Having ‘the talk’

2014-11-16 15:00

This topic strikes fear into the hearts of many parents. Even the most talkative of them might stumble on their words, but talking to your children about sex is an important part of raising them.

Children and adolescents need your guidance to help them make healthy and appropriate decisions about their sexual behaviour. The conversation should be an ongoing one.

Children will be curious. Questions will come from them at all ages. When they are ready to ask, as a parent, you should be ready to answer.

I’m fortunate to have had parents who started the conversation of sex at puberty. The conversation continues today. Now, I am very aware this is not commonplace – especially for black parents.

I was told of the dangers and consequences of sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies – that were on the rise at the time – how masturbation in the comfort of my room every now and then was a healthy and normal part of growing up. I was taught to ask questions about anything

I was uncertain about, whether it was about sex or geography.

Various studies have shown that children with whom sex is discussed often choose to wait until after their teens to engage in sex with a partner.

I am an example of this theory. I waited until I was 23. I made the decision and discussed it with my mother, who then sent me to a gynaecologist for a consultation.

We can no longer, as a nation, afford to turn a blind eye to the consequences of sex. The high rate of HIV/Aids-related deaths among our people cannot be denied and should not be ignored.

Population explosion, unplanned pregnancies and tribal customs are the stereotypes that are impeding South Africa’s economic growth.

When the conversation does happen, use the correct biological terms for body parts. Be honest. Let your child know that sex is good and should happen between consenting adults.

Not only will they have a positive outlook on sex, they will be able to know the difference between harassment and consensual sex.

It’s important for children to understand sexual feelings and relationships before they become sexually active.

Talking to children about sex does not mean you are encouraging them to have sex.

Below are Dr Phil’s dos and don’ts on having the talk.

DO:

» Stay relaxed

» Express your feelings and hear your child’s feelings about your talk

» Have your child explain what he/she has learnt/knows about sex

» Empower your child with accurate information

» Listen

» Explain sexual choices, feelings and actions

» Provide loving, caring interactions (tickle, hug, kiss)

» Support body exploration, especially during hygiene and toilet training

»?Monitor social exposure and models – from TV to personal contacts

DON’T:

»?Be judgmental or criticise

»?Compare your child with others

»?Violate confidences unless the adolescent is at risk

»?Be evasive or avoid certain questions

»?Shame because of what your child does or says sexually

»?Reference what your child does sexually as “funny” or “bad”

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