I don’t remember of I was still pregnant with Witchlette or if she was already here, but the first time a read about this approach- the approach I knew I wanted to take but now had some jargon and a name- I knew I was in the right.
The post was a catch-all list of things parents never thought they’d say to their children. One of the top entries was “Please don’t put matchbox cars in your labia.”
Well, that is one of the labels you’ll see in an anatomy text book…and it is the part where a matchbox car would go.
So, we are a sex positive household.
No, I am not explaining to my three year old the intricacies of human sex. But I am giving her the correct terms and age-appropriate information.
She knows she has labia and her brother has a penis. She learned very quickly that inside his diaper looked different. She asked where his labia was. I said he’s a boy, so he has a penis. A few weeks later, she asked where her penis was. Again, she is a girl so she has labia. She then connected her first dot- Mommy is a lady, so she also has labia. Today, she connected her second dot while taking a bath with her brother. She and Mama both have labia, but Witchling is a boy so he has a penis. And…Daddy is a man, so he also has a penis.
That was all. Nothing earth shattering. Just the facts. Then she moved on to squirting turtles.
She knows babies grow inside mama bellies. And she knows that when ladies have blood, they are not growing a baby.
Today, she asked where babies come from. I said they grow in mama bellies. She then asked how they get there. Before I could answer, Witchling started fussing.
I had my answer ready in the moment, but I wanted to run it by Hubby first, since he’d have to roll with it as well. So, sorta saved by the baby.
He agreed with my take, and we’re ready for the next time she asks. All living things, plants, animals, and people, start with seeds. Daddies have the seeds and they give them to the mommies. Mommies have eggs inside them by their tummy and the seeds go into the eggs to grow the baby.
Sure, seeds is a poetic euphemism but not a fallacy: no storks, no stories. No “talks” in the teenage years. We will add details and terms as she gets older. But this is a statement that answers her curiosity without overwhelming her little self.
Another aspect of sex positive parenting is allowing children to explore their bodies without causing them to feel shameful. There’s nothing shameful in nerve endings. And children at this age aren’t sexual, no matter what their parents may believe. Your darling baby touching his/her “bathing suit area” (bleh! I hate that term!) is not him/her being sexual. S/he’s exploring her body.
Just as abstinence only won’t stop teenagers from having sex, telling kids to never touch themselves won’t stop them from doing so. Don’t say no, say when.
In our house, you can explore your body either in your room or in the tub alone. There are some activities that only happen in specific rooms. We shower and potty in the bathroom. We cook in the kitchen. We explore in the bedroom. And just like we eat in the dining room and the loving room, we can also explore in the tub. Alone. Because exploring is private.
One of the best parts of this is the armory of privacy we have given her in defense of sexual predators. Bodies are private. Parents and grandparents can see it in the tub and while helping on the potty. Teachers can also see while helping on the potty. Doctors to check that our bodies are healthy. That’s. It.
Until the kids are older, buy we’ll cross that bridge when we get there with the foundation we’ve laid down now.