You are here

The Birds and the Bees and Curious Kids

You've explained that when a mommy's egg and a daddy's sperm combine, a baby begins to grow. Now your 6-year-old asks, "How does the sperm get to the egg anyway?"

How to respond: Explaining intercourse doesn't have to be a big deal. You might start by saying, "Daddies have to be close enough to mommies so the sperm can come out of their body and get into the mommy. The sperm comes out of the daddy's penis and goes right into the vagina, a special place in mommy's body made for keeping the sperm safe and helping it get to the egg." If your child asks additional questions, offer a slightly more detailed explanation: "A penis is made to fit into a vagina sort of like an arm fits into a sleeve."
Some parents use this talk as an opportunity to introduce a moral framework for sexuality. When her older child first asked the question, Watkins said, "God had a great plan for mommies and daddies to make babies. He designed them differently so they fit together like a puzzle. The sperm comes out of a daddy's penis and swims inside the mommy's body till it reaches the egg."

Your preschooler has been content so far with vague sex information like "Babies grow inside mommies." But now she wants to know what happens next: "How does the baby get out of there?"

How to respond: Again, accurate but uncomplicated answers are best. Try, "Most babies come out through the mommy's vagina." If your child asks a follow-up question, you can add, "The vagina is like a tube inside the mommy. It stretches really wide so the baby can get outside."
If that doesn't satisfy your child, there may be another question behind the first, one she's too shy to ask. At 4, Loree Bowen's daughter, Kendall, repeatedly asked how her new baby brother or sister would get out, even after learning about the vagina. Finally, the Yorba Linda, California, mom realized her child was wonder-ing whether her new little brother or sister would emerge covered with poop or pee. "So I told her there was a special opening just for babies, and we were done," she says.

Your grade-schooler's friend tells him how to get to an x-rated website. You walk into the family room later and find him staring at a naked woman on the screen.

How to respond: First, try not to get angry. Your son's interest is only natural. Still, you need to make it clear that such material isn't appropriate for kids.
Find a way to condemn the pornography nonjudgmentally without condemning him for his curiosity. Tell him calmly, "That's a website for adults; you need to stick to sites for kids." Then bookmark the sites you've approved—and be sure to download some parental controls for the family computer.