Over the past week I have been chatting with lots of mothers of eight year olds. I got together with my playground buddies from the days when PT was a toddler, and it was so fun to reconnect. With moves and homeschooling it has been a very long time since I have had friends with kids just the same age as mine, and it was amazing that we fell right into the same fellowship that really got me through my time as a grad school wife.
There was one aspect of the conversation that really got me thinking. Several friends shared that they have had a basic "sex talk" with their child over the past year. I was surprised -- seven and eight strike me as very young for this. The great advice I got was this:
--You want to begin a conversation, make it clear that they can come to you at any time with questions about what they are learning in school, from friends and in health class
--You want to be calm and straightforward, matter of fact and unflustered, so that they will not be embarrassed to come to you with further questions
--You want to get it started early since they will be hearing things on the school ground before you know it
--Both parents should participate
Now, we have had a basic anatomy of male/female conversation because of an awkward page in a children's encyclopedia, but I have to admit that I was taken off gaurd and I clammed up when asked about the how/why. I said that it was for married people, not sure if that was the right answer, but it was the best that I could do in the moment. I also then carefully removed that page from the book, which was probably not the best way to promote further dialogue!
I am thinking that I may need to re-introduce this subject soon, perhaps with a good children's book on the subject to aid me in keeping calm.
For years I have been praying for the physical strength to meet the needs of my young children, and my days were demanding and exhausting. I am beginning to realize that we are entering a new territory now where the emotional and intellectual strength needed is going to be much greater, and I have to admit that I don't feel up to the task. I am going to take it to prayer, but I wonder whether you more experienced mothers might have any resources to recommend for the school age/pre teen parenting issues? At what age do you think that it is appropriate to have these conversations? What, if anything, do you know about what is being taught in school and when?
When my mom was in middle school, the scandalous "f" word started being whispered on the playground. The boys seemed to know that it meant something, and the girls were curious, so my poor mom was elected to go and ask a boy what it meant. With great embarrassment, a boy said "you know where boys go to the bathroom? You know where girls go to the bathroom? It's when a boy goes in there." My mother went back and innocently reported to the girls that the "f" word meant that a boy goes into the girls bathroom! So much for what you hear on the playground!
On the subject of beginning a conversation, I also wanted to share this Top Ten list from Father's For Good, which I think would open dialogue on several important subjects.