So…we had “the talk” with our son. Yikes! Spoiler alert: it actually went better than I thought it would. I thought I’d share some of the resources my husband & I used to prepare, and then I’ll give you the run down on how it actually went.
First of all, my son just turned 8 three months ago. Doesn’t that seem too young to be having this talk?!? Yes, yes it does. He hadn’t really been asking many questions, but I knew I wanted to be the one to address this first before he starts hearing stuff from friends or on the playground. Eight is a great age — he’s still pretty trusting of us, innocent and curious. I DID feel a little guilty, though, having to be the one to bring this up and break that sweet innocence. :( I wish we didn’t have to do this so young! But, I also don’t really want my kids to ever grow up, so I probably wouldn’t ever feel good about it no matter what age he is. :)
Also, I feel like this is a topic that comes up earlier and earlier — especially with curious boys. We’ve already been talking to our boys about unsafe touching, pornography and taking care of your body, because I know these might become relevant at any age. So, talking to our oldest about sex seemed like a good next step. We want this to be a normal topic of conversation, especially before he hits puberty and everything goes haywire. ;)
This book was my #1 resource. How to Talk to Your Child About Sex by Richard & Linda Eyre is soooo helpful! It lays out really clear, reasonable guidelines on how to talk to your kids about sex at any age. They recommend having the whooole talk around the kid's 8th birthday -- and they literally give you a script of exactly what to cover and how to say it. We didn't actually use the script verbatim, but it was really nice to hear how this could sound.
The Eyres recommend using a kid-friendly book as part of your discussion, just to help with all the technical details of human anatomy & biology. My husband and I read through two: Where Did I Come From by Peter Mayle and It’s NOT the Stork! by Robie H. Harris. They were both informative, but my husband and I felt a little weird straight-up reading them to our son. Also they’re really long, so I felt like he’d lose interest. (Not to mention…illustrations. :)) We thought it was better to just tell it to him ourselves, but these books were super helpful in framing what we wanted to say.
A couple other books I really like are the 30 Days of Sex Talks by Educate Empower Kids. There are three: one for ages 3-7, ages 8-11, and age 12+. These books are super short and literally just have one topic per page, with a couple bullet points to think about, and that’s it. They’re more of a jumping off point for different subjects to cover with your kids, related to sex, and I like that they help you consider your own take on these topics and prep yourself before actually bringing it up with your child.
Back to the talk…
So, I read all of these and then gave my husband the highlights. He read a couple chapters of the Eyres’ book and we flipped through the kids books together (laughing a lot, I admit). We wanted to do this close to my son’s 8th birthday in July but life got in the way, so we were a few months late. My husband and I even had a little practice conversation when we were out to dinner a few days before “the talk.” THAT was a fun conversation to have while your waiter refills your water glass, let me tell ya. But it was helpful to kind of practice what we wanted to say ahead of time.
How to Talk To Your Child… recommends taking your kid on a special one-on-one date, having the talk and then reading one of the picture books together. That all seemed too formal for us. It WAS super helpful to read through their book just to get ideas — the script was especially great in helping me see non-awkward ways to phrase things — but ultimately we decided to just sit him down one night after his brothers were in bed. We all grabbed a bowl of cereal (our family’s bedtime ritual) and told him we wanted to talk to him about something really special and grown up.
He perked right up. We told him since he’s 8 now, we thought he’s ready to really learn where babies come from. We started with anatomy (there haven’t been many opportunities to discuss female parts in this mostly-boy house) and then explained the basics of sex. He said he’d never heard that word before. (Sigh of relief!?) He wasn’t grossed out by anything, just accepted it all very matter-of-fact and then asked a couple of surprisingly intuitive questions. The whole thing lasted maybe 15 minutes and we briefly covered all sorts of related topics like baby development, pornography, dating, puberty, and marriage.
Honestly — it all went way better than I thought it would. I think having the talk at a young age like this is actually super helpful because he had absolutely no embarrassment or preconceived ideas that we had to compete with. We get to start this journey out with him as the sole experts, and I hope he’ll come to us with questions as time goes on. We’re planning to bring it up once in a while, just to see what he’s hearing or learning elsewhere and hopefully keep it an open conversation so we can add to it in the future.
Just to recap, here are links to all the books we used (they contain affiliate links, but they’re not sponsored or anything — I just found them super helpful):
How to Talk to your Child about Sex by Linda & Richard Eyre
Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
It’s NOT the Stork! by Robie H. Harris
30 Days of Sex Talks for ages 3-7 by Educate Empower Kids
30 Days of Sex Talks for ages 8-11 by Educate Empower Kids
30 Days of Sex Talks for ages 12+ by Educate Empower Kids
I definitely feel that starting this conversation when the child is young, being brave enough to actually cover everything (including anatomically correct terms!) and making it a regular, non-cringeworthy topic in our home is the best way to handle the sex talk with kids. But no matter where you are on the parenting journey, these books are super helpful and have great food for thought. Good luck!