Tag Archives: private parts

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?