Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Talk

Leah is almost nine now, and sad though I am at the thought of my baby growing up, it's time to conquer the fear (mine, not hers) and talk to her about sex. Why now, you ask? Well, driving home from my friend Shell's place one recent weekend, where Leah had met and been somewhat smitten by the boyfriend of Shell's university-aged daughter who was visiting for the weekend, Leah leaned as far forward as her seatbelt would allow and asked me in a loud stage whisper, "Do boyfriends and girlfriends have S-E-X?"

It's time.

Now both girls know that boys have penises and girls have vaginas, and where babies grow and how they come out, but they've never asked about the mechanics of how the babies got in there in the first place. I've been waiting for them to ask, but so far, no questions. Well, not til the question in the car. I responded carefully, because Rachel was in the car too, with, "Well sometimes, if they are old enough, and if they've been going out together for a long time and love each other, then yes they do." That seemed to satisfy her for the moment. And she hasn't brought it up since, or asked for any further details.

Leah is pretty innocent, but she has a good friend called Alice who has an older sister, and I know that Alice is wise in the ways of the world, well for an eight-year-old, that is. Probably due to her having that older sister.

Case in point: the movie Labyrinth. Leah loves this movie. Leah loves this movie with all her innocent eight-year-old heart: "Jareth the Goblin King is soooo cute! Sarah is soooo beautiful! I wish I had a furry giant like Ludo! Baby Toby is the cutest baby ever! I wish Jareth would give me a magic glass ball."

She couldn't wait to share the movie with her friend Alice. Alice came over to visit, and Leah put the movie on. It came to the part where Jareth is dancing around with his goblins (see clip below) to the song "Dance Magic" in, well, an admittedly tight pair of trousers. Leah was oblivious to that, all caught up in the excitement of the scene. Alice? Not so much. "Oh My God, you can totally see his penis", she pointed out helpfully, as they crammed popcorn into their mouths.


So Leah's going to hear about this stuff from her friends, and I know she needs to hear about it from me as well. But what's the best way to do it? I know not to lie. And I know that I should explain in age-appropriate fashion -- but that's just it. What exactly is age-appropriate for an eight-year-old?

Help me please... Any and all advice on explaining sex to my daughter is welcome. Because it's either you guys help out, or I slip Alice a twenty and get her to do it for me.


  1. When K started asking questions, I had a basic discussion with her then I went to the bookstore - the source of all knowledge - and looked for a book that was answering questions at the level she was asking eg how does the sperm get to the egg? There were plenty of babyish "a mummy loves a daddy very much" ones and plenty of ones that were too grown up (STDs anyone, I think that discussion can wait!). I found one I felt comfortable with, gave it to her and offered to read it together. She wanted to read it alone and come back with questions, I answered those and then every now and then she'll still come out with another and I answer them as they come up. I'm thinking we need to have a specific period talk fairly soon, there was info on that in the book but in case she starts I think I need to talk to her about what actually happens each month in terms of towels/tampons etc.

  2. Anonymous12:53 PM

    I would never have noticed that about David Bowie's pants, but then again I was a bit awe-struck over his hair.

    As for The Talk, we haven't had ONE per se -- instead we just hand out pieces of information as it comes up in conversation. Like Guider, I do have some books for the girls, but haven't actually given them to them yet, because, well, I've been caught up in other things. Plus, I think those books might be already packed for the move.

  3. Well...there's the mechanics of sex talk...and then there's the one that involves the rules of involvement. If someone wants to wait until they're married until they indulge, that's fine. Whatever. Personally, that's not my belief. That said, it's still important to talk about protecting yourself IN CASE you decide to have sex. My parents' generation thought that the mere possession of sexual knowledge might entice a person to have sex and so ignorance was better. Result? Four/Fifths of my Baptist minister-cousin's grandchildren were born outside of marriage.'s that working for ya.

    We've always told our kids that an informed decision is the best kind and that we're not dumb enough to think that being away from us might result in doing something that we didn't really want them to do. That said, we never end a phone call or a visit without the words "Make good decisions".

    Apathy Lounge

  4. I just sat WB down one day and told him the basics about sex and then we had a discussion about the emotional aspect. And the respect for women and yourself part.
    I continue to have versions of the talk with him 8 years later and yes these have involved buying him a box of condoms from COSTCO!! for University.
    I always told him I wasn't stupid enough to think he wouldn't have sex but I would be damned if he was going in unprotected and ill informed. (excuse the pun)
    I know you'll do fine. Actually, better than fine:)

  5. Can I say, that The Boy is 8 and I haven't a clue. I think I am going to go the book route. (I would like to say that I was kind of sort of hoping his dad would do it... totally wimping out eh?)

    Oh -- and that's not just ANY penis... that's David Bowie's penis...