African Upbringing: Puberty And Sex

Puberty and sex are indeed sensitive and tricky topics which often people really never want to talk about. This is especially true in an African home where the word ‘sex’ is a complete taboo. I write about an African setting because being an African, I experienced this first hand.

It’s actually quite hilarious how parents get all tensed up when it comes to discussing about sex with their kids. Constantly pondering on what to say, how to say it, how much to say and ultimately how much information is too much.

What isn’t so funny is the fact many adolescents learn about sex from everybody else apart from their parents. I’m quickly reminded of back then when I was just approaching puberty, I was a ‘late bloomer’ as many would call it. This obviously came along with its pros and cons. On one hand, I oftenly got teased for being a baby but on the other hand, I got the first hand information from my friends about the changes they were experiencing. Imagine my shock when one of the girls told me that her mum had informed her that if she let any boy touch her then she would become pregnant, best believe she never went close to any boy until she got to high school. This statement might have come from a place of love with the intent to protect her little girl but the reality is it was very, misleading.

The reality is we live in a world where children would rather get this information from the streets than at home. Efforts have been made by some schools to correct this misinformation with the main aim being to bridge the gap between the inaccurate information from the street and the lack of information from home. Unfortunately one crucial ingredient has been neglected and this is the moral frame work within which the fact about reproduction should be presented. I happened to go to a school which had this. Giving credit where it’s due, I will openly admit that these classes were very useful especially because I was among my peers hence felt safer talking about issues because afterall we were going through the same thing. However, it’s not enough to just. This is because without an ethical context sex education is just another 101 lesson on anatomy, biology.

With a few adjustments and improvements, sex education at school can prove to be extremely versatile, resourceful in teaching children about sex and puberty. But is the ultimate solution?

On the flip side it worth taking into account the effort put in by churches to teach children about this. From a religious point of view, churches can actually be commended for making an effort to teach biblical principles of sexuality to their youth groups. But again just like schools, the mode of teaching in churches excludes one major factor. Reastically, the important concepts taught in church however important they may be fail to touch on the medical aspect of it which is indeed vital in this case.

Teaching should be am ongoing process which is reinforced as time goes by. This will go a long way in ensuring that children develop a healthy attitude towards their bodies and sexuality. Parents should stop waiting for their kids to approach them to initiate discussions about their changing body because let’s just be real, this day may never come. Often kids entering puberty are shy and insecure. It would help to reassure them that everyone goes through the same thing at a certain point in life. Moreover talking to children about sex will not make them do it. On the contrary, it makes them more aware. Children need to know that it’s okay to talk about sex and relationship with their parents. However, parents ought to take caution because the manner in which they handle such discussion ultimately determine the end result.. At the end of the day it all boils down to.

As humans we may never agree on what would be the best way to teach children about sex afterall everyone has their own unique way of parenting but may we not keeping repeating the same mistakes especially when we’ve been handed a chance of redemption.

 Last but not least parents should learn that it’s okay not to know everything. Whenever faced with challenging questions that they can not answer, it’s okay to admit that you will look it up intead of just dismissing the issue or giving misleading answers. Life is a learning experience and nobody is ever too old for that. If anything there’s a beauty in kids learning from their parents as the parents learn as well.

So if I could write a letter to my younger self, I would tell her she’s beautiful both in and out and worthy of respect. I would tell her that you don’t get pregnant when a boy touches. Instead, I would ask her to love herself enough to protect herself from… I would explain to her why sh has to embrace the changes that comes with the transition into womanhood. However, I still have the chance to educate my future daughter/son. Not just me but all parents.

It’s up to me to gradually teach them to that babies are not bought from supermarkets or. I would create an environment where they would feel comfortable enough to talk about these sensitive issues at home without feeling pressured or judged. Ultimately, with the support of the society and the schools, the biggest mandate is left to the parents to be bold yet subtle enough to do as they should afterall its true what they say, home is where the heart is and where else should charity begin if not from home?

01 February 2021
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