As an educator and owner of a small business, I try very hard to separate my personal opinions about some subjects from my everyday life. Now this does not mean my feelings and beliefs don’t affect the way I do business or how I run my business. Quite the contrary, I believe, especially in early childhood education, I need to be open to all ideas and philosophies. I try to enforce this concept with the children at my school and the teachers I employ. What I guess I am trying to say is, I don’t like to climb up on my soapbox and preach my version of something to the world very often.
This being said, I was perusing my Facebook page this weekend looking at my friends’ status updates, clicking on cute pictures and reading a link or two that sounded interesting, when I stumbled upon a shared article by one of my Facebook friends—a client and a mom—that peaked my interest. The link was titled “OMFG Teach Your Kids Accurate Names for Body Parts Already.”
I am sharing this link here with you. Please do not read this if some less-than-appropriate adult language offends you. These are the author’s words not mine, but the subject matter is worth consideration.
After reading this article I cannot stress how true I believe this information is. I cannot and will not understand the reasoning behind calling penises, vaginas and breasts anything other than their correct names. I have always believed this and am only assured that my beliefs are correct after years and years of working with children and sitting through hours of sexual abuse and neglect training.
Our bodies are what they are and we should not teach our children to be ashamed of them. We must empower our children with correct language. I used to work with a woman who had a Masters of Education. When she had her first child, and the child starting talking, and the issue of body parts came up, I found out she taught her daughter to call her vagina a Popo. “Seriously, lady, a Popo? You have a Master’s degree. You work with college students and parents, and now you are a mom, and this is what you are passing on to your daughter?” I was saddened for her and for her child.
Why does it matter? Private parts should be just that—private. As the article says, children discussing these things can cause problems, so shouldn’t we be aware of upsetting others? Probably not. Would you rather your child feel free to discuss things with you or be too afraid to tell you she/he had been touched inappropriately? If we make any talk of body parts or bodily functions seem embarrassing to us, our children will not talk about them. Children know when parents are distressed.
It is that distress, that reluctance to talk about private matters, that predators count on. It’s not just on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit that abusers frighten children or shame them into keeping quiet about abuse—the writers don’t make these things up. Children won’t talk about things they know parents don’t want to talk about.
A simple and easy way to make your child aware that you are open to anything, honest, and there for them is to use appropriate language—for body parts, bodily functions, birth and death. If it’s a tough subject, but you’re willing to talk about it openly and honestly, you’re child will learn to trust you with anything. And that, as the commercial says, is priceless.
(As an aside, there is nothing wrong with telling your child that private matters are private and should not be discussed with others. It is also fair to tell children that some parents don’t want their children to use appropriate words—that it between those parents and children, but you are always willing to talk with them about anything. This might not keep your child from enlightening another that babies don’t come fro cabbage patches, but you’ve tried.)
There are so many things we cannot give our children for so many reasons, why not give them the things you can give freely—knowledge, trust, and self respect.
I will now climb down off my soapbox. I hope I haven’t offended anyone terribly, but I do hope it makes people think. I stand by my beliefs, and will not be swayed on this subject: here at Springbok a penis is a penis and a vagina is a vagina and that is just the way it is.
Here is the link to the article mentioned above.