How do you tell your child about the facts of life?

L will be 6 years old in December and with the imminent arrival of her baby brother or sister have come various questions about where babies come from and, what she is more fascinated with, how they come out of mummies’ tummies.

The first time she asked me about how they come out of their mummy’s tummies I was completely caught off guard, I hesitated for a milli-second, wondering if I should go with the “zip on mummy’s tummy” theory, but decided I couldn’t carry it off believably; I did also wonder at what stage you then tell them the truth. So I simply said “babies come out of their mummy’s foufoune (this is the French word that we use)”, she replied with a passionate “yuk” before moving onto something different entirely.

Since then we haven’t had much of an issue with it, so I tend to think that the honesty is the best policy. I do have friends who have told their children that babies come out of their mummy’s tummy but are now struggling to back-track, and that gets tricky.

Whilst I love the fact that L is grown up enough to take it all on-board and in her stride, it does make for fun times when she wants to share this knowledge with others in the playground.

Today she wanted to take this book to school with her for show and tell:

This is a classic book from the 1970s that my parents got to share with my siblings and me. The funny thing is that at that time my dad had curly ginger hair and beard and my mum had long blonde hair, so for us it was pictures of our mum and dad! Then when L got to asking these types of questions my mum passed me the book to help out.

I’m quite happy for L to look at the pictures and ask me questions, but I’m not sure the other parents or the teacher would have appreciated her sharing it during show and tell, as you can see by the clarity of images and description in this children’s book:

Maybe a little bit intense for Year 1 show and tell.

I’m pretty certain that this picture is the main reason I didn’t have my first baby until I was nearly 31, it haunted me for years. Could this be any scarier?!?

What is your take on telling your children about the facts of life? Do you go for the truth or not? At what age would/did you tell them? Did you use any books/films etc? I’d also be very curious to know if any men have told their children about the birds and the bees at this young age, or does it always fall to the mums? As L will always ask me and not B.

I’d also love to know if anyone else had the facts of life explained to them by this book, as I’m pretty certain it’s a classic!


9 Responses

  1. Karen says:

    We’ve been very honest with Em so far, when I was pregnant with Matthew she asked how he was going to be born, and I explained it very simply. She was ok with that. I had planned to wait a bit longer to explain the “full facts” though. She is aware of periods and what happens, because she has seen my supplies and asked what they were for and I simply explained what happens to a woman’s body etc.
    Three weeks ago we were walking at Ham House, and there were some horses in the meadow. All of a sudden one of the horses decided to get frisky, and mounted the other horse, and Em started asking what they were doing!! Charles tried to tell there they were “cuddling” but she kept asking “why?” so I basically explained what they were doing, in terms of horses. She then looked at me, and said “so is that what grown ups do to make babies then?” and wanted to know how and why! So we chatted about it, and I explained it very simply. She seemed fine with that. We also have a book, which I’ve let her look at, and she asked a few questions, and we’ve left it at that. Darn horses, I wasn’t quite ready for the “talk” being thrown at us like that!! 🙂

  2. Karen says:

    Ps. I was given “Have you started yet?” by my Mum, when I was ten. Do you remember that book? It was the in book at the time! I remember being horrified by the idea of tampons! My family were very conservative Catholic, so we didn’t really talk about sex, babies, periods or any of that stuff!

  3. Franglaise Mummy says:

    Nothing like Mother Nature to drop you in it!

    I had completely forgotten about that book, but I had it too, probably around age 10 too. Luckily my mum is a nurse and was always very open about it all and around to answer any questions I might have, so I was very lucky. When I was in the 6th form she was working with AIDS patients and gave me a keyring with a condom in it, my friends all thought that was so cool that my mum gave me that. It wasn’t a go ahead from her to do it, but more a warning to me and my friends to use them and I ended up giving it to a friend to use one night!

  4. HonestMum says:

    That book is brilliant, is it still in print? I think when they ask it means it’s time to tell them. O is 2 and 10 months and knows ‘vagina’ ‘penis’ ‘willy’ etc-hiding it etc just makes them confused in my opinion.

  5. Franglaise Mummy says:

    It is brilliant! I’m not sure it’s still in print though – it’s very 1970s! I totally agree, I’ve always been one for being open and giving the necessary amount of information at the time.

  6. That last picture is so scary it’s not even funny! I have always taken the policy of answering their questions with honesty and not too much detail when they ask, so they know the facts. That said, my 8 year old daughter is not asking for more, but is showing signs of needing to know more. We went to see a secondary school production of Grease, and I found myself having to explain sex for fun rather than for babies. It’s tough, but actually, provided they feel safe and cared for, I think it’s better to explain things earlier rather than risk the possibility of peer rumour making it to their ears before fact

  7. Franglaise Mummy says:

    That last picture kills me every time! I think I will always be upfront about it all as that’s how my mum was with me and all my friends used to get me to ask my mum the questions they couldn’t ask their mums, which I think is a compliment to her parenting skills. The minefields of raising kids!

  8. I swear I remember reading this book in the library as well
    Scary picture that last one

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