Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Let’s talk about sex

Today, we take a look at broaching the topic of sex with our children.

Why is this important? How early should we consider having this discussion? What material is available to us to help facilitate such discourse? What are the benefits of our children being properly educated about sex? What are the dangers being presented to our children today as it relates to sexual activity? These are some the questions parents need to be able to answer as they help to rear their children in today’s society.

No doubt that for many of us who were privileged to have our first set of talks about sexual matters with our parents, those moments were amongst our most awkward. Of those parents who actually worked up the courage, some fidgeted, some used various analogies (particularly those with animals, such as the birds and the bees) and others pointed to diagrams in whatever reading material they could find. Other parents did not even bother to have such conversations, the result of this being that many of our foreparents will tell you how ignorant they were on matters of human sexuality and development. What little information was gathered along the way was quite often shrouded in old-wives tales and other beliefs passed on from generation to generation.

Nonetheless, they would tell you that they got by just fine.

However, today there are simply too many challenges and even dangers that cannot be ignored if we are to ensure the safest possible environment for our children. This is not to say that there were not threats before, but with Information Age well upon us, our children can now have access to information that, if not filtered by responsible persons in authority, can open them up too early to aspects of life that should be ‘Adults Only’. More worrying is the fact the same information technology now makes it easier for our children to become targets for cyber criminals, including sexual predators who would make use of their naiveness to lure them into child pornography and other forms of inappropriate behaviours, as well as to draw from them personal information that could put their entire families at risk.

Parents, do not let someone else educate your children about sex before you do. You should be the ones to shape their ideas on the subject. Do not leave it to their friends, social media and the Internet, or even schools, since, though the information presented may be correct, it will not carry with it the values and expectations specific to your household that you are trying to instill in your children.

In an article written by Cherith Pedersen, a clinical mental health counsellor, she encourages that for children ages four and under, parents need to label body parts correctly, talk about good versus bad touch and in simple terms, where babies come from. As the child grows, she advises that the conversation ought to remain child appropriate, allowing the child to view sex as natural and a pleasurable part of life, whilst reinforcing your expectations about them having sex. Pedersen pointed out that a close parent-child relationship will set the tone for such conversations. Children, already exposed to sexualised media content, need to feel that they can approach their parents about any of their concerns and that in return, they will be provided with support and guidance.

Monitoring your children while also leading by example can help to shape your children’s decision making in this area. The latter is very important as how children treasure their bodies and respect the bodies of others will be shaped significantly by the way in which their parents do the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment