I remember growing up with the notion that talking or discussing about sex was almost like a crime in my household. My parents never felt the need to have this discussion with me as a child. Looking back now, makes me smile, because I can still picture in my head how reserved and sealed lipped my mother especially was, on this topic. If ever it was brought up, a ”myth” was always used as a descriptive measure. It was almost like you were indecent if you ever engaged in such discussion.
I still feel this topic has not gained enough exposure and by this, I mean there is no proper awareness given to some children from the most trusted people in their lives. This may be due to the fact that they are confused on how to go about it, either because they feel their kids are still too young or they feel very awkward having the discussion with them.
As a parent myself, I must admit that it is not the simplest of discussions to have with your kids, especially now that they are easily exposed to so many things around them, ranging from the internet, television, magazines, phones, peer pressure, just to name but a few, but again, if you look at it from that perspective in a different light, you will agree with me that the earlier you have the discussion with them, the better. Now, the main question is , what is the definition of ”early”.
”Early” in this context, definitely differs in everyone’s opinion, personally I first had the discussion with my child when she turned 10 and I am so glad I did, but there are ways I believe to go about it, which is very important and crucial to their mental growth. I also need to point out at this juncture, that as parents, we must remember that whatever information we decide to feed our kids at any developmental stage, must be age appropriate, so as not to go about it the wrong way and end up doing more harm than good. Therefore, from my own personal experience, I am going to outline what not to do, when taking this step with your kids;
As parents and guardians, we must understand the need to prepare our kids for what lies ahead of them, what to expect and what not to expect. We owe them the duty of care which includes putting a stop to the continuous procrastination on this subject, especially when we know they are mentally prepared enough. Make up your mind and immediately follow through with it, else they might end up getting half-baked information through an undesirable source, and you and I know, that this sometimes does not end well.
Don’t bombard them with too much information at once.
Be very careful not to exhaust your kids with too much information, especially when you are having the discussion with them for the first time, doing this will only end up leaving them confused. Remember, slow and steady sometimes wins the race, allow them to consume and digest the information you are passing across, at their own pace and level of assimilation and understanding.
Stop the myth.
There are so many myths we parents sometimes like to use when trying to have the “sex talk” with our kids, for example, telling our girls that ”you will get pregnant when you go close to a boy or when you kiss a boy”. I don’t know how many of you heard that while growing up as a teenager, but I surely did. I believe, this is just an example of how some parents feel they can make things easier for themselves, by putting a particular fear in their kids. Let us be truthful to them and not leave them wondering and scared. Do not beat about the bush and dance around this subject, this will only make them anxious and that is exactly what we need to avoid.
Stop using the word “Don’t” constantly.
Parents, please learn not to always start all your explanations on this topic with the word ”Don’t”. Explain, elucidate and discuss with your kids. Do not make it sound like a warning session, but a relaxed and friendly talk, to calm them and help them trust you even more. Believe it or not, kids find that word “Don’t” very threatening and may leave a taint of anger in their minds, even though you might think you are communicating.
Choosing the wrong time and place.
children are very sensitive towards their surroundings and environment, they are quick to react according to the mood and settings around them. Therefore, a very sensitive topic like this should be treated with a lot of respect, by choosing a good atmosphere, place and time. You should pick out a time when your child is attentive and devoid of all distractions.
Depending on the school.
Some parents tend to leave this job to the school, they have the notion that teachers will furnish their kids with all they need to know, thinking that will suffice. I remember the first time my child came to me with a letter from school, seeking my permission, for her to join in the relationship and sex education topic, an external body from the education board was coming to lecture them on. I was happy to let her participate, because I had already had the talk with her. This helped her to gain added knowledge from a different point of view and perspective. She came home from school on that particular day, feeling more enlightened and equipped.
Never stop reminding them.
Now, just because you had a conversation once, does not mean you have passed the message across for life, this is just an opening for you to continuously gain easy access, to their thoughts, opinions and questions. Learn not to abuse this either, as kids tend to grow weary at times, when you are constantly in their ears about something. We don’t want to sound like a ”broken record” and make them become uninterested in the subject, especially as they attain adulthood.
What are your views on this topic?
What age do you think is appropriate for parents to have a discussion on this topic with their kids?
Do you even think it is appropriate to have this kind of discussions with kids?
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