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Explaining how babies are made to children and other people who do not understand the mechanics of sexual reproduction is actually an extremely easy task, although it can be awkward. Determining which method of explanation is appropriate requires taking into consideration the age of the listener and any moral restrictions someone might have. Many parents attempt to obscure the physical nature of sex by using euphemisms, which can be appropriate for very young children, but older children are unlikely to be convinced by misinformation. The most important part of explaining how babies are made is going into the situation with a clear plan in order to prevent confusion.
In most cases, the most effective way to explain how babies are made is to inform listeners of the facts. The mechanics of sex need not be explained in explicit detail. Older children, however, would likely benefit from some understanding of how a sperm reaches an egg. Younger children might be satisfied with an explanation that includes an egg growing in a woman's tummy.
Some people who do not believe in accurately conveying to others how babies are made find that euphemisms and metaphors, such as the traditional birds and the bees talk, is a better approach. Usually, these explanations explain the same processes but obscure the mechanics. Often, though, the intended picture to be given at the end is that mothers have a place where babies grow, which is the same as the more explicit model.
Many parents find that a book read together can help guide the discussion. There are many different books available that help explain how babies are made, and they are available for every possible age. Between a book and a parent, most children receive a satisfactory understanding of how babies are made.
One important fact to note is that, by obscuring the mechanics of sex, a parent or guardian runs the risk of confusion later on. By explaining the situation factually to begin with while leaving out unnecessary details, the teacher sets up the right foundation for later knowledge. Also, it is important not to make sexual reproduction a taboo topic in one's household, because this can have negative effects later in life.
For example, children who do not understand the very basics of what constitutes sexual interactions can be easily taken advantage of. Also, teenagers who do not understand how babies are made are significantly more likely to make babies at an inappropriate time. When a child is very young, it can be tempting to obscure the facts, but this is an opportunity to set up a good network for discussing the facts throughout life.
My child's middle school had a very thorough sexual education course. I had to sign a permission slip before she could watch a straightforward "how babies are made" video. The parents watched the same movie the night before it was shown in class, and I thought it was done as tastefully as possible. Some parents thought some of the illustrations of sexual organs were too graphic, but I thought they took enough of the mystery of sex out to be helpful for preteens. It was not pornographic.
Sometimes I wonder how curious a modern child really is about the "facts of life". Some eight year olds I know are savvy enough to put in the right keywords in a search engine and get all of the answers about sexual matters they will ever need. We didn't have all that information available when we were children, so we needed to sit through the talk with mom or dad.
I don't know that I want very young children hearing clinical information about the mechanics of baby making. On the other hand, I don't want to perpetuate mythology like babies growing in mommy's stomach or being discovered in a cabbage patch. I think letting a small child know that mommy has a special place in her body where babies can grow is good enough.
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