I am quite used to seeing male private parts around me. I know what you're thinking, but please don't get me wrong. I'm simply a mother of two little boys.
During my time as a mum of boys, I've curiously realised there's something quite fascinating about male private parts to their owners. My boys will hold onto their willies like they're going to fall off, whether they're stressed, happy, sad or merely want to go to the loo.
With no regard for decorum, they'll scratch or clutch their crown jewels while eating their meals or watching TV. They don't need an occasion (like bath time) to get naked and prance about.
In a nutshell: Male private parts should be renamed "male public parts".
All this public sharing of what should be private got me thinking: How should mothers of girls explain male private parts to their daughters? Because eventually, you know, your little girl is going to ask you about them. She might see daddy changing. Or her baby brother having a bath. And questions will be asked.
So, instead of blushing and mumbling untruths (and wishing the earth would open up and swallow you), as a mum of sons, here's how I suggest you go about it in a logical, rational and truthful manner.
Be honest and truthful with your daughter, and you'll be rewarded with open communication channels with her.
Explaining Male Private Parts to Your Daughters: Tips for the Uninitiated
1. Don't make it into a big deal
The same way you explain the anatomy and function of your daughter's vagina to her, you can also talk about the function of a penis, if and when asked.
Depending on your daughter's age, you can do this with less, or more detail. The older your daughter is, the more detail you could go into. Remember that it's never to do with inappropriateness, because a parent educating their daughter about the human anatomy is perfectly fine. It's just that a younger child won't understand a more complex explanation.
2. Use the right terms
Girls have a vagina, boys have a penis – it's as simple as that. By avoiding the use of "cutesy" names like "wee wee", you're teaching your daughter that there's no shame in having an honest, open discussion about genitalia.
It's part of human anatomy, after all. But more importantly, you're helping your girl protect herself from sexual predators with the ability to correctly name body parts.
This is because potential predators might back off a child who uses the right names for body parts, assuming that they will be equally comfortable with telling their parents if molestation happens.
3. Penis and vagina: Same but different
One way to break the awkwardness is to tell your daughter that the penis to a boy is what the vagina is to a girl. It's one way of telling a boy and girl apart. Again, the two main functions of a penis can be explained based on your daughter's age and level of comprehension.
4. Avoid being too formal
If you make it into a "serious discussion" you could potentially make it embarrassing for your daughter. You see, explaining about male private parts to your girl is more than just educating her about the biological purpose and function of a body part. It also opens the door later to an honest, open sex-ed discussion. So keep the tone light and informative, and keep those communication channels wide open.
5. Tell her penises are also private parts
Just like she has her own private parts, so do boys. Remind her that just because she's learned about what they are, that she shouldn't got to school the next day and ask to see or touch a boy's penis. Neither should she be forced to see or touch one. And here, you can even continue the discussion to "good touch, bad touch", where a child is taught the difference between the two in order to protect herself from molesters.
So, if you're ever asked a "penis question" by your girl, I hope these tips help you tackle it gracefully. Do remember to watch for cues that show your daughter is uncomfortable. If she is, stop the conversation. There will be more questions in the future and you can always answer them then.