'The stork of taboo!'
The idea of children (and young people) learning about sex and relationships appears to cause a lot of anxiety for some parents/carers. Talking about sex causes shame or embarrassment for some people. Many of our children pick up a very strong message early in life that you just do not talk about sex or certain body parts – and definitely not with adults. This inability to communicate about sex can stay with our children as they grow up.
When it comes to sex, there are a lot of potential hazards teenagers can encounter. For example:
- Being pressurised into having sex
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Unplanned pregnancy
- Having sex they regret
- Having sex too early
To avoid any of these hazards, a young person would need to be able to talk about sex (for example: be able to suggest a condom). To be responsible about sex, a person needs to be able to talk about it. The taboo nature of sex, sadly often inhibits the necessary conversations.
Without trusted adults that are prepared to give them accurate information and help them develop positive and realistic expectations about sex, our young people are floundering around with absolutely no understanding of what sex should or should not be about.
We need to be realistic and understand that the vast majority of young people will have sex at some point. We therefore need to help our children and young people to start feeling more comfortable talking about sex if they are to go on and have positive experiences. This starts with us being brave and being prepared to start conversations!
Just to add, I spoke to both of my children about how babies were made from a very young age (about 3 or 4). They did not bat an eyelid. They grew up without developing a strong taboo about topics related to sex and body parts. Their innocence was not destroyed and I would challenge anyone who said that learning about a perfectly normal aspect of life could possibly damage them if discussed appropriately.
Imagine if teaching your child to cross the road safely was an embarrassing topic to talk about - would that stop you?
I will give advice about how to have these conversations in subsequent posts.