The idea for this post started with my daughter coming home from the neighbor’s house and telling us that the little girl next door believes that the rain is Jesus’ tears. I was a little annoyed but at the same time, I giggled at the ridiculousness of that explanation. I left this one for my husband because he’s much more science-y than me.
Parents Afraid of LGBTQ+ Issues
Then the idea for this post took a much more serious turn. Have you heard about the tuck-friendly bikini bottoms at Target? I’ve seen a million articles/posts about it to the point I didn’t think it was real. However, I went directly to the Target website and found the bikini bottoms for sale. They’re real and I think that’s awesome.
But not everyone agrees with me. My husband tends to get in fights on Facebook and tucking bikini bottoms are the latest topic that has pissed off his friends. Some people commented, “How am I going to explain this to my kids?” My husband and I don’t understand the problem – you just explain it.
Kids aren’t dumb and they certainly don’t carry as much judgment as adults. I don’t understand why parents/caregivers hold back. On the flip side, if someone has a problem with tuck-friendly bikini bottoms, you just know they’re going to unload their prejudice onto their kids.
Explaining the World to My Daughter
When I think about explaining things to my daughter, we mostly wait for her to ask questions, but I’m starting to think we need to be more proactive. We’ve touched on the birds and bees explaining a bit about where babies come from even though she hasn’t directly asked us. I just think it’s crucial that she gets this information from my husband and me first before anyone else gets to her.
When I was growing up, I remember feeling a lot of confusion. My parents didn’t talk to me about sex so everything I learned came from my older sister and other kids at school. Needless to say, there was a lot I didn’t know.
The confusion wasn’t just about sex; it was about the world in general. I had serious mental health issues, lacked confidence, and knew absolutely nothing about money. I just feel my parents didn’t talk to me enough, and when I graduated high school, I was ill-prepared for adulthood. I don’t want my daughter to feel that way.
Is there an appropriate age?
I am not an educator nor do I have a degree in child development so I’m a bit lost on this one. Are there certain ages appropriate for discussing different topics? Should you wait for children to ask questions? I personally feel that there’s not an appropriate age to explain things but there’s probably age-appropriate explanations.
I don’t feel that it’s inappropriate that I’ve started talking to my seven-year-old daughter about sex. If I don’t talk to her now, others will beat me to it – it could come from something she sees online or other kids at school. I want her to be already somewhat knowledgeable before anyone else approaches her. If she knows what’s going on she will have a better chance of protecting herself.
Parents/caregivers/relatives – how do you explain things to your kids? Do you wait until they ask questions or do you approach them on certain topics? Kids are so innocent and new to the world that sometimes I wonder if my daughter even knows what questions to ask. Do you feel that way, too? What is your experience?
Did you know that many cisgender girls (and women) feel very self conscious about how their pubic hair or even their labia may stick out of their bikini bottoms? (I’m sure you do. It is common enough.) Many benefit from having more diverse options.
When a child is curious about anything, even if they don’t ask explicitly, they deserve an honest explanation, though the level of detail needs to be adjusted to the child’s individual development. My kid was not very good at translating curiosity into questions, but when certain themes showed up a lot in pretend play I knew there was wondering and pondering about that issue, so I brought it up myself. Innocence is cute, but it isn’t a virtue. It literally means ‘not knowing’.
My parents talked about sex quite early on, and I have a quite early (I must have been about 6, perhaps younger) memory of my father explaining where babies came from. This is how it lodged in my mind at that age:
My father ate some birdseed, and peed it out. The seed somehow ended up in my mother’s belly (I didn’t really get that part) where it turned into an egg. The egg hatched while inside my mother’s belly, and when she pooped it out I was born.
This is obviously not how my father told it, but how my young mind parsed it (and that memory is probably also reformatted by subsequent experiences…) That age was certainly too young for me to understand what my parents told me, but it also did no harm.
A few years later I certainly managed to connect a few of the dots, and when I was 11 most kids “knew” about sex, there was even a rumour in my last year of elementary school (11/12 years old) that some of the 12 year olds were “doing it” (which looking back 30 years later, I doubt… they were probably just playing doctor in the toilet or something) but most of us had some (possibly very skewed) ideas of what that meant.
The more important lessons from my parents about sex (and not in the sense of “where do babies come from?”) were in my teenage years. This was about consent, but what they actually stressed more was to always check if your partner is enjoying it as much as you are.
John Morales says
First thought: “you try to do your best”.
Second thought: “so glad I succeeded in not having children and avoided that particular responsibility”.
Third thought: I am glad you are conscious of this issue and have no doubt whatsoever that you will do your best.
(Obs, I’m in no position to advise you. But I can reassure you)
The only reason that people have trouble explaining things to their kids is that they never explain anything at all to their kids.
Take drag, for example. “How do I explain this to my kids?”
Well, how did you explain why it is that there are garments that are traditionally worn by men and garments that are traditionally worn by women? Did you even bother?
How did you explain why women are free to wear traditionally male garments with very little concern or pushback from society at large? What? You didn’t?
How did you explain why it is that when men wear traditionally female garments they are much more likely to experience vociferous opposition and even be targeted with violence and legislation? Did you cover that part?
The simple fact is that children see the world as it is, and while they may incessantly ask “why” they also accept the world that they see as being the way the world is without needing a whole lot of explanation, as educational as that would be. Unusual and inconsistent things may well require explanation, and it is certainly noticeably inconsistent that men + female garb sparks such extreme outrage when every other combination does not.
If you come to actually understand a topic yourself, you can explain it to anyone. And the best topic for an ageing conservative to start with would be: “why am I angry all of the time?”.