Telling your kids about ‘the birds and the bees’


Don’t swat away the birds and the bees. Start the conversation early with your kids.

The only test I ever failed was in my freshman year of Catholic high school, when after being out sick a few days, I returned to biology to be handed—to my horror—a test asking us to label the parts of the male reproductive system.

Years would pass before such parts were mentioned openly on TV. Some classmates in my all-girls school had enough firsthand experience, from changing the nappies of baby brothers or other extracurricular activities, to know the terms without a textbook. At my home a force field of silence surrounded anything having to do with s-e-x. So along with the dreaded failing grade churned the suspicion that I knew less about this subject than anyone in my class.

My husband recalls an agonising adolescent appointment with his father, watching his dad struggle for words about the facts of life, thinking, “I’ve never seen him this nervous in my life.”

We are determined not to repeat these experiences for our own kids. We read some good advice: Pay attention to what kids are asking and what they’re not asking. Give age-appropriate, matter-of-fact answers to questions.


Let’s talk about what? Telling your kids about "the birds and the bees" (Catherine O'Connell-Cahill / US Catholic)

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