Parents! Here’s why you need to have ‘The Talk’ with your child
By Mical Imbukwa
Every parent hopes that their child will grow up to become a successful and responsible individual in society. In our context, education is an important pathway to this successful future. We want our children to clear high school with good grades, join a good university and study a reputable, marketable course that pays well.
No parent anticipates that their daughter will drop out of school due to early pregnancy or that their son will become a father before he’s had a chance to become an adult himself.
The irony, however, is that many parents dread having conversations about relationships and sex. In part, this is because sex is imagined as a taboo subject in our society, that shouldn’t be discussed openly, let alone with children.
According to Roselyn Asiko (43), a civil servant, a Christian and a single mother of three sons, Ian, a young adult aged (20) and two teenagers, Sid (16) and Nara (15), some parents believe that having conversations with children on sensitive subjects such as sexuality only breads curiosity and stirs the urge to experiment.
However, Roselyn, who has raised her kids single handedly for nine years after separating from her husband, is of a different view. She believes that parents having sex education conversations with their children is crucial, especially in today’s social media days.
‘The current generation of parents are co-parenting with social media, and if I don’t have the conversation with my sons, they are probably going to get it in weird ways from people on social media, many of whom are shameless and don’t censor information,’ she says citing a situation where her lastborn son approached her one evening and inquired about reproductive organs and reached. Roselyn says that questions caught her off guard – she had to google for answers so that she could respond.
When she checked Nara’s search history, she was shocked to find that he had also accessed pornographic sites.
Apparently, a boy from Nara’s school had been sending him links to pornographic sites and encouraging him to watch them.
‘I took up the issue with the boy’s mother, and the boy was cautioned. I then had a conversation with Nara about the dangers of pornography and blocked the boy’s contact so that he could not have any more access to Nara on the phone,’ Roselyn says, noting that she is confident her son has never accessed pornographic sites again. Now, she can access his search history from her device since all her sons’ social media accounts are linked to her email.
Roselyn has always strived to be the first teacher her sons interact with and has cultivated an open space which encourages her boys to reach out to her when they have any concerns or pressing issues. She wants her children to feel assured that they can confide in her and find solutions together, whatever obstacles they might encounter.
Her biggest challenge, however, has been with her firstborn son, Ian, who is very introverted. Roselyn’s efforts to initiate conversations with him don’t bear much fruit, for he only responds to what he has been asked.
‘The first time I had a sex ed conversation with Ian was when he was in class seven. He had been accused of misleading a girl in his class. That caught me unawares because Ian was barely 13, and I wasn’t prepared for that conversation,’ says the single mother of three.
She was prompted to start having sex ed conversations with him, and her first approach was asking him whether he understood what boyfriend and girlfriend relationships meant. She then asked him whether he had started having sex, and according to the mother, his answer was a resounding no!
Sid and Nara are open, and she talks to them mostly when they come from school. Sid is a day scholar while Nara is in boarding school.
‘Since Nara is a boarder in an only boys school, I have conversations with him to find out whether he faces any challenges, including what I fear most: molestation!’ Roselyn adds from her conversations with her boys so far, neither of them have girlfriends.
Roselyn is well aware that nowadays, kids are exposed to inappropriate topics about sex at a very tender age. She encourages parents to have age-appropriate sexuality conversations about sexuality and relationships with their children. According to her, the world is cruel, and without proper guidance, it’s easy for children to deviate on the wrong path.
‘Young girls are being impregnated, and they abort without their parent’s knowledge. Some girls who don’t have safe and accurate information about abortion end up losing their lives or getting children at a very tender age,’ she states
She also points out that some children are confused and make harmful decisions because their parents are rigid and unapproachable.
‘As much as you want to be strict, be accommodative with your children. Be approachable so that when they start, for instance, experiencing bodily changes, they can easily approach you. This has been my journey with my sons, and it sure works. You can do it,’ she concludes.