telling your kids about sex {day 12 of 31}

The three of us (Livi, Ava, and I) were sitting on my bed. Six-year-old Livi was reading the Bible to Ava and me. Baby Nina was playing on the floor. It was a happy, peaceful moment in time.

“During Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy,” Livi read, “God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin who live in Nazareth, in the town of Galilee.”

She stopped reading and looked up at me. “Mommy, what’s a virgin?”

I stared back at her, mind swirling. Was this really happening? Holy cow.

The way I figured it, I had a lot of options here. Make something up. Be really vague. Change the subject. The day before, a friend had told me about her adventures in explaining sex to her six-year-old. I had thought to myself, “Who talks about sex to a SIX-year-old?!”

Um, turns out I do. Better yet, I talk about sex to a six-year-old AND a five-year-old.

“Well…,” I began. “Well. Hmm…” Where on earth do I even start?? And then I just leaped.

“Well, sweetie, it’s like this…” And before I knew it, one thing led to another, and I had told my children all manner of sexual information, including how “this part” of Daddy works with “this part” of Mommy (and yes, I used actual scientific terms). We talked about God’s plan for sex and how sometimes people have sex when they’re not married and sometimes get pregnant, but how it’s best to wait until you’re husband and wife.

And on and on and on.

Livi was totally into it, super engaged, asking questions. Ava looked like she wanted to disappear under the covers. (This is still pretty much how they are when we talk about sex.)

And Nina? Well I kind of forgot that she was a whole year old when I was explaining all this to her sisters. So lots of years passed before I brought it up (a bit awkwardly) with her. We’ve talked about it a few times, including last week while we were watching Half the Sky together. She was a little unclear on some stuff, and I filled in the gaps for her.

The hard part (that I desperately wish didn’t even have to exist) is trying to explain to your young daughters how, on the one hand, sex is this amazing awesome gift that feels really good and is a lot of fun for a mommy and daddy. And, on the other hand, it is something that should never, ever, EVER be done by an adult to a little girl or boy, because it is wrong and evil and hurts so, so bad, and destroys precious, innocent children, and breaks God’s heart.


The reason I bring this up today seemingly out of nowhere, is because I mentioned it in passing on my Midday Connection Interview the other day. I talked about how it was easier to talk to my girlies about human trafficking (and mating zoo animals) when they had gotten such a jump start on learning about sex. My friend Ali told me today that if she hadn’t known that I write/speak a lot about sex, that part might have confused her.

Hello, I’m Marla, and I write and speak a lot about sex.

The minute the interview was over (or maybe even before it was), I had already gotten an e-mail from a fellow mom who wanted my advice on telling her 9-year-old twin boys about sex. What resources would I recommend? she wondered.

And since “just sit your kids on the bed and start reading about the Virgin Mary and then explain about penises and vaginas and how they work and how Mommy and Daddy are having sex late at night after the kiddos are snoring away” didn’t seem like a very helpful answer, I told her I would write a blog post about it someday and ask for helpful answers from other people, because I’ve been asked this “how do I tell my kids about sex?” question a bazillion times and I never know what to say.

(Well, that was a long sentence.)

And hey, today seems as good a day as any.

So. Let’s do this thing.

Do you have any great resources/brilliant tips for teaching your kiddos about sex? Please share and help some mamas (and dads) out!

17 thoughts on “telling your kids about sex {day 12 of 31}

  1. Shannon

    I have found that this series ( called Why Boys and Girls are Different has been great for my 4 and 2 year old. It talks about how God created us and families and then how we make families 🙂 I happened upon a great teaching by Andy Stanley just this week about S-E-X that is geared to teens and I thought it was very well done. That video can be found here…

  2. Michal

    Hi Marla!
    My parents brought all of us kids up by talking about sex openly and honestly and telling us that it is great bewteen a husband and wife but that it is made great by waiting. Good advice I think. 🙂

    With my own kids I am following basically the same pattern. However my three kids are very different people. My oldest was SUPER shy about askng any questions and did NOT want to talk about it at all. She would turn bright red and be incredibly embarrassed. To help ease that discomfort, I bought books (“Where did I come from” and “What’s happening to me?”) that explained everything in cartoon format. The first explains the basics using correct terms and showing cartoon versions. I’m probably not explaining it well, but it worked well. I knew she was getting correct information, and she was able to read the books without embarassment.

    Now, my second daughter is not that way. She is six and asks endless questions about body parts and why we are different. She has skirted some questions but hasn’t yet come right out and asked for specific details. (I imagine if she knew the words, she would have already asked.) She will not be put off so I know when she does find the right question, it will be an ongoing discussion for days until her curiosity is satisfied.

    I guess what I am trying to say for the answer of when to tell your kids, is to know your kids. If they need to wait until they are 12 and they are super embarrassed, then invest in a book that gives them the information and then insist on a quick conversation just to make sure they understand. If they are asking for details at 6, then make it age appropriate but give them the answers. Because if they are asking, then they are ready.

    Personally, I am just hoping the 6 year old doesn’t find the right question while I am in line at the grocery store. *Grin*

  3. ali

    Mine are only 4, 3 and 8 months, but we are starting by making all body talk completely normal. We talk about vaginas and penises as if we were talking about elbows and pointer fingers. There’s no shame in my daughter when she tells me her vagina itches or in my son when he tells me his penis is getting bigger. We just talk about it. I am praying that this openness allows our future conversations about sex to be that much easier.

    We also talk about our bodies as precious gifts from God. We don’t force our kids to hug grandma if they don’t want to. We talk about privacy and modesty. We pray that these conversations provide a foundation for future conversations about sexual abuse or any sexual acts outside of God’s perfect design for sex.

    That ALL being said, I still have a hard time keeping a straight face during a lot of this. And it will be years before we know whether or not our openness paid off.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I love this, Ali. I really believe openness from an early age is the best way to go. I want our girls to feel comfortable talking to us about ANYTHING. And I want them to know truth before their peers hit them with stuff that isn’t.

      But I also want people who haven’t started early to feel like there’s HOPE, that it’s not too late for them!

      You’re inspiring, girl.

  4. Liz

    I am so glad you went with option B (Facebook reference)! 🙂
    I am looking forward to reading about some options that I could possibly use to make the S-E-X talk with my 12-year-old son a little less awkward for him.

      1. Liz

        Yeah. I suppose that would help. 🙂

        I think he has figured out what goes where and I know he knows the “right” names for all the parts but I don’t want to assume. I want him to hear it from me anyway along with our morals and values regarding sex. I, personally, have no problem talking about it with him but I know he feels silly and awkward. I’m met with a shy grin and an emphatic “NO” everytime I bring it up. I laugh just thinking about it. 🙂

  5. CitizenX

    Hmm. As a parent of near adults, “how “this part” of Daddy works with “this part” of Mommy (and yes, I used actual scientific terms). We talked about God’s plan for sex and how sometimes people have sex when they’re not married and sometimes get pregnant, but how it’s best to wait until you’re husband and wife.”

    … would have been TMI. I would have answered with, “A man or a woman who has not yet had sex.” THEN and only then (if they asked what sex was) I would have told them it is how babies are made.

    There is something true about age and giving them what they can handle. HOWEVER<I loved hearing that Livi was keeping up with your answers by requesting more info.

    Great mom! I know how hard this can be!

    1. Marla Taviano

      Hi there. Thanks for your comment. A couple things. When I said “one thing led to another,” I was referring to a series of explanations followed by questions followed by more explanations. Maybe I didn’t make that clear. I didn’t dive right in to the mommy/daddy parts thing.

      And since my daughter wasn’t content to just read the word “virgin” and move on, she wasn’t going to be content with “someone who hasn’t had sex yet” without asking what sex was (which she did).

      I appreciate your kindness in disagreeing. And the hugs. 🙂

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