So yeah, I’d say they are certainly the experts here. The biggest takeaway I received from our discussion? That ‘the talk’ is actually OUTDATED.
- How to have the ‘body parts’ talks with your kids,
- WHEN is the right time to bring up the sex conversation - especially if your kids aren’t asking questions yet, and
- Specific words and phrases to have in your toolbox for planned and spontaneous conversations
The ladies get tangible + detailed on these conversations with your kids, so you aren’t left wondering ‘am I doing this right?!’
This podcast was transcribed using Rev.com. Please forgive any typos or errors.
Brittany: You guys are going to love this conversation. So here we are with Mary Flo and Megan from Birds and Bees.
Hi Mary Flo. And Megan, I'm so excited to have you guys on today's episode of Life with Loverly. How are y'all?
Megan: We're good. We're happy to be here!
Mary Flo: We're good. Yes, thanks for having us!
Brittany: This episode is going to be so amazing. I actually came across your Instagram account. I was talking with a few of my girlfriends in our small group and one of them has kids that are six and 10. And so she's kind of in those years where she's starting to have those conversations with some of her kids and she asked us, have you guys ever heard of this account Birds and Bees? They help you talk about sex with your kids and private parts and what that means. And so all the other moms have younger kids and we were like, what is this account? We need to know all the things too. So that's how I started following you and I'm so glad that we've connected and that you guys can join us on the podcast cause I know you've got lots of awesome information that you're going to be sharing with us today.
Megan: I know We're really excited. Honestly, I'm a big fan and so when you started following us, It was minor freak out "oh my gosh, Loverly!!''
Look whos here here! We're really excited. Thank you for having us! This is going to be really fun.
Brittany: That's so funny. Of course. So how did you two meet?
Mary Flo: Well, we have known each other a long, long time. Megan is a good friend of my daughter, so we probably in the late elementary, but even maybe before that, Megan's mom is a good friend of mine, so we've known each other a long time, but just kind of know your friends moms? Yeah. That's not knowing them super well, but they're in your world. So that's how we met. But I was giving a class, I've been teaching this class for a while and Megan was, teaching
Megan: 30 years while...
Mary Flo: Yes, for a while.
Brittany: Yeah. So you know!
Mary Flo: This is just something that I have presented to parents for a long time. But I presented at a school where Megan was a middle school teacher. And so when she saw that I was going to speak at the school, she was a little bit like, this is Ridley, you do this?
Megan: I had no idea. So I thought it was this sweet mom. I was like, who made beautiful cakes? That was really what I knew her for.
Mary Flo: I was known for the cakes, yes, but she didn't know that I was this Secret life.
So I said, well, I really don't tell everybody, all my kids friends. And so anyway, she was shocked but really took it to heart. And so she really thought, gosh, if all parents could know this, if kids could grow up with this understanding and with relationships with their parents on this topic, it would change my kids' lives at middle school and it might change marriages, it might change a lot of things. So she kept being interested in this topic.
Megan: So I would say that was the beginning of in a, we're both Christians and so that's part of our story. And I think for me that was the beginning of God putting this message on my heart, thinking, wow, every parent needs to hear this. And I didn't know that would lead to this interesting career, but here we are. So I was hearing it all from the lens of a middle school teacher, just my kids, my students were living in a very sexualized world and I was just so taken aback by that. And then a few years later had children of my own and then heard her speak again through our church. And again, just felt this, everybody's got to hear this message. And so through a turn of events, her daughter was in town and we were catching up and she said something like, "my mom's kind of looking for someone to join her and take over and I don't want to do this and neither does my sister."
And which I understand. Yeah. And I said "I might want to." And so that led to the beginning of lots of conversations between the two of us to partner together. And it's been such an honor to join Mary Flow and to bring this to a new generation and navigating the digital world and Instagram and really just sharing this message to a larger audience. So that's been really fun for us to take this time tested curriculum that Mary Flo's been teaching for a very long time, and to have it reach a whole new generation and to have it really welcomed by a whole new generation.
Brittany: And I absolutely can see where as you are a teacher in your background, how you spent years in the classroom seeing what these kids were going through and realizing they haven't had this information shared with them. So it makes a lot of sense on that side, why this would interest you.
Megan: I did not seek out to be in the sex education world as a career,
Mary Flo: Nor did I.
Megan: Yeah. But here we are, and it's been fun, it kind of led to an extension from education and we both just feel very passionate about empowering parents. Ultimately. We're not teaching kids, we are teaching the parents because the parents can make the big impact. We are little names and faces that nobody knows. So it's like the parents are the ones who have that relationship with the kids and can really make an impact. So we want to equip and empower the parents to have these conversations.
Mary Flo: And that's really, I think the missing link. So many times parents leave it up to the church community or to the schools and they're kind of relieved like, "whew, I don't have to do this", but you really do. And so it's intimidating and that's what we want to take away for parents, the intimidation of it. We want to give you sample conversations and give you scenarios where you can see yourself in that role and you can speak to your children and it's like, that was easy. That wasn't hard. We have a beautiful story to tell, but we just need help and coaching and telling that story. And I really think that's what Megan is sharing all the time on Instagram is that confidence. It's not just the words, but it's, "oh, she made that sound so easy", factor of it. And so that's where I think birds and bees is different because we're catching parents when they're kids are young and they're not looking into the eyes of a 14 year old, they're looking into young eyes and they're not giving that much information moment to moment. A accumulated a lot of information, but moment by moment.
Brittany: Yeah. Okay. Well let's dive right in. As parents, we have the instinct to protect our kids and their innocence specifically around sex and their bodies. And let's be honest, without practice, that can be a really awkward conversation to talk about. But I love y'all's approach that the best way to protect them is to start by just talking with them about it. So expand on that a little bit and give us some tips as how you get into that first conversation.
Mary Flo: Well, it depends. Do you have a question asker or a not question asker? If you have a question asker, you need to run a little bit of ahead of them and be ready before they ask. And so really I would say the first steps is for you to know where do you want these conversations to go? And that's giving yourself a message for your children. Where is the direction, what's the main thing I want my children to know about sex if they're growing up in my family? And we go into extensive conversations about that both in our online course and in the discussion guide so that you can really feel comfortable about where these conversations are going in your home. And so you're ready for those early, you look for conversations of a child that's asking a question, say, how's that baby getting out of there?
What would I say? You anticipate those questions and kind of think through how you might answer them. For the child that's not asking anything, they may be just as curious as your question asker, but they just can't quite formulate the questions. And so if you want to have these conversations, you you'll have to take the initiative. But a really simple way to take the initiative is to ask them this question, "Sweetheart, have you ever wondered exactly how that baby gets out of there?" If you take a meal to a friend or if you've just had a baby within your family or at school, you can say, have you ever wondered how the baby gets out? And chances are "yes", or "do you think how the baby gets out?" And you'll get a really funny answer if you get that. But that way they know you're a safe person. Talk about these things with them.
Brittany: It's funny because my children are four and two and lately they have been going around with their baby dolls in their shirts and it's so cute, they play house and they walk around and the baby's in their shirt and I'm like, oh, is that your baby? And they're just like, "yes, my baby's in my belly." My best friend is pregnant. We have several people in their lives who are expecting. And so I'm just kind of watching and I feel like I'm going to learn something from you guys on what's the next steps, what is appropriate for them. I feel like even sometimes as a mom, some of the things that they're saying, I'm like, oh, that's so cute. And then I'm like, I don't know how to follow that up with what's appropriate. So I think this is very timely and very common. So I'm excited that y'all are here.
Megan: And sometimes we say with a story of birth is really a great place for parents to kind of dive in because first of all, talking about how that baby gets out is a thousand times easier than talking about how that baby gets in. So it's a good place to kind of camp out for a while because also it helps you as a parent feel confident in these conversations. For example, the word uterus is not a bad word. And so sometimes we're so in that scenario of little girls playing with babies in their t-shirts, whatever a casual comment of, "did you know that baby is actually not inside a mommy's tummy? It is inside a special place that God designed called the uterus." It was like, and they might and never remember that word again. But again, that's where it gives you kind of that relief of these are drip, drip, drip conversations that might stick, that might not.
But what we're trying to do is just empower parents to start using certain words and become the authority on this topic. And also let the kids know that this is something that mom and dad know a lot about. We know a lot about this and they've probably never heard the word uterus before. And sometimes we tease the word uterus is really painful. Can't do that for you to get out. Cause some people are anatomically with their words and some people are like, oh, I can't do this. But if uterus is difficult, you can say the word, it's after her, it's in the Bible. It's one syllable, but it's just a good way to kind of clear the air. And you don't have to correct your girls. No, that's not in the belly, it's in the uterus. You don't have to, it's not something worth fighting about. It's more just worth a, did you know that? That's actually it's only mommy's had that. It's a special place called a uterus. Wow.
Mary Flo: Yeah. Really taking the babies out of the digestive system. Yeah, productive system. Yeah.
Brittany: Kind of in the same area. But going into body parts, I even find myself with talking about private parts and sometimes it feels awkward to be like, "okay, let's wipe your vagina." But I'm like, what do I do?Llike, is that okay to say? Okay, so when should we begin this conversation with our kids around their private parts?
Megan: We love talking about private parts. This is something I feel like we talk about a lot because if you are a mom of young kids, which I am private, parts are around a lot. Our kids are naked in front of us a lot. So there's lots of opportunities to be talking about private parts. And so you typically find two different camps of people, those who are very medical and anatomically correct. And it's like, of course we say penis, vagina. And you might even have some people say, oh, well we say vulva. I mean there are some people who are very medical and accurate. And then you have this other camp of people who are like, "Ooh, I can't do that." And it's just like I get those splotches on my chest when I start talking about these words and it's like, I don't like those words.
So we're trying to come together here and really encourage parents to use the anatoly correct words. We start with penis and vagina to kind of keep it simple. But really the reason we're doing that is to again, let them know that these, we want to be medical. And matter of fact, we don't want words to be or these body parts to be shameful or bad words. And we also don't want these body parts to be super silly. And if we kind of use silly willy wingy wingy words all the time, but everything else has a normal name like head, shoulders, knees, and toes. Well why are those parts silly? And kids are going to be silly about these parts. That is just the way they are. So we're kind of enhancing that silliness. And on the other side, if we kind of only whisper private parts or "Oh yep, that's your vagina", if we kind of act like that all the time, it's kind of creates as embarrassment, should I be embarrassed at this part?
Should I be ashamed? Is this a bad part? Is that a bad word? And so we really want to be medical and matter of fact. And then ultimately the most important reason that we really encourage parents as young as two or three potty training is a great time to start introducing some of these words. And again, you're just introducing. But these conversations can start young and ultimately the most important reason for them is for their safety. And if you speak to any sexual abuse experts, they will tell you that the number one thing that we as parents can do is to correctly label their body parts and clearly label them as private. And again, these are not conversations that are sit down and heavy and take your three and five year old and sit them down on the bed and say, "okay, you must know I've got to talk to you about your penis. It is a private special part."
I mean that is so heavy. And so these are just little bathtub conversations. Oh, that's your penis. That's a private part. Nobody else can touch that. Okay. Did you rinse at your shampoo? Oh yep. With your vagina sweetheart, that's a private part. Let's put on our little panties as we're getting ready for bed. Nobody else can look at our touch, your private part. These are little conversations that we're having and a little catchphrase we like to use is frequent and Frank, we want these conversations to be frequent and frank conversations because ultimately and under the abuse prevention category, I think what you're really trying to do is just set the tone of this is something we talk about in our home. This is nothing to be ashamed of, there are no secrets in this house.
Mary Flo: This is a safe place.
Megan: This is a safe place. This is the clear line we define private as nobody can look at, nobody can touch, nobody can take pictures of. And that these are things that we're talking about all the time. And again, not all the time, you don't have to be crazy about it.
Mary Flo: And It's right comfortable too. If you feel comfortable in public using the word privates, that's fine. I mean I think that's fine, just so long as at home and in their presence. And in your presence, that is a comfortable word for y'all. So it doesn't have to be 100% of the time. And also just not warning, but letting your grandparents know or your other child providers know that these are the words we're using, we're comfortable with them and just let the other people who are taking care of them know if they say those words, that's not a bad word.
Megan: Don't get them in trouble.
Brittany: Right, Right.
Megan: See, a lot of people will ask, how do I get grandparents on board because they're looking at me. I have three heads when my three year old says vagina, that's ok. But oh, you always say go back to safety if you let them know that the reason behind this is safety. We don't want them to think these are bad words or be embarrassed to talk to us about these things because of their safety. Most grandparents can get on board and you don't have to force the grandparents to use those words as well. They can use private parts or whatever. That's as far as when to start these conversations. I think these conversations can start as young as two or three. Now again, those aren't heavy sit down conversations. These are just introducing these words when you're changing clothes or changing diapers or in the bubble bath. These are conversations that we talk about in our home.
Brittany: What about adding some boundaries around private parts or speaking to you kind of mentioned, okay, these are private parts, nobody else touches this, nobody takes pictures of this. Or is there any other boundaries around that you would advise parents like that during this conversation is kind of good to bring up?
Mary Flo: Just that if anyone ever does show you their private parts or they ask to see yours, that's something that you need to come and let me know. And then also I think a side conversation is about secrets. That we don't keep secrets. Surprises are good. Surprises are something that you keep inside till it's the right time to let someone know. But while it's inside, you're excited about it. But a secret is someone that asks you to keep something inside and it is, it's makes you sad or you can give some definition about secrets. We just don't keep secrets with mommy and daddy. You need to come and let us know. Does that make sense? So that is not necessarily, that is a little heavier about the secrets part, but I do think that's kind of a sideline to privacy. If that gets violated, let us know. You know, can just say that's one of those things I need to know about.
Megan: I was just going to add one more thing as far as practicality as far as private parts and young kids, I think as parents, some easy rules to follow is your or statements to say regularly is, "oh, we keep our clothes on when we play with friends." And then also kind of have an open door policy with play date. Because we do get so many messages from parents that are more or less freaking out of, "oh my goodness, the neighbor was over and I found my six-year-old and the six year old neighbor in the backyard looking at each other's private parts. What do I do? Is there abuse or whatever." And so everyone really panics. And so I think it is, it's not necessarily a great situation, but it is age appropriate. There is age appropriate curiosity. And so that's why it's even more important is parents that we're using this language.
So let's say you walk in the backyard and that scene's going on say, "oh guys, put your clothes on. Remember, we never look at somebody else's private parts." And so that's the line that we want to keep saying because you most likely will find yourself in a situation like that where the kids are preschool playing doctor or they're just curious and kind of checking things out so that things like that happen. And the problem is when they kind of go unchecked. And so as the parents, we want to have that language instilled in our home of, "oh guys, we always keep our clothes on when we're playing with our friends and just keeping those doors open."
Mary Flo: And sometimes the kids want to play with the door closed and sometimes it's not your child, it's the other child. No, we want to close the door and just reminding that my job here as the mom, kind of like the flight attendant is for your safety. And so I can't keep you safe if I can't see you and here, so we're going to leave this store open. That's what we do at our house and let them know that that's a policy.
Brittany: Yeah, I love that. Okay, so taking this a step further, you guys have a stat on your site that says the average age of a child first exposed to porn is 11 and that children are as likely to accidentally be exposed to porn online as they are to actively be searching for it. How do you have conversations around if they see something in a picture, book, or on tv?
Megan: Well again, we kind of want to start having these conversations when kids are young and parents listening right now with young kids are probably thinking, "yeah, right, I'm not going to talk to my young kids about porn. That sounds horrific" and it does sound horrific, but the reality at hand is we're raising our kids in a very sexualized culture in a very technology entrenched world. And so these statistics actually make sense to us if we think about 'em. And so what we really want you to do is see this big picture and really what it is is just a reality of the world in which they're living in this is a dangerous element of their world and how can we break that down into age appropriate conversations, protect them, and really we can do so in the same way that we talk about a hot stove in the kitchen.
"Oh, we got to be really careful around that to the ovens on" or crossing the street. That's a dangerous risk in their day-to-day life. But we talk about it all the time. Here's what we do. We look both ways before we cross the street. You never cross the street without a grownup. We're just teaching them how to be careful around something that exists in their lives. And so for pornography, what we can do at a very young age is just start introducing this idea to them that we've got to be really careful around screens. We want to be really careful with what we see. "Oh, you can watch the show for a little bit. Mommy's going to put the code into the iPad because we got to be really careful with what we see." And then this idea that there are some good pictures out there, but there are also some bad pictures.
And so if you see a bad picture, stop and come and tell mommy. And so what you're doing is kind of going ahead of these situations and giving them a plan and preparing them. And so if God forbid they see something they know that's what my mom was telling me about, I'm going to go talk to her. And again, this is not a one and done sit down conversation or heavy or heavy necessarily, even though it's a heavy topic. Exactly. And that is what we really want parents to see with these conversations about body parts. I mean abuse and pornography exposure are very heavy topic. I don't have to tell that to parents, they're very heavy. But the conversations we're having with our little kids are not heavy. We are trying to be very matter of fact. And so, "hey, we got to be really careful with what we see" and helping define that.
Well, what's a bad picture? A bad picture is something that makes you feel kind of icky inside or maybe is too scary or a picture. People's private parts. Remember we never look at somebody else's private parts. And these are conversations that you're having often reminding that, reminding of them those boundaries before you go over to a friend's house or maybe before you get together with all the cousins and maybe there's some older cousins around that have screens to have screens like, oh, the 10 year old's got an iPad for Christmas and we're four so we're going to be really careful with, got to be really careful around screens. And so what we're doing is just kind of again, taking what we kind of say sometimes that's a very dark topic. And so what we're doing with these conversations is essentially turning on the light and it doesn't take the problem away, but it kind of helps take away some of the heaviness because what does happen in these horrific stories with kids is if there is exposure and they don't have any vocabulary or language or exit strategies, what happens often is they kind of take this shameful moment combined with curiosity because we're all wired in a curious way of what was that?
And it kind of just sinks into a dark shame and they don't say anything. And that is where real problems can start. So we are essentially turning the lights on and saying again, this is something we talk about and we got to be careful and if you see something come and talk to me. If you see something bad, you're not a bad person. And these little talking points that really kind of help bring lights to this conversation.
Brittany: So who should be having these conversations, mom or dad and also the importance of facial expressions while you're having these conversations?
Mary Flo: Well both actually. We want these conversations to be as natural as possible. When you think about any other conversations you have in your home, you don't really overanalyze now who's going to answer that? And so both parents need to be prepared. Usually one parent is a little more comfortable than the other, but when they're young, when they're little, whoever gets it should be able to answer it at least to some degree and with some degree of comfort. That's why thinking and talking ahead with your spouse so that you can both have a level of comfort with some of the early questions is a good idea. Some parents think only dad should talk to boys only girls should talk to their moms. And I don't think that's necessary. I think you can both talk to both kids at whenever the topic comes up. But I think once they hit the preteen ages, there's some conversations that are more comfortable with moms and daughters and fathers and sons and that's okay too.
But moms still need to speak into their sons reality. Someone that has a lot of wisdom about what it is to be a young man around a young woman, all of that thinking and all of those things that they need to know about women and girls, their mom needs to speak to that also. But when they're little, either of them can speak at any time. And so we just don't want this main awkwardness to be in the room when these topics come up. But the one thing too is that sometimes they ask a question, an older child asks a question in front of a younger sibling and that's when there's sometimes a little bit of a panic. And so answer as if the younger child asks answer to that four year old level, even though the eight year old asked the question answer to the four-year-old. And then later on kind of circle back with the eight year old and say, "you know what? You're in third grade and you asked a really good question this morning, but your sister was in the room and she's just in preschool so there's a little more information I want to give you. And because you're older and you can handle it," it's just something like that to acknowledge they're older and they can know more information. Other than that, I think you just try to keep these conversations as normal as possible.
Brittany: Yeah. What about facial expressions? Because sometimes I feel where it's like, Ooh, I don't, but I don't want them to see that I have this look of that's uncomfortable.
Megan: That's something we would encourage you to almost fake it till you make it. And that's with practice I think once you kind of get into these conversations. And that's where another reason it's so helpful to start when they're young. Because when they're young, they may not necessarily be looking at you when you're answering the question. A phrase we always use is, that's a great question, I'm so glad you asked. And we always joke that it works best when your face looks like this. Cause one of our overarching goals of birds and bees is to be that safe place for your kids to come to with questions. You want them to feel like I can talk to my mom about anything. I can talk to my dad about anything. If I've got a question, I know who to go to. And so practice when they're younger and start asking about babies and where they come from and how that baby gets out.
And I'm just so glad you're talking to me. Most of you podcast listeners won't be able to see our faces here, but we are looking happy and safe. That is how we look right now! And really keep that up and kind of practice and practice because when they start getting to older, middle school, whatever, and they start coming home with like slang terms or crass what definitions or whatever, and they're asking you about it, you want to make that is, wow, I am just glad you came to me. You know, want to continue to affirm that they have come to the right place. And that again, just takes practice. And so practice makes perfect, fake it till you make it. You just kind of want to just remind yourself of the bigger picture. The big end goal is to continually affirm and confirm that your child's come to the right place. And so your facial expressions really do matter. We talk a lot about tone of voice should be kind of calm and upbeat and matter of fact, and that tone of voice, that tone of voice is important. Those facial expressions should kind of match.
Mary Flo: We talk about a pediatrician voice, that kind, knowledgeable, reassuring that you want to be in their head. That first phrase, "oh honey, I'm so glad you asked." With a pre-designated facial expression of a smile. Just know that's that. Those are going to be my two go-to things. And then if you are someone that wants to incorporate your faith, one phrase that I love to start the answer to any question is, "well sweetheart, by God's design, this is how a baby's made by God's design." This is how a baby's born so that He's incorporated into these answers and it's just a good place to start. Right?
Brittany: Absolutely. I love that. Okay, so let's get into some conversation about sex. Should we as the parent bring it up to our kids or should we wait until they start asking questions?
Megan: I think it just depends on ages and personalities. I think some kids are going to ask a lot of questions and you're going to kind of get to some of those basic foundational conversations sooner than later if you have a baby brother or sister come in. And so those conversations might come up more naturally when your kids are 6, 7, 8 and asking a lot of questions. And then you might have some kids around asking any questions and those conversations might not have happened. And you're thinking, okay, well we're getting close to fourth and fifth grade here and I feel like we haven't had any of those questions. And so in that point I would say it's probably best to start guiding those conversations with that phrase. Mary Flo mentioned earlier, "have you ever wondered?" and again, establishing yourself as the authority. And so I think it's just depends a lot on personalities and ages.
Mary Flo: And one reason we talk to parent we're really addressing young children is because of the fact that even though you have maybe a six-year-old or a seven-year-old, when that six or seven year old goes to school, they're sitting and they're a first born six year old, they're sitting next to a six year old who's the youngest of four, who has a 16 year old brother who's has a lot of exposure to things that your child does not have. Think about that. So want to be, we want parents to have the power of that first impression. And so anticipate that not just that your child isn't asking things, but what's their environment? How many older kids are their friends exposed to? So it's just a matter of having that radar out there. I think it's a good time. I'm going to start it. There's nothing wrong with you taking the first step.
Brittany: Can you guys tell us about using the word seed instead of sperm?
Megan: One component of Birds and Bees that we talk a lot about is seeds and eggs and how those are great basic reproductive conversations and not necessarily human reproduction. We want our kids to kind of open their eyes to the big picture of reproduction in all things. And so we encourage parents to talk about seeds, create new life with planting little flower seeds or the pumpkin seeds inside the pumpkin, make new pumpkins. And so kind of creating those conversations. And same with eggs. Eggs create new life. What we're doing here is laying a foundation for future conversations about human reproduction, which also involves seeds and eggs. Now as the adults, we know that seeds actually mean sperm. And so some parents say, well why don't you just start with the word sperm and if you want to start with the word sperm, you can, it's not a bad thing to start with, it's just that it's very difficult to find other real world examples about sperm. There's not really, you don't plants some sperm in the backyard and grow flowers. So it's a helpful place to start as far as building that foundation of an idea. And so we talk about seeds and how seeds create new life, like the little what you're showing your kids with these conversations about seeds. And they can see seeds in lots of examples in the kitchen. You're cutting open that apple and there's an apple seed inside that apple. That little seed creates new apples, doesn't create oranges, but apple seed creates apples. And so we start with seed because it's a great word that they can kind of understand and connect their dots to other seeds in their life.
Mary Flo: And it's sort of universal. That's just a universal thing that deep inside of every living thing is part of what it takes to make the next living thing just like it. But you can also start identifying other names for seeds like an avocado has a pit or a peach has a pit, and there are other names so that when you do explain conception you can say the daddy has a seed and that seed is called the sperm. So you can slide right into sperm when you're talking about reproduction of humans, but letting them know that it works the same way as a seed.
Brittany: No, I think that's really helpful because I mean even with my kids right now, they're really into gardening and they're growing some little flowers in their class at school and so they come home and are like "the flowers growing every day, It's growing a little bit more!" So it's very applicable if that were to be a conversation that we started to have, but they already understand the seed is helping something grow.
Megan: It makes sense for a four year old and allows you to have easier conversations. But if you are thinking, well, I don't want to do that, I want to start with the word sperm, then you have every right to do so. Again, what we really want to do at Birds and Bees is empower parents to take charge and be the authority on this topic. So if anything we say on this podcast or in our course or on our Instagram doesn't line up with what you believe, we really want encourage you to say, "okay, well what do I believe about this?" "What do I want my kids to know about sex?" I don't think I want to say it the way she said it, but what do I want to say my kids? And to really put the power back to the parents of, because this is such a personal topic and what we talk about a lot is, okay, I might teach my kids this is what I believe about sex. Me and my husband want to share this information with our kids. Well that might be different than what you across the street want to tell your kids. But big picture, what we really want is for parents to be talking to their kids about sex in age appropriate ways regardless of their beliefs. And so that might sound a little bit different from every family, but we just really want to encourage parents to continue these conversations
Mary Flo: To really think about what is that thing that we want to say? And instead of saying, "I have to say what they said," that's not true. This is not just one size fits all kind of conversation. You need to really think about where do I want these conversations to go ultimately. And that's just going to be different from family to family.
Brittany: Yeah. So I know we've kind of talked about age appropriate, but would you say if somebody's child hasn't brought it up to them yet and haven't, maybe they don't have any friends who have older siblings, so it's not just potentially being brought up by them, when would that right time be? Or is there a okay, by the time they're in third grade we should have this conversation if they haven't started any of this yet?
Mary Flo: It's just so hard to give it an age. What I'm saying it really is because if you go through these drip, drip, drip conversations, if you see yourself as filling the sponge and you're anticipating and looking for the opportunity to share this with them, then I wouldn't worry too much about it's this age and I haven't done anything. I would assess, okay, where are we on the whole journey of these conversations? Do they know about their body parts? Do they know how a baby's born? Do they know the names of the parts that create a baby? Are we all the way up there but not there yet? And so if you are as a parent, if you're thinking, I just feel like they should know, then go with your gut and say, "you know what sweetheart, you know so much about how babies are born, but you don't know exactly how babies are made and I really want to be the one to tell you, so I'm just going to tell you.
So we're just going to, I want to visit with you about that. Have you ever wondered exactly how that baby got in there?" And they may have wondered, and they may have not, but if you feel like I just, they're going off to camp this year and I want them to know, I don't want them to, if you feel like we're about to hit summer and I'm not going to be with them all the time, or I'm not, I will be with them all the time, but they're going to be with older cousins or they're going to be in situations, and I just want to be assured that I told them.
Megan: I think too, kind of what Mary Flo was saying, if you sense this urgency a little bit as a parent, if you're listening today and thinking, well, shoot, I haven't said anything and we're starting middle school next year, or they're going to sleep away camp or whatever, if you feel that, well, I want them to know everything before that to really kind of step back and give yourself maybe a six month window. Because what we don't want is for parents to hear all this information and then think, oh my goodness, haven't said a word with my kids are three, four and five and now next thing I know we're going to middle school next year. "Hey, sit down. We have a lot to catch up on." That's absolutely what we're not trying to do. Don't hear that. So if you're feeling late to the game or feeling like you need to catch up real quick, give yourself a window maybe of six months or so to back between now and the next school year start before they go off that middle school now between summer camp or whenever it is, kind of say, okay, I'm going to be really intentional to have some of these conversations and kind of start by seeds, create new life or deep inside every living thing, whatever phrases you want.
Have you ever wondered how a baby's born? And kind of start slowly building that up over time. Because again, what we don't want is, and sometimes we do this, we have live presentations we do where we basically share our entire birds and peace course in person. And so often parents will come up afterwards and be like, that was so great. I'm going to go home and wake up my child. I'm like, no, no, no, don't do that. That's the opposite of what we want you to do. And so same thing if you're sitting here and if any sort of urgency, no, I think some people want to know eight is too late or ten is the magic number, or they just tell me what to do. That's what parents want to know. And so we're not going to give you a number because then you're going to put it down and forget everything else we said and focus on that number. So I would just say if you sense that feeling of, I just really feel like they should know this before they go to fourth grade, or Oh, I really feel like they should know this before they go to fifth grade or whatever it is for you and your community and the school divisions we have and neighbors and all that stuff. Then decide, okay, we're going to move towards these conversations over the next six months. Something like that.
Mary Flo: Give yourself some time. The main thing is Megan, a process, not just a one time event.
Brittany: Yeah, I like that about, do you have any specific tips on how that conversation should go? Because I'm thinking in my head right now when my four year old is a little bit older, if she were to ask me these questions or if I were to feel like I need to have that conversation, I feel like all of a sudden I'm like, I don't know what I would say that is that she would understand without just being too blunt. But maybe that, I don't know. What are your kind of tips around how a parent should have that, what tips they're sharing?
Mary Flo: Well, I think you can think, first of all, think about their age. Think about the words they already know, build on that. But you don't want to make it too long of a conversation. You don't want to take that heavy book called sex and just drop the whole thing on their head so much. But they don't need to know so much. You don't need to download everything and in your mind, you've got to get rid of the idea of "The talk." We finally had "The talk" that one of the big things we want to do is just blow that out of the water. It's not effective. It's too much information at an awkward age and an awkward time. So that's, that's not working for us. So what you want to do is just know this will be not be my last conversation with them about this. This is just my first, so maybe you just introduce the characters. Maybe you just open that big book and you say, what I want my child to know is that this, they were created by God and then there's a husband and a wife and a seed and an egg and a baby. So by God's design, a husband and a wife were made to fit together in a special way when they fit together the seed and the egg meet. And that's what starts the baby.
Brittany: Very simple.
Mary Flo: Yes. End of sentence, end of conversation. It it's, but that would be relating to the message that I want my child to have. And so it's your message combined with just the basic biology and almost in a mechanical way. We're not trying to do explain anything that has to do with the pleasures that are involved with sexual intercourse or the dangers that could be a result of sexual intercourse. We don't want to get into sexually transmitted diseases and we don't want to talk or guess. So we're, we're only talking. We're keeping just the basic. The tips would be basic biology plus, your message.
Megan: And just a reminder of that might be the first conversation you have, but it's not the last. And so I can't tell you how many times parents have said, okay, I did it. I explained everything, the mechanics, I felt like we did a good job. And then a year or two will go by and a child will come back and say, now how's the baby made? like, you don't remember? I was like, I almost died that day! And forget, you don't remember. It's like, ok. So really just to take a deep breath and realize we're going to talk about this a lot. This is not a one time you explain it, they get it like, oh, thanks mom's. Awesome. Okay, I'm there. We don't have to talk about it again. Yeah, you're going to talk about this often and that's okay. And so I think what we have to do as parents too is we have to kind of remind ourselves in almost state claim sex is a good thing and it's a privilege to share this with our kids.
And the world has made it something that's disrespectful or confusing or degrading. And if we remain silent on the good story that we have to tell, we're essentially kind of waving a white flag and saying, mommy's too uncomfortable with this. It's so awkward. I can't do this. Just Google it. And it's like, not, we can do better than that. And our kids deserve better than that. And so that's our hope really, is to just let parents know, Hey, this is a good thing. We've got something that we can share with our kids and they can see that we're the experts on this topic and they're going to see confusing things and hear different words or different messages or definitions of sex, but this is what we believe. So we just really, that's kind of our takeaways. We want parents to know, I can do this. I can talk about this.
Mary Flo: Just a quick story, but a couple of weeks ago I got to do the birds and bees class at my daughter's church in North Carolina. And when she introduced me, it just was a little bit shocking or it was really sweet. She said, everything that you're going to hear tonight, I know, but I have no idea when I learned it. So it was just, it would be asking your child years from now, now exactly. When did you hear that you were supposed to put your napkin in your lap? You don't know when you learned it. You just automatically know this. Some of the things that they absorb and hear, your facial expression, your posture with how you're approaching this subject will be something that they'll just grow up with if it's done in small pieces, age appropriate and frank and frequent. So it's, it's a process that you go through, but it's very hard to get the idea of "The talk" out a parent's mind that they don't just see that as a really hard thing that they have to do and then check it off. I did it. We're good to go.
Brittany: Well, also, I feel like this conversation just is giving me personally confidence to know that this is going to be a privilege. I get to have this conversation is a privilege I get to have with my girls. So I think if you look at it through a different lens instead of this is going to be really hard someday, instead of it's educating them, it's going to help shape them and to be the woman that they become and taking that as more of a privilege. That's just already switched my mindset from when I asked the question just a little while ago.
Mary Flo: Because you're not just educating your child, you're educating someone's future wife, someone's future husband. How do you hope when they have this, how do you hope they approach this?
Brittany: Yeah, no, that's a great way to look at it. While we're kind of on this topic, I also wanted to ask you guys a few questions just about periods and reproductive systems and when do you broach this topic with our girls and when should we bring this up to our boys?
Megan: So again, with all topics under the birds and bees umbrella, periods is one that we also want to break down into age appropriate conversations. And just so when our kids are little boys and girls, making sure they know that periods or tampons or pads, whatever, it's not like this taboo topic. So let's say your little three or four year old boy finds a tampon in your bathroom drawer or in your purse, instead of overreacting in, again, tone of voice, facial expression saying, don't touch that, put that away, get out of here. Whatever the reaction is, I say, oh, thank you! That's from when mommies have periods or, oh, that's called a Tampon, and it helps when moms have periods. Again, you don't have to sit down with your four year old and say, let me tell you about the uterine walls we don't have to dive in to exactly what this is, but we can also engage in a way where they know this is not a bad thing.
Do we have to talk so openly about it where they think it's this beautiful, amazing thing? No, they don't have to think that either. Again, the attitude, the takeaway that we want is our kids is it is what it is. Periods are normal. And that's kind of what we want to help them realize is through these conversations and through the language we use in our home, let them see. Or our goal is to normalize periods because periods are normal. And that's kind of the hope for boys and girls, obviously our girls, as they get closer to period closer to puberty, that's to be more of an intentional conversation. Hey, your body isn't be going through a lot of changes and this is kind of how periods work. And a lot of times there's confusion of, well, where do I bleed out of and how much blood and are am I going to be dying?
And all these questions. So obviously the conversations with girls will be a little bit more comprehensive, but I think we're doing our sons a disservice if we keep them in the dark about this. And really our daughter's a disservice if we keep our sons in the dark about this and just letting them know, "Hey, just like you're going to go through a lot of changes and your body's going to change and your voice and some hair and all these fun things. But girls go through changes too, and they have a period." And so just to let them know to be mindful, and something I think is so important when talking about puberty and body changes is talking about empathy. I think that's so huge for boys and girls to be like, everyone's going through a lot of changes. Everyone's feeling a little misfit in their own bodies. Everyone's uncomfortable with what's happening. And so just be empathetic up to the other gender, to the same gender, whatever. It's just kind of a tough time.
Mary Flo: And everyone goes through it at different times, but they'll all go through it. But if you're the last one to go through this in your school, you feel like this will never happen. Or if you're the first, you feel like, wait a minute, no one else is going through this. So for them to know, there's a whole wide range of ages where this happens.
Megan: And sometimes I think little girls can hear about periods and kind of be afraid of, I don't want to do that, especially if they're getting a little bit closer to pre puberty years. But again, to normalize, think of name 10 women that you know of, mommy's friends or your aunts or grandmother. Do you know every single one of 'em had a period? Every single woman in this world has had a period. Does that, does they look weird to you or different to you? No, it happens to everybody. We're going to be okay to kind of normalize it. We had some polls on our Instagram a while ago about puberty, and it was interesting. I think that was the resounding message from girls our age of looking back, I just wish my mom would've made it normal and not the secret weird thing or the flip side. I wish my mom just would've made it normal and not celebrated it in front of party for me. I think that was the resounding message. I just wish it was normal and they just gave me the information instead of the two camps of nothing or coming out woman party.
Brittany: It's so funny. I remember when I started my period, I was at school and my mom was a teacher at the school, so I went up to my teacher and I was like, I think I've started my period. I need to go talk to my mom. And she was in the class down the hall. So I went down and knocked on her door and I was like trying not to cry. And I'm like, I think I started my period. And she just gets this look in her eyes and she's like, "okay, just a second." Gets a teacher to watch her class. And she takes me into the teacher's bathroom and she just is like, "EEek!" Gives me a hug. And she's like, I'm, you're just becoming a woman. And I was like, I'm hurting and bleeding too much, too much. But it was, I remember her then being like, okay, here's what we're going to do.
Here's the plan. This is what we're going to do, do. Immediately I think she did a good job. Yeah. I mean, it wasn't a crazy party, but for whatever reason she was excited For me, it's just so funny. And then on that same kind of thing, so my girls are little right now and you know, can't go to the bathroom without having somebody tagging along with you. And so if I'm on my period, I'll change my tampon and they're like, what are you pulling out of your butt? And I'm trying not to laugh. And I'm like, well, this is a tampon and mommy's on my period. And they're like a tampon! Wow. And their eyes are just like, what is happening? And they would run out and be like, "daddy, mommy pulled a tampon out of her butt!" I'm like, okay. But at least they will know as they, yeah, exactly. It just is what it is. But it always cracks me up whenever they follow me in the bathroom and I'm like, okay, girls, here we go.
Mary Flo: Got to do what I got to do.
Brittany: Exactly. Exactly. I know we talked a little bit earlier about saying the babies don't grow in our tummies, but they grow in our uterus and just in conversation with periods and teaching our kids about periods. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you can relate the uterus in there as what, while you're having these reproductive talks?
Mary Flo: Well, sometimes they're curious, where does this blood come from and why are you bleeding and all of that. And so even you don't have to go into extensive conversations about the uterine wall. You can say that or some form of this that every month or so, the lining of the uterus forms what would be needed for a baby if a baby were being created in there, all the nutrients and everything. And that substance has a lot of blood in it, but it can't stay there forever. It has to be fresh each month. And so the lining of the uterine wall kind of comes out, I'm losing a word here.
Brittany: Say kind of it just, it's like your weight, your body's way of cleaning up the uterus.
Mary Flo: Right? Yes. So you don't have to go through the whole egg lands there, then it comes out or any of that, but I just think it comes out and it comes out the uterus. It's not out of another opening down there. It's out of the uterus. And I can either sit someplace for about four or five days and let it come out, or if I need, but I need to run around, wear my clothes to protect my clothes. I use the tampon or a pad so that I can keep functioning in my daily life, so it is going to come out when it comes out. Sometimes it's a little uncomfortable, you can tell them that, but it's nothing overwhelming. And so this just help, this product helps me keep up with my regular life while, while that's happening.
Brittany: I like how we are, you guys are teaching us how to just start these conversations so early by, I can just visualize in my head how this will work relating back, oh, the baby's actually not in your belly, it's in your uterus. And then later when we are talking about reproductive and period, we can be, remember how mommy always told you the baby was in the uterus? This is how the uterus works and this is what happens. It feels like we've got building blocks to just keeping these conversations going, which I think is really important and a great way to be the person having the conversation with your kids.
Mary Flo: You have got it. That is exactly the goal. Yay. That's what we're going for. And if you're using wingy wy words or you're being evasive or it's in the tummy, I thought that's where the cheeseburgers go. Or we're just not giving them good foundations so then the conversations can't build. But that's exactly what we want parents to be able to do.
Brittany: Well, good. Okay. In closing, I have one last question. What is one of the funniest questions or statements that a follower has sent in that their kid has said?
Megan: We do have a little segment we do on Birds and Bees Instagram a lot, which is submitting your kids to the darndest thing. Stories and every, we kind of do it a couple times a month and we get the funniest stories because I do feel like we need to have a little warning asterisk or whatever. If you start using these words, if you start having these conversations, you will have funny stories. That is just the way it's right. The last week somebody shared this story, which was so funny. They were explaining how their breasts make food for the baby, explaining that to their four year. And so then the four-year-old jumps on the mom's laps, squeezes our boobs together and says, "make me a sandwich." I was like, oh my gosh. It just made me laugh out loud. You can see that challenge. You can see, and you can see the logic there of like, well, these make food and I'd like a sandwich. And I was like, oh my gosh, that one that was submitted last week. And that one actually made me laugh out loud, which was funny.
Brittany: Like, that's hilarious. I could definitely see that happening.
Megan: And again, I mean, you can either be completely mortified and just be like, ah, stop that, or lean into that conversation. Actually, sweetheart, the mommy's breasts only make milk. That's what we're mammals like other animals are, and we make milk for our babies. But if you like a sandwich, we'll go to the kitchen.
Brittany: Yes. Well, this conversation has been so amazing. I think this episode has been so impactful. I can't wait for our listeners to listen to this. I know that you guys are paving the way for us to have these conversations appropriately and just everything that you're teaching us here, I think is going to be really awesome. Do you mind sharing where our listeners can find you, and I know you guys have a course. If there's anything you want to mention about the course, we would love to hear that.
Megan: Yes. Our most comprehensive resource is the online course, and that's on our website, birds-bees.com. And we'd love to give you guys a discount code if you guys are cool with that.
Brittany: Awesome. Yeah, we would love that!
Megan: I was just saying it's our most comprehensive resource. It covers everything you need from preschool to pre-teen, and you can watch it as many times as you want. It does not expire. And then if you want more little tidbits and talking tips, you can find us on Instagram, @Birds_Bees, and we just share lots of talking tips. We have a great community on Instagram that really shares their own stories, and I think it's always helpful to hear other parents and kind of hear like, "Hey, I did this and it was great." Or funny stories like that. So our online course and then our Instagram are some really great, great resources if you want more Birds and Bees.
Brittany: Awesome. Well, thank you guys so much. This conversation has been amazing. I just truly appreciate you joining us today on Life With Loverly!