Talking about sex to kids can be tricky for a lot of parents, including celebs Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard. This past Monday, Shepard released an episode of his popular podcast Armchair Expert with guest Rachel Bilson. In it, he revealed some interesting details about how he and his wife (who, fun fact, he often calls “Bell”) talk to their daughters about sex.
The conversation started because Bilson explained that her mom is a sex expert, so the former The O.C. star heard a lot about it as a kid. Shepard replied that he did, too. “My mom was open about sex with me, and my father was insanely open about sex with me,” he said. “I have two daughters and I’ll probably try to have open conversations and it’ll probably mortify them.”
Then he revealed a fascinating tidbit about how Kristen Bell had explained the act of sex to their school-age girls, Delta and Lincoln.
“Kristen has this great thing—I don’t know where she picked this up,” he said. “Instead of saying, ‘The man puts the penis in the vagina…,’ she says, ‘The woman puts the man’s penis in her vagina.’ So you’re like starting with this notion that you’re in charge.”
“Love that!” replied Bilson.
And wow, so do we! It’s such a simple way of framing sex for girls to help them feel powerful and implicitly understand that their consent is an essential part of the act. It makes us wonder why we ever automatically framed it the other way (cough, patriarchy, cough).
The celebs continued on this topic of conversation, with Bilson admitting that her six-year-old daughter had just asked about sex recently.
“The other day in the car, she was like, ‘Mom, where do babies come from?’ I was like, aw, f*ck. She’s like, ‘I know it’s like a dad and a mom…’ She’s only six, so I couldn’t really talk about a penis entering a woman’s vagina. I mean, I could, but you’re six, and that’s probably horrifying.”
The star says she contemplated whether to focus on the science of it. “Because you don’t have to have a dad and a mom, you can just make a baby in a lab,” said Bilson. But in the end, she didn’t need to explain it at all: “Luckily she got distracted by us talking about Pop Tarts so I got to move on.”
Shepard agreed that kids often get too bored of the sex talk before parents even make it to the awkward part. “You can’t even get to the ejaculation part before they’re so bored,” he said. “They hear ‘penis’ and ‘vagina,’ it sounds too scientific, and they’re out.”
“Any story!” replied Bilson. “Just make it really long and you never have to get to the bottom of it. It’s really the key to parenting.”
Although we think Bilson could indeed have told her daughter about the mechanics of intercourse at age six—most experts say kids this age can handle it just fine—we applaud Bilson for intending to raise her daughter in a sex-positive home. “It’s really healthy for parents to be able to speak to their kids about this,” she said. “I think you really benefit. It’s an open topic, so when [young people] experience it themselves, they know they’re safe, they know what’s going on and they can talk about it.”