At what age and how to do talk to my children about the birds and the bees?

I have 3 boys and 1 girl. They are in elementary and middle school. My husband who is a convert to Catholicism has said he is very uneasy about talking to our sons about sexual intercourse. I don’t have a problem talking to them about it, but my concern is putting thoughts into their head that they can’t stop thinking about. My kids are VERY sheltered. We don’t have cable, limited exposure to internet (and it has to be in a public place in our house, no internet in their bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.). We keep them very busy with traveling, alter server clubs, ski clubs, tennis, and ballet for our daughter. Their school is a tiny, traditional Catholic school. There are like 15 families and 100 kids, lol. Every body knows everybody. And I have a couple of kids who are fantastic informers. They love to tell me everything going on with everyone at school and in our family. They are sheltered and I’ve never heard or suspected any curiosity about sex. I’ve purposely tried to protect them from sexual content or images in any social media, movies and books because I know how an image can stick in your head and lead you to crave certain immoral things…

But at some point, I have to explain the mechanics of sex to them. At what age can they handle the talk without later seeking out titillating pictures or illustrations? They have all read books (suggested by other Catholic moms) about how their body is changing and what to expect. But they have no idea what to do on their wedding night, and any references to sexual activity are completely beyond them. When do I talk about it with them? Any suggestions on the best way to do that? I feel it’s important that they hear this stuff from a truthful source and not from friends or the internet. TIA!


Try some of Dr Ray Guarendi and Greg Popcak’s books.

The Church’s document The Truth And Meaning of Human Sexuality might also be helpful.

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You’ll be surprised what they already know, so talk to them. You must have already talked to your daughter about periods.


You can talk about love, intimacy, and bodily functions at any age—as long as it’s age appropriate and according to their development, both physically and mentally.

It’s good for children to learn the proper words for their body parts, their functions, and also learn things like boundaries, consent, what to do if someone touches you and you don’t want it, bodily autonomy, love and responsibility, intimacy and when and how it is appropriate.

Don’t bring sin into it, unless you’re talking about masturbation and/or premarital sex. Even then, frame it positively as in: God loves us, and we are made in the image of God. When we love and spend time with someone, it’s important to have boundaries that make us feel good and close to God. Or touching yourself can feel good in the moment, however it’s feel better to share that moment with your future wife or husband. If you do transgress, think about why it happened and make sure to see out God’s forgiveness. The confession times are on the fridge, kiddo.

Taking the umpf out of it allows them to talk openly with you, seek solutions, and ask for help if they are in need or have sinned without Bible thumping. If the message is love and consistent, they know when they have transgressed and more importantly, they reflect on why and how it happened.

Just my two cents.

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It’s highly likely they’ve already talked about it with their friends. Usually these questions come up for young kids when they see their mom, or someone else’s mom, pregnant and having a baby, or even when their dog or cat might have a litter. I know my first birds-and-bees talk with my mom at about age 7 was caused by a big discussion I had at school with another girl about how her cat’s kittens were born.

Of course when puberty starts to set in, kids will glom onto any little piece of information they can get from any source, and if they are not getting the information from their own parents they will get it from their friends or any exposure to media they have, no matter how small.

Don’t think that by not giving your kids information about sex, you’re somehow going to keep them from temptation. It’s actually kids who don’t get good information about sex who are more likely to get themselves in some kind of trouble through ignorance. I would say when they hit about age 11 you should at least be explaining the basics. Give them a good Catholic book for young people on the subject, and then have a talk with them after they’ve read it to answer any questions they might have.

Also be open to answering any questions they might have later, regardless of when they come up. I remember having a discussion with my mom about this at about age 12 in a restaurant bathroom because the subject just happened to come up at that moment.


I recommend this book. We used this when our daughter was in elementary school

image I tore out the chapters on abortion and homosexuality. The rest of the content was age appropriate as indicated on the cover ages 7 and up.

You simply talk about it in an age appropriate way all through their lives.

This is a good resource:

I’d also suggest

Good Pictures Bad Pictures

Sex is basically the reproductive function of our bodies, so I always start from there.
Kids will usually ask flat out how babies are made, and I think it’s important to give an accurate scientific answer. Dads and moms have different parts on the inside that produce sperm and eggs. They have different parts on the outside that allow the sperm and egg to meet and form a baby. You can be vague about the intercourse part, unless the kid pries for more information. At that age, it’s not motivated by sexual thoughts, it’s really just curiosity.
When they go through puberty, it’s important to start addressing the great force that is sexual attraction and how it can be used for good or evil. Cue talks on chastity, masturbation, respecting girls, etc. I think your husband can step in at that point. But while they’re still kids, talks with Mama should be enough.

All of these responses are really helpful. And I just added the book mentioned above to my amazon cart. But Mitchell, this is exactly what I needed to hear. I’ll make the discussion about the mechanics of it very matter of fact and scientific. Cold hard facts. But I’ll start talking more at our evening prayers with the kids about how we show love and the feelings they may start having toward other people, etc. I have never lead them to feel shame about how their bodies are changing as they grow. Quite the opposite. God made them exactly how he wanted them and it’s their job to take care of their bodies which is his temple. It’s fun to watch how they grow and bloom and what they become. I just needed to know how to present them with the details of sexual relations without making it something that will cause them to obsess about it. I think the scientific facts are a great way to present it. Thank you!!

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By the time they are three they should know the proper terms for their body parts. By the time they are five, or before they start school (whichever comes first) they should know the basics about where babies come from. There are plenty of good books that you can read to them to explain the basic biology. Add in as much morality as you want.

If you think your elementary school age kids aren’t learning about sex you are kidding yourself. Your middle school kids already know, and have known for a while. Remember, they have the body parts and they have feelings.

The last thing you want is for the other kids to be teaching your kids about sex. By not talking to your kids about it, you are sending them message there is something wrong with it and/or it is a shameful thing.

Sorry if this is blunt. Honestly, you should never have “the talk”. “The Talk” should, rather, be an ongoing dialogue that continues until your child is fully grown. My daughter and I used to have the best conversations about it while we were going someplace (just the two of us) in the car. You want your kids to feel like they can ask you whatever they want to know (or at least verify the info their friends are giving them).

And finally, I am sure your husband is a wonderful dad but he needs to step up, here. By the time they are teens, few males want to be getting sex ed from their mom. You don’t experience what they experience in the same way. They need to be able to depend on their dad to help them through. Maybe he needs to read a book on how to talk to your kids about sex, or something.


You talk to them about it when they’re old enough to understand in a way that is appropriate to their age and level of understanding.

I personally think you’re late, and you should make haste to amend the situation with your children…

Do not kid yourself. I would be willing to bet big cash that your older kids already know all about sex, and what they know is probably not totally accurate or consistent with Christian teaching. It doesn’t matter how sheltered they have been–unless they have been totally out of touch with other children and all other humans, they have learned something by now.

We are sexual beings from birth. That’s how God made us. That’s how the world goes on.

I agree with others that from birth, parents should be educating their children about God’s intentions for human sexuality. This isn’t a “talk” It’s a lifestyle and an ongoing, open, and loving conversation that often occurs in the most unlikely places (e.g., camping trips).

I think it’s especially important to prepare girls for the onset of their periods. Many girls are having their first period as early as age 10, and to wait for the teen years is risky.

But I also think it’s important for boys to be prepared for the onset of almost constant sexual desire and the physical reaction–I hope it’s OK for me to use the word “erection” that many young teen boys experience whenever they see a girl, a woman, a bra, a cartoon female, a love song, a dance, a leg, a girl doing sports…pretty much anything that remotely reminds them of a girl. My husband said that watching a girl put on lipstick was a stimulus for him when he was a young teen.

It’s no wonder that the World has managed to convince so many people that it’s OK to have sex with anyone who is willing because that’s what happens “naturally.”

So jump in and help your kids. And pray lots!


And, please for the sake of all that is holy, PLEASE use the correct terms for their body parts, not cutsy nicknames. Penis and Vagina are not bad words!


Yes, they will feel weird. I recall once when I was at my sister in law’s house when her 8th grade boy got home from school. He was totally weirded out and sort of in shock. His mom asked what was the matter. Turns how they had had a sex ed class at school at the end of the day, and showed a video of a baby being born. He said “I don’t EVER want to see anything like that ever again!!”

In my own generation it seems parents giving ‘the talk’ was not all that common. I think my mom must have insisted that my dad give me the talk, because when I was about 9 yrs old he came into my room just as I was going to bed and tried to explain where babies came from. It wasn’t too coherent, and I was sleepy and not interested.

Learning from other kids might not be the best way, but I was pretty good at sorting out the actual from the nonsense. Later I just looked it up in the Merck Manual.

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By the time DSD was 7 or 8 she knew about periods. She had actually asked Hubby when she was little why her mom sometimes left the toilet bloody. He explained. I went over it with her again - I’m a nurse and we’re pretty open about that type of thing. Good thing I did, too, as she started at 8! (On the young side but she’s tall and her mom started at 9.) When she hit about Grade 6 I told her we had three options: we could talk, we could go through a book together, or she could read a book and ask me if she had questions. I left the choice up to her. She opted for the book, so I got her one (I can’t remember which, but a good one) and she read it.

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