we have taught them the proper names for their body parts and have answered their questions as accurately as possible. We always struggle with figuring out how to answer their questions because we never know what is motivating the question and how detailed an answer they are seeking.
A couple of weeks ago we were talking to our friend whose daughter is best friends with our daughter. She told us about a book that they had been reading with their daughter and that their daughter had been reading to herself. The book is called It’s So Amazing: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies and Families. It is written by Robie Harris and she has written others for younger kids (It’s Not the Stork!) and for adolescents (It’s Perfectly Normal).
We have been reading this book with our seven year-old, with our five year-old listening in periodically, and while some of the topics have been slightly challenging for us, our daughter has expressed nothing but interest. It is our own hang-ups that make some of the subjects feel awkward. We just read through it with a matter-of-fact tone of voice and answer any questions that come up as we go. If any of you are looking for resources I’d recommend this one as one to check out. This book isn’t really appropriate for a five year-old, but the earlier one likely is.
Interestingly we are going through this at the same time that I am doing some work with Planned Parenthood Ottawa and they are doing a crowd-funding campaign to raise funds to put together age-appropriate resources and information for parents who are looking for support talking with their kids about sex and sexual health.
We could use some help raising the remaining $3000 for this project. Check it out at www.talkingthetalk.ca and donate if you can. The resources developed will likely end up online so even if you don’t live in Ottawa you will be able to benefit from the work done through this project. If everyone who read my post on sex-ed in response to Matt Walsh were to give $5 to this campaign, the goal would be easily surpassed.What approach are you taking when your kids ask you about sex? Do you feel prepared to answer questions about sexual health? What advice would you give to other parents?
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