Koketso Moeti
Koketso Moeti

Talking to your kids about sex…

The other day as I undressed my one-year-old for a bath he noticed his penis for the very first time. He looked at it and touched it, amusing me with his fascination. He started making it a routine to check it out every time he takes a bath.

It struck me that my three-year-old daughter is always with us and might notice this habit. I went into a mild panic, wondering what I would tell her if she asked me what this is and why she doesn’t have one. What would I call it? Would she understand if I said it’s a “boy’s thing”?

My panic went from mild to full-blown as it dawned on me that I will some day need to talk to her about sex. I wondered what the appropriate age for this conversation is. What will I say to her? Should I wait till she asks me about it or is it something I should raise? In between the panic I found myself extremely angry that children don’t come with easy-to-use manuals at birth. Just as I was about to start hyperventilating I remembered my new found maturity and gave myself a face-palm to calm myself down.

My thoughts however got me thinking about sex and the unhealthy way parents (and society too) educate girls about it. Because girls bear the brunt of sexual decisions gone wrong, sex education for girls is reduced to efforts that discourage sexual activity.

My own sex education was exceptionally limited. The bulk of it was from my lifeskills educator who would enthusiastically describe virginity as a lightbulb — once broken it can never be put back together again. She would even make a smashing motion and sound when describing how it breaks. We would all gasp when she did that and stare at her with sheer horror. It looked and sounded very painful to me. She’d then go on to say girls with their virginity could choose to break it at any time, yet those without “CAN NEVER GO BACK”. I swear I could hear the capital letters when she spoke.

Sex is (or at least should be) a very pleasurable activity, for both males and females. There is nothing else on earth that gives so much pleasure to the body and such a release.

Not every woman will get to experience this, for many reasons. One of which is that from a very young age girls are socialised to believe sex is bad and solely for the pleasure of men. So when experiencing bad sex they might accept it — believe this is how it should be. It also contributes to why some women choose to ignore pain experienced during sex, which could be a symptom of a medical condition. Many are told of the extreme pain of sex.

But the idea that sex is solely for male pleasure also has a negative impact on men. A woman’s vagina, mouth, anus and in some cases all three are reduced to merely being an orifice in which you do your thing and dump your “goop”. Little effort is made to please a woman.

The thought of my little girl one day growing up and having sex is not a very comfortable one but it is something that will happen. The best thing I can do is ensure that when it happens, she is empowered enough to make informed sexual choices. Isn’t this after all what sex education should be about, not merely about discouraging girls from sexual activity?

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    • http://amandzingphotography.wordpress.com/ amandzing

      What about talking to your son too? Perhaps this is part of the problem, boys are just left to get on with it. Talk to him about respect and self-respect, about his responsibilities to himself and his partner, make him empowered to make informed sexual choices as well.

    • Lennon

      This is a dicey subject for most parents to be sure. My own parents never mentioned it to me at all. The closest I ever got to “the talk” was a book which was unceremoniously dumped on my desk one afternoon. Yes, the book explained much from a biological perspective, but it seems that any moral / ethical perspectives that I should have been exposed to were limited to the local church (woohoo!).

      Admittedly, I’m still fairly old-fashioned (at least from a Eurocentric perspective) where sex is concerned, at least in the sense that I’ve never had a meaningful (meaningless?) overnight relationship. In a world filled with scary STD’s and even with protection, it just doesn’t seem to be worth the risk.

      I’m not a parent, so I haven’t had to venture down this particular road as yet. The only thing that I can suggest is that when you do have the talk, at least advise your daughter to use her “kop” as some of life’s pleasures (including sex) are not always without problems.

    • http://thoughtleader.co.za/koketsomoeti Koketso

      Without a doubt I should and will talk to my son too. My thoughts at the time were/are particularly with my daughter because she’s older and is the one asking questions. My son only turned 1 today, so trust me when I say that he’s definitely not asking any questions nor will he grasp any part of such a chat…

    • Noku Katom

      Huuuhhhhhh! As the founder of Single Parents in Action (NGO)…. I believe we as parents, we need to come together and share ideas as to how we do things. I never experience this, and I am sure my 12yr old boy have questions but because of my background….. Its not easy for me to talk about sex matters. Let’s work together parents to raise better future

    • john patson

      The Dutch have one of the lowest unwanted teenage pregnancy rates in Europe, and those who know put it down to sex and love being discussed by parents when the children are pre-puberty, and, (it is an important and) regularly after that, with an emphasis on the love part.
      Difficult I know for the British and the colonies, especially America, but one of the responsibilities of being a parent.
      As for those responsibilities, the first 60 years are the hardest……