There will probably come a time that your child will come to you and ask how babies are made. Some of the more precocious kids might even directly ask what sex is. This sort of open communication is a great thing, and you should never shame your children for asking about the birds and the bees. When the time for 'the talk' comes, we want to make sure that you're ready for it.
Sex is basically an inevitable fact of life. It's a subject that your children will eventually encounter for themselves with or without your guidance. Hopefully, that comes much later in life, when they're physically and mentally prepared for the ramifications. The more information you arm them with, the better. Sex will transform from a mysterious adult ritual into just another subject that can be safely filed away until a much later date, like learning to drive or filing taxes.
Of course, if your kiddo has stinky feet they might never need to worry about the talk. The opposite sex will flee in terror, along with your chances of grand-babies. I'm not sure if it's actually a risk, but you can never be too careful! Don't let it happen to you! Check out our magic shoe deodorizer powder! It might also behoove you to check out another blog on Why Kid's Feet Stink. With more of the plugs out of the way... On with the show!
'The Talk' Is Important!
The first thing I should clarify is that the birds and the bees is generally not a one-and-done conversation. This topic will need to be revisited as new questions arise, and that's a good thing! Children want to feel like they can approach mom and dad with absolutely anything. Talking about sex with your children will assure them that their parents can handle anything that is thrown their way.
When To Have 'The Talk'
Some children will determine the differences between boys and girls quite easily. My 6-year-old cousin once asked a 16-year-old me to explain sex to him. I didn't know anything about it myself at that time, but even if I had my answer would've been that same 'that's something you need to talk about with your mom and dad'. In stark contrast to that hyper-curious 6-year-old, my own daughter never had the guts to breach the subject. Around age 9 or 10 is a good time to sit them down and initiate the talk yourself.
Starting the Conversation
If you're the one to initiate the birds and the bees talk with your kids, it needs to be approached carefully. My daughter would generally close her eyes whenever she caught a couple kissing in a movie or TV show, and one time when it happened I simply asked her to explain what they were doing and why. Kids know a lot more than they let on, especially in the current times where everyone has a miniature computer in their pocket. They might be too shy to come out and let you know, but they're forming their opinions whether you decide to keep them informed or not.
Don't shoehorn your opinion or force them to have the talk if they're clearly not comfortable with it. If you do need to shoehorn something, shoehorn an actual shoe with our rainbow shoe horns set! Was this plug kind of shoehorned in? Oh man, this is getting far too meta...
It's Not A Dirty Word
Sex. Penis. Vagina. We shouldn't cower or feel uncomfortable with these words. You should explain that there is absolutely a time and a place to use them, but that they shouldn't feel ashamed about using these words when the situation calls for it. They're scientific! You might feel more comfortable using a euphemism, but in my opinion, this kind of openness leads to better communication.
Kids are natural lie detectors. If you're showing signs of being uncomfortable they will pick up on it. It's perfectly fine to tell your children that this talk makes you nervous but that you're glad they asked and you'd enjoy explaining it to them. If you don't explain why you're so anxious they might think that it's something they said or did, and instead of follow-up questions, they'll try to glean information from somewhere else.
Keep It Simple
You don't need to get too metaphorical, but you also aren't required to explain every biological function that is involved. My preferred method is to explain the very special hug that takes place between a man and a woman that love each other very much. The shorter an explanation you can give, the better it will stick. Concentrate on the question and focus on answering exactly what was asked. Before you start answering, you can ask questions of your own like 'what have you heard?'. This can help you determine what needs to be clarified.
Know The Risks
After you've found your way through the first or second rounds of the talk, you'll want to ask if they know anything about some of the risks that come along with being sexually active. While they might not consider a baby a 'risk' it should be explained that they are a ton of work. STDs might be yet another separate talk entirely, and I'd suggest holding off on this one for a couple more years. When they're ready to learn about it you'll definitely know.
Bring In Some Help!
If you still feel like you're not hitting the right points or getting the idea across, it might be time to call in some assistance. I don't mean from another person... Sex is a personal subject and your child is liable to shut down with another person present (even if they are a family member). Instead, consider purchasing a book on the birds and the bees to help explain things to your child a bit more easily. Robie Harris is a great author that explains things thoroughly without being too heavy-handed. Try out "It's Not The Stork!" and see if it helps illustrate your point. I'm confident that it will.