This morning we had an appointment with our pediatrician. The baby (well, still a baby to me) was due for her 2-year well-visit, while the 5 year-old needed his ears re-checked for what feels like the 500th time. None of this by itself is particularly exciting, but what happened within the four walls of the exam room made my day.
Like many of our friends, and like many of you, we use anatomically correct words in our home on purpose AND by design. From the time our kids can talk, we use the words “penis” and “vagina” to describe those body parts. I will admit that it took my husband some getting used to, and he did push back a tad once our daughter started talking because something about a 2 year-old girl saying “penis” felt a tad awkward to him, but we forged on.
Our children know that boys have penises and girls have vaginas.
Our children can articulate when their penis or “ga-gina” hurts.
Our children understand (though sometimes forget) that we use these words primarily in the bathroom. I’ll admit that they do break into fits of laughter when my 3 year-old starts talking about Cinderella’s “ga-gina” and Ariel’s prince’s penis BUT we try to ignore it as best we can.
Most importantly, our children know that their penis and vagina are private parts and that no one, besides themselves, their parents or a doctor, should touch or see them. Our 3-year-old is rather proud to tell you, at the top of her lungs no less, “Those are MY private pawts!” Yes, darling, they are.
We’ve read and bought into the reasons using anatomically correct language in our home makes a lot of practical sense. We believe in it and are hopeful that this strategy will protect our kids and keep them safe should the worst ever happen.
Until this morning, we had no real way to gauge whether it was all sinking in or making a difference.
Our 2 year-old’s visit proceeded as any well-visit does. We got through all the standard stuff when the doctor approached her diaper area, unsnapped her summer bubble and started to remove her diaper. Out of the blue, our 5 year-old popped up out of his chair and proclaimed “Hey, that’s her private part! You can’t take off her diaper!”
The doctor and I were both speechless. HOLY MOLY! Our parenting is working!
She turned around to him and explained, “You are right, except we are in a doctor’s office and your mommy is here and she gave me permission to check.” He moved on with his iPhone game and was satisfied with her answer, but I couldn’t have been prouder in that moment. Mainly of our parenting if I am being fully honest, especially since they had been acting like crazed circus monkeys leading up to that point.
I hope and pray with every ounce of my being that our children are never truly tested on this subject, but for now I feel completely confident in our anatomy approach and its results. I spend most of my days feeling defeated and questioning my parenting skills, but for just one brief minute today I felt like, “Wow. We may just survive this parenting gig.”
If you’ve been on the fence with using the real words for body parts, give it a try! It feels awkward at first, especially around grandparents who sometimes use pretend words like “cookie” and “ta ta,” but I now believe more than ever that the end result is worth it.
I was thrilled at bathtime a couple months ago. I typically ask “do you want to wash your body or do you want mommy to wash. ” My six-year-old for a while has been washing himself but one day he didn’t answer and I proceeded to start washing him. He very strongly reminded me that he did not give me permission to to wash him. I promptly apologized and told him he was correct. So.happy. the message has made it!
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