Penis Isn’t a Dirty Word

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About Nicholaus Noles

Nicholaus Noles is a father, writer, and developmental psychologist with a Ph.D. from Yale University. He writes about children, toys, child development, parenting, and video games.


  1. Damn – we have to wait… what? ….maybe another 20 years until David let’s us all know if it worked! P^)

  2. This has been pretty much our approach too. The other day our five-year-old got on the toilet just as I was about to try to get his little brother to try to pee. When I said I wished he would have waited for his brother to go first, he said “How would I know he had to pee? I can’t read his penis!”
    On a more relevant note, I was sort of shocked when the pediatrician told the five-year-old he needed to examine his “pee-pee.” I guess using real words really isn’t the generally accepted practice.

  3. natureartist says:

    I agree with you that that it is a good idea for children to grow up not seeing their private areas as a subject of shame and secrets. I grew up in a time when I didn’t even know the penis had a name until I was in 7th grade. I just find it ironic that we want to spend so much time telling little boys that the penis is nothing to be ashamed of, but we tell grown men that the penis is “junk”. Too many grown men see their own bodies, even the penis, as something unattractive. We see the male body as a subject of comedy, as something utilitarian, and anything but beautiful as opposed to women. Too many women fall into this same indoctrination. I do hope that one day the little boy who has been taught not to be ashamed of all his body parts, can become the man who will feel just as proud of his entire grown body.

  4. Kudos, Nicholas. :)
    For your integrity as a parent, and for this article.

    While my parents weren’t especially prude or repressive, there was a sense of awkwardness around sexuality in my house. And I did a lot of work, afterwards, to get rid of all the moralistic junk I have received.
    Yet, at almost 50, sometimes there’s still some anger coming up about that conditioning. :|
    It takes nothing to say something dumb to a child, but he might take it with him for a very long time.

  5. I’m in agreement with you Nicholaus. About calling all body parts by their rightful name. I don’t think though that I would go as far as to say “you can do whatever you want with your penis/vagina”. Anymore then I would say, “you can do whatever you want with your hands/eyes/feet.” Some things should be for self discovery and by singling out the penis or vagina to such a degree, that might also inadvertently teach them that their sexual parts are much more special and important then any other body part and give them a right of privilage where that’s concerned. I don’t know. That’s just my personal thoughts on it.

    I will also add on that parents also need to have age appriopate conversations with their children about sex and sexuality that reaches beyond our body parts and dips into how to treat another person or their own feelings and emotions that come into play when it comes to sex. Along with the media that is going to send them many messages about sex. The conversation needs to be a continuous one throughout their adolesence. Not just the standard “birds and bees” talk.


  1. [...] body parts is big, and families tackle it differently. I am on similar ground to the author of this post. However, his focus is on boys who I think are given more leeway to explore their body than girls. [...]

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  3. [...] This post was originally published on the Good Men Project [...]

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