My current day-to-day life includes trying to decide what is age-appropriate information to give to my children.
My kids are just at that age now where they have no filter and are super curious about EVERYTHING.
Now, I’m all about just giving them the facts… but there are times where it bites me. Like in public. Just about always.
It’s funny how kids will just blurt things out and not realize how uncomfortable it makes other people. I think my first dose of this came two years ago when we put our dog down. It was awful and we weren’t sure exactly what to tell our then 3-year-old daughter. We decided to just tell it like it is, and let her know that he was old and sick and that he died.
The first thing that struck me was that kids don’t understand euphemisms, so saying that, “He’s gone” or “Passed away” didn’t register and only led to more questions. Blunt statements helped her to understand what was really going on.
In the days, weeks, months, or even today I’m sure if you asked, if someone would bring up our dog, she would announce in a matter-of-fact way, “He is dead and was buried in our yard.”
My kids all know the proper names for their body parts and “penis and vagina” get shouted out on the daily (and yes, I know it’s technically “vulva” but let’s be honest, adults don’t even use that term).
Even though the twins (who are three) know all of this information, our daughter (now five) has taken it upon herself to explain to them over and over why they have penises and she has a vagina, and goes on to list all of the other people that she knows that have a penis or vagina. The boys join in and this weird game goes on a for while.
She has recently upped the ante and now likes to explain menstruation to her brothers. It goes a little something like this: “Did you know that when I get big I’m going to bleed, because I’m a girl and boys… Hey boys! (getting their undivided attention) did you know that you don’t get to bleed because only girls bleed when they are ready to have babies? So when I get big I will have babies and bleed!”
First of all “get to” bleed… girl, you’ll learn. And second of all, please work the word “bleed” into your sentence a few more times, we weren’t sure what you were talking about. It’s even more fun when the conversation happens in public, specifically busy grocery stores.
My daughter explaining menstruation to our sons is certainly not where the topic ends. They always have questions whenever I have my period and in talking with my mom friends, they all agree, their kids are curious.
They will not let you pee in peace and they are full of questions.
I try not to let things get awkward when it comes to almost any topic, as I want my kids to feel like they can ask me anything, but jeez is that getting tougher.
My kids know where babies come from and what menstruation is, and the basics of why it happens, and they know quite a bit about death and other difficult topics.
We’ve had a hard year when it comes to loss and close people around us going through really unimaginable times, and whenever something comes up my daughter is now the first to suggest we make them banana bread or send a care package. It’s pretty amazing actually to see her empathy for others, and gives me some confidence that she can handle some of the facts of life.
There are of course downfalls that come with explaining death, or explaining the emotions we are going through, and I see bouts of anxiety from her, but we work through that too.
I imagine there would be downfalls to keeping them in the dark about these things too, and the confusion they may feel seeing you visibly upset, or frustrated, or whatever emotion you are working through.
Once again, even with death the kids often make some pretty cringe-worthy comments. We recently took them to a celebration of life and my daughter is now telling people that we went to a “party” on the weekend. That’s my own fault really. We had explained that it was, “like a party to celebrate the life of this individual.” She was upset there was no cake.
I’m not sure if we are making all of the right calls with the information we give them, but I’d rather my kids be well informed and feel comfortable enough to get their information from us rather than have to look elsewhere.
I know that they are still very little, and I do try to just give them the basics when they ask questions, but sometimes the questions come up again, or my basic answers don’t satisfy… so here we are with three preschoolers that can explain female anatomy and menstruation better than some fully grown men.
Apologies to any future school friends’ parents; it was my kids that provided all of those fun facts.