Sex is one topic that parents, especially Nigerian parents would hardly discuss with their little children. Many parents have confessed that merely contemplating having a conversation bordering on sex with their children gives them the jitters.
Yet, experts have noted that talking about sex with children is important. Children who have open and positive conversations with their parents about sexuality are more likely to make safer decisions, it has been asserted.
According to a study, parents should approach sexuality as an ongoing conversation starting from when children are toddlers until they attain puberty. This is because as these children progress to adolescence, parents can provide more in depth information and guidance.
The first time Mrs. Yvonne Ajuma spoke to her daughter about sex was when the little girl was 10. She said that her daughter walked up to her and asked her what pornography meant.
Ajuma told Daily Sun that immediately she heard those words, her heart skipped a beat and started pounding so fast. For a while, she revealed that she was silent but seeing her daughter still waiting for an answer, she decided to have the talk with her.
According to Ajuma, her daughter was in Junior Secondary School 1 then and had lent a classmate her laptop who downloaded porn on it. She said her daughter wasn’t happy about what her classmate did and decided to talk to the mum about it.
“After my daughter asked me what porn meant and I went silent for a while, I decided to talk to her about sex generally and stop pretending that we are not surrounded by sex and sex talks everyday.”
The mom-of-3 stated that even though she wasn’t ready for the adult conversation with her daughter at that time, she decided to do it anyway to educate her about sex and safe sex. Ajuma added:
“I told my daughter that sex happens when a man and a woman come together to express their love for each other. I insisted that it must happen between adults because of the consequences of unsafe sex like unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.”
After talking with her daughter for over 20 minutes, Ajuma said she was relieved that her daughter trusted her enough to come to her to know what pornography meant. S
he said even though it was a very hard conversation, she feels parents should talk to their children about it so they don’t learn the wrong things from the streets or from their mates who don’t know any better.
Mr. Daniel Ugwuanyi is a trader based in Lagos. The dad-of-4 girls said that he took it upon himself to educate his girls about sex on time. Ugwuanyi added that raising girls is harder than raising boys because you are always worried about them getting raped, sexually assaulted or impregnated by boys who don’t have good plans for them.
The 50-year-old man said that he started teaching his girls about their body parts when they were two years old. He noted that teaching them to know body parts by their real names as well as buying them age appropriate books for them to read made the conversation about sex easier as the years went by.
“I have always been open about sex with my daughters. It is not a taboo subject in my house. I taught my girls not to be pressured into having sex if they don’t have to. I taught them to understand their bodies and learn to stand their ground when it comes to sex.”
The doting father added that he didn’t want his girls growing up thinking that they should be ashamed of their bodies or about sex. He said he’s happy knowing that they can walk up to him and ask him questions about sex, contraceptives, condoms, masturbation and pornography.
When Mrs. Rachael Ajayi was asked about how she talked to her two children about sex, she sighed and revealed that it was the hardest thing she had to do given the way the topic is tip-toed around in this part of the world.
According to Ajayi, the world has changed and parents should not shy away from teaching their children about sex so that they won’t get the wrong information from the streets. She said that she taught her son and daughter on time about body parts, having crushes on their mates, kissing and sex.
“My son is seven while my daughter is nine years old. Both of them are my world. I use humour to initiate the conversation about sex. I tell them that sex is for adults and they shouldn’t engage in it until they are ready for it. We have also had the talk about their hormones and what they can do about having crushes on the opposite sex.”
Ajayi stated that she talks once in a while with her children about what is appropriate and what isn’t. He added:
“I explained to them that no one should be touching their bodies and private parts. I taught them to speak up if that happens or if they are uncomfortable with an adult of the same or opposite sex.”
Mr. Emmanuel Adejoh is not one to leave things to chance when it comes to his children. The consultant who works in Lagos said that he recently told his ten-year-old boy about sex because he figured it was time to have the talk with him.
Adejoh said he bought an age-appropriate sex book and they read it together one weekend. Then they went on the internet and googled sex, masturbation, conception. He said they watched millions of sperms swimming to one egg.
According to Adejoh, his intention was to teach his son about sex as well as the consequences of having unprotected sex. His son told him later that the topic was interesting because it is science. He added:
“I’m not leaving anything to chance when it comes to my children. I did the same with my daughter two years ago when she was ten. I educated her on the need to control herself and not be carried away by her hormones.”
Mrs. Precious Robinson has an only child, a 12-year-old girl who she says is the light of her life. Robinson, a widow told Saturday Sun that she started to educate her daughter about sex when she turned ten. Mrs Robinson said:
“I taught her what sex is, how it’s done, and if done wrongly, how it can lead to pregnancy. At the same time, I provided information about safe sex practices to her but reiterated that staying off sex was the best until she gets married.”
Robinson noted that even though it wasn’t easy talking to her child about sex, she is at ease knowing that no one can fool her girl into having sex. She said that even though some parents fear that being open about safe sex will encourage promiscuity in their children, she doesn’t agree with them.
Mr. Vincent Umoh has had more of a running conversation through the years with his children about their bodies, sexuality and how to stay safe when it comes to acting on their emotions.
Umoh, who is a businessman, said the conversation started some years back when his children were much younger. He said his daughter, who was six at the time, noticed that her younger brother, who was three, had a different body part and he had to talk to them about their differences. He said:
“We talked again about it when they were in primary school. Then we had the talk again after they had sex education classes in secondary school and yet again when they hit puberty.”
Umoh revealed that he is proud to say that both of his children can come to him with their questions about sex because they know he will give them a straight answer. He added:
“I taught my children that there’s no reason to feel shame or embarrassment because sex is not something to be ashamed of. I always keep my conversations with them age-appropriate and use proper body parts names such as penis and vagina.”
Umoh stated that he also taught his children that their bodies, as well as those of their partners when they are old enough to start thinking about sex, should be treated with respect as well as the importance of consent before and during sex.
AN EXPERT’S PERSPECTIVE
Bukola Lameed, Founder and Lead Therapist, Safety Republic International told Daily Sun that when it comes to talking to children about sex, parents should consider age-appropriate education.
She said that means parents have to talk to their children considering their age because the language will be different. Lameed said:
“The way you talk to a toddler will be different from the way they talk to a child in primary school. It also means the way parents should talk about sex with a pre-teen is different from the way they will talk to teenagers and young adults. The ages span from two to 25 years.”
Lameed said sex education is a vital part of the psycho-social life of children, adding that it is very important for children to understand the basic things about sex education.
Lameed stated that when people think about sex education, they think about penetration and coitus but sex education begins with teaching children about their body parts.
She added that this involves creating awareness about their bodies according to their gender, which is gender identification. Lameed added:
“It also involves teaching children about their body parts, how to own, preserve and protect their bodies. Basically, I believe that no part of a child’s body is private. This is because a lot of paedophiles use this school of thought as a bait to get children.”
According to Lameed, children have to be taught how to respect their bodies and other children’s bodies too as well as maintain body boundaries. She said that doing this will help protect children from sexual abuse from predators.
“One of the difficult aspects of talking to children about sex is that parents don’t mention body parts appropriately to their children because of modesty. Teaching children about their penis, vagina, buttocks and breasts shouldn’t be a taboo.”
She stated that being so open about body parts give children the privilege to understand their bodies and how to protect themselves.
Lameed noted that sex education is not the responsibility of mothers alone, insisting that fathers should be actively involved in educating their children about sex.
When it comes to educating school age children as well as pre teens about sex, parents should also talk to them bearing their age in mind. She said:
“At this age, children are socializing more with their mates, getting to know that other people are different, understanding their bodies more and maintaining body boundaries. It is important for parents to continue educating them about sex.”
When it comes to educating teenagers about sex, Lameed said it will be easier to handle their rebellious attitude if parents have been talking to them about their bodies from childhood. She added:
“Teenage years is the time for experimenting, raging hormones and desiring to be free and parents should teach them about body boundaries and keeping themselves as well as relationships, contraceptives.”
According to Lameed, if parents try to mask the right information about sex from their teenagers and they later find out the truth, these children will never trust their parents again. She added:
“Parents can use illustrations, videos and pictures to educate their teenagers about sex. They shouldn’t try to alter biology when it comes to educating teenagers about sex, having crushes and friendships with the opposite sex.”
Lameed concluded that it is important for parents to be accessible to their children.
“As a parent, let them know that they can ask you questions about sex and that they will get the right answers,”