Been There: How I Told My Kids About the Birds and the Bees
Handbag designer Sobia Shaikh's proactive approach to telling her kids where babies come from
I'm the youngest of three sisters and my mother proactively had the sex discussion with us when I was nine. Not only did I want to continue that tradition, but I also wanted my kids to hear it from me instead of their peers. My son, Isaad, is now 11 and my daughter, Lyali, is eight. I told them separately when my son was nine and my daughter was seven. I spoke with my sister who has older kids, as well as some of my girlfriends in San Francisco, about how to broach the subject with my kids. Across the board, they recommended the following two books:
• Boys, Girls and Body Science was recommended for my daughter. It explains everything in easy-to-understand, scientific terms, and it also has cartoons and diagrams to provide the necessary levity.
• What's Going On Down There is a great read for boys. It is scientific but child friendly.
I brought out the books so we could look at them together. Although the subject matter is serious, I took a lighter approach so as not to intimidate or overwhelm my kids. I was also sure to put the books out of sight to ensure that we are all involved in the conversation so it didn't become a source of laughter for my kids or their friends. So for now, the books are under lock and key! I explained it in a very simple but scientific manner to them.
Isaad: "This is just weird."
I've even talked to them about "that time of the month" because I feel it's very important for Isaad to be respectful of women given that he has a younger sister and a lot of girl cousins. Shortly after I'd told both kids, we were at a beach vacation and I was avoiding getting into the water for some reason. Lyali took it upon herself to tell me (and everyone around us) how knowledgeable she is and shouted at the top of her lungs: "Mom, are you not coming into the water because you have your punctuation?"
The discussion is ongoing with Lyali since she's told me: "My tummy churns if you tell me more than two facts so I want to take it in small doses". The plan is to finish the discussion with her within the next year. To their credit, they've been rather mature about it. I'd asked them not to share it with friends because a) it wasn't their place to do so and b) we weren't sure if their friends' parents had had a similar discussion with them. Isaad did tell me that he was probably the first one to know in his grade. And that when they had the official talk in science class last year in 5th grade, he wasn't giggling like some of the other boys in class. I have to admit I was really proud of my boy!
My husband and I want our home to be an open place where all sorts of discussions are welcome without any judgment. To that end, Isaad recently told me about his crushes on Megan Fox and Kate Upton! Lyali mentioned her crush as well which I'm afraid is privileged information. —Sobia Shaikh