“So, we’re basically ROBOTS?” was not the reaction his parents were expecting when they sat their son down for the sex talk.
That quote was the response from a little boy I used to babysit when his parents told him how babies were made. The magic and mystery of procreation had been stripped down to its simplest form, and he was appalled at the mechanics of it all. I was reminded of this anecdote when my own daughter began asking where babies came from and how they got inside a mom’s belly. I also wondered and worried about the right way to broach the subject, knowing she was only 4 years old at the time.
The sex talk is one of many important conversations we need to have with our kids. As parents, a huge part of our job is preparing and equipping them for the world. Many of these conversations don’t have to be overwhelming or uncomfortable if we start small and build an open, honest, and age-appropriate dialogue with our kids early. To help support you, our editors have read through research, talked with therapists, consulted doctors, and used insights from their own experiences to write a series of articles on the hard conversations we need to have with our kids.
Read on for a roundup of resources to help you start a few of “the talks.”
1. Body Safety and Consent
Few things evoke a stronger mama bear response than imagining someone harming our child. But we won’t always be there to protect them. Modeling consent, teaching them ownership of their body, and helping them understand the difference between safe and unsafe touch can empower our children to help protect themselves.
2. Where Babies Come From
When your child begins to ask questions about bodies and babies, you can start answering them in a simple and age-appropriate way to avoid oversharing. As they grow, the conversation can also grow beyond mechanics towards the mystery of love and more.
3. Race and Discrimination
Research shows children as young as three months old make discriminations of faces of people of different races and show a preference for own-race faces over other-race faces. So, it’s never too early to talk about race.
For those who benefit from the privilege of not being a racial minority, these conversations are essential to have with children because BIPOC mothers don’t have the choice. They have to have this talk for their children’s own safety.
4. Friendship and Bullying
When kids are young, a huge part of their learning is socializing and figuring out friendships. So, what happens when your child is on either side of the friend drama? Read on to learn more about the signs of bullying and what you can do to support your child as they navigate their friendships.
Read More: Let’s Talk Bullying
5. Life and Death
We all hope our child’s first experience with death is far into the future, but life can be unexpected. At some point, as Contributing Editor Lizzie Goodman put it, our child’s “blissful bubble will burst.” There’s no need to rush this particular conversation unless a significant moment is happening in their life, but you can be ready when it does.
Read More: How to Talk to Kids About Death
What other hard conversations would you like us to cover? Tell us in the comments.