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Gender Education for Kids, Gone Wrong!

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Gender Education for Kids, Gone Wrong!

I recently read over part of a discussion about teaching sex education to children.   There seemed to be a mom consensus that this type of learning should be a gradual process throughout the child's life.

I like the idea of having age appropriate discussions when my kids start getting curious.   I definitely don't want my children being educated at school, by their friends.

We've had a bit of curiousness at our house.

I was at the library last week and I  happened to notice some sex education books in the juvenile section of the library.  Perfect.  I thought it might be good for my 7-year-old (Dani) and 5-year-old (Evie) to finally learn the real names of the parts.  I grabbed what appeared to be a fun book about gender.

When we got home, I casually mentioned that I had a book about the differences between girls and boys.  My daughters have two younger brothers so I didn't think this would come as any shock.  In fact, Evie (the real mommy of the family) is the chief potty trainer for my toddler son. 

The book started out innocent enough.  The first few pages talked about how boys and girls usually act different and look different, but not always.  Then, I slyly skipped over the page showing a cartoon boy and girl with the correctly labeled part.  We'd work up to that.

One of next pages had another cartoon little boy, using the potty standing up.  It did show his duty (our name for it), but it was hardly noticeable.  I quickly read over the page and started flipping to the next page.

Dani immediately halted my page progression.  She is not a subtle girl and couldn't help herself.  "Look at that!  Mom, did you see that?!?  He's peeing!  You can totally see his duty!  This book is great!"

My potty trainer, Evie, initially was not impressed, but also started chuckling and pointing after Dani's observation.

Then, they couldn't get enough of the book.  The were anxious for more funny photos.  I was not, and hurriedly finished the book.  Now, there was no way I was going back to the gender body part page.   Dani kept asking me to turn back a page.  She was afraid she might be missing something good.  Luckily, my sneakiness was only suspected and never discovered.

I hid the book.  I think most kids would be fine learning the real names, but my oldest cannot yet be trusted with this information.

For safety, I do teach my kids about what's OK and not OK, but maybe I'm not a gradual process kind of mom after all, at least not with picture books.

I'll probably just give my daughter the "big talk" in a couple years.  To her, I'm sure it will be hilarious.  

Grumpy Mom Goal of the Day:  I'm taking our gender book back to the library, while Dani's at school.

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At April 11, 2011 at 1:25 PM , Blogger sarajo said...

My MIL didn't learn the real names of THOSE body parts until high school. Her parents called them fronties and backies. She was shocked when she learned the truth. LOL!
I think addressing the "issues" right away and be open and honest about sex and body parts is the best way to go. But doing it in an age appropriate way and not over sharing.
But some of those books are crazy scary!

At April 11, 2011 at 2:32 PM , Blogger Jenny said...

It is good to be honest. Chances are your children will come to you when things really are more than curiosity.

At April 11, 2011 at 2:40 PM , Blogger Karen Greenberg said...

Please be careful you don't wait too long to start discussing the body and its parts. Girls are starting to develop younger and younger these days, and they need to know the facts so they aren't scared. I've been talking to my daughters gradually ever since I can remember.
The other day in the store, after a trip to the bathroom, my 10-year-old came up to me and said, "We need to buy some pads. I had some blood when I wiped." Because we've had open conversations, she knew was expecting it, knew what to do, and had no problems coming to both my husband and me to let us know what she needed.
It IS hard to open that door to communication, but it's really one of the most important jobs we have as parents, in my opinion.

At April 11, 2011 at 3:28 PM , Blogger Jennifer said...

I too believe in being open and honest about body parts. My kiddos are two and three years old and I have always used the correct terms for their private parts. They have never made an issue about being different from each other. To them it seems to be no big deal and something that is just "normal".

At April 11, 2011 at 8:59 PM , Blogger JDaniel4's Mom said...

I have heard that it is important teach the correct terms for things just encase something happens and JDaniel tries to tell about it. He needs people to know what and where so people will understand.

At April 11, 2011 at 9:32 PM , Blogger Grumpy Grateful Mom said...

Appreciate the input ladies. I assumed their would be some varied opinions here.

I do plan to be honest with my kids, maybe just a bit slower than some.

Though, I think we'll still stick with our incorrect words, for now. :)

At April 11, 2011 at 10:23 PM , Blogger parentwin said...

This is surprising to me. My kids don't know the names for male sex parts either, but that's only because they haven't seen one yet.

Interestingly, they have accidentally made up their own word for one of the female parts. I had legitimate occasion to say labia to them recently. They call it lady.

I'd love to post this on my FB fan page if you don't see what people think. If you'd prefer it not go up, please message me and I'll take it down right away.

At April 12, 2011 at 12:37 AM , Anonymous MOMmetime said...

I don't make a big deal out of it...I believe in age appropriate 'discussions' and each child is different. I use correct terms with my kids ~I do not emphasize or make a big deal either way and most of the time they refer to it as a front bum and a back bum. I personally don't understand the big deal it seems to me that either approach is fine. I prefer to let my kids be kids and answer their questions when they're curious about something. I home-school so their outside of the home influence is minimal. I have them in activities and social groups...fortunately I haven't had to overcome to many issues ~the other day one of the little girls called my 3 yo fat and I've had to spend the last 3 days on that one ~ah, the joys of parenthood. I just want my kids to be kids ~it really stinks that such topics have to be introduced at such young ages. Thank you for bringing up this topic ~I'm with you on the picture books. I think I will stay away from that for awhile.

At April 12, 2011 at 6:37 AM , Blogger Mo 'Betta said...

I just had "the talk" with my just-turned-ten y/o b/c they had a 'growing up' class at school. We just talked abt puberty and didn't really get into the birds & the bees. But that one's coming soon. yikes. She turned all shades of red and when I was changing her brother's diaper and said his 'dink dink' (don't ask where that came from) was actually called a "penis", she asked me to never say that word again. I bought her a book too. She read it cover to cover!

At April 12, 2011 at 6:52 AM , Blogger Karen Greenberg said...

I don't think the exact words are the important part, because people will figure out what the kids are talking about. The concepts are, though. With 10 and 11 year-old kids coming up pregnant all over the country and the world, the time to educate is before you ever think it necessary. Of course, good touch/ bad touch should be talked about from the time the children can talk. That is actually a perfect opportunity to start the discussion about the workings of the body, as well.

At April 12, 2011 at 9:53 AM , Anonymous Superwoman said...

My parents were pretty open about using proper names so I did that with my kids. I just named whatever they were asking about, elbow, ear, shoulder, breast, etc. It had mixed results.My kids excitedly told my husband one night that he had breast, explaining as I had that everyone has breasts but some are big and some are little. It didn't go over well. I later had the problem of my daughter telling people that she had a penis, (as in the place where your pee comes out)but hers was really short because she is a girl.

At April 12, 2011 at 7:13 PM , Blogger Beth @ Sand To Pearl said...

Hehehe, your oldest is not to be trusted with the names yet. My daughter started talking one day while she was 9 months. Really, out of the blue, she was never a big babbler, she just began speaking. And she was 9 months, so I didn't think much about it when I told her not to touch mommy's boobie. Of course, a few days later she grabbed my girfriend's chest and screamed "Boob!" really loud. I was horribly embarrassed. Yep, one of her first words.


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