Seeing a pregnant lady with a large tummy may trigger questions like ‘Why is that woman’s tummy so big?” And when you answer “There’s a baby in there”, you could probably expect the next question to be “How did the baby get in there?”, “Did she eat the baby?”, “How do they get out?”, “Where do babies come from?”.
Many parents find it very tough to answer these notorious questions especially if their kids are very young. But actually, the younger they are, the easier it is for you to explain to them because children’s minds aren’t very complicated like ours. At this age, they are very curious, they want to know how things in the world work but they don’t think too deeply, hence a simple explanation would suffice. Nevertheless, it is also crucial that your answer helps them to prepare for the real world. Surely you can bolster or filter your explanation but always try to remain truthful.
Listen carefully to their question and take time to answer
It is highly unlikely that a child below 7 would ask you about sex, so it is very important to listen to their exact question, consider the context in which the question was asked, and tailor the answers according to your child’s age. Sometimes as parents, we can get overwhelmed by the question, then we start to overthink when kids (especially the smaller ones) only need a simple answer from us.
If you need time to think, it is fine to delay answering the question or get your spouse to explain it with you. You can tell your child “This is an interesting question, but I think it would be best if mommy and daddy explain it to you together.” If they ask why just tell them “Because a baby comes from / belongs to both mommy and daddy. So, it’s better if we explain it together.” This way, you will have more time to think properly about how you can answer their questions. If you’re lucky, they would even forget about it, so you can save your answer for next time! (There’s always a next time.)
Get to know what they know
Ask them where they think babies come from first, and listen to their answer. This trick will allow you to grasp your child’s understanding of the matter and lets you adjust your answers better. If your child is smaller, the chances are, they are going to think that babies are delivered storks or fairy, or one gets a baby when they kiss, or it gets poofed into the tummy or they have no idea at all. Your role here is to confirm their assumptions and provide an explanation, because if they asked, meaning they are already doubting that notion. Bur you don’t have to go to the extent of explaining about sex yet.
For small kids below four, you can give them a simple answer like “When a man and a woman love each other very much, a way of showing it is having a baby. You were a baby before because mommy and daddy love you a lot.”
For a bigger child who wants to know the more ‘technical’ side of baby-making, use simple words and explain what you know as clear and as simple as you can.
Tell it as it is
The most important thing when educating a child about sex and pregnancy is being open and comfortable about it. Avoid using euphemisms to refer to private parts because this will make them think that this is something embarrassing and shouldn’t be talked about. You should casually talk about genitals similar to how you refer to your other body parts. You can also take this opportunity to teach them about consent when it comes to private parts.
Introduce your child to words like – uterus, penis, vagina, sperm and egg, and use educational materials like illustrated storybooks to ease their understanding. By understanding the ‘geography’ of things, it would be easier for you to explain that babies do not come out from a human’s bum (like how some kids thought), and how they are situated in the uterus, not exactly the stomach during pregnancy.
Keep it technical
Rather than focusing on the act of sex, it would be best to start by explaining the general mechanism of pregnancy. For kids aging 4-6, you can tell them “There is a seed in mommy’s womb, and as the seed grows it becomes a baby. The baby is protected inside the womb until it’s big enough. Usually, after 9 months, the baby will be ready to see the world, so mommy has to push the baby from in between mommy’s leg.”
Once they are a bit older, then you can insert the more technical terms in the conversation. Always pick up from where you last left or what they know because there’s a possibility that they had received additional information from their surrounding or friends without you telling them. Explain to them properly how a baby is only made when a sperm reaches the egg, that the egg comes from the penis, how the baby has to be pushed out through the vagina, etc.
Be the source for honest dialogue
Many of us grew up without the ‘bird and bees’ conversation because our parents are mostly uncomfortable talking about it. But it is very important that we educate our child about sex and pregnancies at a young age so they know that we can be the person they can turn to when they have any questions regarding these matters. Our children will be making choices later in their lives and if we are scared to have honest dialogues, we will further reinforce the stigma around the topic. Equipping our children with better sex education should never be an embarrassment.
With these tips, we hope that the next time your child asks you about “Where do babies come from?”, we hope you’ll have some answers ready in your sleeves. Click here if you want to know more about Sex Education in Malaysia.