Saturday, 19 October 2013

Let's Talk About Sex!!!!!!!!!

‘Ke-di-ke’! And it’s true

Only a few topics make our hearts skip two beats like ‘Sex’. It is more or less the next universal language besides music -and perhaps fashion. Its power and prowess spreads like fluid fire through every sector of our lives: academics, religion, entertainment, family, media, social networks, work place ethics, interpersonal relationships, group co-existence, societal morals and values; and the Law. The very mention or hint of it catches our attention. We give it some thought in one way or the other at least once in 24 hours. Then again, it is discarded in inter-personal and ‘mature’ conversations as a dirty and immature thing to consider.  It is equally an arguable contention that ‘sexy’ is the twenty first century’s standard for smart, smooth and attractive. Sex sells almost everything from books, music, clothes to toothpaste and SIM Cards. It is here and it bothers me today. So let’s deal with it.

 I am not one to give definitions –the world is flooding with those. We have cliché lines like ‘Sex is special’; ‘Sex is dirty’; ‘Sex is adventure’. And hey! I feel sex is just sex. It is a factor out here to make man’s existence more exciting; a girl’s life more interesting; a woman’s role more inspiring and a boy’s life more defining.

 Now let me explain while getting down to basics. Sex is a delicate issue, element, factor … –whatever you choose to call it- that plays a very great role in how we eventually turn out or never turn out in almost every other facet of our lives. It is a long term shelf property. You just cannot afford to joke with it. Life would have been a lot simpler- and boring- if it were not here. But it being here has led- and is still leading- to a lot of beautiful, ugly and amazing things that I cannot afford to deny its weight. However, I do admit that it is a very large topic to exhaust in just one post. So for now I am narrowing down to sex in the life of a youth. Youth meaning from ‘kuchi kuchi’ to ‘Hi mum. This is the girl I want to marry.’

Before I go all academic, I want to state boldly that kids know and are conscious of a lot more than
we give them credit for. Me ma I sabi say wen I bin small, the thing dem wey I sabi eh, e fit full River Niger remain change wey go fit still throw big bash. What I am saying is that the mind of the African child can handle a lot more than we think. The topic of sex and sexuality is a remarkable part of their lives from a time earlier than we can imagine. The study of Psychology brings to light that a human being is quite conscious of pleasure and pain and the means through which it could be attained and avoided from the minute he is born. At some point the human baby is fascinated with passing faeces. Yes. This gives her sexual pleasure. The cool relieving feeling of being unburdened. Yeah! Then at another he discovers that whenever things get into his mouth he is in ‘heaven’. So the next time he sees something tangible within reach it’s gotcha! And Wom! Ohhhhhh! Such satisfaction it gives with the tongue dancing all around the object feeling the rough or smooth surface area of the object. Juicy too. When they cannot reach any object, their thumb goes in. These are stages that they must pass through and interrupting it or punishing them for it totally out of place as this would lead to adverse effects.

Then again the child grows to have sensations whenever he touches certain parts of his body. He begins to wake up with unsolicited erections. She suddenly prefers male company more. She appreciates handshakes but hugs would be just right. At this point they are more than ever prepared to listen to lectures on this seemingly brand new world of great sensations. Like a saying goes ‘When a student is ready a master will appear’. Like it or not the child has questions on his/her mind. She wants to know where babies come from. He wants to know why erections do not just mind their own business and stay away. There are countless other questions that run through their minds and have become the major topics for peer pass-times.

But in a society that predominantly neglects discussing sex with kids, these kids are embarrassed to even hint the topic amongst adults. ‘I do not want dad or mum to see me as a bad boy.’ On the other hand dad or mum either does not pay attention when a girl visits him constantly, or simply does not mind that her phone vibrates a lot more -that is if her eyes are not already perpetually glued to it.

They grow right before our eyes yet quite a number of us eventually say that we do not know what happened. The amazing thing is that by hook or crook they must learn something from someone who is somewhere. It must happen. This is a fact. What dad will not address some other man or boy out there will. What mum does not tell them they will discover. God bless the internet, these kids are faster than kids have ever been because there are over a million and one sources at the tap of their finger. No try them o!

The topic of sex and sexuality is such a salient part of our lives as individuals and as a society that it should not be taken for granted. The more reason this topic should be handled by the world’s greatest leaders: parents, big brothers, big sisters, pastors, teachers, mentors, uncles and aunts. By this I mean the proper handling of the issue of Sex Education by those who are in the best positions to handle it.

In the course of my research for this work I came across several great sources that have exposed me to so much information that I began to wonder how I coped before I read them. One remarkable material which I shall review here is THE SEX ED HANDBOOK, A Comprehensive Guide for Parents by Dr. Laura Berman.

The fourteen page material is broken into two major parts. The first is purely textual but is complemented by the second which comprises of visual aids. In the first part there are six subdivisions which contain very simple lessons for the teacher and the pupil involved as is spread in a step-by-step format for different age ranges starting from the scratch.

It begins with the posited idea that ideally Sex Education should begin at birth…

‘Yes, even a toddler can understand (and needs to understand) information about how her body functions and genitals. Why? Because if she leans to be ashamed of her body or is confused about her body, this can present later in life as body image issues or shame surrounding her sexuality.’

Dr. Laura goes on to tell us great ways to teach the child to embrace his/her body. One of such include:

‘Tell her the correct names for her body parts, and use them every time. Don’t use nicknames to refer to her genitals. This teaches her that her body is something to be hidden or masked. Correct terminology helps her to understand and embrace her body without reservations or shame.’

Moving on, at ages 2 to 3, she points out that no matter how shocked you are when they start asking questions, they must not be hushed. She proffers several means through which more ‘educated’ and helpful guidance could be rendered. She also outlines that…

‘This would also be a good time to teach your children that their private parts are their own and that no one else should touch them, other than their parents/ caregivers who are helping to wash them or wipe them. Also let them know that other people’s private parts are off-limits too.’

She strongly holds that the lessons of ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’ at this age, insisting that children should be taught that if someone ever touches them in  way that they do not want to be touched, they should say ‘Don’t touch me that way’ and that they can also tell you or a teacher. Use of illustrative instances that could pass for good or bad touch would go a long way.

The child questioning spree keeps growing and flowing. ‘Where do babies come from?’ or ‘I hear a kid at recess talking about an “erection” What is that?’ She proffers stages in which to meet the demands of these large questions. At this stage it would be timely to give a simple explanation of that special place in a woman’s body called the uterus/womb. It is equally ok to say that when a man and a woman love each other and are (insert your own values here, such as when they get married, X years old, etc.), the man has sperm and the woman has an egg. The man’s sperm fertilizes the woman’s egg and a baby grows.

When they ask about how the sperm and egg gets together, she advises that we use the visual aids as provided in the second part of the handbook for clarity and simplicity. They you teach the chid that the sperm is produced in the man’s testes which is inside his scrotum and the egg comes from the woman’s ovaries.

‘The sperm and egg meet in her fallopian tube, and then the fertilized egg travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus, In the uterus, there is a nice cushy layer of nutrients and the fertilized egg starts to grown there.’

Then the big question comes… ‘How does sperm get into the woman’s body?’ At this time you have to boldly and categorically tell the child, Look…

‘When a man and a woman (insert values here such as ‘love each other’, ‘only want to be with each other’, ‘are married’), the man puts his penis inside the woman’s vagina (anatomy lesson having already occurred) and the sperm comes out of his penis in a fluid called semen’ and it goes up into her uterus to her fallopian tube, where it meets the eggs.’

There, you have said it. Congratulations! You can blink now. However, your job is not over yet. Before the child gets into puberty, she advises that it…

‘…is a good time to talk about how semen is made, ovulation, menstruation, tampons/pads, wet dreams (nocturnal emissions is the correct term). Don't forget to include the other changes that happen with adolescence, such as hair growth, deepening voice, sweat production, oily skin, growth of breasts and penis and sexual thoughts/ feelings.’

It is your duty to convince them these changes are totally normal and happen at different times to everyone. For girls, it could occur between 9 and 14, while for the boys they come along a little later.

‘Reassure them that they can come to you any time they want with questions or concerns as they start to go through this sometimes scary process.’

It is very important you sit with them in a relaxing atmosphere to discuss the issues of masturbation, orgasm, pregnancy, homosexuality, lesbianism and nocturnal emissions. You can tell the girl child that it is ok to have orgasms in their sleep as well.

‘Explain what an orgasm is simply by saying that it is a really pleasurable feeling
that comes from your penis or vulva being touched. To be more in-depth, say it’s an intense contraction of the muscles in the area that feels like a beautiful release.’

You must however, come to grasp with the fact as they get older sex education should become less of a monologue and more of a conversation. Several other related issues may come up such as oral and anal sex, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, safe sex and birth control.

Herein Dr. Laura further went on to advise that when we start talking to them about the mechanics of sex we should simultaneously be addressing our hopes and dreams for their sex lives.

‘For example, what you’d like for them their first time (to be with someone they love and trust, who is going to respect them and care about making them feel good, who loves them and whom they love in return, someone who is going to be with them the day after and not talk about them, someone who deserves the amazing gift that their body and sexuality is).’

You must reinforce these lessons and values through constant checking on them, revisiting the issue and always being available, open and patient enough to listen.

Note Abeg!!!!!!

‘…just because you are having these discussions with your children doesn’t mean that you are giving them the green light to have sex.’

Always insist to their face, warmly but firmly…

‘I want you to have the information so that you aren’t confused or misled by kids at school, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s okay for you to have sex right now. I want you to wait until (insert value here…you get married, get a degree. Turn X years old….)’

Having gone this far, you must be sure their usage is surprised or at least be in the same room when they are browsing. Make sure their laptops, phones are used within your control and explain to them the reality of online sexual predators. And let the ground rules be clear on pornography and sexting (sex chatting). Total abstinence!

The media is your friend

Dr. Laura believes – and I agree- that we can use the sexual messaging in the media to our advantage
by making it a ‘teachable moment’. If a sexual scene comes on screen, do not just snatch the remote control and change channels. Turn it into a conversation…

‘Remember when we were watching that movie and they started discussing oral sex? Did that make you uncomfortable? Is that something kids at your school talk about? Is it something they do?’

You should give your child the chance to come alive, trust and bond with you without shame or fear.

The Role of Self Esteem

I love what she says here:

‘Teach your children that their sexuality is a gift and a joy and that it is something

that should not be tossed aside or used and abused by others.’

She further advises that we should not let the kids know that sex feels great and is wonderful experience…

‘…but only under the right circumstances and with the right person.’

If it is not the right time or person, it can be disenchanting or saddening, in place of inspiring and exciting.

‘Tell her… you want her first time, her every time to be beautiful and amazing, a time when her body is respected and valued, not used and discarded.’

Dr. Laura did a good job on this if I may so myself. Then again I’d like to add that Sex Education is equally part of our spirituality. A proper and timely one enhances our ability to relate with ourselves and openness on our part to God.

The Bible relates to us in Genesis 1: 26-28 that God chose to make man in a specific form so that we may be perfect to take his (man) place in the dynamic of things. When God was done, He was so fascinated by how and the result of the creation of the human race that he blessed with breath and live, and gave them the  charge and capacity to reproduce. God also gave us a special place amongst creation and a special relationship with Him. The Bible further relates to us in Romans 12:4-6 and 1 Corinthians 12:22-23 that each part of us is special, important and useful in completing the big picture of our lives and that even the seemingly ‘lower’ ones are to be treated with much care.

Sexuality as an issue in the Bible comes up again in the John 8: 1-11, the situation of the adulteress who was about being stoned to death. Nothing that was said about her shook Jesus- they must have called her all sorts of names. Their rationality probably was that she was different brand of human who did not deserve to live. However, when Jesus rose His head, he said, ‘Let anyone among you who has no sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Let anyone of us who does not share in this nature of being a sexual being filled with sensuality and desire stand out. Let anyone of us who does not have to face hormones stand up. Of course no one was that bold to lie because they had been convicted by their very own conscious that all shared in her ‘imperfection’. But the special message in this is that Christ said to her, ‘I do not condemn you, go and sin no more.’ Go and live above imperfection. Go and be conscious of your beauty. Go and handle thing properly next time.

Every child, man and woman in the human race is an image of beauty both inside and out. Consciousness and education is the key to unlocking this and letting us come alive. The Bible holds in Proverbs 22:6

‘Teach a child the way he should go, he will not stray from it while he lives ’

I do not negate the fact there are ‘more important’ things to talk about with the kids other than sex. But if you do not have that conversation with them to teach them the right things ‘on time’ you may not have that chance again in the future. You may be turning your child into a raving sex illiterate by simply neglecting that part of his/her life and personality. You are daddy/mummy now but you will not always be instructor. They need to hear it now that their heart is going ke-di-ke  to ask questions, watch and listen.  In addition it will afford you a wonderful intimacy and a refreshing relationship on a whole new level with your child/ward. So c’mon! Let’s talk about Sex baby!

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