Are Birds and Bees the Best Sexual Examples for Teaching Kids?

I learned what sex was from an eighth grader on the school bus (I was in seventh grade). When he described it to me, I simply didn’t believe him. I was sure that sex didn’t involve any physical contact. That just didn’t make sense.

Every day, thousands of children are subjected to the infamous “birds and the bees” talk. But do we ever stop to ask ourselves if we really want to compare human sexuality to birds and bees? Consider the following:

  • If humans had sex like birds, a male would accumulate sperm within their distended testes during the mating season, find an obliging or unguarded female, and then ejaculate from his phallus into the her cloaca.
  • If humans had sex like bees, the sole purpose of a male’s life would be to have sex a single time with his female queen, upon which, after leaving his endophallus in the female’s body (similar to leaving behind your wallet at her place after a one-night stand), the male would die.
Sounds just like good ole’ fashioned human reproduction, doesn’t it?
Instead of using animals to explain sexual intercourse to my future children, I would use….humans! Why do we beat around the bush instead of talking about sex in a technical way, with no shame associated with it?
I attended sex ed classes in fifth grade and seventh grade, and in neither class did they tell us what sex was. They told us how easy it was to get a girl pregnant (apparently if you stand too close to a woman during ovulation, she will instantly give birth and you will owe child support) and how terrible STDs are (if you recall, STDs were represented in sex ed by a series of cartoon characters that actually looked like a lot of fun). But they never actually sat us down and said, “Sex is when a man’s erect penis enters a woman’s vagina.”
See, that wasn’t so hard! (That’s what she said.)
So let’s just skip the birds and the bees and jump right to human sexuality. Use plain and simple terminology. And do it before your kid finds out on the school bus.
Parents and future parents, what do you think is the best way to teach kids about sex?

14 thoughts on “Are Birds and Bees the Best Sexual Examples for Teaching Kids?”

  1. I think being straightforward and honest about sex from an early age is the best way to educate children. I was first told about sex from a friend of one my older brothers. I think I was about 7, so I knew about that sex meant the penis went in the vagina. However, he had a key piece of information wrong. He told me that the guy peed in the vagina and that’s how the girl got pregnant. I was in a junior high sex ed class when I finally learned that urine is not the fluid that gets a woman pregnant…

    • Emily–That’s a great example of why parents/educators should (in my opinion) just be direct about what sex is. The idea that your older brother’s friend thought that guys should pee inside girls makes me smile. That’s the type of misconception I would have had.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree. I took sex ed class for years and they never once told us how humans actually have sex.

    As for educating my actual children, I’ll probably just leave an old Ron Jeremy VHS tape sitting out one day with “Sex: A How-to Guide” written on a piece of masking tape and stuck to it. If they can find a VHS player and make it work, all the secrets of sex will be unlocked for them.

    • Trev–Your kids will prove to be quite clever if they can figure out what a VHS is by that point.

      I want to have a big bookshelf that organizes material by age. Like when they turn 9 they get to watch Star Wars. When they turn 11 they get to start reading Harry Potter. Same with various pieces of education. That way they can look forward to all of that media.

  3. I think I will go about it like my parents did. They sat me down when I was 8 and gave me the full details with correct terms. Since my sister was going to be born 9 months later, they wanted me well educated as to how she got here. There was no mention of storks, birds, bees, rabbits or any other animal…unless we are counting humans. I was 8, so I thought it was completely disgusting that my parents got naked in front of each other, let alone had sex, but at least I was well informed.

  4. My 9th grade Life Management Skills class had SexEd as part of the lesson plans and we got to see pictures of real humans with real STDs.

    That was effective.


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