By MPHO MOTSIE-MABUDA
Growing up in South Africa especially in black families, sex was a very dirty word. Most of us grew up knowing that sex, sexuality was a taboo topic that should never be discussed openly.
Now it is our responsibility as parents to not bring that negativity into our relationships with our children. As much as sometimes many people might not want to admit, times are changing, and everything is so graphic with access to sex being easily available to our kids on their smart phones. Even on TV shows and music videos they are exposed to sex.
This is the time when it is critical that we always have open and honest conversations with our children about sex. Building that open relationship allows them to trust you and know that they can always come to you to talk or ask you questions about sex without feeling any shame.
Once you open up the doors to communication with your child, you should be ready to hear and deal with shocking news of things they might have already done, what they have heard or seen from a friend.
This could easily bring about shame because you are caught off guard by what your child might have done or has been exposed to and your first parental instinct will be to shame or discipline them.
Always try to remember how hard and confusing teenage years are and our children need our guidance and truthfulness and not scare tactics. We need to be aware that children can do things behind their parents’ backs, and they can find a way if they want to no matter how strict you think you are due to peer pressure from friends, a partner and social media.
For an example, you might get a girl who goes for virginity testing and always passes the test, yes, she might not be practicing vaginal intercourse but that doesn’t mean she is not practicing other sexual activities like oral sex, anal penetration etc.
This is why we have to protect our teenagers by giving them quality sexual education so they can understand that all these are also classified as sex and they also come with some certain dangers if precautions are not taken.
We need to teach our boys about respecting females. We need to teach all our children about the importance of consent. As parents if we ourselves are not comfortable talking about sex with our partners or have blurred lines when it comes to consent, then how are we going to guide our children to make informed and safe decisions.
I have heard many parents asking me if they open that conversation, wont it make their children curious. No, it won’t, studies show that when parents openly talk to their kids about sexuality and sex. Kids are more likely to wait longer than kids who don’t have open conversations with their parents, even teenagers themselves say so.
Parents, stay informed and be open with your kids and put aside whatever negative issues you might have experienced in your past or have with sex. Be open with them. Remember you are doing it for your child’s safety.