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Friday, April 15, 2011

Talking about the Birds and the Bees

When do you talk about the Birds and the Bees with your kids?  Our oldest son is almost 4 years old and is very aware that girls and boys have different body parts. Yesterday, while brushing his teeth with Daddy in the bathroom he asked, "Daddy, where do you come from?"  I paused from fixing the corner of the bed sheets and looked toward the bathroom door, my ears were burning from trying to hear the response.  Daddy responded, "from Grammy."  

Our oldest son, remembers when his younger brother was in "Mommy's belly."  I'm sure he also has flashbacks of the waiting room at Emory University Hospital, when I was pacing up and down the hallway, holding my back, and rocking back and forth from contractions.  There’s also a chance that he doesn’t remember. 

I recall talking to my mom briefly about sex.  I was too embarrassed and politely brushed her off when she tried to engage me in the "Sex Talk."  My mom pulled out the great colorful children's book, written by Peter Mayle, Where Do I Come From?  We even had the "African American edition."  The pudgy couple looked like "Meet the Browns."  The cartoon images of a man and woman were nicely illustrated on the various semi-glossy pages.  As children, we thought we were looking at a scandalous X-rated magazine, though it did do a good job describing what "goes down" when couples “get together." 

A recent survey by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), found that 93% of adults support sex education in high school and 84% support it in junior high school.  Come to think of it, I vaguely remember my twin and I taking a sex ed class, either in junior high or high school.  Sex education in schools is a hot topic that has Congress up in arms.  Personally, I'd prefer my sons learn about sex education at home and in school.  This would have a double impact on them.

In these times, you have to direct the conversation past the Birds and the Bees with children.  STDs and HIV/AIDS should be addressed at some point.  Surprisingly, you don't hear too much about those topics in the mainstream media anymore.  The signs about the startling statistics of African Americans and AIDS around West End are gone or peeling away.  It's like the four-letter word has been forgotten.  A study by the CDC found that Blacks/African Americans accounted for the majority of the estimated number of AIDS diagnoses made during 2007, followed by Whites and Hispanic/Latinos.  The South has the highest percentage of new HIV rates in the country.

If parents talk more openly about STDs and HIV/AIDS with their children, then they would further abstain from unprotected sex.  Granted, our boys are young, but I can imagine showing children images of what my mom called in her childhood, "VD."  That would definitely keep their britches on tight.

I don't know a good age to talk to kids about sex.  When do you bring it up?  Do you wait for them?  We know the consequences if you wait too late?  Try the show on MTV, "Teen Mom."  I'm going to do my best to have an open dialogue about sex education with our kids.  It may be uncomfortable for both parties, but risk factors and safer sex behaviors should be openly discussed.

CDC. HIV/AIDS Surveillance Supplemental Report: Cases of HIV Infection and AIDS in the United States and Dependant Areas, by Race/Ethnicity, 2003—2007. Volume 14, Number 2.

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