Wondering how to become an askable parent? AMAZE is here to help! In this episode, you’ll learn how to answer the popular -- and dreaded by many parents! -- question, “Where do babies come from?” We cover why this question actually has nothing to do with sex and the importance of using actual body part names.
Become An Askable Parent is a podcast from AMAZE.org. AMAZE creates free educational videos + resources to help families talk openly, honestly, and less awkwardly about sex, health, relationships + growing up. The goal of the podcast is to help parents learn how to communicate better (even when they don’t have all the answers!) so their kids know that they can ask them anything.
Connect with AMAZE.org on YouTube (@amazeparents), Facebook (@amazeparents), and Twitter (@amazeorg).
Welcome to the AMAZE podcast! AMAZE creates free educational videos and resources to help families talk openly, honestly, and less awkwardly about sex, health relationships, and growing up. Our goal is to help you become an askable parent through short, actionable podcast episodes. In today's episode, you'll learn how to answer the popular -- and dreaded by many parents! -- question, "Where do babies come from?" We cover why this question actually has nothing to do with sex and the importance of using actual body part names.
Welcome back, everyone. To start, let me ask: In your experience, what's the first question a young child might ask about their origins? And when might they ask it?
Parent 1: 0:48
My four year old asked me one day total out of the blue, "Where do babies come from?" I was shocked!
Parent 2: 0:55
Funny, but mine asked at 4 also. Only she was much more personal and sassy about it. Wanted to know exactly where she came from. I was like, "I don't think so!"
OK, if I'm hearing you correctly, you both were thinking this was a question about sex. But if we consider the question from the child's point of view, we'll discover that "Where did I come from?" is really a question about a child's relationship with space and time in the world and has nothing to do with sex.
Parent 3: 1:26
I don't know. That sounds a little heavy for Tim. He mostly thinks about sounds that come out his butt.
Cute. But hear me out, Terry, Around 4-years-old children's brains makes some important leaps in development. And they start to understand basic space time concepts that used to be totally above their heads. For example, words like here, there, before, now...and phrases like after dinner and before you were born. This can spark some interesting new ideas like, "Last night Daddy told me I wasn't in that picture of him and Mommy in the dining room because it was taken before I was born. I think I know what he meant. I am here now in our family, so I'm thinking there must have been a time when I wasn't here. I think I'll go ask Dad where I was before I was here." So "where did I come from?" isn't about sex. It's about time, space and location. That's why it starts with the word "where."
Parent 1: 2:20
I get it. Plus I think I had that same conversation in college one night.
Parent 4: 2:25
So what should we say when they ask?
Well, it's a "where" question so try a "where" answer. Something like, "You know that everyone starts out as a baby, right? Well before babies are born, they grow inside their biological mom's body in a special place called a uterus or womb."
Parent 3: 2:42
Isn't uterus a word that's way too grown up for such a little kid?
See, there's that double standard thinking again. You wouldn't hesitate to say "kidney" or "stomach" in front of a kid that age, right? Anyway, 4-year-olds are pretty matter of fact about bodies, so they'll probably respond with something like, "Okay, thanks for the cool new word. What's for lunch?"
Parent 4: 3:05
What's next? The stork?
That's actually pretty close. Most children are satisfied for quite a while just knowing about uteruses, and might not ask about their origins again until they're five or so. Wanna guess what they usually ask then?
Parent 1: 3:19
Well, if they know they used to be in the womb and now they're not, maybe they'd want to know how they got out of there.
Right on, Fiona! Around age five kids start thinking about another new concept. The idea of how things move through time and space. That's why they suddenly love playing with cars, trucks and clocks. So we shouldn't be at all surprised if one day they ask, "I knew babies come from a special place inside the body, but how exactly do they get out of there and move out here?" The piece of information they're missing is that there's a connecting space between the inside of the uterus and the outside world, so it's a great time to teach them the word "vagina."
Parent 4: 4:01
And I thought "uterus" was hard.
Well, remember, to them, understanding the purpose of vaginas during the birth process is like understanding a tunnel that connects one place to another.
Parent 1: 4:12
It really makes sense. This is all about kids figuring out how things work in the world. They don't know anything about sexual intercourse yet, so why would they ask about it?
Yes, that's right. Great job, everyone. And now that we talked about how they got out of the uterus, next time we'll discuss the very logical follow up question, "But how did I get in there in the first place?"
Parent 4: 4:35
But I'm still getting comfortable with "uterus."
Thanks for joining us today! To find more free educational resource is from AMAZE-- including videos, book recommendations, conversational scripts and more--visit AMAZE.org. You can also connect with us on YouTube and Facebook at @amazeparents and on Twitter at @amazeorg. Thanks for listening.