Sigh. Jessica Biel just revealed she and Justin Timberlake talk openly and frankly about body parts with their two-year-old son Silas – and it’s got some people very hot under the collar and threatening to call social services.
“We just talk about it”
Speaking at the 2018 Makers Conference, Jess said that a biologically factual approach suits her family best, and that they’re not keen to use nicknames for body parts or shroud them in secrecy.
“We’re using technical terms … we shower together, and [say], ‘This is what I’ve got. This is what you’ve got’. We just talk about it. I know it’s really young, but I really believe that if you start this early, there’s no shame,” the actor-mum said.
“I don’t want to tell him, ‘keep your private parts,’ and this and that. It’s a beautiful thing. You have it and mine is different and it’s cool, man. We have to respect ourselves and respect each other.”
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“How disgusting. They must be mentally deficient to be doing this to a 2 year old,” one wrote.
“I hope a Social Services employee is reading this. These people should NOT be parents!” another declared.
“Ummm … showering with your boy won’t make him a better person. It will scar him for life,” one commenter opined.
“Robbing a toddler of its childhood is abuse at it’s most grotesque form,” someone else decided.
Name those genitals!
Hmm. So interesting that some find Jess and Justin’s no-nonsense approach to the human body to be confronting.
Speaking about the body in an accurate and factual way is at the tip-top of the list when it comes to helping kids develop an understanding of themselves – and appropriate boundaries.
“Ideally, parents should start teaching those terms even before their children can talk,” Dr Perri Klass told The New York Times “naming the genitals just as they name other body parts in the inevitable daily round of small-child body care and grooming and, yes, diapering and potty time.”
Dr Klass admits that sometimes your child might use these embarassing-to-some words in public, but points out that this is a teaching moment – an opportunity for further discussion about the best times to chat about genitals.
The right words
Having the correct language about all parts of their body is also helpful when a child has an issue with their body, whether it’s an itch or something more upsetting, such as being touched inappropriately.
“Without proper terminology, children have a very hard time telling someone about inappropriate touching,” psychologist Sandy Wurtele says. “If a child says someone touched her cookie, it would be very difficult for a listener to know.
In short, what Jess and Justin are doing – encouraging body positivity and using the correct terms for body parts is parenting at its best. No need to call social services – unless it’s to give them a pat on the back!