Any parent knows that discussing "the birds and the bees" with a child can be tough. So family psychologist Kevin Leman is offering help in his new book "A Chicken's Guide To Talking Turkey With Your Kids About Sex."
The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler told the author that her 5-year-old son asked her the other day where babies come from. "I said, 'Go play with your cars,'" she quipped.
But Leman was quick to offer some advice, saying, "You've got to be prepared. They'll ask at a young age. We had a 3-1/2-year-old daughter say, 'Daddy, where do babies come from?' I thought, 'There's the big one.' I gave her the answer. I said, 'The daddies plant these little seeds in the mommies. And takes about nine months for baby to be fully born and ready to be born.' And she didn't say anything.
"So I'm following my own advice in my book. If a kid asked you what time it is, tell them what time it is. Don't tell them how Big Ben was made, manufactured, etc."
The "talk" usually is not one event but an ongoing process.
Says Leman, "If your idea of sex education is 'the talk,' you've missed the point already. It's an ongoing process. They're watching you."
One way to make the talk a little easier for both parties, Leman says, is to hit the road. Have the talk in the car. "Get on the interstate, start driving," says Leman. "There are no stop signs, no red lights. There's something wonderful about looking out the window and talking to your kid about this delicate subject. And for your 11-year-old, who is looking out the window, saying, 'I can't believe this conversation,' there is comfort as well."
He also recommends that fathers talk to daughters and mothers talk to sons, "because daddies imprint daughters big time. There's an indelible imprint the daddy leaves on a daughter's life. Conversely, moms to sons. Teach the son that women need to be valued."
It doesn't hurt to practice your answers, thinking them through ahead of time, says Leman, "so that your reaction to your child's question is the ticket to the kid coming back and asking another question."
Leman also talks about "neck-up" sex education. For instance, when your kid gets his first zit, talk about it. "When it comes, deal with it," he says. "What you've done is put a deposit in your kid's Fidelity Union Trust Bank, that 'I can trust Mommy and Daddy when a curveball in life comes my way, like a simple zit.'"
The most important parenting goal, according to Leman, is to have intimacy with your child.
"Parents make all the difference in the world," he concludes. "Be a good parent."