There is nothing more awkward than being asked about the birds and the bees by a child. You never see it coming. You’re never sure what the age-appropriate content should sound like. You’re not sure if he/she is asking a genuine question, or is just trying to make you say dirty words. After the uncomfortable encounter, you end up panicking over whether you’re going to get into trouble with their parents, or indeed the authorities, for divulging certain information which should not have been divulged to their child in the first place.
It’s hell, I tell you. Hell.
Yet, it shouldn’t be. In this day and age, we should be comfortable when discussing sex and sexuality with our younglings. We are entitled and obliged to provide them with accurate and well-researched information about their bodies and we are duty-bound to teach them to have a mature approach towards sex and reproduction. So, why is it that we still fall to pieces when tackling with their sexual curiosity?
I’ve made an emphasis on our responsibility as parents because I think we should get through to our kids first … before the internet and the media does. I’m making a reference to these two institutions because they’re an intrinsic aspect when trying to channel constructive information to kids about sex. The media is not designed to correctly inform your children about how their bodies function, both scientifically and socially. However, internet filters and TV access-codes can definitely lessen your child’s exposure to unwanted messages from the media. These tools greatly assist us in educating our kids about our biological ways. Internet filters will not only shelter them from the many dark corners of the world wide web, but it will also decrease the chances of an awkward scenario where he/she comes across pornographic material and asks you as to what exactly that guy is doing to the pretty lady.
Also, that 18+ certificate on that videogame is there for a reason. It’s there to signal to parents that its content is not suitable for a person under the age of eighteen. So, simply do not buy it for your child. By buying and allowing your child to play with that videogame, you’re making it harder for other parents to implement the idea that the content in 18+ material is detrimental to the social and mental development of their children.
We can’t stop media companies from creating sexualised content on billboards, TV, websites, and videogames. Yet, we can be in control of how much of that explicit content enters our households. It’s no longer a question of just telling them what goes where and what’s used for what. It’s also about rectifying the misconstrued messages about sex the media may pass on to our questioning kids.
From provocative fashion adverts to the accidental explicit pop-up they come across when browsing the internet, children nowadays are continuously exposed to sexual nuances, which prompt them to pose questions to us. It’s not the end of the world if a child comes across adult material. It does happen at some point, no matter how many internet filters you set up. However, we’ve got to be ready to react accordingly and give out a positive energy when discussing it.
Children can sense your tension, and the more you show your fear of them being exposed to adult content, the more they’ll want an unguided taste of the forbidden fruit. They also shouldn’t grow up feeling guilty about being curious to know more about reproduction. Let them know that what men and women, or indeed LGBT couples do together, is a beautiful thing. Notify them that what the media shows may not always be what is morally right. Drill the idea that sex should be consensual. Let your son grow up to be a gentleman, knowing that he should not use sex to dominate and objectify women. Let your daughter blossom into a lady with the full knowledge that she is no one’s property and that her body is sacred and that she should be in full control.
This slice of advice must be accompanied with the prerequisite biology lesson. Do not be afraid to slowly expose your child to the science behind baby-making. Show them the beauty of that process, as this also gets them to appreciate the outstanding workings of nature. Let them know that, in the words of Jim’s Dad in American Pie, “It’s a perfectly natural thing.” You must of course censor certain details, especially if your child is still at a tender age, but allow your maternal and paternal instincts to guide you through presenting what is appropriate. You’ll intuitively know what’s right for your kids. Embrace being their parent and educator. They’ll thank you later on.