Considered a taboo topic in Indian society, sex has been a word that has been predominantly pushed under the carpet in most homes. Most of us have grown up never seeing our parents hug in front of us let alone kiss, leaving a very confused distorted version of love and sex. Our only source of sex education was peers or elder siblings, which was definitely not a reliable source.
In comparison, today’s generation has unprecedented access to information via the internet. While peers are still another stronghold source (and more unreliable than ever!), media, video games, the vast pornographic content which is easily available on the net has made it even more convenient.
Early exposure to sexual content through television, internet, movies, music has made it difficult for parents to prevent what I would call “too young for too much information”.
Advertisements for even shower heads or a mango drink has sexuality etched all over it. Sex sells so I guess no one gives a damn what early exposure could do to our children in the long run.
We cannot blame the children for their hormonal changes occurring sooner than ever before. With the plethora of “stuff” available to them this is expected. So how do we deal with this situation? What is the corrective measures one can take
It is better that kids get the information from you rather than an outside source which tends to only damage or distort sexuality in their minds.
Banning Television or the internet is not an option. The more you restrict, the more curious and experimental they get.
Unfortunately, sometimes casual and callous attitude of parents with regards to exposing them to video games or films that are not appropriate for them, provides them with early exposure. A 10-year-old child playing GTA (Grand Auto Theft) is not ideal.
How about we educate our children in a manner that makes them understand and respect the act of sex vs becoming addicted to explicit content, incorrect information and trying to figure out things on their own? Here are a few guidelines which may give more clarity.
Start talking to them young
The conversation does not have to be explicit or very accurate but gently giving them some information and asking if they have any questions can give you some perspective on the knowledge they have accumulated. With that understanding you can decide how to proceed with the topic.
Build trust in your child
A child will talk without inhibitions if he feels reassured that the parent will not get upset or angry if they ask questions that maybe uncomfortable to them. As a parent you need to reassure your child that you are THE person they can turn to for any information they are looking for.
Parental lock and filters are there for a reason, utilize them
I find that some parents have a distorted perception of being “friendly” with their kids. Allowing them everything will not help them being closer, but will confuse the child and make them aware sooner than required. It’s not rocket science to understand what “age appropriate” means or why there are ratings for every content available? Utilize them effectively and make the child understand that “everything at the right time”.
Don’t demonize sex
More often than not, we portray sex to be “bad”. Almost like it’s a sin to indulge in the act, depicting that Indians are born without any carnal desire and its only for the “west” (which makes me wonder what explains our booming population if Indians abstain from sex?)
- Provide generic information, explain the repercussions of indulging in sex too soon (emotional and physical), young pregnancy.
- Make them understand to use social media responsibly, it is not a platform for self-worth or validation.
- Be proactive and involved in all aspects of your child’s life without being overbearing or just lecturing. Know what they watch and the friends they make. It will tell you a lot.
Don’t demean love or its meaning
Characterizing love or sex in a derogatory manner should be avoided. Instead teach them the meaning of love through your own value system, let them interpret it by what they see at home. Watching loving affectionate parents will teach children more about love and physical intimacy than any educative talk or show ever could. Don’t be afraid to kiss and make up in front of your kids, let them know it is normal.
Tell the Truth
Do not make stories or provide them with false information. Explain about changes in their bodies, tell them factually how there is always a right time for things and not follow trends or fall under peer pressure.
Ultimately, it does not mean that you are encouraging them at an early age if you talk about it with your kids. Drawing a fine line and maintaining a balance is imperative.
I had read long ago somewhere that “Don’t be so open minded that your brains fall out”. This should sum it up and tell us we need to strike a balance.
Be a soundboard, guiding light, let them carve their own niche but do teach the sons to respect girls and understand why consent is important.
Teach your girls to respect themselves, they are more than just their bodies. Tell them to value love and nurture it.