The advantage of talking to my kid about such fundamental concepts early on in life is that it’s easy to build up on them as the concepts get more and more complex.
We started talking about sperm cells and egg cells when he saw them in a book, which led us to watching videos on fertilization, which led him to asking how the sperm gets anywhere near the egg in the first place, which led to us talking about how putting the penis in the vagina is one way of getting the cells to meet, and that penis-in-vagina is one example of what people call sex.
So when he asked me what porn was one day because he overheard someone say it, it was easy to say, “Usually videos or pictures of people having sex.”
It’s not a one-off “The Talk.” It’s multiple conversations, every day and any day. When he has more questions, I encourage him to ask. When I learn something new, I call his eagerness over. It’s a pretty nice arrangement that’s been working extremely well for us so far.
And I don’t think his innocence — or childlike view of the world — has disappeared. In fact, I can only feel it infecting me!
Talking about anything
The principles carry over to almost any topic, and not just drugs or sex.
Like when we were watching TV, and he asked me whether Green Arrow, a vigilante, was a bad guy or good guy. That day we learned not all bad guys look like bad guys, not all good guys look like good guys, and for some people, it’s hard to tell whether they’re bad guys or good guys, but “what do you think?”
Or when he learned a few curse words, or words, I said, that make other people feel uncomfortable (I was careful not to say “bad words”). We talked about when and where it is appropriate to say them (“If you’re just with me or we’re at home”) and when it isn’t (“But probably not with other kids or adults, and not if it will hurt someone”).
I want to be realistic: I don’t want to and cannot shield him from the world. What I can try to do, though, is equip him with the tools he needs so he can get through life in a way that is smart, and healthy, and kind.
So what’s ‘drugs’? Here’s what I ended up saying to my 4-year-old:
“Drugs are things you take into your body that change how you’re feeling. Sometimes it changes your mood, sometimes it affects your body.”
“Like, for example, coffee makes people feel awake, that’s why I drink it in the morning when I’m sleepy, but not at night when it’s bedtime. Or like alcohol: a little bit makes people feel kind of dizzy, and some people like that while some people don’t. But when you drink too much and the body can’t handle it, sometimes people throw up! Medicine is also a drug, and when you’re sick, it helps your body feel better, but only if you take the amount that the doctor says to take.”
…To which he replied, “Oh cool!” then promptly went back to playing. – Rappler.com
Mikli believes in the power of funny, and that the world could always use a few more laughs. She also believes in Real Talk for kids, that psychology is everywhere, and that afternoon naps are the best, bar none. She lives at home with her son and 5 cats, and lives online at http://stesha.org.