Why parents should be trusted sources of information on sex and sexuality
By Karuana Mwai
As a parent, you may have heard your kids say things like, ‘I will tell mom or dad’ or ‘Mom said that is wrong.’ If so, you know that your child trusts and respects your opinion.
That’s why I was saddened when I read some online comments on a Reddit thread saying that parents should not be the ones to teach their children about sexuality.
But the truth is, as a parent, you are the best person to guide your child/children on this sensitive topic. Because you know your kids better than anyone else.
In Kenya, we have a serious problem with teenage pregnancy and HIV. Almost 20% of teenage girls have either given birth or are pregnant with their first child. And new HIV infections are rising for the first time in 10 years, especially among young people.
These are not just numbers. These are our daughters, our sons. They need our guidance and support to manage these risks and make healthy choices. You are their first and most trusted source of information and values.
Think about it- Wouldn’t you rather be the person your child turns to for guidance rather than leave them vulnerable to wrong information or harmful sources, such as peers or predators?
Discussing sexuality with your kids isn’t always a walk in the park, but it’s essential and incredibly rewarding. Numerous studies emphasize that parents play a pivotal role in shaping their children’s perspectives on sexual behavior and influencing their decision-making during adolescence. Surprisingly, many parents underestimate their impact when it comes to teaching their children about sexuality.
As a result, many adolescents report minimal or no communication about sex with their parents. Yet parents possess the ability to assess their child’s physical, emotional, and psychological development, tailoring conversations to their unique needs and developmental stage.
One of the common questions that parents may have is what age they should start talking about sexual and reproductive health issues with their child. The answer is that there is no one right age, but rather it depends on the child’s level of development, curiosity, and exposure to media and peers.
However, experts suggest that it is better to start early and have ongoing conversations that are appropriate for the child’s age and maturity. If children never ask, parents can initiate the conversation by focusing on lighter topics that touch on everyday life, such as body changes, friendships, dating, or values.
Children are our most valuable treasures. As parents, we have a responsibility to help them develop into positive and mature adults. We can educate them about sexuality and values, regardless of our level of education. By doing so, we create a safe and supportive environment for our children to grow in wisdom throughout their lives.
Parents! Are you a trusted source of sex and sexuality information for your child? Share your experience in the comments section.