Imparting Sex Education to Today's Youth
This article has been written in collaboration with Stand We Speak
Whether you are a parent, caregiver, or a facilitator, if you want to raise a responsible and confident youth, you know there is no escaping from “sex education”. Today, sex education is not just limited to sex, there are a range of topics to cover from homosexuality to online porn. In this fast-paced world, a child’s primary source of sex education is from the media or their peer group. With access to explicit content online and adults becoming red in the face at the mention of ‘sex’ – children might often get confused about the mores of this world. It is only apposite for an adult to confront them and solve their conundrum.
Adults usually tend to stonewall ‘the talk’ as it puts them in an uncomfortable situation. But deflecting the conversation with the ‘birds and the bees talk’ has never done anyone any good. Evading the topic of sex education leads a child to be more prone to teen pregnancies, STIs and unhealthy relationships among others. But, don’t worry, since you’re here we are going to hold your hand and take you through the essentials of imparting sex education to a child – and raising a secure youth.
1. Is there a perfect time to talk about it?
No, there is no stipulation on when you should talk to your child about it. You can initiate a conversation with them in everyday moments: riding in the car, cooking together or sorting out groceries. You can confront them when something related to sexual issues comes up on the television, in a movie, or an advertisement. For instance, if there’s a condom ad or a sanitary napkin ad playing, you can seize the moment and talk away!
2. Be open and transparent.
Avoid using euphemisms and demonizing the topic for them. You can break the ice by acknowledging that even though it is an uncomfortable conversation, it is a necessary one. Encourage them to ask questions and cover the topics that you feel are important – such as safe sex, menstruation, porn, and relationships. There is no evidence that an open discourse about these topics will lead to promiscuity. In fact, it will leave your child better prepared to face the world.
3. Move beyond the technicalities.
While it is important to give out objective information, you will also feel the need to express your feelings about a particular topic. But do not indulge in scare tactics and abstinence-only education. You can share your values, attitudes and opinions with them. Also, make sure that it is a two-way conversation – listen and try to understand their thoughts, concerns and challenges. When they know you are there to listen, they will feel more at ease about approaching you in the future. This will help establish a crucial trust factor.
4. Talking about their sexuality.
Many teens upon being exposed to the homosexuality spectrum might wonder where they lie. You can support them by reassuring them that it is okay to explore their sexuality. If they receive a negative response from a parental figure, it can lead to an increased risk of substance abuse, attempted suicide and depression. If they are confused about their identity, this is when they need validation and be told that “whatever you are feeling is normal”.
5. Learn and Unlearn.
If your kid is on social media then there is a good chance that they are going to be exposed to the ‘woke’ culture. It can be hard to keep up with what they know and don’t know. Therefore, before having a discussion with your child it is important to educate yourself and ensure that you are up-to-date. It can be a little unsettling when it comes to unlearning – letting go of certain stereotypes. But you can remind yourself that it is better if your child learns from a reliable adult rather than other sources. For example, talking to a male child about menstruation might seem unnecessary; but, the way to go about this is to educate yourself on reasons why males need to know about menstruation and have an unfiltered talk with your child. If you are here, reading this, you have already taken the step towards progressive nurturing.
6. Help them identify healthy v/s unhealthy
You have to speak to a child about their relationship with themselves as well as others. The tweens and teens are at a tender age when they are swayed by their peer’s perception of them. When they don’t meet society’s superfluous expectations about various things like their bodies, personalities and et.al, it can prove detrimental to their mental health. You have to present an empathetic demeanor for a child to open up to you. Their development needs to have a healthy relationship with themselves.
If they are involved in a romantic relationship, you need to ask important questions like “how does your partner treat you?” “Does your partner demand anything you’re uncomfortable with”. They often fall prey to toxic relationships, which is why you need to talk to them about an ideal healthy relationship. You may also cite your personal experiences if you are comfortable.
Always have follow up conversations – as sex education is an ongoing process. You can also develop your personal manual on sex education. It could be a compilation of trustworthy web resources and books that contain sound advice and information. All in all, a child may think and act as if they know it all, but there is nothing like to have a responsible adult guiding you every step of the way!