the birds and the bees

The Birds and the Bees or Testicles and Ovaries?

Whybirds and bees The Birds and the Bees?

Why is the illustration of the birds and the bees used to catalog a way of teaching reproduction to children? Using this illustration is metaphorical at best and lazy at worst.

When our children ask questions about sex, they’re usually not old enough to understand a metaphor. Parents breathe a sigh of relief when “the talk” is done. The child is left clueless to the real facts. Yet, he also figures out that mom or dad is embarrassed. He also knows this is not something he will ask about again.

Instead, he begins asking peers – which is not a good place to go for information about the changes in one’s body. Parents, you need to decide where you want your child to get his information: from his parents or his peers.

birds and beesThe Bees about Sex

It’s true that plants reproduce using pollination by bees. A female holly tree can grow on its own, but it won’t produce the red berries without the male tree, which must be planted within thirty feet of a female tree. Both male and female plants are required to produce fruit. A male plant can cross-pollinate up to eight female plants. Plants must be two to three years old before they can produce fruit. At the same time, most fruit species require an insect to carry pollen to the flowers.

When a bee collects nectar and pollen from the flower of a plant, some pollen from the stamens (the male reproductive organ of the flower) sticks to the hairs of her body. When the bee visits the next flower, some of this pollen is rubbed off into the stigma (tip of the pistil), the female reproductive organ of the flower. Through the bee, the female flower is “fertilized” or “impregnated” by the male flower.

birds and beesThe Birds about Sex

Birds lay eggs, by which babies are hatched. It’s true that ovaries produce eggs – but not the kind we see in the nest of a bird. Ovaries are necessary for impregnation. So is sperm.

For young children, they visualize what they have seen and know. Imagine a young girl picturing a real egg inside her body. What is going to happen to the shell of the egg?! It’s true that male and female birds must mate for fertilization, and that “mating” occurs after courtship among birds. It’s also true that normally both male and female help care for the eggs and the hatchlings.

That’s a long way around to explain sex to our kids. Wouldn’t it be better to just tell them what they want to know instead of making them figure out what you’re embarrassed to tell them?

This metaphor might have worked back in the day when most children lived on farms and helped gather eggs from the henhouse. It might have worked if the family owned hives of bees. You might be able to find another analogy for your child that makes sense to him because of your occupation, hobby, or where you live.

The Truth about Sex.

birds and beesYet, there is one thing we all desire. No matter where we live, the climate, our occupation, or hobbies, we want the simple truth. A boy has testicles and a penis. He knows what they are. A girl has ovaries and a vagina. Many children have siblings, cousins, or friends younger than they are. They’ve seen both anatomies and understand what is normal and natural. There is a natural curiosity about their own bodies and the bodies of the opposite sex. As parents, we should not be surprised because we experienced the same.

There is nothing evil about curiosity, and parents ought not be embarrassed and ashamed. We should not turn curiosity, inquisitiveness, and questions into something hush-hush and secretive. Kids don’t need that influence or attitude; they will get enough of that from some of their peers.

A Bee or a Nest? The Truth is the Best.

A child can understand the concept of a nest – it’s a place prepared by the mother or both parents where they can “grow” their babies – from before birth and after. A mother’s body has its own “nest” – the womb. Her body naturally gets this nest ready every month to prepare for a baby who might begin growing there. Her body gets blood ready to feed the baby through the umbilical cord so it will have everything it needs. When no baby arrives to begin growing there, the mother’s body says, “I won’t be needing this nutrition now,” so the body releases the collected blood and egg, gets rid of it, and then makes a new nest for the next month.

Just like flowers and holly trees need a male and a female to produce their offspring, so people must have a male and a female to produce offspring. How God came up with this idea is beyond me, but it’s a good one!

birds and beesWe ought not diminish His splendor and beauty by being embarrassed. We ought to be responsible parents and teach about testicles and ovaries instead of haphazardly using the “birds and bees” metaphor to explain life’s delicious surprises to our kids.

birds and bees

This is a repost from five years ago.

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