Admit it - this is the post you have been waiting for. The one where I explain the quick and easy way to explain the differences between men and women, the changes a young person goes through in puberty and of course - sex.
Actually, I am explaining most of that in "Awkward conversations Part 3B".
Today I want to lay the foundations for open, honest, non-awkward communication with your children about their bodies and their genitals.
As you may recall from my introduction into awkward conversations, I mentioned that I learnt about sex from a book given to me in a brown paper bag and that was pretty much the end of my education at home. I didn't live with any brothers, so I had no idea what a penis looked like, except for the one in the book that was small and pastel pink!
My year nine science teacher, lovely as she was, kept on covering her cheeks with her palms saying 'this is embarrassing' as she went through sex ed with us. By the age of 18, I had decided that discussions of our bodies, let alone it's capacity for sexual intercourse was a shameful, embarrassing topic that really shouldn't be discussed. Needless to say, I was in for quite a few surprises when I began dating and eventually married my husband.
So I guess you are hoping we have got to the bit where I tell you in three easy steps how to talk about sex in a non-awkward, relaxed kind of way so that your child grows up to be a well-adjusted, respectful and respected sexual being?
To be honest, some of the things I am going to suggest have not even been road-tested on my own children, in my opinion they are still a bit immature to deal with some of this stuff - so feel free to write back with your own comments and suggestions - who knows, maybe you can become my 'blogging side-kick'.
1) Think about your worldview. I know, I know, I talk about worldviews alot. However, your beliefs about where people originally came from and the value of humanity actually impacts the way you will view the human body and what we should and shouldn't do with it.
Personally, I want my kids to see their bodies as incredible creations, created by a loving God, to be enjoyed in lots of different ways at the appropriate time.
2) Let your children know about what parts of their body are okay to share and what parts aren't. I tell kids that we have hands so that we can hold hands with a friend, we have arms so that we can hug our friends, we have legs so that we can run with our friends. We have mouths to talk with our friends and so on. I then tell them that there are parts of our body that we are not meant to share with other people until we get much older. These are things that are covered by your undies and in the case of girls, covered by a bikini top. Your penis or vagina and breasts are not to be shared with other people as they are private to you. No one should ask you to show your private parts to them. The only time people should see your private parts is if your parents (carer) are helping you wash, dry or get dressed or if there is a medical issue. I then go on to say that there may be times when a doctor or nurse needs to see those private parts. That's okay, but your parents should still be with you.
In fact, when I go to the doctor with one of my children and they need to show a private part of their body to the doctor, I remind them that this is only okay because they have a medical issue and I am with them whilst the doctor is looking at their body.
3) As you may have already picked up, I use the correct anatomical terminology. Calling genitals 'boo boos' or 'doodies' or whatever other cutesie names you have made up undermines the importance of your body parts. Silly names result in silly behaviour with those silly body parts......and believe me, I have a heap of stories about the crazy things little prep boys get up to in the toilets - all totally innocent, but all because their private parts have been referred to flippantly.
4) Don't be awkward! If your child asks you a question, don't go all bright red or get angry and tell them they are not allowed to know. Give them an age appropriate answer. Don't go drawing diagrams or borrow 50 books from the library about it. Don't go giving them a complete explanation of how they were conceived, resulting in them rocking in fetal position under the table. Just say what you need to say in a couple of sentences and move on. You'll know when they are ready for more details.
5) Leave a couple of age appropriate books about the human body around. If your child is interested in the way the body is structured, they will seek those books out and ask questions. Hiding all evidence of human nakedness or sexuality and avoiding any discussion of sex will lead them to the assumption that sex is taboo which could have wide reaching ramifications into the future.
6) Man oh man, I am so sad that I have to say this, but here goes......
Our children need to know that there may be a time when someone asks to see or touch their penis or vagina. That person may be a relative, friend or stranger. Our children need to know that NO ONE has the right to ask that of a child. No matter what that person has promised or threatened, our children need to know that they must come and tell their mum or dad if this happens.
When explaining this to your child, you don't want to be all dramatic and scare them.
You could just be getting your child dressed after a bath and say "You know what? Your body is so special and it is all yours to look after. Did you know that no should ever ask to see or touch you penis? It is your body and I want you to look after it. If someone ever asks to touch your penis or asks you to touch their private parts, be really firm and just say no and move right away from them. Then I want you to come and tell me. I promise you, you won't get into trouble, I won't be mad. I just want to know that you are okay."
This is a message that you just want to casually give to your child every few months. Don't make a fuss or sit them down for a serious heart to heart, just slip it into the conversation when you are in the car, or hanging out at the playground or reading a story just before bed. This means that if someone does attempt to 'interfere' with your child, your child will know that they can say no and then move away.
I pray that our children never ever have to use our advice.
Well, having gone through awkward conversations PART 3A, I'm hoping that writing PART 3B will be a breeze!!!!
I'm going to go and vege in front of the tv for a while.......xxx