“My mom’s a gynecologist, so she knows.”

This title is a direct quote from my now 15 year old to another child when she was correcting her on the proper terminology for body parts, at the ripe old age of 4 or 5. To be fair, she may have butchered the term gynecologist a bit and made it her own, due to pronunciation difficulties. Nonetheless, the message was the same. As I think about it, I am quite sure that growing up with a gynecologist as a mother has presented an intricate balance of advantages and disadvantages…for both sides. It has definitely made life interesting, to say the least. I remember thinking, before I had children, that it was going to be sooooo amazing to be a gynecologist mom. I couldn’t wait to have daughters so that I could be the best information resource ever about all things “sensitive.” I was convinced that we would share so openly about sex and biology and all things gyn that my kids would never want for knowledge and certainly would come to me with ANY questions or concerns they might have. Well, this hasn’t exactly turned out the way I had hoped.

Let’s start from the beginning. From the time my kids were little, there simply wasn’t room for any body part baby talk in our house. There were no weewees or hoohoos. There were penises and vaginas, right from the start. I was determined to give them the proper terminology, thinking I was starting off right in removing the taboo. After all, I wasn’t teaching them swear words or anything, just basic biology terms. What’s the harm right?

Well, I need to tell you a little story about how this semi-backfired almost immediately. We were sitting in a restaurant one day. It was my husband, myself, our oldest and my two year old. The meal was meh, but the conversation was nothing if not interesting. Right in the middle of her mashed potatoes, my 2 year old suddenly bolts up out of her chair and announces very plainly to us and the whole restaurant in general(cue squeaky high-pitched two year old voice)..” Mommy, my vagina hurts real bad and I can’t sit here any more.” You could have heard a pin drop. The silence was deafening, except for the sounds of every single head in the restaurant snap-turning in my daughter’s direction with a look of horror on their faces. It was as if she just quoted a line from a soft porn movie, complete with cusswords. My oldest was trying to stifle a laugh into her pot pie. My husband was sitting there open-mouthed. My 2 year old was grinning, very proud of herself for getting all the words right. I knew it was up to me to handle this. I stood up immediately and said,” It’s ok folks. It’s ok. I am a gynecologist and I can take care of this.” I turned to my two year old and asked her if she wanted to switch seats. She did willingly. I then asked her if she felt any better. She looked at me and said,( cue toddler voice again) ” Oooooh yes. My vagina feels muuuuccchhh better now. Thank you Mommy.” She then sat down, smiling and proceeded to start in on her mashed potatoes again. Meanwhile, the rest of the room did not seem nearly as relieved that the problem had been solved. Ever the fixer, I felt like I had to address the again. I said,” It’s alright now. She feels better. Problem solved. Everyone please go back to enjoying your meal.” Needless to say we never ate there again.

My now 15 year old took a completely different spin on it. She learned and embraced all those terms with relish early on. In fact, she would correct every child that she came across who dared to use improper terminology for their body parts….all the time! As a matter of fact, she was so keen on all of her little friends knowing the right words to say, that even if the subject of body parts did not come up in polite conversation, she would bring it up so she could have the opportunity to “educate” them. This did result in more than a few phone calls from the school. It was as if we had turned the tide on the terms wee wee and hoo hoo and now they had become the bad words.

My youngest was also always fascinated with what her Mommy did, especially the part about delivering babies. She thought that was really something special.(and hopefully still does) However, I did not really grasp just how special she thought it was until one day when I got a different kind of phone call from school. Mind you, at the time, both of the girls were attending a private Lutheran school, so they were getting their daily dose of religious education right along with their ABCs. I got a phone call at work saying that I needed to come to the school as soon as I could, but that it wasn’t an emergency. I hung up confused, of course and tried to head there as soon as I could. I arrived at the school and headed right to the preschool day care room. As soon as I walked in I noticed a long line of little girls leading up to the play tent in the corner. I asked the daycare teacher what was going on. She smiled at me and said, “Oh you’ll get a kick out of it.” She motioned me over to the tent and there was Katy, dressed like the virgin Mary, delivering each little girl’s baby one by one. She saw me and immediately smiled and informed me that she was delivering their babies just like me. Everyone still had their clothes on and each baby was a doll, but the main objective was still clear. She was very proud. I thought it was pretty clever that she combined her admiration for me and the Virgin Mary all in one. However, all of the other parents did not exactly share my sentiments and thus, the baby tent had to go.

All in all, I still think I did the right thing in teaching the proper terms to my kids. I think we have to stop thinking of body parts as taboo for little children. It is only natural to be curious about them. Psychologists say this starts naturally as young as the toddler age. I think that if we contribute to removing the taboo from the words themselves, it might be a first step in being more comfortable talking to our kids later in life about their sexuality and arming them with useful information and resources instead of shouting about abstinence only or leaving them to fend or themselves.

Yes, i went there. I started talking about teenagers and sex. This leads to yet another tricky aspect of having a mom as a gynecologist. My girls went very quickly from being fascinated with what I do and happy to receive whatever tidbits of wisdom I wanted to impart to being mildly horrified and unwilling to engage in the sharing extravaganza that I had in mind. I learned very quickly that, despite all my efforts to the contrary, they had no problem coming to me with concerns or questions on behalf of their friends, but that it was just too embarrassing to talk too much in depth on a more personal level. Nevertheless, I still continued, and will still continue to encourage open conversation whenever possible. Whatever my girls decide to do, I have armed them with resources and information to help them make safe decisions. Teenagers in general are known for poor decisions and getting guidance from google, their friends, snap chat, and tik tok, but I am hoping that my guidance will help pave the way to better ones. I will always be hoping.

Well, that’s all for now. Gotta get to work. Have a fantastic day!

Dr. Katz

2 thoughts on ““My mom’s a gynecologist, so she knows.”

  1. It’s wonderful that you taught them the proper words!! A lot of people don’t know this, but in child molestation cases, if the child has to appear in court, they have to use the proper language, no matter the age. All the descriptive words that are taught to children cause A LOT of cases to be dismissed. Sad but true fact….😞

    1. Sadly, I am very aware of this. My daughter was molested and I put the perpetrator in prison. You are exactly correct, her use of the proper words was one of the keys in her case. Thank you for the comment Lynn!

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