I thought I'd start a new spin off topic from the post Cassie made about television commercials. In one of her posts she said:

It was actually a lotion commercial that she saw. Two people in bed, touchy feely type of thing, she asked what a man and a woman do in bed when they touch eachother like that. I simply said that it was just a silly commercial and they were just acting. I panicked actually. If I am honest. I wasn't prepared. Has anyone had to have that type of talk with their kids yet? IDK it freaked me out. Kinda like she put two and two together. I am probably overeacting but I honestly didn't know what to say.

Let's discuss the ways you've approached these issues with your kids and what you said at what age.

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Cassie, it's okay that you panicked. I noticed that you have only recently de-converted. So you probably grew up in an environment where adults didn't talk about sex or weren't honest about the human body all in an effort to shield you. I think you'll find that most atheists are pretty open with their kids. We encourage all questions and do our best to answer them in age appropriate but factual way. There is nothing mysterious or sacred about the human body and it's functions. If you can get into that mind set you'll probably have an easier time.

Here's a very recent example from our house. We received sample Kotex in the mail. Up until then my son (6) has seen me dealing with my period but never asked any questions. But he was all over these. "what are they", "what do you use them for" and so on. At first I was flustered because I didn't want to say anything that might make him afraid for mom. He already knows quite a bit about how a baby grows in the uterus and is born. So it wasn't a giant leap to explain that a woman's body has to be prepared for a baby to grow. We talked about the female cycle, how eggs are released and if they are fertilized they will implant on the uterus wall and what happens if they aren't fertilized or don't implant. All in all it was a very productive conversation and he seemed to not only understand but could describe some of it back to me.

At 8 I think your daughter should have a pretty good idea of how both male and female bodies work. For me it's not a topic I sit down and do all at once. I don't expect to ever have to have "THE TALK" because they will get more knowledge as they are older and become more curious. Some suggestions I have are: do not use euphemisms. be honest, and factual. Think about what your daughter is ready to hear and pay attention to what she is actually asking. Sometimes we go too deep into a topic when all they need to hear is a one sentence answer. With your example I would probably have said something like "touching in bed helps a man and woman feel closer, sort of like when I hug or tickle you or when we snuggle in bed reading stories. You like it when when we snuggle right? Well, mommy and daddy like to snuggle too". I always ask if I've answered my sons questions and if he has any others. You don't need to have a sex talk here. She just wants to know why they would be in bed putting lotion on each other. If your answer doesn't satisfy her she'll tell you.

If you have trouble talking to her face to face then try a time when you are doing something else together. The conversation I had with my son was in the car, with my 3yo sitting in the next seat. It doesn't have to be a big deal, sit down, let me tell you about the birds and the bees type of thing. If you aren't used to being open about these things it can be hard, but the more open and matter of fact you are the easier it will get. One day when you finally do have to put a more personal spin on sex (as they reach puberty) you will be in a better position to explain your viewpoints because you've laid the background in an open and honest way.
Thanks for starting a post on this! I wholeheartedly agree that "The Talk" shouldn't be a one-time lecture given when a child reaches a magical age. That's why I was confused by what the original poster meant...for our family sexuality is something that is treated as a "normal" subject throughout their lives.

My wake up call came when I realized that puberty has changed since I was a kid...I was one of the first of my peer group to menstruate at 13. Nowadays girls are starting at 10 and 11. I have a ds16 that feels comfortable talking to me about sexual and orientation issues. I feel confident that he is informed enough to not make any stupid mistakes because he knows good sources for information (including me).
Right now my kid is 2, so we're not saying much! However, we plan on approaching sex as a natural act. Physical intimacy is not taboo in our house (my husband and I kiss, hug, snuggle, etc.). When our kids start asking about "what happens in bed" or sex I'll be honest, but withold certain information depending on their ages. I'll probably say something like, when two people care about eachother and find eachother attractive then they often have certain physical feelings. I'll also make sure to have the safe sex talk at the appropriate age, and why it's good to wait until you are mature to do certain things, and the possible physical and psychological consequences of sex. The thing is what is the appropriate age? I think they can understand as young as 10, but it still might not be the right emotional time to bring it up. I'll have to let my kids take some of the lead in that way.
Actually this was so much easier when they were kids, but when my dd hit puberty she clammed up on me. I made sure that she had a couple books about sex and her body and stuff, but she recoiled in horror when I asked her if she wanted me to buy her some little bras. So it's been really touchy stuff to talk to her about sex and bc and her bf and all.
We got some great laughs when the (little) kids decided for themselves about bodily functions and how their genitals work, and then there were the very tiresome and drawn out "potty mouth" years, where everything is a bathroom joke, and no one could say the word "butt" without producing gales of laughter.

As far as sex is concerned, our kids just knew that we "cuddled" when they were small, but were still horrified to learn that we ever actually had sex!

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