Friday, March 28, 2014

Discussing Sex With One's Children

Parenthood is such an interesting phase. I sometimes thought my parents were crazy. I didn’t understand their doting and firm nature. It was all too confusing because there were times I could bet they hated me. Now that I am one, I think I understand them better.

We were not allowed out to play with kids that were on our street and that really used to make me sad. I felt like I was being caged and being made to lose out on a big portion of my childhood. In a gathering, it was easy to spot me and my siblings; we were quite stuck up and awkward around other people. We watch out for our mum or dad’s eyes whenever we were offered anything to get their approval on whether it was wrong or right to accept it.
The relationship I had with my mum was one of total fear in the early years, I tried very much not to be in her bad books because I hated being tongue lashed or caned. As I grew up, something changed, my mum became friendlier. She wanted to meet my friends and also wanted to know more about the things I considered right or wrong. In the mornings, she stopped by my room for tea and girly chats. I saw past the fearful mum I used to know, we talked about anything and everything. She gave me my first lectures on sex (I never thought the day would come when my no nonsense mum was going to acknowledge the subject of sex and find it necessary to talk about it, she probably figured I was never going to ask her).

I found it awkward when she started but I warmed up to the advice she gave. Looking back now, I am grateful we had that talk. My hormones were raging then and much as I was scared, I wanted to try many things. Her voice in my head was all the check I needed. She never even gave me the choices of condoms or pills. My mum was too traditional for that. Her advice was for me to abstain from it.

That might have been over a decade away but the situation is still same way. Many parents find it difficult to discuss sex with their children especially African parents.

 Talking to a child about sex is not immoral. It doesn’t make sense to assume children would naturally understand and choose to be responsible on their own without necessary guidance.

An 18 year old started living with me recently and I noticed how sexually aware she has become. She gazes into the space and smiles at random times. I needed not be told what she was about because I had been there before. Before summoning up the courage to talk to her, many things crossed my mind. I wondered if she was not past the age when I could scare her about men’s intentions, I also wondered if I was supposed to call her and talk to her without mincing words like my mum did.  I also knew I had to bear in mind that her upbringing was different from mine. I summed up the courage and talked to her anyway even though I felt the talk was late.

Is there an age to talk to a child about sex?  Some kids grow faster than other kids. The answer to that question should be that one ought to be ready with answers whenever the kids ask or soon as one notices anything that makes it necessary to address it (Note that the talk about sex here is different from talking about sexuality). Try not to beat around the bush in giving your suggestions and don't talk down at your child when talking about sex.

Help them see reasons to wait for the right time and discuss consequences with them.

Praying and committing one’s children in God’s hands also stands for something. If a child is genuinely saved in Christ, he /she knows that fornication is a no go area.

Above all, in whatever one does, one has to make oneself accessible to the kids so that they would be able to talk to one about matters they need clarity on.

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