One common question that many parents tell us they are nervous about hearing is “Where do babies come from?”
This question often starts adults down a slippery slope. They may think of responding, “Well, when two people love each other very much…” but then stumble when realizing that love may not be a requirement, or that love itself does not make a baby. They might correct this to, “Well, when two people are in a relationship…” but then recognize that some babies are born outside of relationships. Perhaps it is easy to fall back on “When a mom and dad decide they want to grow their family,” but then get tripped up on the idea that not all families are made up of a mom and a dad. Many adults quickly become flustered by how to explain the adult behavior that may result in a pregnancy.
After tackling this question in one of our workshops, a participant confessed, “I am in my mid-thirties, and I have two children, and I have realized that I have no idea what the answer to this question is.”
This question comes up for many children at a young age, and, in most cases, kids are not asking about this level of detail or even about sex at all! Our tip: keep it simple and find out what they are asking
We have written before about the clarifying question, which is an opportunity to find out more about what your child is actually asking. You might ask, “What have you heard about where babies come from?”
In many cases, children have in mind very different answers than what their parents are concerned about. Yes, they might be asking about sex. But they might respond with, “I heard that babies come from the hospital,” or “From the belly!” Once you have more information about their current understanding of the question, you can clarify from there. A fact you might offer is, “Yes, a lot of babies are born in the hospital. Other babies might be born at home! And some babies might even be born on the way to the hospital.” Talk with Your Kids offers some excellent additional facts: “For pregnancy to happen, you need three things: an ovum (egg), a sperm, and a uterus.” and “Babies need to grow inside a uterus for about nine months before they come out into the world. Even though it looks like they grow inside the tummy, the uterus is a separate part.”
You can follow the fact with a feeling, which could be something like, “It can be really exciting that a baby is coming into the world, no matter where it’s born!”
And finally, finish with your values. This is what’s important to you and your family about babies, where babies are born, or even the conversation itself. You can find examples of values, as well as different script options to answer this question, with our script-builder.
If they are asking about sex, this framework can work for that, too! Please reach out if you are getting questions that you want help answering, or that you’d like our perspective on.