Picture this. You arrive home late, its been a long day. You’re weary and you would head straight to bed but the spouse is out of the country and the kids have been with the help all day, you need to check in on them. You have a boy and a girl. Twins. 10 years old. Old enough to have started developing attitudes, young enough to enjoy jumping into your bed at ungodly hours.
You shuffle from the driveway to the front door, drag your feet all the way up the stairs surprised that the twins haven’t barreled down the stairs and tackled you to the floor as usual. When you push open the door to your daughter’s room, she’s huddled in the corner crying. You move a little closer and you spot the blood. Her bed is stained. You pull her close to you and comfort her. Tell her you’ll be back in a minute. You need to check on her brother.
You cross the hall to your son’s room, the door is ajar. He doesn’t hear you come in, he’s too engrossed in whatever it is he’s watching on the HP mini laptop he got for his birthday. You’re not surprised, he’s tech savvy, he knows more about your Blackberry than you do. He finally hears you, turns in a haste and slams the laptop shut. You walk over and raise the lid. Its porn.
That short skit places you in what is, in my opinion, the defining moment of parenthood – Puberty. Yes, hair grows in odd places, voices change and all but our concern is the resultant sexual awareness. The adolescent’s sexual awakening if you will. Every parent has to deal with this, and if you plan on being any kind of parent to your kids, you’re going to have to cross this particular stream.
The question is, what is the ideal response to adolescent sexual awakening? What is the best way to guide the child and advice him or her as to the dangers of sexual activity, the precautions to be taken or to instill abstinence if the parent is so inclined.
We asked a few people how their parents handled their sexual awakening and how they would in turn handle the same situation with their kids. The male and female responses were so markedly different, its alarming. Most females received some form of sexual education upon attaining puberty. However, this education and the means of its communication vary, an apparent constant is the desire to follow the same path with their kids, a proper talk.
“ I had an awkward talk with my mum, we weren’t very close back then. I’ll be super close to my kids. I’ll tell them everything, even the real names of the organs and show them pictures so that no pervert can molest them”
“My parents gave me the talk. Told me that I was maturing and I had to be more careful with boys and to be clean as well. It wasn’t very detailed. I would probably go into details with my child, ask if they have questions, the sensations they’re experiencing and afterwards PRAY that God will give them the wisdom to hold themselves and not explore”
“I got a 1 minute speech, be careful with boys, you can get pregnant.”
“I was living with my grandma at the time, it was a case of ‘You know the effect of this abi?’ ‘have they told you everything’ ‘ be careful o’”
“I heard about it every minute of the day. My parents were very protective. To this day the thought of taking a guy home, scares me. I didn’t like it though, because there was no opportunity to experience these things and when situations arose, I wasn’t comfortable discussing it with them and I had to work things out for myself. Will talk to my kids, be close to them, a friend, and just a little bit strict”
“I got part of the talk, they described the reproductive system to me and made me read the book, ‘Every Woman’”
“ I didn’t get a talk from my parents, my Uncle did it. He said, chill till you’re married, otherwise use protection. I’ll have a proper talk with my daughters, might be more liberal with my sons. I’ll have my husband do it or i’ll send them over to my uncle.
Some had to figure things out themselves, still the desire to communicate with their own kids is prevalent.
“I didn’t get a talk, my Parents simply referred me to the Bible. With my kids, i’d like to give a talk and tell them no experiments till they’re 18 and afterwards, they must be responsible about it”
“I didn’t get a talk or anything. I’d like to give a talk but I haven’t figured out what to say or how to say it yet”
“My parents totally ignored it till my sister got pregnant, now they talk about it every minute. I’m not big on discussing it with my kids, the topic scares me. Besides some people who never had the talk know more than some people that did.”
With the guys, there is a general nonchalance as regards sex education or attention to sexual awakening.
“My dad used to leave his porn lying around, nothing else”
“My mum tried by telling scary stories about people who had gotten pregnant or contracted STDs. The stories were random, there was never any ‘sit down, let’s talk’ type situation.”
“Nobody said anything”
“I was raised Catholic and my brothers and I were expected to follow the teachings but we had no sexual education so to speak. Perhaps its because they consider us the predators and we don’t need lessons on the way to our mouth. I’d like to have a talk with my kids, give them all the information so they can make informed choices at all times.”
I think the talk is important, giving your kids all the information, being protective is natural but you cannot be with them at all times, when things come up, they should be able to react on their own. And ‘kids’ here means male and female. No, men aren’t predators and they do need lessons to their mouths, at the very least it would reduce the number of people who turn rapist because they don’t know how to communicate with the fairer sex. Help your sons out.
Personally, once they turn 13, I’m going to have a full lecture. Life size pictures, a projected presentation, slide by slide analysis of the Dos and Don’ts, the risks and possible consequences. It seems the best path in my opinion, to arm them with knowledge and understanding and pray that God gives them wisdom.
The truth is, there is no ideal approach. There are too many variables. The parent’s experience, the relationship with the child, the spouse, religion, etc. At the end of the day, till you’re hugging your daughter who’s going through her first menses or you catch your son staring a little too long at a woman (or man nowadays), you never can tell how you will deal with it.
When you find yourself at that point, caught totally off guard, like in the skit above, how would you handle it?