Paren(t)thesis — Tough Conversations

June 30, 2017

By Jill Rothenbueler Maher

Kids are known to “say the darndest things.” And sometimes they ask the darndest things.

Kids tend to pose questions while parents are engaged in an activity like walking or driving. Once in a while, adults get a minor shock when a question is flung from the back seat about how babies are made. When answering, there can be a natural desire to evade or rely on a trope involving a stork, but experts say that’s the wrong approach.

In fact, a highly recommended book is It’s NOT the Stork! — A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families, and Friends written by Robie H. Harris. The informative text manages to make the ultimate awkward topic as comfortable as possible. Michael Emberley’s clear illustrations are engaging and child-friendly, not clinical. A little bird and a bee inject humor and insight via their comments and observations, and they also affirm a range of feelings kids may experience.

Harris authored a small series of books that children and parents can explore sequentially. The progression reinforces the principle that sex and sexuality shouldn’t be a single, pivotal conversation. Instead, it should be an ongoing topic over time.

Of course, kids occasionally talk about it when they are at play together or at school. They also get information and values from media. Yet kids do want their parents to be a source of information, according to experts such as those at the nonprofit Advocates for Youth. Parents are even a preferred source of information.

Most adults find discussing the topic with their children a little embarrassing, and some parents never learned about sex as children in their home, so they may find it especially embarrassing to raise the topic with their own children. Experts say that it’s important to go ahead and venture into the conversation and demonstrate that it’s an area they can discuss.

It’s important to keep talking about this, even if kids are not asking.

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The author is a freelance writer and mother of one. Reach her with comments or suggestions at

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