Having a discussion about s*x in this part of the world is often awkward as s*x is treated like a subject that should be shrouded in darkness.
Parents often find it difficult to discuss sexual issues with their children, some, in a bid to protect their children, while others assume they will learn when they get older.
Few are however bold enough to broach the topic – but they make it sound like an evil forest only adults can dare venture into.
If you are struggling to educate your child, teenager or ward about s*x, here are eight things to note.
1. Start at a young age
Children are naturally curious and experimental in nature. They notice things and the earlier you start helping to shape their knowledge, the better for you.
You may decide to first broach the subject when your child is six-years-old, that way you can keep it age appropriate and build the conversation as they grow. This means that the big ‘S’ discussion will not be limited to one conversation, it definitely has to be in phases over years.
2. Identify your s*xual values, they will help frame your conversation
By the time your child approaches puberty, you will need to give more information because they are already experiencing some of the things you will discuss with them. At this point, you will need to identify your sexual values so that your desire to protect your child does not keep you from holding things back.
Are you opposed to sex before marriage? Are you opposed to having sex on a first date? Do you think making out without intercourse is acceptable between two people who have feelings for each other?
Answering these questions as honestly as you can, will help you frame your conversation with them.
3. Don’t be ashamed, call sexual organs their names
Remember that the aim of these talks is to help them prepare for life ahead. Call sexual organs by their biological names and not pet names. You achieve two things by doing this, first, you break the ice about the subject and overcome whatever makes you both uneasy about it.
Second, your child knows that you are a trustworthy source of information about the subject and he/she can come to you if they have any questions or issues.
4. Don’t overshare, give age appropriate responses
Imagine discussing birth control pill with a 10-year-old girl… too much, no? Learn to give age appropriate responses, the subject matter is complex enough on its own. You could read parenting books about the subject so you know how to answer questions.
5. Help them understand rights, responsibilities and consequences
As they grow older, teach them about their responsibilities and consequences of decisions they take.
Teach them how to take care of their bodies so they can avoid infections.
6. Talk about protection
After teaching them about consequences, it is important to teach them about protection. If you are honest with yourself, you will know that they are in charge of taking these decisions especially since they will most likely hide the act from you. Give them the option to protect themselves so that this can, in turn, act as protection against unfavourable situations.
7. Listen to them
Thanks to the internet, information is readily available in different languages for anyone who seeks it, and that includes children. Unlike the media and word of mouth, there is no filter for information on the internet.
When having these talks, make sure to listen to your child, that way you can know where they are getting information from. Also, make them feel comfortable about asking you whatever questions they have.
8. Don’t give the impression that you are hiding something
When you give them the impression that you are telling them half-truths, they will seek information from other places. These place could be from the internet or from their peers, who don’t have sound information about the subject.