Teaching about birds and bees


We went to visit my brother in New York City when his baby was born. My kids loved holding her. Finally.

There’s been a lot of lead-up to this. For example, the last time we visited, as we were going up to the apartment, in the elevator, my six-year-old said, “If Aunt Kristen is pregnant, does that mean she and Uncle Adam had sex?”

I said, “Yes.”

My son said, “Do you think I could ask Uncle Adam if he liked it?”

The people in the elevator nearly died laughing.

I said, “People like having sex with someone they love. But it would not be good manners to ask Uncle Adam about a specific time. That’s private.”

I have learned, over the past two years, to be very clear about sex questions. We live on a farm. I get a lot of questions.

For example: “When a mom and a dad have sex, does the dad have to bite the girl’s the neck like the cats do?”

Here’s another: “Can the pigs have sex in lots of positions like people can?”

These have straightforward answers. So I give them. And, invariably, the more information the kids have, the more detailed the sex talk gets.

My older son has a goat herd of his own, and he borrowed a male goat to get one of his female goats pregnant. The other day he said, “I think I saw some semen coming out of Amber’s vagina. But you can never have too much semen.”

I hear a lot of people say that homeschooled kids are sheltered from talk about sex. But none of the homeschool kids who hang around my kids are sheltered for very long. It’s regular talk in our family because the animals are having sex all around us, and really, that’s how our farm turns a profit.

When you talk about raising your kids amid diversity, I guess this would be what you’re talking about: It’s not skin color. It’s diversity of experience. And my kids can tell when a pig has had too much intercourse and her vagina needs a rest.

But there is charm to all this, too. Because while my son was holding Eva, he was so happy, and so gentle with her. And he said, “I think I’m excited to have sex to make my own baby that I can hold.”


10 replies
  1. Passingby
    Passingby says:

    All kids raised in farms are exposed to the reproductive life of animals, so I don’t see the diversity of experience there.
    It would be diversity if the kids are hanging out in school with the children of undocumented migrant workers. But that’s like, my opinion, man.

  2. Cathy
    Cathy says:

    One way that my kids learned about diversity of experience was writing to other homeschooled kids. That was back in the per-internet ages, when people had penpals! We wrote a longish letter about our life in Southern California, and we sent it to 49 homeschooled families, one family per state. We really, really enjoyed the 30 or so replies we received. Some people wrote about their lives, and some concentrated on what their neck of the woods was like, and still others combined the two. Many families also sent postcards, photos, or even stickers and stamps from local tourist spots!

    I thought of this project when reading your post because one of the letters really shocked my kids. My kids had written that we had a cat named Patches. My kids asked the other homeschoolers, “Do you have any pets?” We received a letter from a family in Alaska, and they said something like, “We have five bunnies: Clara, Max, Stephen, Foo foo, and Cottontail. We also have Clark and Mary in the freezer, and we ate Peter last night.”

    My kids were horrorstruck by the concept of naming animals and then killing and eating them! We talked about eating meat and vegetarians (some family members and friends are strict vegans) and farm life and pets. It made for a pretty interesting morning!

  3. Gwen
    Gwen says:

    I really liked this post. But in regards to homeschooled kids being sheltered from talk about sex, I would slightly disagree. What is generally meant by that comment is homeschooled kids are sheltered from people being manipulative to get sex.

    Namely, how to tell if someone is acting interested in you just to sleep with you. How to flirt well. How to act interested but not desperate. How to clearly reject someone without being a dick. How to develop and recognize healthy personal boundaries. I have yet to meet a homeschooled young adult who is good at any of these things.

    This is not to say I have any problem with homeschooling overall. This is just a challenge that needs to be worked out.

  4. MoniqueWS
    MoniqueWS says:

    I home school my children ages 14.5, 11.5 and 8. I have been mentoring pregnant and or parenting teens for 14 years. My children have often been with me while I am talking mentoring the teens. For years I ran my county’s adolescent pregnancy prevention project. I taught sex ed, healthy relationships, abstinence ed in public schools, teen conferences, adult conferences. My kids often attended these sessions with me.

    I was a mother to mother breastfeeding support person for over 10 years. My children went to the meetings with me often even after they were school aged. I have been invited into many schools to speak to health classes to speak about the hazards of not breastfeeding and the many ways breasts are sexualized and objectified and made to not be recognizable for nuturing and comforting babies.

    I live in a university town. I am willing to bet my kids know more about healthy sexuality and healthy sexual attitudes and healthy relationships than most university students.

    I home school in part because I want my kids to have lots of GOOD information about sex and sexuality and our family values that they would NEVER get in school.

    I agree there is a segment of the home schooling population who feels exactly the same way I do except their value system is much different than mine. I wish they would share more information within their family but I am pretty sure they share their family values – something many schooling families leave to the school system but of course the school system is NOT their family!

  5. Niecie
    Niecie says:

    Awwwwwwww!!!!! What a sweet boy. That last line is the BEST!!! My absolute, most fave blog right now. Love your writing style and verse…been reading since 11pm last night…it’s 2:45 pm the next day now.

  6. Ashley
    Ashley says:

    I farm and homeschool. Just found your blog today, and this post is particularly endearing.

    My kids are 4 & 5 and know more about sex and death than most adults.

    We raised under quota broilers on pasture. 10% losses for day old chicks are considered normal, though usually were are 1-3%. We had a clearly less than sound batch this year, and I had to cull several tiny chicks. (If I don’t cull them, their compadres peck them to death, as they can tell said chick is the weak link in the genetic chain).

    So… I used to just step on them. But my boots have a heel and it got messy once. So I switched to using a flat piece of wood from the pile and the flat end of big log. Instant death, nothing left but a smear. No suffering.

    My daughter, 3 at the time, would have lived in the brooder if she could have. She was in there watching chicks under the red light one morning while I was off doing chores, and when I came back, she pointed out a chick that “wasn’t quite right” and told me “mommy, go get the log”.

    One of a thousand reasons I am perfectly happy homeschooling on the homestead.

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