Remember how, a few years ago, we had to have "the talk" with Anna about Bambi's mom, and the conversation turned into one of the most awkward and uncomfortable discussions had by any father/daughter pair?
Well, I think the sex talk I just had with Anna might have trumped Bambi Nuggets. And that's saying something.
Let me start out by saying that as a marriage and family therapist, I highly encourage parents to have an open dialogue about sex and sexuality. My general philosophy (so as to not let this happen) is to let a child ask questions, and let them hear about important topics from you as opposed to their peers. Then, respond naturally without shame or embarrassment because this is a natural process and a natural conversation.
Apparently God likes jokes, because he gave me a child who pushes against that philosophy. Hard.
"I am here to challenge your parenting skills."--Anna
Anna recently turned seven, so we've been waiting for her cues, expecting this conversation to arise naturally. Phase I of the conversation--the initial sex talk--went really, really well.
It was a couple of weeks ago, and a song came on the radio that talked about sex explicitly, so I turned it off. This led to a spontaneous discussion about sex, and we happened to be almost home at that point. So I told her to wait a minute and Lolly and I would sit her down and tell her all about this new word. The other girls played in the back yard, and we talked to Anna openly about what sex was. She had a very normal reaction--some disgust and some curiosity. And she asked various questions about how it works and why it has to happen and she had the epiphany that "every person on earth exists because someone had sex?!" It was textbook stuff, really.
But this is Anna we're talking about. Anna who likes to know details.
The other night, we had a conversation as I was reading her and Viva a bedtime story. Viva had stepped out of the room to get another book to read, and Anna took that moment of alone time to ask some questions.
Anna: (looks at me conspiratorially after Viva leaves and whispers) I have some more questions about sex.
Me: Sure, sweetie. I hope you always feel like you can talk to me about this stuff. Ask me anything.
Anna: Do people have sex sometimes even when they don't want to have a baby?
Me: That's a good question. Yes. Yes they do.
Me: Because it feels good, and because it helps bring a husband and wife closer together.
Anna: Do you like it?
Me: ... Yes. I do.
Anna: You like sexing mommy?
Anna: Where do you like to do it?
Me: *pause* Um, we... well, in our bedroom.
Anna: You mean right here? Where we are sitting? This room is where you and mommy put your penis and vagina together?
Me: ...Yes. Listen, I think we should maybe finish your story so I can put you to bed.
Anna: How long does it take?
Me: How long does what take?
Me: Well, it just depends, sweetie. It can vary.
Anna: But how long does it take you to have sex with mommy?
Me: ...yeeeeaaaah, ummm, I'm not sure I'm comfortable answering this question.
Anna: How long dad? Just tell me.
Me: *sighs*...well, it can take minutes or it can take up to more than an hour...
Anna: So, when you had sex to make me, how long did it take you?
Me: I don't know. I don't remember.
Anna: Did it take an hour to make me?
Me: Anna, I honestly don't remember. I...
Anna: Where were when you had sex to make me? Was it in this bed?
Anna: Did you make me right here where we are sitting, Daddy? Right here in this bed? *pats the mattress*
At this point I almost buckled under the pressure of my own embarrassment and said I couldn't answer any more questions about sex. Thankfully Viva returned right then with another bedtime story.
And that's the story about how when I had a sex talk with my daughter she rendered me speechless even though I'm a marriage and family therapist trained in talking to children about sex.