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Why do parents delay telling their children about puberty
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#1 I'm Batman

Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:24 PM

I realise there is no right or wrong answer for this type of thing, but Im curious as to why so many people delay telling their children about puberty and sex.

It hasn't come up much but our children do know about sex, from a young age, and about child birth.  I fielded a few curious questions when I was pregnant. I am the type of person who will try to answer any question my children ask me the best I can and then point them to a webpage explaining in detail.  If I can answer the questions openly and not be embarrassed they will understand there is no need to be judgemental about human sexuality.

IMO if you introduce a concept early enough they accept it easily. They also come to you for information when they need it, or trust you to point them in the right direction.

I also broadly plan on introducing concepts like respect, no means no, and contraception when they are old enough to be in a relationship.Also want to try to outline that sex, masturbation,are normal and healthy when I believe they are old enough to understand that message.

SO basically I plan on breaking down all the information into chunks that I feel are relevant tO their development at that time. Not a single talk, but many.

I do remember the puberty talks at school, they were fairly formative to me, we roared with laughter at the video but the basic information I found useful for the rest of my life.

Why do  other parents delay? Are they worried about overloading their child?

Edited by I'm Batman, 29 November 2012 - 10:26 PM.


#2 Expelliarmus

Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:27 PM

Because it's embarrassing to talk about

Because the child doesn't ask and if you were waiting for them to ask so you knew what they were ready to hear that's a fail ...

Because the children are too small the last time you were pregnant to really even notice, care or ask questions

Because the child runs screaming in the other direction when you attempt it

Because time went by and now holy crap they are 12!

#3 JRA

Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:27 PM

Certainly one reason is that children don't want to hear too much sometimes.

#4 KatakaGeoGirl

Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:30 PM

Okay I'll bite. My daughter is 8 and I have no intention of telling her, unless she starts to ask or starts going through it early. She suffers from anxiety disorder and to tell her, would mean she would probably then over-worry about it all unnecessarily. Whilst she hasn't asked about sex, I find no reason to explain it to her. However, she does know some basics about babies and how they are made. As I had a hysterectomy and explained what had happened, and what it meant. As they asked and asked directly if it meant I could no longer have babies, and how and why. So I explained the minimum of what I felt they needed to know by that age.

#5 I'm Batman

Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:31 PM

My mum never talked about sexuality or puberty at all, actually there was very little I could talk to her about. She has some very religious and puritanical ideas at times.

The school talks were fantastic, the information was really clearly put forward to me.Im glad she let me attend. The fact it wasnt laced with embarrassment probably helped more then any cringefest my mother would have attempted.

Edited by I'm Batman, 29 November 2012 - 10:33 PM.


#6 Lees75

Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:32 PM

DS (9)read all about it in his kids' body book, so we have never really had the talk. DD (6) asked me the other day how the baby got in the mummy's tummy. We talked about special cuddles, but no, she wanted details. So she got details- lol! Her response, "ew, I'm never doing that!" XH was very happy- lol! But she wanted to know tiny detail, so we even drew sperm/eggs, talked about X and Y chromoses, etc. while DS sat on the couch, pretending to read, but with his ears wide open original.gif

#7 strawberry blondes

Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:36 PM

I think my children are probably too young to understand. My 6 yo DD knows that you have periods when your body is ready to have babies and you get hair when you become a lady. All 3 of my girls don't know how babies are made, they think daddy gives mummy a seed and it grows into a baby. For now this will do for me, they don't probe further and seem happy enough with the little they have been told. I will be more than happy to tell them anything they want to know as they get older.

#8 antigone_

Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:39 PM

It's funny, but I don't get really embarrassed talking about it.

My BIL nearly died when his 5 year old daughter asked him what sexy meant (Gangnam Style video sparked the question) and didn't answer her. When my son of the same age asked, I told him it meant she's a pretty lady to that man, and my seven year old son I said "It means that man finds he attractive and he might want to be her boyfriend."

Sex I reduced to two elements when my 7 year old asked - mechanics and love. Ok, so my cheeks might have flushed a little when I said the bit about the penis going into the vagina, but that's about it.

I said it matter of fact, unashamedly and he got a little embarrassed so we moved on. I take my cues from the kids but never ignore them or tell white lies to save embarrassment. I don't want any of my sons getting anyone pregnant before their time!! original.gif

#9 I'm Batman

Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:47 PM

So is it simply that they dont ask, and you dont want to scare them with the details. I do realise youve got to Strike a balance between telling them everything and not telling them anything at all.

Those who say seed, and egg is there a reason why you say that instead of sperm? Is it something you feel they will understand better. My eldest who is 8 asked me questions about childbirth and what it felt like, maybe 3 or 4 times so I found a video of a birth that I felt was suitable and showed him. Kourtney Kardashian giving birth to Mason, which is a beautiful peaceful birth.

I'm not judging anyone (despite all my questions), human sexuality and sex educational is handled differently by everyone to suit their family and child, as it should be. My chidlren are the types who ask a bazillion questions about everything and want to know details, so I feel if they are old enough I am obliged to give them real answers.

Edited by I'm Batman, 29 November 2012 - 11:07 PM.


#10 JJ

Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:52 PM

QUOTE (howdo @ 29/11/2012, 10:27 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Because the child runs screaming in the other direction when you attempt it


Yeah, I have one of those too. So really, there wasn't much to be done until they covered it at school and he was made to sit and endure it. tongue.gif We've always encouraged questions and discussion etc., but to force the issue when he was younger would have caused unnecessary anxiety and embarrassment. He actually did ask at one stage but then decided that no, he didn't really want to know more details just yet.

My 8yo on the other hand has known most of what there is to know since she was 5 (there's just a few things we haven't "covered" yet), and is extremely pragmatic when it comes to all things sex-related. She rolls her eyes at her friends who think sex is a naughty word or something to giggle at or be embarrassed about. She's more interested in the science and mechanics of it all.

So yes, as I think we all agree, it really does depend on the child.

Edited by JJ, 29 November 2012 - 10:54 PM.


#11 steffijade81

Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:53 PM

Im the same as PP, take cues from the child. My mum was great when I was growing up. She answered anything you asked honestly but didnt make a big deal of it. You always knew she was there whenever you needed to ask a question. I have also had personal experience with the "over educator" type parents and thats scary. Parents need to supply the information when its asked of them, thats their job as a parent but sitting your kids down on multiple occasions to have family chats about said topics is kinda gross and over the top. I know girls that feel irked by their mums and dads because of this. Then I know girls that were never informed or misinformed and they are off just as bad. I think a happy medium is good.

#12 Angelot

Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:59 PM

Everybody's different, I guess.  When I asked, mum pulled out her old nursing textbooks and showed me all the anatomical diagrams and went through it all - I must have been about 8.  Intuitively I like the idea of naturally answering as things are asked, that seems sensible, but I can see that some kids won't ask, so what then?

But there are some things I wouldn't feel appropriate.  A PP mentioned showing a video of a birth - my instant response is no way am I showing my daughter something like that which should be kept private!  But that's my "stuff" about birth and it seems a helpful approach for other people, so....  shrug.gif

#13 Soontobegran

Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:05 PM

What do you consider as delaying?
Children are all different, one child may be interested and seek information early and another of the same age will put both fingers in their ears and sing "lalala".

I don't think most parents deliberately delay, they know their own children and take their lead. From my experience by the time our children are in their early teens many can teach their parents a few things. They talk, they have sex education at school and they have the internet.

#14 fancie

Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:09 PM

My DD (almost 13) has known about menstruation since she was 2yo - simply that it happens when girls grow up to become young women and is the body preparing to make a safe spot for a baby to grow.  When a baby isn't made, then the body gets rid of the blood and makes a nice new safe spot in case a baby is made next time.

We have been building on information about sex and sexuality ever since - including the 'mechanics' of intercourse and conception (I think she was 5-ish at that time)

I really don't understand though how parents can be aware of physiological changes indicating the commencement of puberty in their child and still not initiate any conversation.

Edited by fancie, 29 November 2012 - 11:11 PM.


#15 Expelliarmus

Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:15 PM

QUOTE (fancie @ 30/11/2012, 12:09 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I really don't understand though how parents can be aware of physiological changes indicating the commencement of puberty in their child and still not initiate any conversation.

Well, you can initiate it but that doesn't mean they will reciprocate ...

#16 Soontobegran

Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:17 PM

QUOTE (fancie @ 30/11/2012, 12:09 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I really don't understand though how parents can be aware of physiological changes indicating the commencement of puberty in their child and still not initiate any conversation.



Because not all children are welcoming of the information or even capable of understanding it even though their body is going through the changes.
There is no right or wrong and I do not think any parent should be made to feel that they are lacking because they have done things differently to someone else.

I honestly had no plan with our children at all, the introduction to sex education and puberty was a varied as their personalities.

#17 CallMeFeral

Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:20 PM

QUOTE (fancie @ 30/11/2012, 12:09 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
My DD (almost 13) has known about menstruation since she was 2yo - simply that it happens when girls grow up to become young women and is the body preparing to make a safe spot for a baby to grow.  When a baby isn't made, then the body gets rid of the blood and makes a nice new safe spot in case a baby is made next time.


Yes, both my kids (2 and 3) know this much, thanks to the lack of privacy I get in the bathroom! They are both fascinated with my pads and menstrual cup and like to see them going in/on!  blink.gif

I think mine will know about puberty before they know about sex. It just seems to come up more naturally in conversation as they observe the differences between myself and themselves,  why they don't have pubic hair, breasts, periods, etc.

As for actual sex, I'm assuming that more questions will eventually come up... I have the 'where do I come from' book ready... but I haven't been game yet... but I do feel I should get to it soon because I like the way my parents did it - I had and read that book very early so I cannot remember not knowing.

I dunno, it's weird though, I do feel really uncomfortable about 'sexualising' their organs for them. I don't so much have a problem with them knowing what myself and DH did to get kids (well maybe some discomfort!) - but I have a problem with them knowing what their organs are 'for'. I can't explain why. It just seems like a bit of a grown up thing - at this age it seems best that they just think (as they currently do) that the only difference between their organs is that she can't pee standing up (and boy does she want to...)
Probably my own baggage, but it's there nonetheless.


#18 bakesferalgirls

Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:33 PM

QUOTE (fancie @ 29/11/2012, 11:09 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I really don't understand though how parents can be aware of physiological changes indicating the commencement of puberty in their child and still not initiate any conversation.


PP's, think the person who has said this more means, that even if the child has not shown any interest in knowing, or has never asked any questions, the conversation should still be initiated, especially if there are signs that puberty is not too far off.

It's one thing to start discussing it and to have no response, or a response of fingers in the ears and 'lalala', it's another to never even try to bring it up.

Our DD1 never showed any interest and never asked any questions, so I raised the subject of puberty, periods, sex and so on myself. She never said a word, but sat there listening intently, looking like I was embarrassing her. If I had left it for her to show an interest, I'd still be waiting. She's starting to smell of BO, she's starting to grow breasts. I don't want her to hit puberty not knowing the facts, all because I was waiting for a question that she wasn't going to ask or was too embarrassed to ask. She had physiological changes, so the subject had to be raised.

She still hasn't asked me any questions, but I know that she knows she can ask me anything anytime. She's started opening up more when I discuss periods with her though. She only said to me the other day, that she's a little scared and excited to know that she'll probably get her first period soon, that some of her friends already have theirs.

Fancie, if I have interpreted what you are saying incorrectly, feel free to correct me original.gif

Edited by bakesgirls, 29 November 2012 - 11:34 PM.


#19 B.feral3

Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:34 PM

QUOTE (fancie @ 29/11/2012, 11:09 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
My DD (almost 13) has known about menstruation since she was 2yo - simply that it happens when girls grow up to become young women and is the body preparing to make a safe spot for a baby to grow.  When a baby isn't made, then the body gets rid of the blood and makes a nice new safe spot in case a baby is made next time.

We have been building on information about sex and sexuality ever since - including the 'mechanics' of intercourse and conception (I think she was 5-ish at that time)


This is me. I've started as well and am just very matter of fact and frank about it. I don't understand how anatomy and physiology is embarrassing at all?  shrug.gif

QUOTE (fancie @ 29/11/2012, 11:09 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I really don't understand though how parents can be aware of physiological changes indicating the commencement of puberty in their child and still not initiate any conversation.


This is also me.... screaming in the bathroom thinking I was dying after discovering my first period. Even then it still wasn't explained to me. I was just told to put 'this' in my underwear and not tell anyone when it comes. I then recall her laughing with her friends on the phone, neighbours, my father, everyone she saw about my reaction and I felt really humiliated.

#20 fancie

Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:39 PM

QUOTE (soontobegran @ 30/11/2012, 12:17 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Because not all children are welcoming of the information or even capable of understanding it even though their body is going through the changes.



STBG, I'm not talking about initiating the conversation and the child not welcoming the information or not completely understanding all the changes. I mean not initiating the conversation at all when puberty has commenced and menstruation (in particular) is imminent, the time for talking is now.  

My mum's menache occurred in 1934 - she knew nothing about menstruation despite being 15yo - she thought she was dying as she was unable to stop the blood.  I hate to think, almost a century later that there are young girls who are just as much in the dark when the get their first period.



#21 Soontobegran

Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:41 PM

QUOTE (Bek+3 @ 30/11/2012, 12:34 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This is me. I've started as well and am just very matter of fact and frank about it. I don't understand how anatomy and physiology is embarrassing at all?  shrug.gif



It isn't about embarrassing, it is about the individual child's ability to comprehend and to in fact show any interest in talking about it.
You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink so to speak.

I think we can safely leave it to the individual parent to know when is best for them and their family.



#22 fancie

Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:43 PM

QUOTE (bakesgirls @ 30/11/2012, 12:33 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Fancie, if I have interpreted what you are saying incorrectly, feel free to correct me original.gif



bakesgirls, that's exactly what I meant. hheart.gif

#23 Soontobegran

Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:48 PM

QUOTE (fancie @ 30/11/2012, 12:39 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
My mum's menache occurred in 1934 - she knew nothing about menstruation despite being 15yo - she thought she was dying as she was unable to stop the blood.  I hate to think, almost a century later that there are young girls who are just as much in the dark when the get their first period.


It is a completely different environment for young girls to that of our mums and grandmums. I agree with you that not being told at all by age 15 is ridiculous but unfortunately that was common place back then, there was so much not spoken about, there was no internet, no TV and very little media.
Not so today, there is no possible way that an NT 15 year old girl would not know about periods and this would be even if the parents never said a word to them about it but having said that I am certain that most parents ensure their girls are aware at the appropriate age for them.

#24 bakesferalgirls

Posted 30 November 2012 - 12:00 AM

QUOTE (soontobegran @ 29/11/2012, 11:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It isn't about embarrassing, it is about the individual child's ability to comprehend and to in fact show any interest in talking about it.
You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink so to speak.


You are right in that no, you can't force the horse to drink. In saying that though, if there are signs that puberty is not far off, surely it's best to arm a child with knowlege before the fact rather than after.

#25 fancie

Posted 30 November 2012 - 12:14 AM

But STBG, when a young girl is showing signs that puberty has well and truly started then I really don't get how in this day and age the same thing is happening - first period and not a jot of forewarning that there was even such a thing as menstruation.  Because the result is the same - panic and fear.  

And it doesn't seem to be such a rare occurrence.  

DD's sex-ed at school took place last year in Year 6.  Quite a few of her school friends had already starting menstruating before the sex-ed.  And surprising to me, DD told me that some of them had told her that they hadn't known what was happening the first time, because no-one had even told them that it would.  

Of course, by the time sex-ed came around at school, the info on menstruation was coming too late to inform and prepare those girls.

Menstruation can be scary enough the first few times even when a young girl is informed and prepared for the whole process (as much as that is possible) - I really don't get why some parents think that their child being completely ignorant of menstruation until it happens is the way to go.

It would be ridiculous for a NT 15 yo in this day to be ignorant of menstruation - but as the age for menarche is now much younger - then 8yo, 9yo, 10yo, etc who are obviously knee deep into puberty should know about menstruation - they should never ever be blindsided by it.

Edited by fancie, 30 November 2012 - 12:21 AM.





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