What Would You Teach Your Kids About the Birds and the Bees?

What would you teach your kids about the birds and the bees?

This is mostly a rhetorical question for me, since I don’t have kids and most likely never will, but how would you teach your kids about the birds and the bees? Would you talk to them about things like safer sex and consent?

My parents never gave me a sex talk.  I first found out about sex from a book about the human body that my parents gave me that they didn’t actually realize covered sex among the assorted other bodily functions and activities.  Luckily the sex ed teacher at school was a public health nurse who did a good job of the basics.

I don’t think I would have wanted my parents to give me a sex talk.  Presumably my parents have had sex at some point in their lifetime, but I have no desire to think about it.  I’m sure my parents have just as little desire to know about my sex life.

I think that’s where the cool aunt/uncle or similar figure can come into the equation.  The fact that a non-parental adult has sex, or at least knows about it, seems more palatable than if it were the parents.  And I think I would feel a lot more comfortable giving my brother’s kids (when he has them) the birds and the bees talk than I would my own.

Information is power

We also need to make sure kids have accurate information about preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.  Stayteen.org has an “ask us anything” section, and the number of misconceptions about sex is frightening.  One myth is that anal sex is a safe way to avoid pregnancy, when in fact it’s a very high risk activity for sexually transmitted infections.  I suspect having a chat about anal sex would be a lot easier as the cool aunt/uncle rather than as the parent.

We can stick our heads in the sand and hope that kids aren’t going to have sex as teenagers, but chances are we’d be wrong.  A 2017 press release from Planned Parenthood says that more than half of U.S. teens are sexually active by age 18.  I think we’re far better off giving them the information to be as safe as possible whatever situations they may find themselves in.

Would you talk to them about reproductive rights issues? It’s something that many females end up facing, and being informed is better than going in blind.


It’s important that kids hear not just about the mechanics and the health issues like STDs, but also about things like sexting and consent.  Kids are bombarded with societal messages about what’s expected to fit in, where their worth lies, and what labels are used for what perceived behaviours (e.g. “slut”).  If our kids are hearing these messages without having them balanced out by realistic messages from trusting adults, that’s a problem. Rape culture is something that society has created and perpetuated, and we need to teach our kids that it’s not acceptable.

And as much as we don’t want to think of our kids being victims of sexual assault, we need to convey this message to them:

Whether it’s the parent conveying the message or someone else, we owe it to our kids to prepare them the best we can for a world that’s not all rainbows and unicorns. The birds and the bees talk needs to be about actual humans and the issues that they’re likely to face Knowledge is power, and knowledge helps kids to stay safe and recognize that it’s ok to set and enforce their own limits.  If we don’t provide kids with a comprehensive knowledge base around sex, we are disempowering them.  We can do better than that.

33 thoughts on “What Would You Teach Your Kids About the Birds and the Bees?”

  1. I have both a boy and girl. While I know the sex talk is not going to be the funnest thing to broach I do plan on having a conversation with both my kids and I plan to hit it EARLY because consent is an important issue. However, I also plan on having a cool aunt/uncle for them to ask questions too if they feel more comfortable as well.

  2. I love this so much. I also don’t have any children and likely won’t but the questions remain the same. And thank you ever so much for having a mental health blog, I feel like we need more advocacy in the world and you do just that! I’m trying to start a blog about Borderline Personality disorder specifically and this is just the inspiration I need!

  3. This is an important post… personally having two boys now just in their twenties, I look back and realise that I was always pretty open with them (read very!). As I was single when they were growing up, I kept my own sex life private however.

  4. My world is all rainbows and unicorns!! 😀

    I think in my case, growing up, I was bombarded with stories everywhere about princes rescuing princesses in distress, and that became my die-hard fantasy about sex. I was never able to perceive sex as being a physical thing (and I still can’t). That’s probably why my world is still all rainbows and unicorns! I’m all like, “We love each other, and we’ll get lost in a rainbow, and physical bodies–which are disgusting–have nothing to do with it!”

    I certainly like the idea of having a “designated sex educator” in the family, like the cool aunt, or that sort of thing! I think you’d be great at it, Ashley!! Woo hoo!!

  5. My stepmom gave me the talk when I was in sixth or seventh grade I think. I must say I always appreciated how she went about it. She was very honest and open about the whole thing, answered any and every question I had. She also talked about potential consequences and how important it was to make sure it was safe, etc. It made me feel like I could trust her when it was time for me to make my own decisions on the matter.

  6. -what is healthy, what isn’t
    -it’s okay to like different things/people than everyone else
    -porn (limits, etc)
    Just to start, i guess

  7. I had to take a sex ed class in fifth grade in one town, where they told us that we could get pregnant anytime we have sex. I believed it too, at that age. In a different town, they had us have a sex ed class in 7th grade that compared females having multiple partners was giving a piece of us away, using a glass of water as an example So serious. Neither talked about sexual abuse, either. At home, my parents had my grandma give me a sex talk where I could ask anything. Lol.

  8. I never had a sex talk but I think it’s super important to have one with your children. I think I’d make it light hearted though rather than a serious topic x

  9. I don’t think it should be a one off talk but a general atmosphere in the family where they feel emotionally and physically safe to talk to their parents openly and honestly.

    If I ever raise kids, I will teach and model to them about boundaries, consent and body autonomy (not just about consent and autonomy during sex!) from as young as possible. I will do everything I can to model healthy relationships, and open appropriate communication.

      1. I had terrible models growing up (purity culture, eg like what someone wrote about likened to being a glass of water with spit in it. It also sometimes teaches that sexual victimisation is the victim’s fault) and they taught me what NOT to do.

  10. I agree! Kids need to know! They need to be safe! Especially in this time and in this tech age and all! I learned about sex from a book, too! Lol

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