YoungerTwin came home from school on Wednesday quite eager to tell me that one of the kids at school got in trouble for showing the teacher his underwear and his “nuts”. I used this incident as an opportunity to reinforce several lessons: we don’t show people the parts of our body typically covered by a bathing suit, nor do we allow people to touch this area of our body, and equally important we don’t touch or ask to see this part of someone else’s body.
However, one other detail of his story left me in a bit of a quandary. I was torn on whether or not I should comment on his use of the word nuts. Since I closely monitor and control the twins’ access to television and neither David nor I use the word nuts, I felt confident that it’s a word he picked up from other kids at kindergarten.
Just last year he was trying to tell me that he’d hurt himself while playing in the yard and in doing so he referred to his testicles and scrotum as the “squishy part” of his penis. It was at that point that I realized he was equating the word penis with the word genitals. I don’t want my twins to develop a sense of shame about their body so I knew we needed to address this lack of knowledge. We had a very age appropriate (he was 4 at the time) conversation in which we talked about the correct word (testicles, scrotum, penis, etc.) for each part of his genitals. No big deal.
However, now that he’s in school, I know he’s going to hear many of the slang words that our culture often uses to describe the various parts of male and female genitalia. I asked him if he knew what the word nuts meant in the context he was using it. He didn’t know exactly what part of the body it referred to, but he did know it involved some part of the genitalia. So, we talked about what nuts referred to in this case and then I explained that it was slang and I didn’t want him using it.
While I don’t find the word particularly offensive or crude, I decided the word was most likely to come up when he was at school and talking with his friends. Given how hypersensitive schools have become about sexual issues, the last thing I want is for him engaging in a conversation in which the word nuts would arise. So, just a day or so after having this conversation and banning the word nuts (at least as used in this context), I had to laugh when I was reading Dear Prudence this morning and noted she ended one response to a letter writer by saying, “…without you wanting to haul off and punch him in the nuts.” Who knows maybe he didn’t learn it from kindergarten and has been reading Dear Prudence on the sly?
I find this area to be a bit of a mine field with some slang words being generally acceptable & others being a definite no-no. On the other hand, we have people who complain when the word vagina appears on a marquee advertising The Vagina Monologues. So, it’s a complicated language area to navigate with your kids, especially when they’re too young to understand the nuances adults attach to the issue and the various words.
Do you have slang words - particularly as it relates to genitals - that bother you? How will you address this issue with your kids?
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- sweetcarolinealine likes this
- midwestern-momma likes this
- punkdad likes this
- northernmomma said: Actually my family laughs at me a lot because I am a stickler about correct terminology and words I don’t want my boys using. I have had similar discussions with my boys and for the most part school is where they learned the slang too!
- northernmomma likes this
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- lolkay likes this
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- kimber-leigh said: We use penis and vagina, which is great at home but can become embarrassing out in public…the boys love to point out, “that’s a girl, girl’s have ginas!” or vice versa all.the.time!
- mywildloves said: Its hard to say since Dylan is so young but I really dont believe in censoring language as long as the words arent swear words. “Nuts” to me would be fine for a kid his age. Much better than “balls”.
- mywildloves likes this
- bujnik said: I’ve pretty much given up with Ave. He knows the correct words, he knows what language to use in front of me/adults…but I’m so sure that when he’s with his friends every other word out of his mouth is “tits” or “dick”.
- ifapictureisworthathousandwords said: I taught them the proper words, but most conversations include me saying “we don’t talk about our privates with our friends! Its called private cause its just for you!”
- lazydad said: We’re pretty clinical about body parts, so we use penis, vagina, etc. It never crossed our minds to call anything by a slang word or a euphemism.
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