It got me to thinking about something I'd read in the Mother's Manual, a prayer book my mom gave me, which is still in print. Let me know your thoughts on if this little instruction is just right or doesn't go "far enough" in having a conversation with your children about life, sex, and babies. I apologize for the length.
It is a frequent question asked by mothers: "What should I tell my little girl (or boy) about life? When should I speak of these matters? And how should I go about it?"
Probably no one who knows much about the matter would venture to set an age specification for such information. The answer to "when" is: Whenever the child begins to show curiosity about such matters.
Little Johnny, age seven or eight, may come to mother and ask where little babies come from. The question should not surprise or alarm; it should be answered. A wise mother will take a calm interest in the question, draw her baby to her in a motherly fashion, and explain that God sends the little baby to parents. Little babies come from God.
Such an answer may satisfy entirely. Johnny's curiosity may be very much of the type of child curiosity that we see concerned about Santa Claus and the like. It probably is that kind of curiosity. We should not magnify it beyond what it really is.
However the child may want to know more. It may be even that he has heard something from an older boy and has come to mother for the proper account. In this case a mother should thank God for the child's confidence that has brought him to her for an explanation. Keep the confidence of the child.
If the child persists in a way that seems to make further explanation advisable, the mother may simply explain that when God gives the baby, it is very small -- and so He puts it inside the mother's body, near her heart. God keeps it there for a while; and when it is big enough (still a tiny baby), He brings it into the world for the mother to take care of.
Such an explanation, simply and sympathetically given, may satisfy the further curiosity of the child. However if the child's curiosity has been stimulated to the extent that he has asked this much, it is quite possible that he will press a further question.
He may ask how God brings the little baby out of the mother's body into the word. If he asks this, a mother should again be many times grateful that he has come to get the information from her and has not picked it up out of the gutter.
The mother may tell the child, simply again, that at the precise time her babies came she did not see them. She did not see them while they actually came but only after God had taken them from her body. God is all powerful; He can do all things. He can make the soul of a little baby and cause a body to develop inside the mother. He can bring the little baby into the world; a thing like that isn't hard for God.
Simply and quietly this explanation may be given.
Isn't God wonderful! The child will possibly be thinking such thoughts of God himself. The mother will do well to suggest them. She might remind him to thank God often for making him. The wonderful God did this because He loved him.
A similar explanation of course could be given to a little girl. The time? When the child's curiosity seems to demand it.
A simple, delicate, factual explanation such as the one suggested below all hangs together. The child will never find out anything to the contrary, for the explanation is true.
Babies are in the hospital when they are very young because they are extremely delicate then and need special care. Mother too is in the hospital then because she is rather weak. While the baby was in her body, mother fed it with the food she ate. Caring for the baby thus makes her a little weak. Then too mother should be near her baby while it is in the hospital. She wants to be near it. She feeds it at that time with her milk. After they leave the hospital, mother often takes the baby back to the doctor when it is still very young.
All this is true and will probably satisfy the child. To tell a child that storks or doctors bring babies is to give an explanation that deceives. The child may hear something to the contrary and suspect that there is something about the matter that mother is hiding, that mother doesn't want to tell. Child curiosity may then prompt the little one to try to learn the truth elsewhere. This may produce warped ideas on the matter, and much harm may be done.
Perhaps one of the greatest harms is that the child may lose confidence in mother. If everything that mother tells proves true however, and mother sympathetically and prudently answers the child's questions, the child will tend to come back when further curiosity is awakened.
Such a tendency to come to mother should be fostered. The child's confidence in mother is above all to be preserved.
All this instruction has concerned itself with a possible very-early inquiry of a child, inquiry which may catch a mother off guard if she does not prepare for it. There is the further problem though of the child who does not ask questions and still should have matter explained at a suitable age by mother or father. There is the matter too of explaining the part the father plays in bringing new life into the world. A child must come by all this knowledge sooner or later, and the proper place where he should acquire it is in the home - and from the parents. The whole explanation may and should be given beautifully and reverently in a way that will inspire confidence in parents and will tend later on to beget in the child purity during the adolescent period. Matters should be handled thus.It goes on to say that space does not permit further instruction on the matter, but then refers parents to a book: Some Notes for the Guidance of Parents. So, your thoughts on this? As I said, I realize it is an older prayer book, but to my knowledge it is still in print and being sold today.