I never had “The Talk” with my parents.
You know, the awkward conversation about how tiny human beings are created.
Instead, one morning as I made my bed, I spied something poking out from between the mattress and box springs — an illustrated manual of male and female anatomy with brief, scientific explanations regarding certain body parts and their functions.
I suppose it was better than nothing, but the booklet about the birds and the bees actually raised more questions than it answered.
I remember when my own kids became old enough for the “birds and bees talk.”
As we drove by a domestic violence billboard, my first-born asked, “What’s rape?” Since her younger siblings were in the car, I told her to hold that thought until later.
At home, we sat on her bed and I explained that it takes two things to make a baby and how the two make contact.
Barely a week had passed when our middle child informed me she heard the “birds and bees talk” on the school bus. Another first-grader, a boy, had whispered the details in her ear. Right before he kissed her. French-style.
Soon after, we were on a family bike ride on the local Rail Trail. Our middle child called out to me. “When will Daisy and Little Paint have puppies?”
I took the opportunity to refresh her mind regarding the basics of baby-making. And I explained spaying and neutering. It wasn’t long before she announced her plans to adopt a Chinese baby girl.
Our son heard “The Talk” at bedtime one night. Right after we read the story of Mary and Joseph in his Bible. With the subject of baby-making already raised, it seemed a natural teaching moment.
There’s a trick to talking to your kids about sex. Or about anything really.
Discuss things matter-of-factly. No blushing, no bulging eyes. Assure your children there is no such thing as a dumb question. And no topic is off-limits. Ask what they’re curious about and say, “I’ll tell you what I know, and if I’m not sure, I’ll find out.”
Make it a habit to talk about all subjects, all the time, anywhere. As long as it’s appropriate, of course. And when tough questions come, take a breath, say a prayer if necessary, and give your best answer.
The topic of sex isn’t the only area where it’s important to have developed a culture of all questions are good questions.
Over the years, my husband has randomly asked our kids, “Has anyone offered you drugs? Are any of your friends smoking cigarettes or drinking? Has anyone asked you to do something that made you uncomfortable?”
If you and your kids are all the time talking about every little thing, they will hopefully not be afraid to someday bring you their big things.
Never forget, you are your child’s first and best teacher.
For a longer version of this story, go to dianetarantini.com and search “birds and bees.”