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Healthy living: Let’s talk to our children about sex

By Josaya Wasonga | May 24th 2020

Last week, I was walking in my neighbourhood, when a heard a group of boys, who are roughly my daughter’s age, laughing at their peer because he was a virgin. The boy in question looked embarrassed, as his peers pointed fingers at him, and questioned whether he was really a man.

I walked away feeling both proud and sad for that lad. Proud that he was standing out and had chosen to be virtuous, in a time when it is becoming an alien thing.

But I was sad because I knew that if the ridicule from his peers persisted - and if there is no man who is an authority figure to stand with him - he would fall for the lies that his friends were selling; that a boy’s strength is measured by the number of girls he sleeps with.

Open-door policy

I know my daughter is going through the same phase as that lad. She may not tell me everything that’s happening in her life, but I try, as much as possible, to have an open-door policy. Although I know that there are certain matters that she prefers to discuss with her mother, I always tell her that there is nothing in the world we can’t talk about.

It is this policy that has enabled my daughter to talk to me even about mundane matters; matters that I would not even think about talking to my father about.

One statement we keep repeating to Pudd’ng is: “Think for yourself”. At her age, it’s easy to follow the wind. It’s easy to be swept by pressure from her peers. My daughter has never talked to me about issues to do with sex or sexuality. But, on different occasions, I have given her advice on these issues.

My parents never spoke to me about sex or sexuality. These were taboo subjects. I was left to just figure them out as I grew. And this policy led me to make mistakes. Avoidable mistakes. Mistakes that I would not like my daughter, or any other child, to make.

Know your child’s friends and parents

With children at home for a long stretch of time, and with nothing to do and virtually no adult supervision, our children are bound to get into mischief.

When our daughter’s friends come to visit her, I always ask her about her friends’ parents and families. I want to know what her friends are all about. I have such a rapport with my daughter that she tells me things about her friends and their families; things that make me deduce what sort of parents they are.

The problem is, as parents, apart from meetings in school, we don’t speak with each other. Even if we have a WhatsApp group, most times we only talk about academics.

Times have changed. Though parents never had formal meetings, a parent was a parent and could discipline any child. That’s not the case nowadays. You touch another person’s child, or even admonish them, and battle lines are drawn.

Now that many parents are home, I think we ought to, taking social distance and other protocols in consideration, meet and know each other. 

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