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My 9-year-old daughter has asked me what the word sex means and what sex is. I explained to her that some questions are very difficult and that I would like some time to think about how to answer it. She accepted that, but I feel I need to give her an answer soon. How much should a 9-year-old know? We have already talked about her body, periods, developing, and other basics.
Well, you knew it this question would eventually come up. Fortunately, it’s more disconcerting than difficult, and you shouldn’t have much trouble answering it after dong a little research.
First, you need to find out what your daughter’s school is teaching. Most schools don’t tackle sex education that early, but some curriculums may include references to human development. If your daughter is hearing some information in the classroom and going to you for clarification or further enlightenment, the textbook will tell you where to start. She may already know more than you realize.
Second, you need to consider your daughter’s maturity level. Many 9-year-olds aren’t ready to learn about sex. However, if you’ve already addressed menstruation and how babies come into the world, she can probably handle a little more.
Third, when it comes time for the big talk, ask your daughter where she learned the word. If she heard it from a friend or on TV but doesn’t have any idea what it means, you can probably get by with explaining that sex is the process by which the man and the woman make the baby, which then grows in the woman’s tummy. No further details are necessary, so don’t provide them. If your daughter learned about sex in greater detail, perhaps via an explicit scene on TV, then you’ll have to provide a more detailed explanation. But make it as sparse as possible. Some things should remain a mystery for a 9-year-old.
Fourth, let your daughter’s questions guide the discussions. In such situations, parents often feel the need to overexplain. Find out what your daughter really wants to know, and answer the questions if they are appropriate. If she doesn’t ask it, don’t volunteer the answer.
Lastly, make sure you that you frame your answers in the context of your values. When my wife and I talked to the Elder Prince about this topic, we established that sex was only appropriate between husband and wife. Sex is a topic that requires a moral context, and this discussion afforded us the best chance to reinforce the principles we wished to teach our son. Why did I mention this? Consider it a warning.
When it comes to sex, don’t just provide information and leave it to your daughter to chart the course on her own. You don’t need to get detailed, explicit, or heavy-handed. Just determine the direction you wish your daughter to go, then point her in that direction. You’ll have plenty of opportunities over the next five to 10 years to reinforce your points.
My 6-year-old daughter has been sick since yesterday morning. She is lethargic, with a temperature of 101 degrees. She has no aches, coughs, or vomiting. She wants to go outside because she’s been stuck on the couch for two days. It’s 75 degrees and sunny. Should I let her out?
You need to limit the activity of sick children, but cabin fever can be dangerous in its own way. It sounds like a beautiful day, and many people feel better under natural light. Set some parameters, then let your daughter soak up some sun.
No running or jumping. Have your daughter stay on a porch or some other area close to the door. Give her some books or toys, and let her do the same things she was doing indoors. If you see her condition worsen, bring her back in. But as long as the environment is not wet or cold, fresh air may do the girl some good.
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