Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mommy, look! My spider has a penis!!

Yes, those were the words of excitement coming from my beaming 3 year old as he showed me his artwork one Saturday morning!

With so many new moms in our office, we often talk about where our young ones are developmentally.  We talk about crawling, walking, and potty training.  But even more importantly, we talk about practicing what we preach when it comes to providing age-appropriate, medically accurate information about sexual health and anatomy to kids. 

In particular, I remember explaining that I had a difficult time keeping my husband from reverting to the old familiar concept of giving reproductive organs “nicknames.”  When our son was 2, my husband was intent on allowing Landen to call his penis “Willie”  I had to quickly jump in and make sure we were both consistent about teaching Landen the proper term.  Finally, Landen was ready to potty and proudly announced to us that he had a “penis named ‘Willie!’” 

Whatever nervousness my husband had is gone and we are proud that our toddler is responding and learning about his body as well as the alphabet, numbers, colors, etc.  When he came running to me with the spider picture that faithful Saturday, he pointed out the spider’s eyes, legs, head, and, yes, his PENIS.  We will get to the correct anatomies of ALL animals and insects soon – it’s one step at a time! 

My husband and I are just beginning this journey but now I know that we can be honest, open, and give accurate information to our child without hesitation.  We will continue using teachable moments to share our values and give advice, especially as he gets older and is exposed to more sexualized information in the media and at school.  We will welcome questions and try to answer as best possible. 

We are not perfect and will admit when we are not sure but always look for appropriate answers.  I truly believe that well-informed, confident boys AND girls have the strongest foundation for making healthy decisions, not just about sex, but about many of life’s challenges.

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