The conversation no parent wants. And how to avoid it.

Case study 1:
“Mummy, where did flowers come from?”
“Well they grow from seeds.”
“I know that, but where do the seeds come from?”
“From the flowers.”
“But before there were any flowers where did the seeds come from? Imagine there is a world and there are no plants or flowers in it, now where did the flowers come from?”

I desperately try to rewind my mind back (cough cough) a few years back to my biology lessons but for some bizarre reason all my memory is flooded with is how to dissect a bullock’s eyeball and a diagram of how the human kidney works.

Dan is bored of waiting. He’s clearly been thinking some more on the subject.

“It’s like babies. I know they start out as seeds in your tummy, but how did the seed get there? Who put it there? Was it God? And how did he get it in there? . . .”

Suddenly the contents of the kitchen bin are utterly fascinating and oh my goodness look at the time, it’s time to run the bath.

Case study 2:
“Why did you and daddy move to this house?”
“We wanted to have a bigger home and bigger garden ready to start a family.”
“Were we not at the old house then?”
“No honey, you were born while we were living here.”
“So how did you know you were going to have a baby when you moved here? How can you plan it like that? Do you have to go into hospital so they can put it inside you?”

I do that surprised, slightly shocked look of someone whose mobile phone is vibrating and they don’t know where it is. I pat my jacket pocket and swiftly pretend to answer and say ‘hey nana, sure we’d like to come over’.

I’ve had near misses in the ‘where do babies come from’ stakes before, but I fear distraction isn’t going to work for much longer.
And he’s too bright to fall for ‘it’s God’s way’ or ‘the stork did it’. Or ask your daddy.
I know there are many of you who must have been through this. I need you now.

H E L P.

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28 Responses to The conversation no parent wants. And how to avoid it.

  1. Single Parent Dad says:

    I can offer no help. Will laughing at your plight, as I am yet to get there, help?

  2. Mum Gone Mad says:

    Ok having had to explain three times where the baby in mums tummy came from, first…panic… second just keep it very simple and say something along the lines of mummy and daddy decided to have a baby and that you need both of you to make the baby. I was very vague and did try and mention seeds and eggs without going into great detail, I did go on about baby growing inside mummy more than how baby got there. Oh and then there's the "where does the baby come out from" conversation….I'm not helping am I?

  3. Nota Bene says:

    It seems a long time ago that I had this challenge. Straight answers are best. Not too much biology and detail. But no fairy stories either.

  4. Maternal Tales says:

    Ooh how exciting – haven't got there yet – but I've had a few near misses too. When you have the answers please let me know and I will copy…every word!! x

  5. Catharine Withenay says:

    Not so long ago I delegated this job to my husband (he's a doctor – surely he's best qualified?) Father-son: should sit down and have this conversation. Better learning from Dad than from school friends gossip.To the best of my knowledge, this head-to-head has yet to happen…

  6. Maternal Mirth says:

    My mom was a Sex Education teacher for 25 years. She was never shadey about sex. Anything I wanted to know, I was told. The way she's explained it to me as an adult was simple: "I didn't want you to learn from your friends anything I should have taught you."I wrote a post on it years ago that I always referrence in times like this: <a href="… />Hope that helps.

  7. Home Office Mum says:

    Here was my response to the same question. <a href="… />Still not sure if it was the right thing to do but it's not been raised since and we've had no strange discussions coming back from the playground. Good luck!

  8. Littlemummy says:

    My three-year old (!) questioned me after a miscarriage about how another baby might come, I mumbled something about a 'special kiss', thought I'd done well until she demanded we have said kiss (right there in the car).

  9. Kat says:

    I am sure you have seen the Misubishi Birds and Bees car advert on TV. It makes me laugh every time I see it.

  10. I am yet to get to the actual fessing up of how it all happens, we've had some near misses. I think that if I put my fingers in my ears and sing 'tralalalalala' it will all go away.I shall just see how you cope and follow by example!

  11. Suzanne says:

    I just remember asking my Mum about the birds and the bees and she just handed me a sex education book from the library. I think she had seen it coming (sorry). Dust off that library card and get yourself some suitable (get out of a sticky situation) literature.It seems the easiest way.

  12. that girl? says:

    Oh the joy of these conversations! It seems lately we've been edging towards that sort of stuff (i.e. where am I in photo mummy – when was I born – how was I born etc) but thankfully theres been no follow on yet! It's coming… and when it does I'm gonna steal your vibrating phone in the pocket trick lady!

  13. Potty Mummy says:

    A friend of mine used the 'special hug' explanation (as in, 'mummy and daddy had a special hug'). Yeah. Sounds rubbish to me too. I just went with a simplified form of the truth, during which explanation Boy #1 lost interest and left the room. Such is the price of being the wise mother.

  14. iota says:

    Just tell it like it is. Well, a simplified version.Then steel yourself for the questions as they get older:"What's an abortion?""Why do people have children if they don't really want them?""Why do people fight wars and kill each other?""Why do you have to kill those ants? They don't carry disease, and they're not doing any harm. Don't you think their lives have value too? They don't know they're on your kitchen counter, they're just getting on with their lives.""Why does God let earthquakes happen?"(after watching rubbish teenager American sitcom) "Why shouldn't tell your girlfriend that you love her?" But seriously, on the 'where do babies come from ?' one, just be honest. The less awkward you are, the less they will think it's anything odd or different. And it's much better in the privacy of your own kitchen (with the bin as an ally), than in a public forum, when "I'll tell you later" is probably the best response!

  15. iota says:

    I think Suzanne's suggestion of a book to read together is a good one.

  16. Writer Dad says:

    Cookies, Tara. You need to have an extra large bag of cookies omnipresent. Pixar also works. Just remind them that it's been a while since you all watched Ratatouille together.

  17. Turf Dad says:

    Never got "the talk" from my parents. Hugh Hefner schooled me. Kinda sad.I'm all over what Iota is saying. You have to police what is being shown on T.V.. My kids wanted to watch "Confessions of an American Teenager." OMG, what a load of crap. And don't get me started on music and music videos.You are at the EASY time to explain sex, or educate about sex. Do it now before he becomes a teenager. Who knows what will be out there a few years.Just be honest teach him good values. No sense in beating around the bush.And I don't mean anything nasty by that last sentence.

  18. Kelloggsville says:

    I recommend "where did I come from?" by Peter Mayle – I used this with daughter at 8 years old. Unfortunately, it is a difficult subject to talk about but I agree with Turf Dad, the more honesty you have now the easier it will get later. Honesty doesn't necessarily mean "explicit". Answer their questions as directly as you can with no more added. Let them ask and you answer when they are little (under 7). They won't push it very far and interest fades again quickly. Good Luck x

  19. Kool Aid says:

    I'm so thankful that it's not me, at least not right now. It's not going to be too much longer, I'm sure. Although we haven't had any more discussions about "baginas," it in the near future I'm sure. I've loved reading all the advice everyone else is giving and I'm filing it all away for future use. Best o' luck, girl!!

  20. Coding Mamma (Tasha) says:

    Rosemary did ask shortly after we told her I was expecting. And I just said 'Well, Daddy had a seed and Mummy and an egg and they mixed together in Mummy and started growing into a baby.' She nodded and said 'OK'. I expect the questions will get more detailed as she gets older, but I have no problem with that. I always knew the facts of life, as my parents answered all my questions simply and honestly as soon as I started asking them, which means I never had 'the talk', just lots of little ones. And I'm hoping to follow that myself, as I think it worked well.

  21. Lisa (Jonny's M says:

    Did anyone else say: "Buy a book" because that's what my mom (mum) did.

  22. May says:

    I always thought I would be the over-educating, over-honest parent who never had trouble facing or explaining any issues to their kids. Any question would be met with my planned, matter-of-fact explanation and kids would say "ok" and go about doing whatever they were doing. The other night, I had a bath with my son (see? no probs with nudity!) when he asked me "where is your willy?". All of a sudden, I didn't know what to tell him other than boys have willies and girls don't and since mommy's a girl she doesn't have one, which I did. The baby-question I suppose I could have handled but examining our own body parts apparently not!

  23. mum space says:

    Hi – I have recently discovered your blog and am really enjoying it so thank you.Our son asks questions about everything. He was very quickly onto the whole where do babies come from when he was two. I was very surprised and not at all prepared but he actually offered his own explanation which has been working for our family ever since:God gave Dada a seed and Dada gave the seed to Mama to eat and then the baby started to grow in her tummy.Apparently when you get married God will give the dad his baby seeds then (he leaves them under your pillow). He grows them in his cloud garden.

  24. Mary@Holy Mackerel says:

    Ummm, I kind of chickened out, and gave my daughter a book about it all. But I did tell her I was here if she had any questions…she hasn't asked me any yet. Phew!

  25. A Lawyer Mom's says:

    So glad I just found you, over at Vered's MomGrind.A piece of advice? Don't watch the evening news with the kiddos. Questions posed thus far: what is erectile dysfunction? what is sexuality?I think I'll call it "premature gratification" and leave it at that, if that particular question ever comes. ACK!

  26. Tracy says:

    I told my oldest son the truth when he asked, because that was the fashion at the time. He choose not to believe me and made up his own explanation.The one I couldn't answer was my second asking me why I had two butts.

  27. I had the 'babies' talk with my 5 year old at the weekend. It was quite nerve-wracking. Thankfully she seemed to be happy with the most basic of information and has not asked any more detailed questions yet. Luckily I gave her just the right amount of information, it's hard to judge what they need to know at what age. Now that we've covered the basics I'm not too concerned about the more detailed questions she will eventually ask. I feel the ground work has been done, and it wasn't that bad in the end.

  28. Patricia says:

    There are some really wonderful books out now that can assist in the explanations, but I found if the child was asking they really wanted to know so we made appointments to talk about it…and I prepared myself…no silly names. Keep it simple (KISS) – would you rather they know your feelings and values or from their school mates?It is part of being human after all, we need to talk about it and not assume.

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