As kids grow up, parents have a lot of responsibility to walk them through hard conversations. And no conversation is as awkward as “The Talk.” Oh yes, that Talk—the one where your mom pulled you aside with hushed tones and anatomically correct drawings about your changing body that made you want to squirm right out of your chair. But you know what? The Talk doesn’t have to be the cringe-worthy conversation of yesteryear (insert *sigh of relief* here!). Emily’s joined by Mary Flo Ridley and Megan Michelson of Birds & Bees, who empower parents to have more purposeful conversations about sex. Mary Flo and Megan walk us through a few steps to simplify “The Talk” for kids at any age, and show us that children’s minds are like a sponge: we can fill them with information drip by drip, allowing their minds to expand gradually instead of giving them a firehose of information that’ll overwhelm them, or letting someone else be the one to fill the sponge. Two big takeaways from this conversation: every family’s message around sex is going to look different—and as a parent, you are the best person to be the loving truth-teller to your kids. You’ve got this! 5 Steps for Simplifying “The Talk” to Your Kids (at any age!)
- Define the family message. Every family’s messaging will look different—and that’s okay! From that message, you’re using the words that are important to you that your kids understand.
- Introduce respectful, anatomically correct vocabulary. Using penis and vagina, and labeling those as private parts is the number-one way parents can protect kids from abuse.
- Answer questions presented by your kids. Children are curious about birth before they're curious about conception, so that’s a good place to start seeding knowledge.
- Talk about reproduction and how it impacts all living things. i.e. New life comes from seeds and eggs!
Help kids understand the mechanics of reproduction. You can help them understand how this works without entering into a sensual story with them. (“There was a seed deep inside of the daddy and an egg deep inside of the mommy. When the seed and the egg meet, then the baby can get started.”)
Simplified Parenting Tip
Start talking to your kids about the wonder of where they came from. Trust me, you don't have to dive in and tell them all the things, but it doesn't have to be hard either. If you're chopping a bell pepper at dinner, just invite your kids over and say, "Wow, look at these seeds inside. Let's talk about questions you might have." I think just giving your kids the opportunity to come to you is so very valuable, positioning yourself as the expert and letting them know that they can ask you anything and you'll always tell them the truth. That's how we close out every conversation like this in my family: "You can come to me with any question, and I will always tell you the truth.”
A Blessing for Your Week
May you have the courage to have conversations that make you squirm. May your children receive your words with curiosity, and in 30 years, may they acknowledge how much you loved them as you risked being awkward. May you keep moving forward as a light for your littles, helping their steps through life feeling a little more sure.
“Start thinking about it [the Talk] when they're very little, because one of our first steps is for you to anticipate how these conversations are going to go, to formulate a family message and then to start with vocabulary. So potty training time is a vocabulary time. And when you have a second child coming or a cousin coming and they say, ‘How's that baby getting out of there?’ you need to be ready.” – Mary Flo Ridley
“This is your family. And so your message and your approach to this is going to be specific to what you want your kids to know. And that's something we want to empower parents with: to kind of take that control back, that we don't have to wait for the school to say something or the youth group, or their kid on the soccer team. We can be in charge of this, and that's going to be reflective of our family values and beliefs. So that will look different for every family.” – Megan Michelson
“That's one thing I think is important to know: we're breaking it down to the most basic conversation of seeds and eggs and reproduction. And that is the basic biology. But the stories are going to be different for every family. With IVF, same-sex families, adoption, all these stories are going to look different, but [we’re] giving parents the words to use to start the conversations.” – Megan Michelson
“You can be a competent parent in your own home and with this topic. And some people are like, ‘Well, can you just come over and talk to my kids for me?’ Nobody cares what so-and-so has to say. You are the best person for your child. You are the best person to be the loving authority in their life.” – Megan Michelson
“Innocence is not equated with ignorance.” – Mary Flo Ridley
Resources, Links, and Mentions from This Episode
- Emily’s first book: Grace, Not Perfection
- Birds & Bees Online Course | Use code SIMPLIFIED to save 20% through the end of March 2021.
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