In a conservative society like that of India, sex and sexuality are taboo. Neither parents discuss such things with their children nor do the children ask about them.
Even the curriculum postpones reproductive health to at least high school and even then, a shy middle-aged adult man skips through the pages in front of a giggling classroom like a goon on the run.
This information gap eventually causes a knowledge divide. These kids eventually become insecure adults who either
a) don’t know anything about sex. This further makes them scared to venture out on their first sexual encounter thus forming a vicious cycle the only solution to which remains arranged marriage- marriage to anyone the family sees fit enough to add to the kin.
b) more commonly, they get all their sexual health information from pornhub and like setting unrealistic expectations from both themselves and their partners thus leading to crippled sexual relationships as adults.
Here comes the importance of “the talk”
Parents need to talk about sex with their kids. According to most experts, “as early and as often as possible”.
But it is not easy to start this conversation considering our inheritance of generational shame and neglect to this essential part of our lives.
We need to accept the fact that as parents, we must guide our children into every avenue of the world. Just like them, we are learning something completely new with them- teaching someone else to live a life.
It might help to first practice what you want to say in front of your children before actually sitting with them. Having both the parents together is also a great way to support each other.
There are plenty of online resources on what to say and how to do this. Conscientious caregivers can take some online help as well.
While we tend to think that sex is a one-time conversation, the ideal sex education is comprehensive and spanning several years with modifications as the children grow up.
One of the best ways to begin is to teach the correct names of the genitalia rather than nicknaming them.
A stepwise approach
Parents can follow three steps to start “the talk”-
First- find out the baseline. How much does your child already know?
Second- correct anything they know that is wrong.
Third- tell them what you think or feel is appropriate for their age
A conversation on gender and sexuality is also welcome at any point.
Children need to be taught about the non-binary genders so that they grow up to accept all forms of love and identities.
As the children grow
As children approach adolescence, parents need to understand the importance of good communication for future romantic relationships.
Teenagers must be taught about consent and red flags they need to avoid. One must also teach their children about contraception and how and when to use it.
To conclude, here are the salient points by the American association of pediatrics that can come in handy for parents new and old-
1) don’t discredit love
2) don’t abstain from educating your children
3) talk about sex early and often
4) empower your children
5) set positive expectations
6) use the media
7) live by example
8) ask, don’t tell. But don’t ask too many questions.
9) be clear that safety is non-negotiable
Written By: Dr. Namrata Nath