Kissing isn’t sex

Kathy Krugerguilt, motherhood26 Comments

By Kathy Kruger

The other week we had THAT talk. Out of the blue really, and I’m not sure the few wines I decided were required really helped. Miss Yin will probably kill me at some stage in the future for this post, but I figure I can delete it prior to my death.

It went like this – we were watching SBS news and I was enjoying a glass of wine and then there was a promo for a story on Insight (love that program) about gender identity disorder.

Miss Yin was with us (Little Yang was watching ABC Kids ‘In the Night Garden’ before bed), and asked the natural question of why some kids feel like they are born into the wrong gender (the term sex was used, you know, for the thrill).

Starting with talking about sexuality and understanding this first before segueing into sex is the way to go, I reckon, so we launched into a discussion about hormones and how they make us feel, about the different body parts and even touched on the broader issue of gender conditioning in society.  I like context.

‘Get to the crux of the matter’, I could have heard Miss Yin thinking, if I was listening. I was too worried about what I was going to say.

We moved onto more detailed discussion of reproductive systems and having a baby – we’ve always spoken openly and anatomically-correctly about male and female bits and pieces, and so we discussed ovaries, eggs and ovulation, talked of tubes and uteruses and vaginas and periods and penises and sperm – all the cringe-worthy body parts and bodily fluids.

Miss Yin is innocent, not totally naïve, and she had gleaned the basics in her 10 years.

But there’s a step between anatomy and understanding.

‘I still don’t get how you can have a baby through kissing?” she asks.

I poured myself another glass of wine.


Anatomy is not mechanics.

Bring it back to reproduction, I think, and launch into an explanation about how the vagina opens – it opens so wide a baby can be pushed out of it (like a watermelon right), clarifying that there is also a hole for the sperm to come out of the penis (mumble, mumble ‘inside the vagina’).  We segue into our IVF experience – it is easier to talk about conception in test tubes isn’t it, and there’s a tender moment when we discuss my ectopic pregnancy and me losing that baby and my tube. Miss Yin hugs me. Sigh of relief.  Is it over?

But I don’t think Miss Yin’s curiosity is quite satisfied yet – her beliefs (or understanding at least), still don’t align with the full reality.

Which gets me thinking.

There are beliefs that we hold onto that seem naively plausible because we don’t (or won’t) dig deeper – we don’t get to the anatomy of the belief.

For me I’ve been holding onto a negative belief that I’m not a good enough person unless I somehow feel guilty.  Guilt is a signal that you are trying to do/be better, and unless you are doing that, you’re not good enough. Apparently. You need the electric prod of guilt, lest you feel too self-satisfied.

I’ve been unpacking (or should I say undressing) guilt quite a lot lately (opps, feeling guilty for that).

This ingrained religious belief came down the Irish Catholic family line, passed on mostly subconsciously, at other times with sharp criticism.

I was good at school, but that didn’t of itself make me good (which is just fine). Sure I was praised for my marks, but I still had as a sense that it wasn’t enough (even though my parents didn’t push me to achieve and correctly taught me that good marks aren’t everything).

Yet somehow there was almost ‘too much pride’ in achievement,’ too much selfishness’ in ambition – and so I felt guilty.

It wasn’t even about being a do-gooder, as much as only being ‘allowed’ a very small quota of acceptable ‘selfishness’ before guilt kicked in. As it should!

I heard the ‘love they neighbour’ bit loudly, and forgot to listen to the ‘as you would love yourself.’ The irony being that you can only really love your neighbour based on how much you love yourself.

Guilt can be fuel to be better, to make amends, and that’s fine. But when I find myself feeling guilty for simply feeling (not acting) selfish, I’m in that shame spin cycle and am not going anywhere but around and around.

So I am redefining selfishness – to allow for more self-care and ‘success’, for dreams and personal goals and detach guilt from thinking of myself as selfish, except in extremes. I’m allowing myself greater scope for self-love, without feeling bad (Self-care isn’t selfishness any more than kissing is sex!)

Perhaps you need to too?

Now Miss Yin has a (bit) better understanding of the birds and the bees, there are more questions, of course.

“I still don’t really understand HOW the man’s penis gets into the woman’s vagina,” she probes (sorry).

“Well it starts with kissing and then it just happens – we can talk more about it later.” I end the conversation with a whimper, rather than a bang (sorry).

Chicken. It will have to do for now.

(In my defence, it’s past 9pm and Miss Yin’s bedtime – time for another glass of wine, just a small one, to settle the nerves and all). Nothing to feel guilty about!

I’d love to hear your experiences with ‘that chat’. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on guilt – is it stopping you from caring for yourself as much as you deserve?

And before we get to the comments, I’d like to flag a fundraiser I’ve launched, in time for World Smile Day this Friday. Apart from spreading smiles with kindness, I’d love you to consider donating to bring smiles to the faces of children born with cleft lips and palates (I’m giving something in return). All the details and the click-through to donate are in this post. Please help this worthy cause.

Linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT…..cheers…kathy




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Kathy KrugerKissing isn’t sex

26 Comments on “Kissing isn’t sex”

    1. yinyangmother

      It’s been a process of talking about things for us too Zanni (and lack of privacy in the bathroom with periods has sparked curiosity for both our kids). This time was about taking things further to a logical conclusion if not all the way (oh excuse the pun).

  1. Lydia C. Lee

    Just tell it like it is. While they’re happy to listen is better than when they go “Mum, you already told me that!” in horror. Get them while they’re young, Evita, get them while they’re young. (I told my kids straight out with each baby that comes along) Not sure when we sit down with the youngest….there’s only shame and embarrassment if you teach it. Let’s face it, they think Miley Cyrus twerking is normal – we have to teach them that it’s not….

    1. yinyangmother

      Lydia – I did get a couple of ‘roll eyes’ – like ‘well duh Fred’ but I wanted to keep things in some sort of logical order building on existing knowledge. Miss Yin doesn’t like Miley much anymore (when she used to love Hannah Montana) so I’m really hoping she’ll never think twerking (when did this word really enter our vocabulary) is ever normal.

  2. Emma @ Five Degrees of Chaos

    Ahh, the ‘talk’. We’ve had a fair bit of that in our house lately as Miss 10 has been doing the puberty talks at school. I don’t know why it’s so awkward, but it so is! Ans she’s a little unclear of the boundaries so we’ve had a few difficult moments, like the time she asked in front of her sisters if boys AND girls have wet dreams, which prompted Miss 6 to ask ‘what’s a wet dream?’ Yikes!

    1. yinyangmother

      There hasn’t been anything at school for us yet Emma (the talks are scheduled for next year in Year 5). We’re lucky that here is enough of a gap between our two (6.5 years), that Miss Yin’s questions and comments should fall on un-knowing little brother ears.

  3. Eleise

    They ask so many difficult questions! Well done for honestly answering them. I remember being told by a child pychologist that if we answer only the questions the children ask honestly and openly they will always only ask what they are ready to hear.

  4. The Plumbette

    I will approach this topic with my girls when they are older with plain honesty. I think you did good and it made for a good read for me who has all this ahead of me.

  5. EssentiallyJess

    I’ve talked about menstruation and puberty with my eldest but not sex. Firstly, she hasn’t brought it up, and secondly, I think the earlier you bring these things up, the earlier they will think about it and I don’t want thoughts of sex and the mechanics being something my pre teen is dwelling on. But I have a very conservative view as well, and have always taken the view that it’s ok to say ‘you actually don’t need to worry about that now. That’s for when you’re older.’

    1. yinyangmother

      I certainly don’t want Miss Yin dwelling on sex either – she’s one of these kids that likes to know and then seems to put things out of her mind (and her worries). She has been like that as we’ve (slowly) revealed her birth/adoption story and I’m glad we’ve just told her things as we felt she was ready to understand, often in response to questions from her. I think it is good to take our kids lead – being frank when they ask but also making judgements on what they ‘need to know’.

  6. Lisa@RandomActsOfZen

    We’ve just gone with the basics for now, and answer as each question comes up. Bell isn’t so interested in knowing all the details yet, so I figure once she gets more curious, I’ll go into more detail.

  7. Tegan Churchill

    This is something that I am dreading with Mr 4. There was no ‘talk’ with me from my mum and everything I learned was either from school or magazines, which is not something that I want for him.

  8. Me

    We just answered questions as they came up. The more she asked the more I answered – while it was awkward at times, I think going with honesty is the best thing you can do.
    I so hear you on the guilt thing. I have worked on that for so long and yet sometimes I still battle with it !!
    Have the best day !

  9. lizzy allan - muddle-headed mamma

    Oh wow, you are such a cool mum, both my mum and I avoided talking about the birds and the bees to each other at all costs! my boy’s almost nine and he hasn’t asked me directly yet … hopefully I’ll have a glass of wine handy for when he does!! I know exactly what you mean about guilt … my Catholic upbringing has ensured that guilt eats away at me on a daily basis and ambitious thoughts end up making me feel selfish. As mothers we are our own harshest critics most of the time too, aren’t we?

    1. yinyangmother

      You are so right on the mother guilt. Good luck with your son’s inevitable questions (I should say Mr Yang got off very lightly). Hopefully it’s a mix of progressive questions so that you are almost done by the time you get that last direct question.

  10. Have a laugh on me

    Wow I think you handled that superbly – man I’m totally not looking forward to that conversation, a few years away I hope. And I know what you mean about guilt, I like the way you put it, we have feel we HAVE to be guilty, but why?? I’m trying uber hard not to get the guilts – but sometimes it’s harder than it sounds. Have a happy week hun xx

    1. yinyangmother

      Hope your week is on the improve. Part of the conversation happens gradually and naturally (I’m sure you will be fine) but there is a certain crunch moment when you have to go ‘all the way’, so to speak! I’ve been pretty good with guilt this week- we’ll see how long it lasts.

  11. Emily

    That conversation. I think it’s going to come around faster than I think it is, right? I read an article yesterday that said the average age for first exposure to hard core porn these days is ELEVEN! The AVERAGE! Geez Louise.

    1. yinyangmother

      That is shocking! Our Miss Yin (I hope) is still very innocent. She google image searched for Katy Perry and it brought up images with the singer topless, her hands covering her breasts – Miss Yin was most worried that it was ‘inappropriate’ and I had to email her teacher at school as she was worried she would be in trouble (she was using her own Year 4 laptop).

  12. coloursofsunset

    having a son, I’ve told my husband he’s in charge of THE TALK. Phew! Dodged a bullet there 😉 I hope that talk is a long way away, but I think it will be here before we know it. I think you handled it great! 🙂

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