First of all, let me just say that I’M NOT READY for my children to grow up yet; I can’t believe a decade has gone by already in the blink of an eye. But I can’t keep my head in the sand; they will continue to grow and mature, and I must be ready to introduce the birds and the bees to them as I am both their parent and their teacher. For many topics where the children want to learn more I can simply direct them to look up their interests on the internet…but this is definitely one area where that will NOT be happening as the internet is full of very inappropriate information and images. In anticipation of the day this topic will arise, I have been preparing with a book called, Does This Happen to Everyone?
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Little Gestalten kindly sent me a copy of their book, Does This Happen to Everyone? A Budding Adult’s Guide to Puberty, and I’ve been reading through it so that I can know what’s between the covers (of the book), and think of ways I may speak about the topics with my children. This book is aimed at children 11 years and up, and that’s only a few months away for us- yikes!
This book follows a similar format to That’s What You Think (see our review here), with the author, Antje Helms, gathering up some of the most pressing questions children have about puberty and love, and then answers 70 of them honestly and straightforward using age-appropriate vocabulary and scenerios.
Now, how to create photos for a book like this that aren’t obscene or too childish, yet are fun and attention-getting? This is where Jan von Holleben’s photography comes into play by combining photos with graphics to give enquiring minds just enough information to get them thinking while not going too far.
What are some of the questions that are answered in Does This Happen to Everyone?
- Why do we grow up? Why can’t we stay kids forever?
- Is it bad to start shaving when you’re 11 or 12?
- What does the inside of a breast look like?
- What’s semen made of?
- How do I know if I’ve fallen for someone?
- Is sex dangerous or unhealthy?
- What makes you gay or lesbian?
- Do I have to have the cervical cancer vaccine? Will it stop me from getting cancer?
- What kind of pain is it when you give birth?
- Do babies fart in the womb?
Does This Happen to Everyone? is upfront, doesn’t sugar-coat the answers, and gives both sides to many concerns; it tells children to be respectful of their parents, and more importantly to themselves, although it is also portrays the reality that many children are curious about their bodies and those of others, as well as the fact that many young people are having sex.
I think that the way I will use this book with the children is that if they ask a question contained within and I’m at a loss then we can find the answer in the book, or perhaps as part of other discussions we can touch on a couple of the questions, and after a while Tristan can read through the book in his own time and we can talk about what he’s read and he can ask any further questions he has. If your children are a little older then they may be just fine with the book in its entirety, but you a parent knows what is best for your situation.
I recommend that you read this book first before giving it to your children as you may not spiritually or morally agree with everything said on the topic of sex, however, not all children are brought up with the same beliefs and this may also give a good opening to speak with children about situations they will likely encounter and how different people may approach life in different ways and you can teach them how to appropriately deal in such situations. That being said, this book is very clear that no individual should ever be coerced into doing something they do not want to do, and that is important.
If you’re a parent who is unsure how to bring up the topics of sex and love with your children, then Does This Happen to Everyone? may be the resource you are looking for, even before you know it. For example, when asked, “What is porn?” how would you answer? I was able to answer along the lines of, just like Superman can fly in movies, it’s not possible in real life, and what adults do in porn is also pretend and doesn’t happen in real life, which can distort people’s perceptions and reality…and that was enough…and I’m certainly glad that there weren’t any questions about what adults did in this genre, but happy I was able to answer a question truthfully so the children can have this information in their minds before they ever encounter it. And note to self…be careful what you say when talking about a book you’re reading!
One neat thing about this book that we appreciate is that in addition to having been translated from German, the English version has two options: if you’re in the States you will have the American English version available, while in the UK, we have the UK/Canadian spellings available to us. Little touches like this really show that Little Gestalten cares about their readers.
Does This Happen To Everyone? A Budding Adult’s Guide to Puberty is an informative book that tells the truth and will help to answer some of the many questions children have and open the doors of communication between parents and children on a topic that is never easy to discuss, but is important so that children know fact from fiction and can be confident in themselves.