As Indian parents, the realm of child sex education is one which we most often hesitate to enter. An intrinsic conservative attitude coupled with fear of tainting the child’s innocence plays spoilsport. With the shifting landscape and increasing exposure to international media content can we afford the hesitation any longer?
33-year-old Neha Krishnan was having a dream run as a parent till one fine day while at the dinner table, her barely seven year old daughter Rhea said, “Mom, is it true that I was born because dad peed in your pants?” Startled, Neha dropped her spoon as her face turned a bright shade of vermillion. Her husband, equally stunned, looked up at Rhea but quickly averted his gaze when the tiny inquisitive pair of eyes turned to him for an answer. Unable to respond, he pretended to make an urgent phone call and left the dinner table. Neha looked at Rhea, befuddled, as she mulled over the prospect of having the much dreaded ‘birds and bees’ talk with her little one. Little did she expect to be faced with the predicament so soon…
As far as educating children regarding sex is concerned, Indian parents tend to stall it as much as possible. Kicking the can down the road could prove to be disastrous in the long run, opine experts. With every passing generation, exposure to raunchy content amongst kids seems to record an alarmingly exponential growth. And what with the Playboy bunnies trying to hop into India, you do not want to procrastinate any longer!
Sex education is not a onetime affair but a decade long journey, different facets of which unfurl as the child grows and matures with age. The few tips given below should ensure smooth sailing as you embark on the arduous voyage of adolescent parenting.
1. Start early
Kids, at any point of time, know a lot more about sex than we expect them to. It is best to subject them to authentic, firsthand information before the media, social networking sites or half baked knowledge supplied by peers beat you to it.
2. Be age- specific
Burdening the little ones with more information than they can process wreaks as much havoc as shying away from providing a teenager the appropriate amount does. Start early by teaching them about their body parts and how the female form is different from the male. Pre-teens need to be introduced to the concept of puberty while teenagers require being trusted with hardcore information regarding intercourse and pregnancy.
3. Encourage questions
It is imperative that the activity does not turn into a monologue. Exercise patience and listen to what your children have to say while evaluating their level of understanding the phenomenon. Do not be aghast if their knowledge exceeds your expectations and aggressively quiz them regarding the source. Your kids are most likely to shun such conversations in the future if they sense apprehension.
4. Keep the tone neutral
Take care to not let your tone betray any untoward emotions you might be experiencing during the conversation. Maintain a neutral non-condescending tone. Remember that this is not a platform for you to lay the groundwork for future reining in of the child’s activities.
5. Child will be a child
Do not expect to be your kids’ sole confidante post the talk. Should you happen to stumble upon them engaging in clandestine activities in pursuit of sexual pleasure or sex related information later, you have to learn to let the curiosity take its course and not confront them immediately.
6. Be prepared for surprises
Do not get frustrated if the conversation does not take the intended course. Kids’ vivid imagination can always lead them to take a completely unforeseen path. Try not to be hard on yourself if your efforts do not produce the desired result. After all, as a mother of an adolescent child, you are allowed to make mistakes too!