Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Why Is It Private?


My friend recently had her first sex talk with her eight year old son.

He stumbled (yeah, right) on the word "sex" in the dictionary and wanted to know more about it.

My friend took a deep breath and explained.

When she got to the part about THE PENETRATION, his face fell in horror.


"Mom!" he gasped. "Have YOU done THAT?"

"Well," she said, "I have you and your brother so I've done it at least twice."

"Eeeeewwww. Why would you DO that?" he asked.

"Well," she said reaching... "it feels really good."

Her son thought about that and then said,

"When I touch myself it feels really good."

"I'm sure it does," my friend confirmed.

"I mean, it feels REALLY GOOD, Mom."

"I know," she said stifling her laughter.

Still curious, he asked her how you choose who you have sex with and she told him you do it with people you love.

"So could you do it with Grandpa?" he asked.

Repressing the image of her naked father-in-law, my friend tried her best to explain about partners.

"Can I do it with my friends?" he asked.

She explained that,
at least for now, it was something that he should do by himself. It was private.

"Why is it private?" he asked.

She didn't know what to say, especially not to an eight year old.

"What should I have said?" she asked me. "What would YOU have said?"

We agreed that neither of us want anything to do with arguments related to shame or the idea of sex being dirty.


["Talk dirty to me, Mr. National Park Ranger" being a TOTAL exception.]


We laughed about the possible answer that if sex WASN'T private everything would come to a grinding halt and the streets would be filled with great masses of gyrating, nekkid people.

But then worried that her son would say something like,

"Why would that be bad?"

Well? Uh... because then our collective national work ethic would be shot?

It's a weak argument really.

If given the choice between going to work this morning or joining a great pile of pleasure in the street... I mean, how do you explain why anyone would prefer going to work?

What are we left with then?

"It just is, that's why"... or "Because I SAID so."

What should one say?

How would you explain why sex is private to a kid?




94 comments:

Amanda said...

I can't stop laughing! I hope some of your commentators have an answer to that question. I'll save it to use in 8 years time maybe.

Julie Pippert said...

I am unfortunately BLANKING on the BEST book about sex education for kids.

here's one list: http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/pa/pa_blsexedu_pep.htm

AH there it is! It's so amazing! by Robie Harris and What's the Big Secret? by Laurene Brown.

That's where I get my bright ideas, LOL

Oh that conversation. I've had the precursor to it. LOL

Julie
Using My Words

Heather, Queen of Shake-Shake said...

Oh my gawd.

I barely stumbled through explaining that baby cows come out of cow vaginas to my oldest.

He's seven.

I have a year to plan how to explain that sex is private.

I'll be busy today!

mommiebear2 said...

Yikes! Both of mine are still a little freaked at the idea that they came out of mommy's tummy. ooohhh, what I have to look forward to....

Katrina said...

I would say...

Because you are usually naked during sex and most folks agree that being naked in public is not allowed. Then you can blame The Man for his puritanical belief system that we have been force fed since the day of the pilgrims!

Notice how nicely that moves the conversation AWAY from sex and on to pilgrims! Niiiiiiice.

Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

Yeah, we've already gotten kind of close with my 6 year old on this one. I'm afraid to tell him b/c I think he'll want to try it!

I'm with Katrina - something like, sex involves being naked and you wear clothes out in public so you need to do it in private. They do call them PRIVATE parts, you know?

Thanks Julie, for the book recommendation, I'm going to check that out!

Cat, Galloping said...

i *definitely* remember thinking my parents had only done it twice-- once each for my sister and me! lol.

Family Adventure said...

Gosh, I don't know, and I should, having a 10 yr old. It is private because it has to do with very deeply personal emotions, and you only share them with a few?

Kaleigh said...

Why is it private? Because it's special. Why is it special? Because even if you use birth control, every once in a while, you get a baby anyway. And once you've made a baby with someone, you're in each other's lives forever. (That's for an eight-year-old. A fifteen-year-old will see there are holes in that, like the gay part and the abortion part, but I don't see an eight going there yet. At least not my eight. But he wouldn't have asked the question, either.)

Assertagirl said...

heh

I think it's private because it's something special that you only want to share with the person you love (or yourself, heh), it's like a special secret between partners.

kristen said...

I shudder at the word "secret" simply because to my mind when people take advantage of kids they usually say something like "this is our secret."

So, I'd avoid that word.

But otherwise, I like the naked in public is typically not a good thing explanation. Damn. I can't believe we might only be two years away from this one. I'm definitely going to check out the book Julie recommends.

3carnations said...

I like the special secret answer.

Victoria said...

Eeek. Not. Ready. For. That. Talk.

Colleen said...

I so dread that conversation. I don't actually remember every having the sex talk with my mother. I do clearly remember 4th grade health class with Mrs. Burger... the class where the boys and girls split up. I wonder if Mrs. Burger is still around and would be interested in talking to Zoe in 6 or 7 years?

Woman Undone said...

Like the others, I am sooooo not ready for the "SEX" talk with my kids!!!! Right now they are 8 & 9 years old.

Please GOD let them ask their Daddy about sex and not me....wait, what am I thinking, SCRATCH THAT!!!!!

radical mama said...

Yeah, I'd stick to the "naked requires privacy" argument for simplicity's sake. I'm actually surprised that the boy didn't plug his ears and start singing, but rather kept on asking questions. I wasn't ready to ask those questions until I was 12 or 13!

PT-LawMom said...

I think your friend handled this really well!! And I agree that anti-naked Pilgrams is probably the way to go. My mother gave me a book and then answered questions. I think the book talked about privacy. Maybe he needs to read a book so he can hear it from someone other than her -- an "expert", not just Mom. Ever noticed how when it's in a book or a teacher says it, it's fact?

Beck said...

As I've told my oldest: sex is saved for our special someone and it loses its specialness if we share it around or display it publically.

joie said...

One thing to say (and I don't know if this works for an 8 year old) is that when you have sex with someone you give yourself to them and they to you. While not secret, it is a very special gift to give yourself to someone and we should wait until we are older and wiser to decide to whom we want to give ourselves -- like being an adult (okay but we parents know not all adults are wise enough to make that decision).

NotAMeanGirl said...

Instead of using the word private try explaining that its PERSONAL. Its something very intense that is shared between two people and what makes it special is that its shared by ONLY those people.

The Hotfessional said...

I have no answers for you, but oh mah gawd, the visuals that your conversations bring to mind.

Wait until you walk in to the room while he's figuring out how good it feels. I thought *I* was going to die when that happened.

Hetha said...

I'd say that anything that involves our genitals should be done in private. Just talk about what happened to Pee Wee Herman!

CamiKaos said...

Ugh. The best I can come up with is...

That it's...

nope. I got nothing.

Better start thinking now.

furiousBall said...

I'm going to tell my kids that their privates will explode if they don't...

I better think this over a little better...tough one.

SciFi Dad said...

I'd go with something along the lines of (convert to kid-speak as needed): "Because sex requires your genitals to be exposed, just like going to the bathroom, it's private just like going to the bathroom is private."

Or more simply, "Do you want everyone to see your bum? No? Then make sure sex is private so no one sees your bum."

Honeybell said...

This is so funny! I would fall back on "well, you can't be showing your private parts to everyone now can you? That would be rude!" We wrap the private parts thing all up in politeness. You don't put your elbows on the table, or show the neighbor your penis, it's that simple.

Kelly said...

My son is 8. I TOLD my husband he needs to get on it.

OH, and my answer: "Although it's something that makes you feel good, it's not something that everyone enjoys watching." Does that work?

Anonymous said...

when we went through all that I trid to explain it was like a secret...but you said secret's are rude...can you just ask someone if they want to have..sex...NO...I explained...and he was twelve...good luck I was horrible at trying to explain..hope your better

mauniejames

Lisa Milton said...

We've been having a series of talks, as questions come up. Lexi has wondered the same thing, and I went with the Beck (the blogger here) response: sex is best when it is saved for someone special.

Of course, there's more to it than that, but I think it's a good place to start. I hope anyway. It's SO uncomfortable, but now that I have started chatting with her, it is getting easier.

(I like 'It's So Amazing!' too.)

JoeinVegas said...

I vote for piles in the street - (most guys would). But no idea how to tell a kid.

Wendy said...

Have you ever seen the faces are made while in the act? Come on that is enough to keep it private. Then again you can just say that some people should never, EVER, be seen naked. And you can always use the argument that you don't want that near your food.

Lori- Fairytales & Margaritas said...

I got my daughter the book What's Happening to My Body when she was 9. (They have a boy version too.) That book has been a lifesaver. It's a conversation starter, a teaching tool, etc. It really explains things in an easy way. It touches on a lot of different topics. I read the whole thing before I gave it to her to make sure I agree with what it said. It also had a workbook to go with it. To this day I still see her reading it now and then.

urban-urchin said...

while my daughter asked about sex, and was totally grossed out "EWWWW- WHY would you do that????!" We thankfully didn't get to the public verus private convo. I like kayleigh's answer though.

Trish K said...

I am crying I am laughing so hard. My 9 year old daughter asked about sex. I was all prepared to do the mother/daughter talk as some special bonding moment. I think I had 2 words out of my mouth and she said "no no, I am not ready, lets talk some other time"

Loralee Choate said...

My parents bungled the sex talk with my older brother to the point that I never got one.

Which is a damn good thing because if I heart the words "Penis" or "Vagina" from either of my parents I would have run screaming from the room and out into traffic in horror.

Veronica Mitchell said...

I think I would talk about vulnerability and value. Sex is something that makes us vulnerable to each other. It is easy to get hurt or rejected. We share it with just one person as a way of keeping it special and showing that person how very important they are to us.

It is like telling your best friend something you have never told anyone else - it makes you feel closer, knowing you can trust that person. If you told your deepest feelings to everyone, there would be no trust involved, and it would no longer make you feel closer to each other.

Wendy said...

We didn't have a talk -- my mother handed me Where Did I Come From?, said "read this and let me know if you have questions," then she left the room.

I would play the marriage card for this question. You have to play by yourself until you get married (yes, do as I say, not as I do....). Nuance can be introduced later, true love, monogamy, nudity laws, etc.

Corgimom said...

I'm with Wendy, because even something that feels really good looks really silly--you don't want folks who aren't doing it looking on (well, maybe when he's older he'll decide differently, but that's up to him).
Please revisit this from time to time in the next five years so I'm ready for the question from my kid!

QT said...

Considering how much the Mayor likes to display his bum, I don't think the privacy angle is going to go to far....

My mom did an awesome job explaining all this stuff to me, and she told me that while all our bodily functions, including sex and masturbation, are normal and natural, they are things that we only do alone or with someone we love and trust. Of course, she told me that I should wait until I got married, and I think I bought into that for quite awhile...yeah, right!

heather said...

HA! I think my parents went with the argument that sex makes babies, and so you only want to do it with someone that you like enough to stay with them FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVES.

Amy said...

Oh, hilarious! I'm going with Beck's answer and buying fairytales and margaritas book suggestion for when "the time" comes for my husband to talk to Shark. (Hey, I did the girl he gets the boys).

Sima said...

She could tell him the sad truth: that we live in a society that (as our struggle to tell our own children about sex has demonstrated) has conditioned us to find sex, nudity, and sexual discovery to be dirty and/or embarrassing and/or painful to talk about and/or unacceptable and therefore secret.

Secret is bad. Don't ever tell your children that sex and sexuality is a secret.

She could tell her son that a lot of people (most people) have trouble accepting their inherent sexuality and for this reason, we keep our sex private. We keep our sex private because lots of other (silly) people are (oddly) ashamed of it and we don't want to offend them. They've been told that is it secret and bad by their parents. But Mommy thinks they are wrong, that it's healthy and natural and good to touch yourself, so don't be ashamed. There are lots of people in Europe that would agree with Mommy too. But know that there are lots of silly people in America that might have a problem with it.

Mind you, I don't have kids yet, but how's that?

yeb said...

that is hilarious! i found you through mary alice at fromthefrontlines. i love your blog!

Jenny said...

Can't answer that question...too busy thinking about that street orgy.

mamatulip said...

The part about doing it with Grampa made me laugh really, really hard.

I haven't had these kinds of discussions yet with my kiddos, but when we talk about the parts that we don't want anyone else to see I always tell Julia that people aren't allowed to be naked in public.

It's worked so far.

Kyla said...

Holy crap. DO NOT WANT THIS CONVERSATION. For a long time. Please? LOL.

Avery Gray said...

Uh...could you repeat the question?

suchsimplepleasures said...

that is so funny! i had to explain that sex is private between a mommy and a daddy and it's something that is done in their own bedroom (when the kids are home). luckily, they didn't question further. but then...family life was taught at school and it's all been downhill!

liv said...

what about something along the lines of sex being something special that is shared just between two people in a quiet (ahem) and nurturing environment? really. don't ask me. i have a kid who walks around with his hand down his pants regularly.

carrie said...

Oh jeez, I am so glad my boys didn't ask me those questions when we had "the talk".

It was bad enough having to explain to an 8-year-old what a "boulder" (boner) was.

I think this is one of those times when we should be grateful for the vast array of children's books available on this topic!

Mac and Cheese said...

I have no idea how to explain this stuff to an eight-year-old, but I'm laughing so hard at the suggestion to do it with Grandpa!

Multi-tasking Mommy said...

Oh, I am so not looking forward to these talks with my daughter!

Hilarious post really, as long as I wasn't the Mom doing the explaining.

I thought she did a great job with what she said!

slackermommy said...

I just had the sex talk with my oldest daughters and wrote a post about it last Monday. I explained that it's private because it's special. Something two people do that they only want to share with each other. Another explanation is that having sex is private just like going the bathroom or changing clothes are. These are things that we just don't share with anybody.

~JJ! said...

My brain hurts just thinking about it all.

When Fa becomes a NUN, I'll NEVER have to explain this shit.

Mimi aka pz5wjj said...

LMAO!

Was "Go ask your father" not an option?

That's my standard deflection! LOL!

Jamie said...

"Because I said so."

Jen said...

It's pretty lame but the best I could come up with was "Because they're called PRIVATE parts and it's meant to be a PRIVATE thing." It seemed to satisfy my 7 year old for the time being but frankly even I think it's a pretty pathetic answer.

painted maypole said...

i would talk about the emotions involved with sharing it with another person, and you only want open up yourself that way to someone you are in love with and committed to. when you are much, much older.

Mimi said...

Uh-oh. Good question. Private because it's a social convention?

motherbumper said...

yah... um... can't help you with this one - my head is still stuck on the great big orgy going on in the streets.

Jennifer said...

I yelled the facts of life to my then-4-year-old son when he asked (over and over and over) how the baby got in my tummy as I was 9 months pregnant with #3 and stuck 30 minutes from home in a construction zone 5:00 traffic jam, while I had to go to the bathroom...

I'm probably not the one to ask for advice on this.

Jen M. said...

Oh my! Can she do it with Grandpa? Aack - feeling the cringe right now. Feeling it.

Nothing new to add here that the other smart commenters haven't touched on.

Mamma said...

Yeah, I got nothing. And I've HAD the conversation.

Aliki2006 said...

I better hurry up and do some reading on all this, so as not to be caught completely by surprise.

My parents thought the whole sex talk was extremely taboo and so I had to figure things out for myself courtesy of kids at school...NOT how it should be!

I'm not sure what I'd say--I'll have to think about that.

Mel said...

Dude. That's a toughie.
Let's see - what rap did I give the girls?
I told them that sex is a deep expression of love between two people - that sex is a promise between two people who wish to spend the rest of their lives together, a way to say to someone "I love you so very much I am going to share my body with you."
And that right there is why I am going to hell for those one-night stands way back when. I am a lie-y lie-face of a hypocrite.
Heh.

Robin Marie said...

Okay so this is sort of a way to avoid coming up with an excuse for why it's private, but man did I fall for it.


First you explain to him that sex makes babies. Then you give him some sort of idea how much it costs to raise a child for just one year. Then you help him figure out how many weeks allowance that is. Then you lock him in a pediatricians waiting room with sick, screaming babies for 15 minutes, or have him babysit.

At least, that's how my doctor explained it to me. It deterred me long enough to gain an understanding of why sex is private, and by then it was okay!


Joking aside, that there is one hell of a parent! What a good conversation.

Random Thinker said...

Why do we do it in private? First there are laws against public indecency. Of course that is our societal laws we live under and it is neither right nor wrong but it is. It is similar to driving on the road; whether we drive left or right depends on which country we are driving in. If we happen to live with Yanomami Indians, Mayor’s commando style living will be welcomed with open arms.

That doesn’t answer the question why mom and dad don’t go at it on kitchen table when the mood strikes them even when the children or guests are around in the privacy of their homes. I suppose we don’t indulge in that kind of act since privacy produces stress free environment that encourages relaxing, exploring, and enjoying intimacy. It is like dinner – we like the atmosphere of a private relaxed candle lit dinner with our loved one more than having to wolf it over the sink.

Veronica said...

Oh my word, I am laughing so hard. I have no idea how I'm going to tell my kids. I'm sure something will come to me on the spur of the moment once they are bigger.

It's private because we have body issues?

flutter said...

it would probably start like "well dear..."

and end with tears. Mine.

BOSSY said...

(sound of Brain Freeze.)

Queen of the Mayhem said...

GOOD LORD....I am so dreading this conversation and it is coming SO SOON with The Princess.

I need a book....PLEASE! :)

I am thinking about only mentioning it as something that is done between a husband and a wife....the whole "Do as I say....not as I did" thing! :)

Sarcastic Mom (aka Lotus) said...

"So could you do it with Grandpa?" he asked.

*falls over laughing*


Things you do in private are somehow always more delicious than those you do in public without pause.

Like how I sat in the closet and ate an entire bag of candy the other day. Shhhh.

Ruth Dynamite said...

Oh dear. No constructive commentary here.

Misty Dawn said...

Oh my gosh, GREAT post! I have no idea how I would explain it... or anything... no kids for me, so I'm living vicariously through you!

Aimee Greeblemonkey said...

Dang. Super question. I mean, we've already been open as to what body parts to, but "why is it private" would have totally stumped me too.

I like the answer about being naked, and you don't usually do that in public. But I probably would have also added that it's an intimate thing, to show love between two people and no need for others to be horning in.

Actually, knowing me, I would have gone into a long winded diagram of the vagina and how it prefers darkness or some such shit... where Declan's eyes would have glazed over and not listened to me anyway.

:)

crazymumma said...

Done it twice. The talk that is. The first listened the second....don't know if she ever will.

Anyway.

'Sex is for two people who respect and care for each other. It is appropriate for when you are much older. It is not just between men and women, it happens between men and men and women and women. It is hard to explain how same sex couples (yes we HAVE had that discussion in our house) have babies, let us research that so we can give you a really good answer. No not everyone gets pregnant but you must always use something called protection. A condom is best. Yes it feels good, yes babies hurt when they come out. yes I love Daddy yes you hurt when you came out. I do not know if you will marry a boy or a girl do you want some ice cream?"

Thats about it around our house.

Queeny said...

My daughter heard someone on TV say "sex" and she asked if her Dad and I ever do that?

"I never see you do it," she said.

And you never will, honey. (No, she doesn't know what it is.)

mothergoosemouse said...

I'm planning to invoke the "protection of your private parts" line of reasoning that has so far worked quite well here.

That is, we've explained that certain parts of our bodies are not for other people to see or touch. Explaining sex will likely entail explaining that those parts of our bodies are a part of sex, and since those parts are private, sex is private too.

Or something like that. Ask me next week when I get blindsided with a similar question.

Lotta said...

I think you start doing that when you tell them that they need privacy when they play with their private bits.

Just like I asked husband how I was supposed to teach son all those guy sex manners. Like bringing a wet towel to the lady after loving. Husband assured me that by teaching son table manners the good manners would carry over.

Then he burped and left the table. Kidding!

karrie said...

Hehe!

Because I said so, seems about right to me.

Mrs. Schmitty said...

Grandpa? ROFLMAO...you made me spit my drink outta my nose!

I need an answer for that one too. My boy is 9 and I bought him a book called "The Body Book". It's great explaining everything from feet stink to braces, to peer pressure, to the CHANGES his body will take. But no sex explainations. So I'd be really interested to find out how to handle that question!

Lawyer Mama said...

Oh dear GOD! Baaaahaaaa!

I'm in total denial about this. I can't even get my kids to stop playing with their junk in public.

My parents gave me the book Where Did I Come From and I remember that answering most of my questions. I took it in for show and tell. Yeah, my mom was the pariah of the PTA.

The Bimbo said...

OH MAN that's one really hard question! Being a parent is real hard.... hmmm

"Because you wouldn't want wierd people to be looking at your naked photos on the internet?"

Deb said...

I think I'm going with the, "Sorry, what? Hey, do you want to go get some ice cream?"

I generally like the social norms and politeness paths on this one. I'm making a mental note for the future. Of course, by the time my 15-month-old is ready for this chat, I'll be so senile I won't remember sex. Lucky me!!

Anonymous said...

Some folk don't get it!
http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/index.php?storyID=7165

Mrs. Mustard said...

Here's my best answer: it is something that you want to have as a special thing between you and someone you love very much. It's like a good secret that you only tell your best friend.

I dunno if that really works, but it's the best I've got.

Stepping Over the Junk said...

damn. I dont know what in the world I am going to do when this comes up in my household.

nutmeg said...

It's private because of the strange farting sounds that accompany it - and you know how uptight people are about farting sounds!

Shannon said...

Oh my goodness, I have no idea.

I remember being so grossed out by "the talk" at seven that I was sure I would never do THAT. The thought never would have crossed my mind to ask why it was private. I guess we can count on kids coming up with something we're not prepared for. Ah, the exitement of improvisation.

kittenpie said...

Hunh. How about because it is something very special that we share only with people we really love, and if it wasn't private, it wouldn't be so special?

Or how about because we choose who we want to do that with carefully, and we don't want that to be just anyone around.

Or maybe because we need to be old enough to make good decisions about who we share that with and make sure that we are doing it in a way that is safe and that we won't regret later.

Jenifer said...

Holy crap I am in trouble...

VDog said...

Thanks for making me smile and giggle after a tough week. :)

Jo Beaufoix said...

Blimey, I'm dreading this one. I have a book, and I'm open for questions, but I have no idea how I will answer them. I think the, do you want the whole world looking at your bum might be a good start.

Recovering Sociopath said...

If given the choice between going to work this morning or joining a great pile of pleasure in the street... I mean, how do you explain why anyone would prefer going to work?

Because it's not about what you prefer, it's about what is the best decision with respect to long-term health, well-being and happiness. Sometimes-- most of the time-- that means delaying gratification, or even *gasp* eschewing it entirely.

Having indulged my curmudgeonliness, DANG, I am not looking forward to this conversation with my guys. Maybe I'll get hubs to do it.