Having “The Talk”
Let’s talk about “the talk”… you know “the Birds and the Bees”. So before we go any further brace yourself we are going to talk about sex… So if you need to avert your eyes…
What my wife and I have learned about the talk… thus far… is:
1. It isn’t just one talk.
2. You don’t get to pick when you have it.
3. It is not one size fits all.
I’d say we have had “the talk” with each of our children but it has actually been my wife that has had the honor. Each of our children have come to her on different occasions spurred on by different impetus. My wife has adopted a very clever way of handling these inquiries. Where I would be more prone to putting together a full lecture with a syllabus, lecture notes, and quite possibly a multimedia presentation, she simply and directly answers the questions they ask. She discovered this trick when our oldest came to her with some questions after reading one of his science books. His question was simply does the baby get made. After what she described as a few deep but panic filled breaths she said that the sperm from the dad connects to the egg from the mom and the embryo starts forming. He replied “thanks mom” and was off.
A couple of years later our younger son came at the same question completely differently. After making the discovery that you do not have to be married to have a baby his wheels started turning and my wife once again was in the hot seat. He started by pointing out that he knew that moms have the eggs and dads have the sperm, but what he didn’t know was how the egg and sperm made a baby. Fortunately she had this answer prepped from the previous conversation with our older son. So he thought about it for a bit and then said that he understood that but that he didn’t understand how the sperm got into the mom… and then he asked “does dad spit it in your mouth?” The whole time my wife was trying to frame the conversation as between the man and the woman and he continually turned it back into you and dad… much to her chagrin. She finally went with the “plug and socket metaphor” which seemed to do the trick. After a few more uncomfortable questions (for my wife) the conversation concluded with my son singing as he danced his way out of the room.
I love my wife’s approach. I know she would like some of these questions to head my direction (she has informed me any and all conversations about masturbation will be my responsibility) but her willingness to stop answer questions at an appropriate level, tailored to the child, and be open and honest has fostered an environment of safety and open communication in our home. Let’s face it, we’d rather have our kids coming to us to get answers for these and the many other difficult subjects ahead, rather than turning to their less/ill-informed peers. Being willing to have these conversations and being open in them builds the foundation of trust that is so necessary in our roles as parents. My wife has done a great job of laying the foundation which I hope to build upon when it is my turn so that our children know that our home is a safe place to ask the difficult, sometimes embarrassing, but very important questions about growing up.