That’s Not My Fairy!

Posted by in September's Magazine

Dear Mrs MacPickle,
How does one explain to one’s children where babies come from? My small children have started to ask and I am torn, I wish neither to lie to them nor traumatize them for life.
And what vocabulary should I use? I want to empower them to talk about their bodies, but I would like to limit them blurting out graphic anatomical phrases in the middle of Clownaround. What’s your policy Mrs. MacP?
Yours sincerely,
Mary Stopes

Mary, this is indeed a can of worms. Gone are the days when people could tell their children tall tales of storks and cabbage patches and let them decipher the truth from their mates in the playground at a later date – back in the innocent days of looking up ‘sex’ in the Encyclopedia Britannica when no-one was looking.


Apparently the new thing is not to pull them aside for a big chat on the birds and the bees, but rather to just try and answer their questions as they arise. You can explain that babies grow from seeds in mummy’s tummy, and hopefully not get asked how the seeds got there. But this can be rife with confusion. My own son, having understood that he used to live in my belly, was for some time under the impression that I had once eaten him.

Words are of course another thorny problem. I’d love to tell you that I was suitably empowered to teach my children the proper words for their private parts but I settled for hideously undignified childish alternatives. At least I avoided use of the word ‘fairy’ which as far as I can tell must be disastrous come fancy dress season and very confusing in light of the book That’s Not My Fairy.

In general, this is a situation that calls for one of the Golden Rules of Parenting: There is not always a solution i.e. no right way round this. You can take heart in knowing that you will be messing them up a bit whatever you do!

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