Amanda Kirby Okoye
When my first son was about 5 years old, he asked me if I was going to find him a wife or he should do it by himself. I was driving at the time and I almost crashed my car from laughing so hard. However, his question got me thinking, when is it really the best time to talk with your child about the birds and the bees?
I rushed home, and after a few minutes with Google, I found a few answers. One of my best was from Dr Phil, “Make sure you have the talk with your child at a time and place where there will be no distractions. Maintain a calm and relaxed tone. If you are anxious, your children may unnecessarily read into that.”
Armed with Dr. Phil’s advice, I decided to wait for the right moment. However, as I continued waiting for ‘the right time,’ I purposely put the discussion off altogether because I realized I just couldn’t bring myself to talk with my son about the embarrassing topic.
Nine years later, my son was almost 15, and I told myself I absolutely had to talk to him about it. I was late! My son knew everything and I saw a look of pity on his face as I cleared my throat and painstakingly started my well rehearsed, “So, Osi, you know when a man and a woman decide to have a baby…”
He stopped and informed me that he knew all about it and he had decided to abstain until he was ready. My jaw dropped! Abstain? Abstain from what? I was surprised he already knew. And after listening to him, I was proud that this child had taken such a bold and appropriate decision.
Of course, it began easier to initiate talks about it since then. It, however, occurred to me I may not be as lucky with my other kids. I decided to be more upfront with his younger brothers but again, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Soon my 10 year old came home to tell me a neighbour’s daughter was pregnant at just 14! As I digested the shocking and sad news, I thought to myself, this was the right time to have the discussion with my two younger sons. However, before I could compose myself to say a word, my 10 year old baby proceeded to say, “She could have got an STD.” Again, my other kids had gotten the information somewhere else already!
The home school on sex education subsequently kicked off. I just had to brace up. I’m so glad I did. I’ve had the opportunity to offer my own perspective and it has improved our relationship. They ask ‘shocking’ questions freely, talk about their crush and I’m glad to guide them.
Living in London, I believe children are far more exposed to things like sex, homosexuality, transgender issues, and so on. I think I have been very lucky, but slightly irresponsible and selfish. Selfish, because I deliberately kept needed information from my sons for too long because I felt too uncomfortable with the topic. I left it to luck!
As parents, we can’t afford to leave certain things to luck. Our duty is to teach our children all we can to prevent the preventable, because as they say, knowledge is power. Arm your children with the appropriate one!