This post is my contribution to the PAIL Monthly Theme Post. For more information about PAIL, please click here. Everyone is welcome to read, write, and comment!
I grew up in a “no questions” household – and not because we weren’t allowed to ask questions. No no. Because we had no questions* – because everything, and I mean everything, was presented to us at a very young age so that there were no mysteries. Everything from “what your dad does for a living” to “where babies come from” was shared and discussed with us in a very mature, adult, matter-of-fact manner. There was nothing to be shy about or ashamed of in our household because everything was discussed. Everything just WAS.
My dad read at least one book to us every night before bedtime, and one of the books in that rotation was, you guessed it, “Where do Babies Come From?” The book** explained it in honest detail, there was no mincing of words or making it sound all flowery and beautiful. The dad’s parts were referred to as his “penis” and “testicles,” as they should be, and the woman’s parts were referred to as her “vagina” and “womb.” Dad would mess with us and say things like, “then the daddy puts his peanuts in the mommy’s vagina,” and we’d pipe in and say, “no, Daddy, it’s his PENIS, not his peanuts!” Dad would say that the egg travelled, “to the woman’s broom,” and one of us would holler, “no, it goes to her WOMB!”
We got it.
We knew it.
We knew where babies came from, and from a very, very young age. I don’t remember NOT knowing where babies came from. I don’t remember the first time this book was read to me, and neither does my older sister. It was just part of life, and our parents (mostly, my dad) made sure we knew. We were just told not to go to school and talk about it. And we didn’t 😉 Not out of shame, but because we were told that other children should hear it from their parents like we did. Made sense to us!
Other topics were just as open in our house. Drug use (we were told that they assumed we’d try marijuana in college, but that we weren’t to let it be a habit and that nothing else was worth trying – we all honored this), alcohol (we were told that we should always call for a ride if we even thought we may need one and that we wouldn’t be in trouble), smoking (they did beg us not to do this), birth control, etc. Everything was an open topic. Sure, you could ask questions if you had them, but our family was so open, that there usually weren’t many questions to even ask. Most things had been covered in great detail, and in a very relating manner. We knew that neither of my parents were their “firsts” when it came to sex, and we knew all about their marijuana smoking past. They related their stories to us in hopes that we would take them to heart and end up not screwing up too much. And… I think that worked.
So yeah – I grew up in an open household (too open at times? YES.).
Back to the topic at hand – babies and their origins.
B and I plan to take the same approach with our children as my parents did with us. Baby making is scientific (even when babies are conceived in a bedroom full of LOVE) and it’s matter-of-fact. We need to find a book on this that does the topic justice, like the one my parents (my dad, primarily) read to us. I can’t find that book anywhere which is sad, because it had great, artistic illustrations and like I said, explained it so well. There will be no secrets when it comes to baby-making and we won’t call it stupid things like “the birds and bees.” We will call it what it is. S-E-X.
I don’t plan on having kids who ask me where babies come from, because they will know. They will know early. Matthew will know VERY soon. I just need to find the book.** But it won’t stop with the one book on where babies come from. Long ago, I researched books on IVF to explain to children how they came into the world. I found a couple, and they looked OK, but not necessarily exactly what I’m looking for. My quest continues but I do expect to supplement the “where babies come from” book with an IVF book and just go from there.*** Again, this will be started very soon and there will be no need to discuss the big question of “WHEN?” to have this discussion with our children.
I feel really, really good about this!
As our kids get older, I’m sure they’ll ask questions like, “why did you have to do IVF?” We will be honest. We will be open. Heck, we’ve been open and honest with everyone around us when it comes to this topic, so why wouldn’t be honest with our children about it? They will be told about our struggles, our one attempt at an IUI, and our multiple rounds of IVF – and this will all be presented in a way that makes them realize how much they were wanted – and not how painful the journey was to get to them.
There will be no secrets, because there already are none.
* I did have a FEW questions about sex and I did ask them. One of them was, “how does the man’s penis get firm enough to put in the woman’s vagina?” At a young age, I knew that a flimsy piece of flesh couldn’t just be shoved up a tiny hole and it work. The other question I asked my dad (with my older sister present) was, “what is oral sex?” I was in junior high and I thought it was phone sex. I’m not shitting you!
** Look what I just found on Amazon! Where Do Babies Come From? This is on its way to my house right now, for the bargain price of $4.00! Will be fun to see if it’s as great as I remember 😉
*** The book I am leaning towards to explain IVF: I Can’t Wait to Meet You
January 21, 2013 at 6:16 pm
LOVE LOVE LOVE this. Were we sisters or something? Because this is EXACTLY how my parents approached everything as well. I guess I had never thought about the fact that I don’t remember asking where babies come from…because I always KNEW (I assume from a very young age as well). I had totally forgotten about that book (also a staple in our house) – but it will be on its way here shortly! Great post, Courtney. 🙂
January 21, 2013 at 7:12 pm
I remember that book too. Actually found a copy at a garage sale the other day and my friend bought it for her son 🙂
January 21, 2013 at 10:01 pm
Love it! I did NOT grow up in a house like that- didn’t get “the talk” until my cousin got knocked up at 15 (I was 11 I think). We DID have a book (this one: http://www.amazon.com/Where-Did-I-Come-From/dp/0818402539/ref=pd_sim_b_2 – which apparently was written by the same guy who wrote A Year in Provence- odd) but I don’t remember my parents ever reading it to us- I just remember my brothers and I sneaking it off the shelf to read on our own. Perhaps it was planted there so my parents didn’t have to talk to us? Anyway, I love the idea of being so open about it all. Now to get my hubby on board!
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January 22, 2013 at 10:28 am
My parents did a wonderful job of providing us with an environment where we felt comfortable asking questions. I had the big DETAILED discussion with my parents when I got my period. I had read “are you there god it’s me margaret” and I’m the youngest of 3 sisters. I knew about things because it was openly discussed. I was never embarrassed. I don’t think any one in our family ever was, except maybe my brother who felt out numbered by us girls 🙂
This is a great post and something I never really thought about. Approaching it from the know first ask later kind of thing. I think there will be a parental discussion with Babe to find out how he feels. I love that your dad was the one who was so proactive with educating you. Sometimes dads can be more embarrassed than moms.
January 23, 2013 at 11:29 am
Love that children’s book about IVF! That’s such an important niche market in the publishing industry… I will definitely be telling my kids about IVF if it works for us – there’s really no shame in being created that way, so why conceal the fact? And yeah, my mom is a doctor, so I grew up knowing EXACTLY how babies were made!