On this week’s parenting slot, a listener is wondering how much information they should give their eight-year-old son about the ‘facts of life’.
It’s just one of the listener questions Joanna Fortune – psychotherapist specialising in Child & Adult Psychotherapy – answered on Moncrieff this week.
Parenting: ‘My eight-year-old has been asking more and more questions about where babies come from’
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“My eight-year-old has been asking more and more questions recently about where babies come from and how they are made. It’s probably because his auntie is expecting, and he thinks the whole thing is just incredible.
“I feel very unsure about what I should and shouldn’t tell him, or indeed how much detail I should go into? I want to be honest with him, but I don’t want to scare him either.”
“The best way is to practice it before you say it to him.
“It depends on your child. Some children are so curious and want to know intricate biological detail. Some just want to know the barebones.
“I’d say answer the question that has been asked, then pause and see if there’s a secondary question behind it or if it’s enough information for now.
“I recently discovered a book I’m using and I really like it. It’s called Making a Baby by Rachel Greener and Clare Owen. It’s a very inclusive guide on how every family begins… it’s very diverse and inclusive, and every kind of family structure you can imagine is in it. I think it’s a lovely way of doing it.
“Even if you want to read it yourself so you get your own narrative straight, it’s there as a support.
“At his age – eight-year-olds – I’d have an honest, fact-based conversation about how babies are conceived, grown, birthed. As much as you’re comfortable saying – I think you want to go slow though.
“Check in with him, see if he has more questions. Let them make sense of it. It’s quite normal for a child to ask a question and you give an answer… they mull it over, process it, try to make meaning, and maybe go ‘oh I have another question’. What you want is to make sure he brings those questions to you, and not to any online platform or any self-appointed informer in school.
“You want him knowing he brings the difficult questions to you, and you will make the information accessible to him. As parents, we need to practice that in our head first.
“At eight, he’s absolutely ready – and the fact he’s asking you tells you he is ready for this.”