This could be anyone’s story…..Imagine on a beautiful Friday evening, a daughter comes home with multiple awards. She was the best student in Math, Language Arts and Science. She was also awarded the most well-behaved child in her grade. Gosh! Her mother felt good and accomplished. Then the next day, she got 2 trophies in gymnastics. She came 1st and 2nd in 2 different routines. Life couldn’t be better, right? With a glee on the mother’s face, she went to bed that day feeling so happy and fulfilled as a parent. She whispered to herself, “my daughter is everything I always hoped for……smart, athletic and God-fearing”. Unfortunately…Little did she know 😀
On Sunday evening, as a custom, she always went through her children’s school bag to ensure they are ready for the next day. As I was going through it that Sunday, lo and behold, she saw at the back of her daughter’s journal……”I wonder what boobs mean? Just below it, she wrote, uuunn….I heard Sarah whispered penis to Vijay. When I get the chance,I’ll google that too’….. WHAT??? 😡 😡 You can imagine the blood that rushed to her face….it took her about 5 mins to get herself together. Then confusion set in. How do she handle this? God please help! “How much does she know?” When did she write this? Did she already “googled” it? She began pleading to God to come to her rescue……….
Typical story of a lamenting mother……right? Now bring this to real life……a common occurrence in a household. Since most us haven’t walked parenting journey before, we tend to make mistakes (I know I have sometimes), then we learn from our mistakes and if we are smart enough and have more than one child, we make amends in the next child. Unfortunately, some parents don’t like to be flexible. Subconsciously, they tend to fall back on their parents’ parenting skills, i.e. the manner in which they were raised. This is when you here statements like, “during my own time, mom never….blah-blah-blah or dad never…..” while some other parents don’t even have a structure or think there should be a structure around their children.
I approached a very good friend of mine whom I trust her parental judgement and skills. By profession, she is an early childhood educator. Mother of three with the oldest in early twenties. Here is what she has to say about this issue….
What age do you discuss sex with your child- is there a specific age or this is relative? What determines this?
Developing an open door communication between you and your children empowers them and give them the confidence to come to you with any thoughts, comments or questions. When we listen to children, we show them respect and tell them we are interested in what they are saying or have to say. It is very important to pay attention to what they say even when we do not agree with what we hear.
It is better for parents to start the discussion of sexuality and sex at home with their children before they get the wrong message and information from the outside world. Whether parents talk about it or not, children will learn or are learning some things about sexuality and sex in the schools, from the lyrics of songs, TV shows and videos, magazines, books, billboards and so on.
There is no specific age limit to start the discussion about sexuality and sex with children. Everyday experiences provide opportunities to talk about sexuality and sex. We can use what we see, hear or do to initiate conversations with our kids. Teachable moments happen every day and can help make the conversation more natural and easier. However, providing children with age-appropriate information is vital.
Is there a format/structure that can or should be adopted?
It is essential to give our children honest, helpful, and correct information that expresses and teaches our values about sexuality and sex.
Talking with children about sexuality and sex is not a one–time conversation. The conversation is an on-going process, and the topics and details become deeper and more informative as they develop, grow and mature physically and emotionally.
There is a broad range of subjects embedded in sexuality, and these include human development, how male and female bodies work, types of relationships, what makes a relationship healthy or unhealthy, sexual behavior and reproduction.
To prevent children from feeling overwhelmed, bits by bits discussion can go a long way to help set some achievable and realistic goals. Be open and teach limits in your conversations.
How does a child’s gender influence the age and manner in which sex is discussed? Difference between boys and girls.
The gender influence will be the differences between the body parts (boys and girls), as they develop, grow and the different changes that occur in each gender before and when they reach the puberty age. Tips on how to handle these changes with self–respect and respecting others are very necessary. Also, gauge the maturity of the child. You can determine this by the type of questions, comments or thoughts a child brings your way.
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