Being the sole female in the house, I am the only one who has private parts that don't look like anyone else in the family. This did not go unnoticed by my sons, who, around the ages of two and three, began to ask where my penis went. The innocence of their question makes it one of those funny memories that we look back on and laugh. But it was also an opportunity to have a serious anatomy discussion and explore how our bodies work. If you're wondering how to explain vaginas to your son, don't worry — I've walked this road and it's not as uncomfortable as you might think.
Every family has their own comfort level with body parts, and children in different households have different amounts of exposure to bodies other than their own. However, most children are very curious about body parts and their functions, and offering them honest explanations takes any shame or taboo out of their curiosities.
Just because boys don't have a vagina, doesn't mean they shouldn't know about them and all the amazing things they can do. Taking the time to give them the facts will set the framework for future conversations and keep them from buying into any myths about vaginas that they may pick up from peers. If you're wondering how to have a productive anatomy conversation with your son, start with these seven ideas.
1. Use The Proper Name
As Psychology Today pointed out, it's important to give your child a proper sexual vocabulary. Using the appropriate words, instead of silly euphemisms, eliminates confusion and allows them to communicate about these body parts with words that parents, teachers, doctors, or any adult can understand.
2. Explain Functions
It may help some parents to remember, that even though we use certain parts of our body for sex, talking to your kids about these parts doesn't make you a pervert. All our body parts perform a specific function and when you talk about vaginas with your son, make sure to explain women have vaginas for more than one function. They can create babies, give birth, and go pee with the different parts of their vaginas.
3. Respond, Don't React
When entering into new subjects with kids, they may have some off the wall comments and questions. To keep the conversation open and flowing, give yourself time to come up with an appropriate response, instead of reacting in the moment and saying something that you haven't thought through. A good go-to is, "that is a really great question. Give me a few minutes to think of an answer and we can talk more later."
4. Have Answers Ready
Take some time to anticipate what questions your son may have, and gather answers for those questions. Preparation is always rewarded in these situations. It may help to have some diagrams of the vagina to use as visuals, so they can get a better idea of what you are explaining.
5. Remember, It's Just Biology
This may not be an easy conversation for every parent. Perhaps you grew up in a house where these types of subjects were off limits (that's how it was in my house, anyway). But you will be surprised to find that once you get started talking, the tension will ease. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. Think of this convo as a biology lesson. Because, after all, that is truly what it is.
6. Squash Any Misinformation
There is plenty of misinformation and myths about vaginas that, even in our modern world, still makes it's way around. Don't let your son hear these false statements from other misinformed kids. Let him be the one who knows that facts and sets those kids straight.
7. Lay Track For Future Conversations
Depending on the age of your son, the amount and type of information you tell him will vary. But even those most basic conversation serves as the scaffolding to larger discussions down the road. It's a good base of understand that can be built upon over the years.