Birds and Bees

In today’s fast moving, internet-based lifestyle, I think it is more important then ever to teach our children about the birds and the bees at a younger age. Some folks will argue with me on this one, but come on… Kids have their own phones at seven or eight years old (not mine, but their friends do!) now. They have 24-hour access to sex and sexuality. With the advent of the internet, we cannot possibly hope to keep them completely protected from pornography and sex talk. With that in mind, I prefer to be the one communicating with my child. I mean think about it… Do you want Axl Rose and Madonna raising your children?

My wife and I have decided to take this bull by the horns and be ahead of the curve. Many of the TV shows that our daughter loves are already getting into relationships and sketchy (sexual) situations. Instead of panicking and trying to keep her tightly tucked underneath our proverbial wings, we choose to proactively sit her down and chat openly about life, puberty, babies, and… Say it with me (no whispering) SEX!

Take note… I’m not suggesting a certain age here. I think that age is very individual and child dependent. You need to decide for yourself. This discussion is more about the actual talk than when to have it. Capiche?

Another Note: I am not flippant about this subject. I take it very serious. However, I am a joker and fun guy… I prefer to find the light in dark places. If I offend anyone with my humor, it is not intentional. Please understand that this is a very personal topic and we will each deal with it differently and in our own ways. I can be a very serious man when it comes to things like protecting my family or getting things done. But, when I can, I laugh, giggle, and make jokes. That’s my personality. Do what you wanna do, and be who you wanna be!

One thing to think about is that this will be a difficult discussion that gets embarrassing from time-to-time (for you and your child). The important thing is to stick with it and explain that it might be uncomfortable, but that you guys are willing to talk right through that. Joking is okay, but don’t let that take over. I believe that it’s important to treat your kid adult(ish) during this talk, but still have fun and laugh with them too. Open conversation is the key to success with such tough subjects. Also, remember that this is not a onetime chat that will never be brought up again. Let your child know that you’re always here for them and will ALWAYS be open to talking about sex and so on and so forth.

Disclaimer: This post is purely my opinion and belief on this subject. What might be good for my kids and family may not work, or be good, for yours. Use your head on this and think this out carefully. We are talking about a very serious subject that could mean the difference in your child’s beliefs and attitude.

Now that you’ve decided to take the plunge with us, let’s dabble into the different subjects and some of my thoughts on how to approach this. Here’s a list of some of the topics that Kristine and I will tackle with our daughter (and later our son):

  • Puberty: Body and facial hair appears, boobs grow, body odor appears, and our feelings about the opposite sex change. Girls start puberty around 10, and boys usually start around 11. Girls normally have their first menstruation at 12 and boys have their first ejaculation at 13. Also, growth often accelerates (height and weight) during puberty.
  • Private Parts: Boys have penises and girls have vaginas. Laugh and have fun with this one. Try to enjoy yourself during all of this nervous chatter.
  • Love: Talk about mommy and daddy and what soul mates are.
  • Relationships: Dating, going steady (or whatever they call it these days), puppy love, all the way to marriage.
  • Divorce: This isn’t a birds and bees discussion, but it is an appropriate time to talk about this often whispered topic. Considering that more than 50% of marriages end in divorce, your children probably know several kids (if not themselves) going through this reality.
  • Baseball (AKA: Sex): Here’s where the rubber meets the road (no pun intended). Discuss, the stages (or bases as it were) of sex. Here’s an example through the baseball metaphor:
  • First base Mouth-to-mouth kissing, especially French kissing;
    Second base Touching or kissing the breasts or other erogenous zones can be either clothed or not clothed; manual stimulation of the genitals;
    Third base Oral sex, or stimulation of the genitals with your mouth (this is often where the conversation turns extremely tough – stick with it);
    Fourth base (home run) Sexual intercourse (he… could… go… all… the… way!);
    Strikeout Failure to engage in any form of foreplay or sexual activity.

  • Masturbation: Some people do it, some people don’t. You might have your own opinions about this, but remember that your child is an individual and will form their own opinions too. Talk about it, and move on…
  • Babies: This is a good time to talk about sexual organs, sperm, eggs, and how babies are conceived and born.
  • STDs: Safe sex and condoms, people!
  • Pregnancy: Continuing on the condom talk, you can talk about other forms of birth control and abortion. I choose to cover everything… Children need to understand that their decisions often have life altering consequences. Responsibility is a big subject during this phase.
  • Pornography: As tough as this one is, the odds are that your child will be introduced to online porn at the young age of nine! This is a fact of life, folks… So, we need to at least discuss it and explain some things. I will use this time to also talk about human trafficking and how unreal pornography is.

    I also plan to include diagrams of reproductive systems during our “birds and the bees” discussion. I found some good ones here:

    Girls Have Vaginas

    Boys Have Penises

    I realize that we went over some extreme subjects that most of us are uncomfortable about. No one ever said that our job as parent was going to be easy, and it often is much tougher than we ever imagined. However, think about the other side… If you don’t have these very tough talks with your children, where will they learn about sex from? That’s right… Other kids, TV, and the internet. Think about that carefully. That is a scary thought if you think about how many myths and untruths they will experience through that avenue. Be an adult and a loving parent and bite the bullet on this. Your children are your responsibility, and it is up to you to raise respectful adults who will treat the opposite sex the way they deserve.

    Along those lines, this is a GREAT time to talk about chivalry and respect for women to your boys. Kids look up to their parents more than we want to believe, and they will listen to us when we talk about these things. Raise them to be mindful and respectful of each other. With proper planning and strong conversations we can literally affect the next generation. I choose to raise boys and girls who do not bully, who respect each other, and who will risk their very lives to protect each other.

    For those of you who have already gone through this, please chime in and give us newbies some pointers!!! Also, please share your experiences and stories…

    Your friendly neighborhood sex-ed instructor,

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    About Vaughn Ripley

    Vaughn is a happily married daddy, author, and CIO. He is an HIV+ hemophiliac, and is one of the longest surviving HIV+ people in the universe.
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    1. Angie Bostic says

      This is very useful info when discussing SEX …. My kids are all adults now (young adults), I was always open and had age appropriate conversations with my children about sex.our conversations started very young and they well still come to me to discuss certain sex related topics. Something I wish my parents were able to do with me because I figured out everything on my own. Often I would allow my son or daughters to lead the way, kids are curious so I did my best to always answer any questions they may have about anything and tried to be as straight as possible with them. On occasion I would start the conversation, discussing the topic of puberty for example. Although uncomfortable or a bit awkward at times. I have often used humor to ease the awkwardness of some topic but still not over look the point or message I was trying to make. I remember when a simple trip to the store turned into a discussion on sex, I was running up to the store and my son and his friend decided to ride along. I think they were 15 or 16 at the time. On the way to the store they were talking about walking around at checking out the hot chicks and normal 15/16 yr old guy talk about girls. So I just listened and didn’t say much while we were in the car. As we entered the store i had them each get a cart they assumed for racing lol. We headed over to the feminine hygiene aisle and in one cart I had them put pads, tampons, condoms ect. we discussed some of the differences and purposes of those types of things in the other cart I had them put a pregnancy test, diapers, baby food, ect. We discussed which cart would be the better option and how real men have no problem buying items such as tampons and condoms. With the two boys who are young adults now I’m proud to say they have genuine respect for woman and are responsible. I believe being honest and available to answer any and all their questions without any judgment or shame has made them well informed and caring individuals.

      • Awesome comment, Angie! Thank you for sharing your experience. I love the teenage boy story! AWESOME! Everyone is going to have similar (but different) experiences. I simply choose to be a part of my children’s experience with this.

        Thanks again,

    2. Thanks for bringing this up. My kids are still young(er), but we have very frank, informative conversations. We try to give them the information they need, without any bias, but also without overloading them with data they cannot process at this time. Of course, they come home from school with new words they want to know the meaning of!

      But a cellphone at 7, 8, 9?? NO way 🙂

      • Hi NT,

        Thank you for reading and sharing your feelings. I know how you feel about cellphones, but understand that most parents who give them to children that young have them locked down to the point where it can only be used for communication to-from parents. So true about overloading them with data… We need to balance the info we give them with our honest assessment of how mature and understanding they are. Coming home with new words is the start… It is a bit scary, because kids seem so much more mature these days than when I was a kid (which was a LONG time ago). Ha!


    3. Smart to mention it first if not God only knows what your children would learn from other children, TV, movies, the internet, etc. I think children need to know that there are a lot of diseases that are worse than pregnancy too because they last forever and are often deadly. I think this discussion needs to happen earlier since children are developing at younger ages. It is also essential for bleeders as we have some unique challenges. I didn’t know about my hemo at puberty and had I known- I would have been saved a lot of embarrassment, fear, and shame since we never really discussed these issues at home (other then here are tampons and pads if you find yourself in need- aka read the box).

      • Excellent points! It seems like we are relying more on school, “read the box”, and other avenues to raise our children. That doesn’t fly with me and my wife. We are very hands on and know that our input and guidance is best for our children.

        Thanks for sharing!

    4. School really focuses where to get any and ever type of birth control (CA). God only knows if it was used correctly by most students. Ironically we had one teenage pregnancy in high school and everyone told her to terminate her pregnancy. They got married and now have 4 kids 17 years later while a lot of the teachers are divorced.

      • Bonnie,

        Exactly! No one knows for sure, and certainly every situation is different. I think that a good base of morals and values will help our kids to make good adult decisions that they can live with.


    5. Important subject, well written post!