Mom, It's Time We Had the Talk


Mom, It's Time We Had the Talk

This is Amanda and her son Callum. Callum is 8.


Last summer, when their neighbor became pregnant, Callum was overcome with questions: Where do babies come from? How does sex work? But where does the baby come out?

Of course, he brought those questions to the most logical person: his mom.

But Amanda didn’t want to give Callum the version of “the talk” that she got from her mom—a single mortifying conversation at the age of 12. Instead, she wanted to engage Callum in an ongoing dialogue about sex. And ongoing is what she got. Now, sex is Callum’s favorite topic of conversation. Which leaves Amanda talking about sex all day long.


Callum finds creative ways of working sex into everyday conversation. For example, when he and his mom were drawing map of their town, he added a “sex bar” (see above), which he says is where people go for “romance.” These sorts of things baffle Amanda and leave her feeling like she’s constantly needing to help Callum refine his definition of sex.

Listen to this episode to hear a mom having a real live birds and the bees talk with her son. Plus, Callum’s silly songs about sex, and the sex metaphor that Amanda sternly asks him to revise.

Also in this show: your answers to your childhood misconceptions about sex.

Resources for talking to your kids about sex
Amanda is a librarian, and she helped us put together a list of books for both parents and kids that should help those dreaded talks go smoother, including the one she gave Callum: It’s So Amazing! by Robie Harris. So check that out.

And here are some online resources we like.

One thing Amanda found herself having to discuss with Callum way earlier than she’d expected is the concept of consent. The Good Men Project created a guide on how to discuss consent with your kids at any age.

Listeners recommend Birds + Bees + Kids, which has videos, webinars, and an extensive list of resources about talking to kids about sex. For teens, check out Scarleteen and Rookie’s Sex + Love section.

And if you’re looking for a sex therapist or educator near you, you can find one at AASECT.

How have you talked to your kids about sex?
What worked? What didn’t? Did they bring it up? Did you? Details, please. Also, your favorite resources. Can never have enough.

Photo of Amanda: Jun-Kai Teoh

Our sponsors for this episode are Alarm.com (code: COOL16), Thirdlove, Eleanor Amplified from WHYY, Bumby Box (code: LONGEST) and Icon Undies (code: LONGSHORT) Use the promo codes at checkout for a special discount.

23 thoughts on “EPISODE #50: Mom, It’s Time We Had the Talk

  1. Oh my goodness, I think I could write a whole book just about the questions by oldest has asked about sex, but in response to Leah’s comment above– My son came home from school one day last year (5th grade) and demanded to know what “the talk” was. He explained that someone had asked the health teacher a question and her response was, “I can answer that privately, but not everyone has had the talk with their parents so I can’t answer in front of the class.” When I explained to my son that they were probably talking about sex (we’ve been very open answering questions at home), he didn’t believe me. He persisted saying there must be something “better” that I was keeping from him… he still isn’t sure that I’m not keeping something from him.

  2. Hands down best resource: The Human Body BBC series with Robert Winston. Even all these years later, it still feels groundbreaking — and taboo-breaking as well. The opening credits feature a chain of humanity — girls, boys, men and women of all shapes and sizes — each person in the line exactly one year older than their neighbor, from infancy all the way to extreme old age — and they are all unabashedly naked and smiling.

    The series covers many aspects of sex and birth from a human development, science-based perspective, and does not hesitate to shine the full light of day on topics that may make some members of its audience blush or even drop their jaws in astonishment. Even I could not quite believe it when presented with a sperm’s-eye view of ejaculation using actual footage from an endoscopic camera. Incredible stuff, most highly recommended!

  3. My 4 year old son came home after being in daycare for the first time and said “(So and so) said he kissed a girl’s pee pee”. I immediately said, “Well that is not true. Girls do not have pee pees, they have vaginas and boys have penises”. This was the start of a 10 year open conversation about sex.

  4. This was a great podcast for me, a mom of two sons aged 13 and 9. The story about Callum’s curiosity and the matter-of-fact way him mom handled his questions made me feel a lot more “normal.” About six months ago, my younger son had been talking about “the S word” (his term), and clearly had some misconceptions about things. While I did tell him that he could say the word “sex” and that it wasn’t a bad word, I generally avoided the conversation about the other stuff, thinking he was just too young for the talk. But one day when we were with a group of friends that included a mom and her 9-year-old daughter, he asked where the daughter’s dad was. I explained that the parents weren’t together anymore, which wasn’t a tough concept since his dad and I are divorced. He then asked when they got divorced, and I said they were never married, and he said, “Wait! Wait! What do you mean? I don’t GET it!” And I said that you didn’t have to be married to have a kid, and then I very simply said that a baby was made when a man put his penis in a woman’s vagina. (My older son was sitting next to me in the front seat of the car, now totally mortified). Again, I got the “I don’t get it” response, and then he asked, “Do you have to use one of those things that they used at the dentist to hold my mouth open when I got my sealants? I just don’t understand how it fits.” Ugh. (Now my older son whispers, “I am NEVER going to the dentist again.”). Wow. I just explained that everything fits just fine. And I grinned.

    When I told my family and friends this amusing anecdote, I got laughter, but also an undercurrent that I shouldn’t have been talking about sex with my 8-year-old. I just wanted to thank Amanda of making me feel like less of a weirdo hippie parent. Hooray.

    1. Thanks so much for your response also. I had to explain sex to my newly minted 6-year old. And if it weren’t for having heard this podcast recently and read these posts, I would feel so strange about myself. And feel like I just ruined my kids childhood now that he ‘knows’. But it was all very natural – kinda. The word sexy has been a topic since last spring – thanks Gangman Style and playground. So this fall it just went a step further. I probably could have stopped but I wanted to answer every question that came because it was happening organically. It was just…coming! [pun intended] But I did freak out when I realized it was happening. Questions led to this: but how does the sperm get to the egg? And that’s how I had to tell him about sex. Followup question about 10 minutes later heading to bath: how long does it take for the sperm to get out? Then he started to look curious, almost too curious so I had to throw in there that it’s mommys/daddy’s who want kids who do this so they can have babies. This is not for other people. [I had to do this to save myself!] Then I gave an example of high school kids I knew that did this and had a baby and it delayed their plans for college. [now I need to shut up]. A little later he says something about his college-aged cousins and how they didn’t do it because they didn’t want to mess up college, right mommy?. Luckily we were getting tired and we finally could quit when he was in the bath and said he didn’t want to be naked anymore. I told him that when his Nana told me about sex, I felt the exact same way and that it’s ok to put this conversation away for now and just be silly 6 again. Whew.

  5. I think most kids start to have questions about sex around 8. I know I spent most of second grade wondering what sex was and was delighted when a friend gathered us all around on the playground to tell us that it was when a penis went in a vagina. I was fascinated. My parents gave me an illustrated book a little after that, but we never talked about it. I just had a book to reference. And so a dialogue never started and I never felt comfortable talking to them or asking them questions about sex. I am so impressed with Amanda’s openness with Callum, and I hope I can do the same with my girls when they are ready.

  6. Great podcast. And great job, Callum’s folks! I’m a sex educator and have been having organic conversations with my kids (now 9 and 6) since they’ve been old enough to ask questions.

    One suggestion for Callum’a mom and others, don’t be afraid to talk about the fact that sec feels

  7. Thank you so much for not only this podcast but all the comments posted. My oldest is 4.5 and I know these questions are coming, and it’s not that I have a problem answering them, I just don’t know how MUCH to answer. I want my kids to be more knowledgable than I was (to be fair, my parents are recovering Catholics and so “the talk” was surely awful for me AND my mom) and be able to ask me anything. I kind of need to get over my own inhibitions about talking about sex. Maybe the talk will be good for both of us!

    Also, thank you so much, Amanda, for mentioning how important it is to raise boys with a better awareness of sex, rape culture, consent, what have you. I find the responsibility of raising my son just as daunting as my daughter. You are exactly right is saying it starts with raising our boys well. That is the only way we will see change.

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