I've only had my HFA diagnosis a few months but, as you might expect, it's made me look back over many, many things in my life and one of those things is my parenting. I think I've been a pretty good parent, I've had many successes and failed a few times too so basically the same as any parent. My children have emerged from my parenting-style to almost-adulthood now and we're close so I'm taking that as a good sign. BUT, many times over the years I've had people telling me "You can't say / do that to kids!" and I'm wondering now if maybe my parenting really was as unusual as I kept being told it was. How do other diagnosed or un-diagnosed AS parents deal with the difficult parts such as 'The Talk'?
When it came to discussing 'The Birds and the Bees' I was always very factual with my kids and started right from when they were tiny and learning the names of body parts, I told them the real names and didn't make up cute ones. Apparently that 'wasn't right'. Did anyone else do that?
When they asked where they came from I told them "Mummy's tummy" instead of all the stuff other parents said about storks or flower beds. When one of my daughters asked (about age 3) if I "Sicked her out" I told her no, that I went into hospital and the nurses helped me to get her out. Later when she was older (about 4) and asked again I told her the truth. Obviously not about the full-on birthing experience but just about the body parts involved and some pushing. She was totally blase about it but, again, other parents informed me that my answer was not appropriate (?). What did you all tell your kids?
My middle daughter was about 5 when my youngest was born and so had LOTS of questions about how the baby got in there in the first place, especially after she actually saw her newborn sister. I told her that Daddy gave Mummy a seed and the seed went into a special egg Mummy had in her tummy, then the egg and the seed made the baby grow. I was pretty happy with that answer: factual and descriptive enough to be true but not SO true as to be traumatic for a 5-year-old. Once again, according to other mothers, I was going too far!! They told their children stories about the baby being a present from the Doctor (I think THAT'S more disturbing!!) or that Mummy and Daddy made the baby by cuddling (!). Again, what did you all tell your kids?
As they got older I became more factual with them and it seemed to really bother other parents. One mother came to my door to complain that my 8-year-old had told her 10-year-old about periods and had explained what sanitary pads were by showing her daughter a pack of pads I gave my daughter to play with because she was curious about them. I don't understand to this day how that could have "scarred" her daughter!? A similar thing happened with condoms when my daughter was about 13, I thought it was important that my daughter had encountered them and wasn't embarrassed about them LONG before she might actually need them - other parents said it was "sick" and "disgusting".
Because my children have always been quite open about most of these things (until they became fully-paid-up members of that species known as Teenagers, around 14 to 16 when EVERYTHING parents say is soooo embarrassing!!) we have always been able to talk quite openly about things and they've generally come to me with questions about things they'd either heard in the 'playground', or later when they were older. Are other AS parents as open with their children too?
The only time it EVER seemed like a bad thing to me to be open and honest with my children was after telling my 5-year-old about the eggs and the seeds. We had quite a large group of friends and family over to the house to meet the new baby and my daughter announced "I know how she got make-ed! Mummy swallowed Daddy's seed!" Hmmm. Yeah, that wasn't my favourite family gathering, it has to be said.
I've always used the correct words for body parts with my daughter. People have been shocked in the past when she's repeated them, but I don't see why we need to encourage kids to think of their body parts as something shameful or embarrassing that we shouldn't talk about. We're not talking sex here, just parts of a person's body.
When it does come to sex, though, I have been honest about it and probably quite graphic, but my daughter has a good understanding enough to know not to pass the details on to her peers.
She's three. She already knows (after asking how babies get into their mummy's tummies) that men usually have a penis and women usually have a vagina, and the two parts fit together and can make a baby when they join up. Or there are other methods if people need help getting pregnant or if two women or two men want to have a baby. And we've talked about adoption as an alternative. She knows that giving birth is typically very painful, though people can have medicines to reduce or stop the pain, and has told me so far that she'd like to adopt to avoid that, but it's all very matter of fact. She's not afraid of any of this and doesn't find it weird that grown ups fit their body parts together. I'd prefer to never have to have 'The Talk' because it will be information that she's known from a very young age and has never been shocked or surprised by. Over time I can build it up to discuss contraception and go into more detail about the 'mechanics' of sex. But I'm letting her lead me. When she asks an honest on, she gets an honest answer. I will be the person she knows won't ever lie to her or treat her like she can't handle the truth.