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Parental guidance: Time to tell the truth about conception

Talking to your kids about the birds and

Talking to your kids about the birds and the bees. (Oct. 3, 2010) Credit: iStock

My 9-year-old son has recently been asking questions about how babies are made, particularly how he "got into my tummy." I believe he's genuinely interested as to how it happens. I've put off answering his question by telling him I'd have to think about it because the process is complicated. What can I say to him that would satisfy his curiosity without going into details?

"He's 9? It's time for details," says Leah Klungness, a Locust Valley psychologist and co-founder of Single, an online community for parents. "His question is a totally developmentally appropriate question. This is the time to lay a factual foundation and keep the door open for future conversations."

You should use the names of the body parts and tell the truth about how babies are conceived, Klungness says. "I'd skip the part about the stork," Klungness says. "It's time for him to learn at least the basic facts, and a good time for you to emphasize he was brought into the world with love and care."

If you're not sure how to have the conversation, there are books and online resources to guide you, such as "The Boy's Body Book: Everything You Need to Know for Growing Up YOU" (Applesauce Press, $9.95). If you don't provide him with this information, he's going to find it out from other people, Klungness says. "You want to be the go-to person when he has questions about his changing body and safe sex and all the questions that lie ahead," Klungness says.

Send your parental guidance questions to or follow her on Twitter @bethwhitehouse1.


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