I told my 4 year old where babies come from.
And it's worse than that... I showed her an actual depiction of her reproduction system.
I know. I know. I've ruined the big secret. I told her before she could find out at school in some awkward video (if that's how it still happens) where all the girls go into one room and the boys go into another... It's true. She found out from her own mom.
Back in the 4th grade we all watched the actress from Annie talk to us about her menstrual cycle. The rumor was that the boys heard about "wet dreams".
There's a lot that they don't tell young kids, because some people might be in uproar about, ya' know - informing kids honestly and openly about their bodies.
Embarrassingly, I did not know until adulthood that urine comes out of the female body from the urethra. I didn't know that the exterior parts of female genitalia are not actually the vagina, but the vulva. I felt like Kathy Bates' middle-aged character in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes where she takes a mirror and looks at herself "down there" for the first time in her life.
It wasn't until I wanted to become pregnant, with my now daughter, that I really learned how female reproduction worked. I found out how I could predict ovulation by taking my own temperature every morning. I found out why certain times of the month our grade school nurse informed us that we might have "wetness" in our underwear and that it was normal - but were never told what it was or why it happened. And I also learned that this isn't the case for all women.
I found out that my body was actually pretty amazing and that the process of creating new life is really, a miracle.
So, when I became pregnant for the third time, and my daughter was four, I was looking forward to explaining a lot of this to her. Because, it really is cool. We read this book from time to time, but I haven't felt the need, just yet, to tell her about sexual intercourse - and thus far, she's content knowing that an egg sometimes turns into a baby. I'll save the sexual intercourse for a few years down the road (which most experts recommend children understand between age 7-9).
Right around the time I gave birth to my third child, there was a story about another pregnant woman who couldn't make it to the hospital and gave birth at home with the help of her 8 year old daughter. The woman told the news reporters that earlier her daughter asked how the baby was going to come out of her body, and the woman, uncomfortably, changed the subject. Well, her daughter certainly found out. All I could think was, why shouldn't an 8 year old girl know? What's the big deal?
If all that isn't shocking enough, my 3 year old son also knows that he doesn't have a uterus, and can't carry a baby. (And shh, he even knows that I pushed the baby out of my vagina! For shame!) He knows he has a penis - not a pee-pee or a wee-wee, and he has no problem telling me if something his bothering his penis - which I hope never changes. Because I never want him to feel like his private parts are too private or worse - embarrassing, that he can't talk to me.
What's actually embarrassing, is that my mom couldn't bear to talk to me about sex until after I was married and had my first baby, and the cat (or baby) was already out of the bag (aka uterus). (Sorry to throw you under the bus, mom.) I don't want my kids to enter adulthood and not understand and respect their bodies, expect respect from other people, and in return respect others. If they have a question, I want them to come to me - not their friends. I want to explain sex and love before they accidentally come across or purposely search for porn on the internet. Especially when I'm learning about the negative impact on children.
So yea, we toss 'taboo' words around our house all the time, because when it comes to raising happy, healthy, safe kids, keeping the human body and sexuality a taboo needs to stop.
For information on talking to your kids about all this, visit the Empowering Children page of our website.