The words we use

I made a conscious decision when my daughter was very little that I was going to use the ‘real’ words for body parts.  We do say ‘boobs’ instead of ‘breasts’ (no real reason why) and ‘bum’ instead of ‘buttocks’ (just because I think ‘bum’ is close enough and I don’t feel like it’s a cutesy euphemism as much as the substitute words for other parts).

My reasons for this are varied.  For Lane, I feel like comfort with her body is a helpful protection against being a victim of sexual abuse.  I think of my own uncomfortable interactions with doctors, where I have had serious trouble seriously using those ‘real’ words for my own body parts.  Overall, though, their bodies are their bodies, and what purpose does having code words for body parts really serve?  I’m sure Lane’s use of words like “penis” in mixed company has raised an eyebrow or two among present adults, but I decided that Lane’s appropriate vocabulary is more important than assuaging their discomfort at perfectly legitimate and appropriate words.

As my kids are getting older and we interact with more families with small kids, it’s becoming glaringly apparent that I am in the minority in having a daughter that knows what labia and penis and scrotum mean.  There are lots of kids out there that have doobers or peters or wieners, and hoohas or girly parts or flowers.

I found this article, which really illustrates the huge range of words families use instead of the ‘official’ words.  It also made me realize my kids have never heard the words “defecating” or “urinating”.  I’m not sure if I’ll go there… maybe when they’re a little older and “pee pee” and “poop” start seeming a little infantile for their vocabularies.

So I bring all this up because I’m just generally curious — what do you say, and why do you say it?


6 responses to “The words we use

  1. Doober? Who else do you know that uses doober? I thought that was specific to Husband’s family!

    We actually use both the “real” words and cute words. That way he will be armed with more knowledge and understand what other people are talking about.

    Son calls it his doober or his penis, he knows he has testicles/balls. He also knows that we have a breasts/boobies and that I have a vagina, but I don’t think it’s pertinent that he know I have a labia or a clitoris. We’ll save that for later.

  2. Mostly we use the generality of privates, but use the real words if Emma asks specific questions. And she loves to talk about how Nathan drinks milk from Mommy’s boobs. LOL

  3. We’re all about correct anatomical words here. I agree that those are the correct terms and that’s what they will learn…I’m sure their friends will enlighten them on all the other names their body parts are called. 😉

  4. This invariably comes up, and I’m always amazed at the spectrum too. I use “vulva” and “bottom” — two places that require wiping and washing and thus get discussed. My husband cringes, but he’s on board. I suppose when the time comes we’ll get more specific, but the questions haven’t arisen that would precipitate vagina or urethra. We talk about boys having penises, but we don’t have much interaction with them; Daddy’s generally stays out of sight. (He’s a modest guy.)

    My friend, whom I agree with about a lot of things, chose “manhood” of all things…. and I’ll leave you with that one.

    Good topic!

  5. Lisa, you’re such a hit whore. 😉

    We use very similar language to you, I imagine – mostly anatomically correct, without a ton of specific details. (i.e., breasts, penis, testicles, vagina/vulva… but not clitoris, foreskin, etc… not yet). Vernacular for bodily functions only because I knew my kids were going to be in preschools and while I didn’t want to cutesify the words for body parts I also didn’t want to cause unnecessary confusion and delay at school. There really isn’t a need for them to be discussing that sort of anatomy at school, but I do want them to be able to communicate when they have to pee or poop.

    So, as far as I can tell, the only way to broaden your hit count via search engines for this post is if you had phrases like “sex with monkeys,” “lesbian trampolines” or “enlargement and stamina.”

    You are welcome.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s