RTD: Parenting the Anatomy


We, as adults are fairly smart. Even mostly educated. So why is it then, when faced with children, we become frazzled and partially brain-dead at some of life’s simplest topics? Take anatomy and body parts, for instance. We’re all working with the same set – give or take – and we’re all experienced enough to know how to handle them:

If you see earwax, clean the ear.
If there is snot, blow the nose.
If hair in the eyes, get a haircut.
If tummy hurts, use the bathroom …and so on.

As our children get older, however, do we develop some kind of mental block with parts of the human anatomy as we are faced with the responsibility of a body that is rapidly growing and changing? Anything from shoe size to body odor to ear piercing to uncontrollable body changes are fair game here.

We naturally struggle less with children the same gender as us, but when issues or questions arise with the opposite gender, are we all too ready to pass the baton to our partner? What message are we sending on the topic of anatomy and about the parts of our body?

As adults we respect the body, the changes, and understand our children’s curiosities and need for privacy, but as parents raising children, it’s our job to offer answers and guidance in this somewhat uncharted territory of body parts and anatomy before our children’s peers – or perhaps more relevant – social media outlets do our job for us. And let’s not start on the impact consumer brands may have on our kids with commercials such as Old Spice’s Mom Song making a splash over the weekend.

Being a parent whose partner is working non-traditional hours and unable to always be here to offer guidance, I have no choice but to know answers to both my daughter’s, and my son’s, impending questions about their bodies. But I don’t feel prepared. In a time of internet and instant information at our fingertips, I hope it’s more blessing than curse as we begin to chart these waters.

What gender body issues arise with your kids that you struggle to deal with? How often do you depend on your partner to pick up the slack when you don’t know the answers? How important is it for children to turn to a same gendered parent? How do we, as parents, accept the privacy issue and allow kids to learn on their own? 

This Wednesday 6pm PST / 9pm EST, let’s discuss parenting the anatomy — your experiences and challenges, your advice. Use the #DadsRT hashtag to follow along and participate.


The Beginning
About Brienna McWade

Brienna lives in the great Pacific Northwest where she writes and grows a family. She travels, watches baseball and loves live music. She has previously written parenting articles for Patch.com and music reviews for Seattle Wave Radio.

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  1. I STRUGGLE with this. I think it is difficult for a dad to help his daughter out in these kinds of issues. I understand that it is hard with both kids, but I don’t want to create an idea of shame around their bodies, and many times, I just don’t know what all she has going on. My wife used to work those rough hours, but now I’m able to say “Ask your mother when she gets home,” because I just don’t know. When it comes to my son, his little penis is just like another finger that moves involuntarily, and it’s first task (once discovered) is as a plaything. I try distract or redirect him without making him feel like his penis is a bad thing.

    It’s a tough thing to deal with for both kids. I look forward to the chat this Wed. Thanks for writing this post!

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