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Questions and Answers About Sex: My Young Child Asked Me Where Babies Come From – What Do I Say?
Author: Andy Smithson
Bill Engvall is one of my favorite comedians. His greatest comedy bit was called, “Here’s your sign.” In one of Bill’s standup routines, he shares an experience he had with his seven- to eight-year-old son while he was driving in his car. His son asked him, “Dad, what is petting?”
Bill gulps a little and, with a silly look on his face, begins to explain this uncomfortable question about adult intimacy. “Well son, it’s when a man… and a woman… well, kiss a little and…”
And then Bill stops, and thinks, “Where did that question come from?” So, he asks his son, “What are you talking about son? Can you spell it for me?”
Then, the punch line came – his son spelled, “P-E-D-X-I-N-G.”
Bill then says, “Oh, that’s a cross walk, son.”
“Oh…” his son says. “What was that other thing you were talking about?”
Question: I’m always reminded of Bill Engvall’s experience, above, whenever parents ask me what to tell their young child, who has just asked them about sex. It is not uncommon for a child to ask where babies come from, especially if that child has a little brother or sister in mommy’s tummy.
Kids as young as two or three years old become curious about where all the babies in the world come from. They’re not here one day, and – proof – there they are the next day. The question “Where do babies come from?” is a question that you will have the opportunity to answer more than once in your life as a parent.
Answer: This question requires parents to answer more than once, because we don’t want to drop the BOMB on our two- or three-year-olds. An appropriate answer for a two- or three-year-old child is, “from mommy’s tummy.”
That answer would never suffice for a seven- or eight-year-old child. It is important for parents to give age-appropriate answers. When a younger child first asks this question, they are not asking a question about the science or morality of how it happens; they are simply confused about the new arrivals all around them, and may also be wondering where they, personally, came from.
As your child grows up, the question will change slightly and will build upon your initial answer. Your four- to five-year-old may ask, “How does the baby get out of mom’s tummy?”
Picture books about the growth of a baby in the womb and delivery can be helpful in explaining how a baby grows and enters the world. By six to seven years of age, your child may start asking, “How does the baby get in mom’s tummy?” Again, age-appropriate books can be helpful in describing conception, including information about the sperm and egg, etc.
Depending on your child’s questions, environments, and exposure to sexual information at school, or in peer groups, it is important for parents to personally evaluate how much information should be given, and when. The most important part is to not to be afraid of the question and to not to give magical explanations. It’s just like when your child asks, “How does a car go?” You wouldn’t explain the intricate details of auto mechanics a two-year-old – as your child’s curiosity grows, so should your explanation. Good luck!