It’s inevitable in the story of parenthood. There will come a time when your child will ask you a question you won’t quite know how to answer. Usually, it’s something about sex, gender, birth, or grownup bodies. Maybe the question has already been asked, but you’re not sure if you said the right thing. Join the club. You’re not alone.
According to freelance writer and mom of three, Rochelle Prado, only one word describes being asked questions of the sexual nature: “Torture!” It’s not an unusual reaction among young parents. According to Ning Reyes, family counselor and resource speaker for the Center for Family Ministries (CeFam), “Cultural, religious and family influence shape a parent’s own sexual indoctrination. For many generations, it was taboo for Filipino families to talk openly about sex and sexuality.” However, she believes that it’s no excuse for parents to avoid discussing sexuality with their children.
Discussing sexuality “First of all, parents have to understand that they can’t compartmentalize how they bring up their children. They can’t claim to raise their kids with good values but never discuss sex. Sexuality, sensuality, and spirituality are all connected,” says Reyes. She explains that parents need to establish a holistic relationship of trust and two-way communication before any kind of attempt to explain sexuality. Sexuality is part of a parent’s being and it is expressed in everything a parent does. If a parent is not comfortable with his sexuality, a child will pick it up. She advises parents to “clarify your own values, be resolved with your sexuality, and create a trusting relationship with your child.”
Determining what is age appropriate Dianne Reyes, preschool teacher at Kindergarten Camp Learning Center, says, “If a child asks a question, don’t assume that you already know what he is referring to. Throw back the question to him so you can clarify what he means. Once confirmed, you can then answer him in a matter-of-fact manner.”
Common sex-related questions kids ask (Your son walks in on you and your husband doing the deed)“Mom, is Dad hurting you?” Dianne Reyes would say, “No, darling, Dad is not hurting Mom. Daddy and Mommy love each other and need some time together. We will be with you in a while.” This is to reassure your child that no one is getting hurt and that he is not being alienated or sent out of the room because he did something wrong. Annette Acosta-Dickson, family physician and mom to a six-year-old girl, would further explain, “It’s a special way mommies and daddies show their love for each other, usually in private.”
“Mom, how come you don’t have a pututoy?” Acosta-Dickson would say, “Because I’m a girl and only boys have them.” In similar fashion, An-Marie Villarin, managing director of The Little Gym’s Preschool Program, would bring out a children’s book about human anatomy and show her son the difference between girls and boys.
“Mom, why do you have hair down there?” Preschool teacher Sarah Patricia Gil, would answer, “All grownups have hair down there. When you get a bit older, hair will grow in different parts of your body. This is just like how you see adults have hair on their legs or chest (for men). Hair mainly grows because of age and usually protects your skin.” Prado would also take this opportunity to help her son understand the concept of growth and change. Remember that you need to base your answer on how old your child is and what concepts he can grasp.