My Kids Will Probably Learn About Sex Before We Have 'The Talk'

Out of all the awkward upcoming parental conversations I will be called upon to participate in, I think I'm the least worried about the Sex Talk. I mean, okay, it's not like I'm looking forward to it, exactly -- but the idea of talking to my kids about the birds and bees doesn't really freak me out too much. We've already covered penises, vaginas, and the general details of how they were born ("Mommy was lying on a table and a nice man with a big, big knife hacked you out of my belly while Mommy tried real hard not to barf in a comically tiny emesis basin!"), and moving on to the emotions and mechanics of sex doesn't seem nearly as convoluted a discussion as, say, the time my kindergartener asked me why dinosaurs were real but dragons were fake.

Besides, there's really no point in fretting about the topic or hoping to delay it as long as possible. My guess is that by the time I talk to my kids about sex, they'll have heard PLENTY of age-inappropriate details outside of our home.


No, I'm not talking about them sneaking off to watch NC-17 movies or hijacking the TiVo to record sexually explicit HBO shows about people who are into BDSM animal roleplaying. (Hi, my name's Linda and I am forever scarred by a Real Sex episode devoted to "pony play.") I'm talking about their friends at school and the fact that I can almost guarantee that's where they'll get their early Sex Ed.

Not that the information they'll hear on the schoolyard will be correct, complete, or even anatomically possible. It's just that kids have a tendency to tell other kids what they think they know about 'taboo' topics, even at a very young age.

For example, CafeMom forum poster Momma2mms recently shared her dismay at her daughter being exposed to explicit sexual information from a little boy in her class:

I really wanted to wait a while longer. I was honest with her. We had a good talk, but I think she was grossed out and confused. I told her it is not an act kids do and should not talk about it. I was crushed!! They are in 2nd grade!!

I can totally understand her surprise and discomfort, but the truth is, lots of kids that age have at least a rudimentary grasp on what sex is all about. This "Guide to Talking to Kids About Sex" article lists their take on what's appropriate for first and second graders to understand:

Ages 6 to 7: A basic understanding of intercourse. You can say, "Nature [or God] created male and female bodies to fit together like puzzle pieces. When the penis and the vagina fit together, sperm, like tadpoles, swim through the penis and up to the egg." Explain what you think about sex and relationships. For instance: "Sex is one of the ways people show love for each other."

Of course, it's not like we can expect that what our kids hear from other children will be thoughtfully presented or even remotely accurate. I swear I have a vague childhood memory of someone telling me that babies were made when a man peed in a woman's bellybutton.

The point is, every family has a different approach to talking to their children about sex, and there's no single answer for when the right time may be. My kids are 7 and 5, and we haven't tackled the subject yet. I imagine that when we do, though, they won't exactly be hearing everything for the very first time.

Do you think most kids tend to hear about sex from their friends and classmates at a young age?

Image via sancakg/Flickr

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