I was fourteen years old when I asked my mother questions about sex, and even today I remember the awkward silence in the room. My dad who was also in the room was all set to give me a clinical explanation but it was soon followed by many interruptions and my mother reprimanding him for corrupting my mind.
I can assure you that was the first and the last time I spoke to them about the ‘birds and the bees’. Sadly my sister was also of no use. Now what? The internet? Magazines? The sexpert question and answer columns in the newspaper? Serials, movies (if so, which one)? Of course curiosity about such subjects dominated conversations at that particular age. Unfortunately it was the blind leading the blind that ensued. A lot of garbled facts and weird stories. Like me, I am sure most youngsters from my time found all their answers to queries on sex from two sources: The encyclopedias in the library and the biology textbooks. After reading about it, I remember wondering what the fuss was all about. Why did people make this a taboo topic? Who is right? Is it bad or good? My poor fourteen year-old mind was baffled.
In this era the answers are perhaps more easily available on the Internet. However unlike Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny and The Tooth Fairy, parents cannot use euphemisms when it comes to this subject. And the way the family treats the topic of sex leaves a more lasting impression in the mind than anything else. Parents will teach their kids calculus and quantum physics, but not reproductive biology. Is that some kind of subject discrimination?
In my opinion as a single person, the reason why parents are reluctant to start a conversation on the subject is because they will need to answer questions. Awkward questions. According to me, the solution is simple. Draw the boundary lines between personal questions and answer all the generic ones. Direct the conversation to keep it around body functions, safety, hygiene and the diseases involved.
More and more parents now realize that talking about sex is a wise thing to do, because for one, they acknowledge that their child is growing up and will need honest answers. They will no longer believe that the stork dropped them. Once the mystery about the subject is cleared, most kids will move on with their lives and not give it a second thought.
Statistics have shown that children whose parents had an open dialogue about sex are better equipped to handle adulthood. But even today, there are parents who think their children are way too innocent for such things. But here is the thing – if you don’t tell your kids the right things, someone else will tell them the wrong things and present them with distorted facts. A kid will not hit 15 years and not want to know the details of the changes in their bodies and the reproductive system.
Most kids say that if someone had given them “The Talk”, they would have had a better understanding of how important sex is and that it is not a casual thing as pop culture wants us to believe. They say it would have been nicer to have the “talk” with a family member rather than the doctor or a friend who has just come back from the doctor. They say that it would have been nice to be told all the consequences of promiscuity rather learn about it from dubious sources.
I didn’t know that self image, self-esteem and sex are connected. But they are. It affects the choices a person makes, the way one sees the opposite sex, the way one presents themselves. Boys and girls view sex very differently. A talk about these differences would have been helpful. I wish someone (anyone) had told me about this. I wish someone had told me during my teens, instead of me reading and finding out about it in my twenties! It would have explained so much.
Very few understand the consequences or the gravity of sex. What it means to be sexually active. What will happen if something happens? The impact it will have on their life whether a girl or boy. An explanation about sex and associated responsibilities will go a long way in life lessons.
When pop songs take over a youngster’s mind, they realize that most of the topics of the songs are all about “love”. The lyrics of many songs talk about doing anything for the sake of love and because it feels right and loving each other right now is the right thing to do. If this notion is not swiftly corrected, it could become a belief system and one that will change only after some very heart breaking realities.
Youngsters like me love to have frank and open discussions with our families. We like to think that no topic is barred from discussion and that our parents can be approached about any topic for information or advice.
And if your kid is a fourteen-year-old, like I was once, believe me, he or she will want the right answers from you, the parents. Only you can tell them the facts and show them that God is the creator of life, our bodies and our existence and that He does all things well.