Starting To Talk About Anatomy
A Guide For Squeamish Parents
Oh, hello there, Squeamish Parent!
If you are choosing to wait until your kids hit puberty to discuss sex, gender, and LGBTQ+ issues with your kids, that’s cool.
For our family, it’s easier to discuss the internal mechanics right now. It was easier to answer my sons’ questions about lumpy, oddly-behaving body parts, calm fears about ‘getting accidentally pregnant,’ and explain the menstrual cup my toddler found in the bathroom, since he already knew what menstruation is.
And of course, the single most effective way to protect our kids against sexual assault is to give them an accurate, honest way to talk with you before something happens.
If you’re still at the squeamish stage – no worries, let’s meet you where you’re at. More touchy subjects – like reproduction, sex for fun, and LGBTQ+ issues will be way easier if we start here. So for now, let’s start with anatomy.
Basic Anatomy For Squeamish Parents
When we refuse to talk about something, our kids pick up on that. Kids form their own opinions on the ‘wrongness’ of the things we won’t name.
When we refuse to acknowledge race, we create a stigma against people of color. When we refuse to label body parts what they are – kids pick up on that to. They form opinions on the way bodies ‘should’ be – which bodies are acceptable, and which bodies are ‘wrong.’
When we choose to protect the ‘innocence’ of kids – we’re forcing them into obliviousness. That’s puts our kids (and their future partners/victims) at risk.
Know that that there is a danger to reading only beginner books on anatomy without addressing sex, gender, and other hard topics.
For those of you JUST starting out with a 1-2 year old, if you don’t want to go anywhere near discussions on genitals, these are the best (if problematic) beginner anatomy books. All of these are body-positive, but foster the idea of a gender binary, and erase the existence of trans, nonbinary, and intersex kids. These are very basic, mainstream books that feed into the myth of a gender binary and that genitals=gender.
My kids loved these, but they were just the beginning of our conversation. You are not allowed to stop here. I’ll be replacing these once I find more inclusive books on basic anatomy.
Body Awareness For Squeamish Parents
Once we have a basic understanding that fingers and toes exist and are a part of the meat bag that consists of ‘me,’ it’s time to learn how we use our bodies to interact with the outside world. Again – these are very safe, mild books that even the most squeamish conservative parent can read without flinching. Baby steps – we’re focusing on senses.
I’ll update this once we get more accurate and inclusive books. My kids loved these books to learn about body awareness, but none of these mention proprioception (there are more than 5 senses), or how folks with physical disabilities move through the world. Sigh.
Got it? Don’t stop here. Kids need to understand that people come in all shapes and sizes – and all deserve respect, rights, and kindness.
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