Talking to your kids about dad’s vasectomy

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papi in blue
Photo by Flickr user Frank Farm, used with Creative Commons license.

Christine is the thirty-something mama of five kids (ages range from six to sixteen) and author of The Bean Blog. She wrote a post about how she talked to kids about vasectomies. Vasectomies are a topic of interest in our household, especially since my husband had one and we know we’ll inevitably have a similar discussion one day:

Thursday night Skyler, Spencer and Caleb were sitting at the kitchen table filling out their valentine’s for their Valentine’s Day parties on Friday. They would have done their valentine’s sooner, but I didn’t buy them until around 7pm Thursday night. You know me and my habit of procrastination.

So anyway, they were sitting at the kitchen table filling out their valentine’s and I was making myself some Kraft Shells and Cheese (’cause yum!) when a conversation ensued. A conversation that started out as an innocent talk about twins and ended with an explanation of vasectomies, sex and periods. [I’m telling you. There is a never a dull moment in the Bean household.]

Caleb was filling out a card for Spencer, a kid in his class, when it dawned on him that Spencer, a kid in his class, has the same name as Spencer, his brother. He said, “Spencer, Spencer in my class likes football too. You could be twins. ‘Cause you’re identical.” This led in to a discussion about what it meant to be an identical twin and a fraternal twin.

And then somebody asked, “Are you going to have any more babies?”

I said, “No. We’re done having babies. We’re happy with our family just the way we are. You guys are all we need.”

Spencer begged, “But can’t we have just one more baby?”

“We can’t because Dad had a vasectomy,” I blurted out before I realized just how tricky that statement would be.

“What’s a vestomy?” asked Caleb.

I paused for a second and let out a nervous giggle. “A vasectomy? That’s when they cut a little tube in daddy’s private parts so daddy can’t make babies anymore.”

“Why does that mean he can’t make babies,” Caleb questioned.

“Well,” I stumbled, “it means the semen can’t get out to fertilize the egg. Do you know what semen is?”

Three sets of eyes stared blankly back at me so I continued, “Well a woman has ovaries and each month those ovaries produce an egg that goes down the fallopian tubes in to her uterus. When she has sex with her husband he releases semen that swims up and fertilizes that egg. If the egg gets fertilized then it grows in to a baby. If it doesn’t get fertilize then a woman has her period. Do you know what a period is?”

With a look of disgust on his face, Spencer said, “Yeah, it’s when she bleeds from her private parts.”

“Something like that,” I responded.

Caleb piped in, “Mom, you said some bad words.”

“What words were those,” I asked.

“S-E-X,” Caleb spelled.

“Sex isn’t a bad word. Either is penis or vagina. They are just body parts. When you are talking about your body it’s ok to use those words. Just don’t use them as an insult. Like don’t call somebody a penis,” I informed.

Caleb said, “Yeah, like when somebody says ’suck my dick’ that’s bad.”

“Yes it is. I don’t want to hear that at all,” I said.

We chatted a little more and I asked them them if they had any other questions. Spencer was still stuck on the vasectomy issue.

“But you can still have a baby,” Spencer said.

“I could, but I’d have to have a baby with some other guy and I would never do that,” I said.

Caleb said, “Yeah, cause that’s cheating and that’s bad.”

Skyler chirped in, “Yeah, that’s just rude.”

Spencer said, “Ah man. But I really wanted a little brother.”

“You have a little brother,” I informed him. “You have Caleb.”

“Yeah, but I wanted a baby brother,” he whined.

“Well they don’t stay little forever, you know. We aren’t having anymore. But Keaton and Justis might have a baby in a few years. In 10 years Keaton will be 25. He could get married and have a baby by then. Then you’d be an uncle.”

Then the kids were figuring out how old they would be in 10 years. Skyler & Spencer would be 20. Caleb would be 17.

“By then all of you will be moving out of the house. And I’ll be lonely,” I said.

Caleb said, “I might live with you for a long time.”

Skyler said, “I’m living with you until I find a man.”

Spencer said, “Well…I’ll come visit you.”

It’s these intimate conversations and hard questions I treasure most with my kids. When I was younger I was always so embarrassed whenever my parents would talk to me about sex. I figured it would be hard for me to talk to my own kids about it. But it’s not. I would rather my kids come to me when they have questions so I know they are getting the truth. And I’m glad they feel comfortable enough to ask me the questions that are on their minds. I hope we continue to stay this close as they move in to the teenage years.

I’m totally interested in hearing how any others are planning on discussing this topic with their kid(s), or how you already have.

Comments on Talking to your kids about dad’s vasectomy

  1. i actually think that my parents did a great job of discussing this with us. My mom is the one who “went under the knife” for both personal reasons and medical reasons. When I asked about it she sat all the kids down and explained to us that she loved all four of us and needed to do this so she could take care of us and be the best mom possible.
    they let us ask questions for days lol

  2. What a great, open conversation. My four year old was asking me about tampons recently, that was an interesting conversation! It is hard for him to separate blood from pain and injury. (Can anyone think of other situations in which someone might bleed but not be hurt?)

    • Perhaps donating blood- both are handing over/ getting rid of something you don’t need.
      Also maybe a mention of how much of menstrual blood is actually blood (not much) would put him at ease.

    • The more he sees it, the easier it will be to understand. I’m not modest at home, so my kids see me strap on a pad or have a lil blood in the toilet. They accept it as a painless (mostly–cramps) part of a woman’s cycle. It was also helpful to share that some animals go through the same thing.

    • Nosebleeds? Kids can get nosebleeds for reasons different than injury, and when they are non-injury related (the nosebleeds, not the child, LOL!) they don´t hurt! 🙂

      Plus, it´s the idea that not only band-aids can go on blood… just saying!

  3. I had never thought about how we’ll talk about it with our eventual kids! We’ve got the one now but want one more, and then my husband plans to schedule his vasectomy recovery period around either the World Series or NCAA basketball (depending on when the second one is born). The topic will probably come up in this fashion: “No jumping on daddy’s lap for awhile…”

    • Sorry to let your husband down, but you really only need a long weekend to recover from a vasectomy. I did a few in med school; they are really simple procedures.

      • I’d never tell him. He’s been looking forward to this for years. His dad recovered from his vasectomy during NCAA basketball.

  4. The daddy in our house is getting a vasectomy for Christmas, or at least that’s what we keep joking. As with everything else, I expect us to make any conversation about it with the kid as straightforward, simple and honest as possible.

  5. I cant really relate to the vasectomy portion of it, but I am a completely infertile woman, and I am constantly having to explain to people that I wont be having kids. Neither myself nor my siblings have figured out a way to explain to my nieces WHY I wont be having babies, merely that I wont.

    • Lily, that sounds really hard. I think we always assume the status quo, and it makes us insensitive to those who are infertile. I know I’ve said something to my friends (who are a couple) before, and didn’t find out until a few years later that they are infertile.

      If you want to talk about it with them, I would suggest just saying to them that you don’t know why, but your body just won’t make a baby. If they are older you can use the word infertility/infertile, and explain what it means.

  6. I would not get a vasectomy near christmas, it completely ruined mine. I got it done Dec 4, and I was still walking like a cowboy on thin ice come christmas. Come to think of it, I still walk that way sometimes and it has been nearly a year. Worst thing I ever did to my body.

  7. Ugh the vasectomy conversation. I’ve been having this with my current boyfriend. He has 3 girls and I have one (all between 3 and 8). He thinks I’m crazy because he brought up getting one and I think I might want another baby. We have no children together, and in my head I just always thought when I’m with the right person I’ll have one more that I can actually share the responsibility with etc. The kid/no kid debate rages on.

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