Kids: the dangers of naming body parts

2010-06-23 00:00

WHEN I was growing up, my mom had a fanny and my dad had goolies. We wandered around in the nude, we bathed together, we pointed and prodded, and our questions regarding all the different bits and pieces were answered well and sensibly — and ultimately with a little bit of help from Des and Dawn Lindberg (remember them?).

It was an open and healthy upbringing, and I never imagined that — when my turn came — I would do it any other way. But now that I have children of my own, I’m not entirely sure how to handle the labelling of body parts.

Penis or tortoise?

There is a school of thought that advocates telling it like it is right from the word go, using the proper adult words to avoid confusion and stop any embarrassment over our sexual bodies before it starts. But is it just me, or do vagina and penis just sound so very serious? And, if I’m honest with myself, just a little too grown up?

So how about telling it like it (almost) is, by using one of the many euphemisms that have entered popular language? One of my friends took that route and her daughter made up a song around it, which she sang at every opportunity, to anyone who would listen — including grannies and grandpas, teachers and even the woman at the Woolies till. It went something along the lines of “Dun how NIPPLE! Dun how FANNY! Dun how WILLY!” She understood exactly which words to sing in her loudest possible “outside” voice. There simply wasn’t the same emphasis on “dun how” (and no, no one knows where that came from either).

Another option is to use a family word, so that everyone in the inner circle understands, but those outside it won’t raise an eyebrow when your child demands to see “mommy’s flower” at the restaurant table. Which happened to me, except that Megan told the waitress she wanted to see “mommy’s fanny”. That was fun.

Of course, the family word leads to its own set of issues, as aptly demonstrated by another friend’s child. In her house, Daddy’s penis was described as a “tortoise”. So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when, one evening in the bath with Dad, little Georgia filled a bowl with water, set it within the tortoise’s “sights” and cooed in her two-year-old singsong voice: “Here tortoise, tortoise, come and eat, supper is ready …”

So where to from here?

I seem to have taken a laissez faire attitude on the subject, which basically means I’m too indecisive to make a call either way and am letting my children decide for themselves.

— Parent

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.